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#BOMTC Jacob 6-Enos: Faith-Shakers VS Faith-Makers

BEWARE OF FAITH-SHAKERS! Faith-shakers take on many forms. In today’s reading Sherem is the personification of a faith-shaker. Jacob describes meeting the faith-shaker Sherem with these words:

“and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me… And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken(Jacob 7:3, 5, emphasis added)

Jacob 7:2 teaches us that faith-shakers attack Christ and His true doctrine. Faith-shakers are antichrists.

An antichrist is an opponent of Christ; he is one who is in opposition to the true gospel, the true Church, and the true plan of salvation. (1 John 2:19; 4:4-6) He is one who offers salvation to men on some other terms than those laid down by Christ. Sherem (Jacob 7:1-23), Nehor (Alma 1:2-16), and Korihor (Alma 30:6-60) were antichrists who spread their delusions among the Nephites.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.39)

We may have people in our lives that are faith-shakers, like Sherem, but I find that the more common and subtle faith-shakers that Christ’s disciples face today are FALSE DOCTRINE faith-shakers. Sure, a person can preach false doctrine, but it can also come from many other sources.

CAUTIONARY PUN: Satan has all kinds of faith-shaking doctrines, and he is always looking for someone to “Sherem” 🙂

HOW Can False Doctrine Be a Faith-Shaker? President Boyd K. Packer, past President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught that:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986).

Therefore, believing false doctrines will change one’s attitude and behavior as well.

False doctrine is a great faith-shaker! What are some sources of modern-day false-doctrine faith-shakers? Media, philosophies of man, environments, governments, etc. can all be faith-shakers. What false doctrines do they preach?  They speak of coincidental creation, overpopulation, redefining family and marriage, abortion, etc.

Robert L. Millet, a professor at BYU, put it this way:

I thought back on a few of the antichrists in the Book of Mormon–of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor–and reconsidered their doctrine, their approach, their success, and their demise. I then broadened my scope a bit and realized that evil attitudes, as well as perverse teachings and false systems of salvation, also qualify as enemies of Christ. Such teachings as ‘We have not [prayed about this], for the Lord maketh no such things known unto us’; ‘All is well in Zion’; ‘Eat, drink, and be merry’; ‘Dig a pit for thy neighbor’; ‘We have received and we need no more’; ‘There is no devil; ‘Ye cannot know what ye cannot see’; ‘Do this or do that and it mattereth not,’ and myriads of others–these symbolize the slogans of an antigospel.” (Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth, p.68)

HOW Do Faith-Shakers Preach? Antifreeze is probably a good object-lesson to illustrate an answer this question (see Alma 30:53). Antifreeze is very toxic, but animals are attracted to its sweet taste–they temporarily find pleasure in that which kills them!

Jacob 7:2-7 helps us to identify some of Sherem’s faith-shaker tactics. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (CR, Apr. 1975, 94–95).

HOW do I LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers? Most of us have not experienced the great manifestations that Jacob did which helped him to “not be shaken” in the faith (see Jacob 7:5), so how can we “not be shaken”? Jacob 7:10-12 identifies three things that every disciple of Jesus Christ has been given to help them “not be shaken” in the faith. President Benson identified them during a talk in general conference:

May I suggest three short tests to avoid being deceived. . . .1. What do the standard works [scriptures] have to say about it? . . . 2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President . . . 3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost. . . . This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16-17. Emphasis added.)

Jacob 4:6, 8, 13,16 and 2 Nephi 9:40 all contain valuable insights that will help us to LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers and become unshakable, like Jacob!

CLEAVE TO TRUE DOCTRINE! There are a few questions that one can ask to evaluate a doctrine that is being presented and discern if it is a faith-shaker or a faith-maker. Faith-maker doctrines receive a YES to each of the following questions:

  1. Is the doctrine clearly expressed in the standard works of the Church?
  2. Is the doctrine found within the official declarations, proclamations, or statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles?
  3. Is the doctrine clearly taught or discussed by current general Church leaders in general conference or other official gatherings of the Church?
  4. Is the doctrine found in the general handbooks or the presently approved curriculum of the Church? (Source: Sunday School: Spring 2005 President’s Message)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

There is not anything in this world of as great importance to us as obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us search these scriptures. Let us know what the Lord has revealed. Let us put our lives in harmony with his truth. Then we will not be deceived” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:301).

Jacob 7:23 shows how this principle affected the Nephites after Sherem was revealed as a faith-shaker.

The late Robert J. Matthews, a well-respected Latter-day Saint scholar, wrote:

“The Book of Mormon was written specifically and pointedly for our time. The principles needed for salvation anciently are the same principles needed now. Likewise, the way of apostasy in ancient times is a pattern of apostasy in our day. The Book of Mormon shows how apostasies occur, and the terrible effects that apostasy has in the lives of individuals as well as in groups such as political governments and churches. Men such as Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor are notable examples of individual apostates in the Book of Mormon, and it clearly demonstrates their pride and sophistry. These were intellectual giants, but they were spiritually undeveloped and each fell victim to the cunning of the devil, who captured them with an appeal to their carnal and natural desires.” (Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series , p.359)

CLEAVE TO YOUR COVENANTS! During a very difficult time for the early Latter-day Saints, the Lord gave Emma Smith the following counsel:

“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

#BOMTC Day 23, April 29~Jacob 6-Enos or Pages 133-138 (2)

Interestingly, Jacob’s Faith-Shaker VS. Faith-Maker account with Sherem is followed by the faith-making experience of Jacob’s son, Enos. Enos is a pattern for becoming a Faith-Maker (Enos 1:8, 11). A close examination of his experience provides an excellent illustration of the effort required to become an unshakable Faith-Maker.

After Enos receives a witness for himself of Jesus Christ, he begins the faith-making process of seeking the welfare of others (Enos 1:8-16). As you continue to look for examples of Faith-Shakers and Faith-Makers during your study the Book of Mormon, identify the things that you can do to become a Faith-Maker and avoid Faith-Shakers.

Want to learn more about these chapters? Check out these links…

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#BOMTC Jacob 5: God Wants Good Fruit from “OLIVE” Us!

To understand Jacob 5, one must begin at the end of Jacob 4. In Jacob 4 the prophet Jacob had asked us to consider how the Jews could ever build on the “sure foundation” of Jesus Christ after they rejected Him (v. 17). To answer this question Jacob quotes the teachings of the prophet Zenos.

Zenos’ allegory of the olive tree teaches us about the Lord’s purposes in the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel. Interestingly, the olive tree tends to be God’s great object lesson when referring to the scattering, gathering, and salvation of His children (see my #BOMTC 1 Nephi 16 post for more on this). Chapter 6 then contains Jacob’s commentary on the major points of Zenos’ allegory, and Jacob emphasized the Lord’s mercy and justice while encouraging his people—and us—to repent.

Olive Tree Alegory chart

Click here for a graphical explanation of the allegory of the olive tree

Interestingly, the scattering of “the branches of Israel” all over the world is a blessing to both Israel and to the Gentiles. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:

“In general, the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob [Israel] those spirits who in pre-existence developed an especial talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood” (Mormon Doctrine, 81).

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32

“What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49) “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree” (Jacob 5:7, 11, 32, 46, 51, 66)

As scattered Israel mixed with the Gentiles around them, the blood of Israel was spread even further. Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, commented:

“The scattering of Israel throughout the world sprinkled the blood that believes, so that many nations may now partake of the gospel plan” (Ensign, Nov. 1982.).

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

What really stands out to me in these pages is how much the Lord loves “OLIVE” His children, and how much He desires “OLIVE” us to produce “good fruit” (good works).

“Good fruit” is referred to 7 times, and “fruit” 67 times. Sometimes I copy the text of a chapter or talk and create a word cloud to help me identify literary elements like the intent of the writer. You can see by the word cloud above that “fruit” (our part) is definitely a dominant theme in this message. If I were to LIKEN this allegory to us, I would say, “God loves ‘OLIVE’ us, and He will do whatever is necessary to help our lives to be as ‘fruitful’ as possible!”

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32 (3)

God does indeed love “OLIVE” us, and wants “OLIVE” us to live “good fruit”-ful lives!

What are your thoughts on this awesome allegory?

The Olive Tree Allegory

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SEGMENTS 1-5 OF THIS VIDEO

 A LIKENING: The Currant Bush and the Will of God

God uses love-inspired correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us.

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 15-19: “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”

In today’s chapters Nephi continues to quote from the Prophet Isaiah (2 Nephi 15-20). One footnote of interest prior to this reading is found in 2 Nephi 12:2, footnote 2a:

Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same working as the [King James Version].

An example of how this comparison is helpful is found in 2 Nephi 12:16, footnote 16a

The Greek (Septuaging) has ‘ships of the sea.’ The Hebrew has ‘ships of Tarshish.’ The Book of Mormon has both, showing that the Brass Plates had lost neither phrase” (see also “Upon All the Ships of the Sea, and Upon All the Ships of Tarshish”: Revisiting 2 Nephi 12:16 and Isaiah 2:16 for an insightful article on this verse).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Out Stretched Hand

One thing that has always stood out to me in these pages is the phrase, “but his hand is stretched out still”. It follows the very threatening phrase, “his anger is not turned away” (2 Nephi 15:25; 19:12,17,21; 20:4). So is it a good thing or a bad thing that “his hand is stretched out still”? Well, I guess it depends on what you decide to do when God stretches His hand out (For a great article on this thought see, “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”: The Lord’s Eternal Covenant of Mercy).

Isaiah may have intended more than one meaning with the phrase “his hand is stretched out still,” because the Lord’s hand can be extended for both justice and mercy. One meaning may be that because the people of Isaiah’s time did not turn away from sin (see Isaiah 9:13–16), they would experience the Lord’s hand in the form of destruction. But Isaiah may have also been teaching that the Lord still offered hope for eventual mercy if the people would repent. How can both images of the Lord’s hand stretched out—one threatening justice and the other offering mercy—help us decide to repent and come unto Him?

The following chart comes from the Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2014:

“The phrase ‘his hand is stretched out still can represent both the justice and mercy of God—justice (destruction and punishment) for the wicked and mercy for the repentant if they will turn to God. From the context of the surrounding verses, the reader can often determine which meaning was intended by the scripture author.”

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S JUSTICE:

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S MERCY:

Isaiah 5:25 (2 Nephi 15:25)

Isaiah 9:12,* 17, 21 (2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21)

Isaiah 10:4 (2 Nephi 20:4)

Isaiah 10:13–14 (2 Nephi 20:13–14)

Isaiah 14:26–27 (2 Nephi 24:26–27)

Isaiah 23:11

Exodus 6:6

Deuteronomy 5:15

Deuteronomy 7:19

Psalm 136:10–14

Jeremiah 32:21

Ezekiel 20:33–34

2 Nephi 28:32

Jacob 5:47

Jacob 6:4–5

Alma 5:33–34

Alma 19:36

3 Nephi 9:14

Mormon 6:17

D&C 136:22

* Isaiah 9:12, footnote d, indicates that the phrase in this verse can refer to both justice and mercy.

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Arms

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us of the merciful aspect of this imagery:

“To all of you who think you are lost or without hope, or who think you have done too much that was too wrong for too long, to every one of you who worry that you are stranded … , this conference calls out Jehovah’s unrelenting refrain, ‘[My] hand is stretched out still’ [Isaiah 5:25; 9:17, 21]. ‘I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them,’ He said, ‘[and even if they] deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, … if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts’ [2 Nephi 28:32]. His mercy endureth forever, and His hand is stretched out still. His is the pure love of Christ, the charity that never faileth, that compassion which endures even when all other strength disappears [see Moroni 7:46–47].

“I testify of this reaching, rescuing, merciful Jesus, that this is His redeeming Church based on His redeeming love” (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006).

One way to understand and apply Isaiah’s writings is to consider his possible use of Hypostasis. Have you ever heard of hypostasis? Hypostasis is a technique that is used frequently in the scriptures. This technique uses a part of the corporeal nature of God to represent God as a whole. An example of this is when the scriptures say something to the effect of “the voice of the Lord”, “the face of God”, “the arm of the Lord”. These “parts” of God are used to imply that God himself–whole and complete–was actually present. So, if “his hand is stretched out still”, then the implication is that HE is still near. So, how are you going to react to His hand?

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Hand

What I am referring to can be illustrated in Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. The Rod of Iron is usually thought of and portrayed in visuals as something akin to a guardrail. However, Lehi, Nephi, and Isaiah NEVER use the word rod in this way (see 2 Nephi 20:5, 15, 24, 26, for example). They always use the word rod to talk about something that is held in the hand and stretched out (with the exception of 2 Nephi 21:1, 4; Isaiah 11:4, although these verses can work too). What does this change about how you picture, or think, of the “rod” that is coming from the Tree of Life”? If the Tree of Life typifies and represents Jesus Christ (see my SNellFour post), then what is the Tree of Life (Jesus Christ) holding out to everyone? Is His hand “stretched out still”? How one reacts to His outstretched hand makes all the difference!

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 (3)

Just as it was significant as to how the people reacted to the “rod” in the vision of the Tree of Life, it will depend on how we react when Jesus Christ’s hand/presence is “stretched out still”. If His hand is stretched out, then we must do as Isaiah admonishes:

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus Hugging a Girl

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#BOMTC Jacob 6-Enos: Faith-Shakers VS Faith-Makers

BEWARE OF FAITH-SHAKERS! Faith-shakers take on many forms. In today’s reading Sherem is the personification of a faith-shaker. Jacob describes meeting the faith-shaker Sherem with these words:

“and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me… And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken(Jacob 7:3, 5, emphasis added)

Jacob 7:2 teaches us that faith-shakers attack Christ and His true doctrine. Faith-shakers are antichrists.

An antichrist is an opponent of Christ; he is one who is in opposition to the true gospel, the true Church, and the true plan of salvation. (1 John 2:19; 4:4-6) He is one who offers salvation to men on some other terms than those laid down by Christ. Sherem (Jacob 7:1-23), Nehor (Alma 1:2-16), and Korihor (Alma 30:6-60) were antichrists who spread their delusions among the Nephites.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.39)

We may have faith-shakers in our life who are like Sherem, but I find that the more common and subtle faith-shakers that Christ’s disciples face today are FALSE DOCTRINE faith-shakers. Sure, a person can preach false doctrine, but it can also come from many other sources.

HOW Can False Doctrine Be a Faith-Shaker? President Boyd K. Packer, past President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught that:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986).

Therefore, believing false doctrines will change one’s attitude and behavior as well.

False doctrine is a great faith-shaker! What are some modern-day false-doctrine faith-shakers? Media, theories, environments, governments, etc. can all be faith-shakers. What false doctrines do they preach?  They speak of coincidental creation, overpopulation, redefining family and marriage, abortion, etc.

Robert L. Millet, a professor at BYU, put it this way:

I thought back on a few of the antichrists in the Book of Mormon–of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor–and reconsidered their doctrine, their approach, their success, and their demise. I then broadened my scope a bit and realized that evil attitudes, as well as perverse teachings and false systems of salvation, also qualify as enemies of Christ. Such teachings as ‘We have not [prayed about this], for the Lord maketh no such things known unto us’; ‘All is well in Zion’; ‘Eat, drink, and be merry’; ‘Dig a pit for thy neighbor’; ‘We have received and we need no more’; ‘There is no devil; ‘Ye cannot know what ye cannot see’; ‘Do this or do that and it mattereth not,’ and myriads of others–these symbolize the slogans of an antigospel.” (Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth, p.68)

HOW Do Faith-Shakers Preach? Antifreeze is probably a good object-lesson to illustrate an answer this question (see Alma 30:53). Antifreeze is very toxic, but animals are attracted to its sweet taste–they temporarily find pleasure in that which kills them.

Jacob 7:2-7 helps us to identify some of Sherem’s faith-shaker tactics. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (CR, Apr. 1975, 94–95).

How do I LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE Faith-Makers? Most of us have not experienced the great manifestations that Jacob did which helped him to “not be shaken” in the faith (see Jacob 7:5). So how can we “not be shaken”? Jacob 7:10-12 identifies three things that every disciple of Christ has been given to help them “not be shaken” in the faith. President Benson identified them during a talk in general conference:

May I suggest three short tests to avoid being deceived. . . .1. What do the standard works [scriptures] have to say about it? . . . 2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President . . . 3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost. . . . This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin” (Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16-17).

Jacob 4:6, 8, 13,16 and 2 Nephi 9:40 all contain valuable insights that will help us to LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers and become unshakable, like Jacob!

CLEAVE TO TRUE DOCTRINE! There are a few questions that one can ask to evaluate a doctrine that is being presented and discern if it is a faith-shaker or a faith-maker. Faith-maker doctrines receive a YES to each of the following questions:

  1. Is the doctrine clearly expressed in the standard works of the Church?
  2. Is the doctrine found within the official declarations, proclamations, or statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles?
  3. Is the doctrine clearly taught or discussed by current general Church leaders in general conference or other official gatherings of the Church?
  4. Is the doctrine found in the general handbooks or the presently approved curriculum of the Church? (Source: Sunday School: Spring 2005 President’s Message)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

There is not anything in this world of as great importance to us as obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us search these scriptures. Let us know what the Lord has revealed. Let us put our lives in harmony with his truth. Then we will not be deceived” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:301).

Jacob 7:23 shows how this principle affected the Nephites after Sherem was revealed as a faith-shaker.

The late Robert J. Matthews, a well-respected Latter-day Saint scholar, wrote:

“The Book of Mormon was written specifically and pointedly for our time. The principles needed for salvation anciently are the same principles needed now. Likewise, the way of apostasy in ancient times is a pattern of apostasy in our day. The Book of Mormon shows how apostasies occur, and the terrible effects that apostasy has in the lives of individuals as well as in groups such as political governments and churches. Men such as Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor are notable examples of individual apostates in the Book of Mormon, and it clearly demonstrates their pride and sophistry. These were intellectual giants, but they were spiritually undeveloped and each fell victim to the cunning of the devil, who captured them with an appeal to their carnal and natural desires.” (Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series , p.359)

CLEAVE TO YOUR COVENANTS! During a very difficult time for the early Latter-day Saints, the Lord gave Emma Smith the following counsel:

“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

#BOMTC Day 23, April 29~Jacob 6-Enos or Pages 133-138 (2)

Interestingly, Jacob’s Faith-Shaker VS. Faith-Maker account with Sherem is followed by the faith-making experience of Jacob’s son, Enos. Enos is a pattern for becoming a Faith-Maker (Enos 1:8, 11). A close examination of his experience provides an excellent illustration of the effort required to become an unshakable Faith-Maker.

After Enos receives a witness for himself of Christ, he begins the faith-making process of seeking the welfare of others (Enos 1:8-16). As you continue to look for examples of Faith-Shakers and Faith-Makers during your study the Book of Mormon, identify the things that you can do to become a Faith-Maker and avoid Faith-Shakers.

Want to learn more about these chapters? Check out these links…

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

REPLY at the bottom of each post at: bookofmormontranslationchallenge.wordpress.com
LIKE our Facebook page and post at: facebook.com/BookOfMormonTranslationChallenge
JOIN our Facebook group and share at: facebook.com/groups/BookOfMormonTranslationChallenge
TWITTER and INSTAGRAM users can use #bomtc for related posts: twitter.com/brosimonsays | instagram.com/brosimonsays


#BOMTC Jacob 5: God Wants Good Fruit from “OLIVE” Us!

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32: God Wants Good Fruit from "OLIVE" Us!

Click graphic to ready Jacob 5

To understand Jacob 5, one must begin at the end of Jacob 4. In Jacob 4 the prophet Jacob had asked us to consider how the Jews could ever build on the “sure foundation” of Jesus Christ after they rejected Him (v. 17). To answer this question Jacob quotes the teachings of the prophet Zenos.

Zenos’ allegory of the olive tree teaches us about the Lord’s purposes in the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel. Interestingly, the olive tree tends to be God’s great object lesson when referring to the scattering, gathering, and salvation of His children (see my #BOMTC 1 Nephi 16 post for more on this). Chapter 6 then contains Jacob’s commentary on the major points of Zenos’ allegory, and Jacob emphasized the Lord’s mercy and justice while encouraging his people—and us—to repent.

Olive Tree Alegory chart

Click here for a graphical explanation of the allegory of the olive tree

Interestingly, the scattering of “the branches of Israel” all over the world is a blessing to both Israel and to the Gentiles. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:

“In general, the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob [Israel] those spirits who in pre-existence developed an especial talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood” (Mormon Doctrine, 81).

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32

“What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49) “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree” (Jacob 5:7, 11, 32, 46, 51, 66)

As scattered Israel mixed with the Gentiles around them, the blood of Israel was spread even further. Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, commented:

“The scattering of Israel throughout the world sprinkled the blood that believes, so that many nations may now partake of the gospel plan” (Ensign, Nov. 1982.).

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

What really stands out to me in these pages is how much the Lord loves “OLIVE” His children, and how much He desires us to produce “good fruit” (good works).

“Good fruit” is referred to 7 times, and “fruit” 67 times. Sometimes I copy the text of a chapter or talk and create a word cloud to help me identify literary elements like the intent of the writer. You can see by the word cloud above that “fruit” (our part) is definitely a dominant theme in this message. If I were to LIKEN this allegory to myself I would say, “God loves me, and He will do whatever is necessary to help my life to become as ‘fruitful’ as possible!”

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32 (3)

God does indeed love “OLIVE” us, and wants “OLIVE” us to live “good fruit”-ful lives!

What are your thoughts on this awesome allegory?

The Olive Tree Allegory

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SEGMENTS 1-5 OF THIS VIDEO

 A LIKENING: The Currant Bush and the Will of God

God uses love-inspired correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us.

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 15-19: “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”

In today’s chapters Nephi continues to quote from the Prophet Isaiah (2 Nephi 15-20). One footnote of interest prior to this reading is found in 2 Nephi 12:2, footnote a, “Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same working as the KJV.” An example of how this comparison is helpful is found in 2 Nephi 12:16, footnote a, “The Greek (Septuaging) has ‘ships of the sea.’ The Hebrew has ‘ships of Tarshish.’ The Book of Mormon has both, showing that the Brass Plates had lost neither phrase” (see, “Upon All the Ships of the Sea, and Upon All the Ships of Tarshish”: Revisiting 2 Nephi 12:16 and Isaiah 2:16 for an insightful article on this verse).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 (3)

One thing that has always stood out to me in these pages is the phrase, “but his hand is stretched out still”. It follows the very threatening phrase, “his anger is not turned away” (2 Nephi 15:25; 19:12,17,21; 20:4). So is it a good thing or a bad thing that “his hand is stretched out still”? Well, I guess it depends on what you decide to do when God stretches His hand out (For a great article on this thought see, “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”: The Lord’s Eternal Covenant of Mercy).

Isaiah may have intended more than one meaning with the phrase “his hand is stretched out still,” because the Lord’s hand can be extended for both justice and mercy. One meaning may be that because the people of Isaiah’s time did not turn away from sin (see Isaiah 9:13–16), they would experience the Lord’s hand in the form of destruction. But Isaiah may have also been teaching that the Lord still offered hope for eventual mercy if the people would repent. How can both images of the Lord’s hand stretched out—one threatening justice and the other offering mercy—help us decide to repent and come unto Him?

The following chart comes from the Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2014:

“The phrase ‘his hand is stretched out still’ can represent both the justice and mercy of God—justice (destruction and punishment) for the wicked and mercy for the repentant if they will turn to God. From the context of the surrounding verses, the reader can often determine which meaning was intended by the scripture author.”

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S JUSTICE:

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S MERCY:

Isaiah 5:25 (2 Nephi 15:25)

Isaiah 9:12,* 17, 21 (2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21)

Isaiah 10:4 (2 Nephi 20:4)

Isaiah 10:13–14 (2 Nephi 20:13–14)

Isaiah 14:26–27 (2 Nephi 24:26–27)

Isaiah 23:11

Exodus 6:6

Deuteronomy 5:15

Deuteronomy 7:19

Psalm 136:10–14

Jeremiah 32:21

Ezekiel 20:33–34

2 Nephi 28:32

Jacob 5:47

Jacob 6:4–5

Alma 5:33–34

Alma 19:36

3 Nephi 9:14

Mormon 6:17

D&C 136:22

* Isaiah 9:12, footnote d, indicates that the phrase in this verse can refer to both justice and mercy.

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Arms

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us of the merciful aspect of this imagery:

“To all of you who think you are lost or without hope, or who think you have done too much that was too wrong for too long, to every one of you who worry that you are stranded … , this conference calls out Jehovah’s unrelenting refrain, ‘[My] hand is stretched out still’ [Isaiah 5:25; 9:17, 21]. ‘I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them,’ He said, ‘[and even if they] deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, … if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts’ [2 Nephi 28:32]. His mercy endureth forever, and His hand is stretched out still. His is the pure love of Christ, the charity that never faileth, that compassion which endures even when all other strength disappears [see Moroni 7:46–47].

“I testify of this reaching, rescuing, merciful Jesus, that this is His redeeming Church based on His redeeming love” (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006).

One way to understand and apply Isaiah’s writings is to consider his possible use of Hypostasis. Have you ever heard of hypostasis? Hypostasis is a technique that is used frequently in the scriptures. This technique uses a part of the corporeal nature of God to represent God as a whole. An example of this is when the scriptures say something to the effect of “the voice of the Lord”, “the face of God”, “the arm of the Lord”. These “parts” of God are used to imply that God himself–whole and complete–was actually present. So, if “his hand is stretched out still”, then the implication is that HE is still near. So, how are you going to react to His hand?

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Hand

What I am referring to can be illustrated in Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. The Rod of Iron is usually thought of and portrayed in visuals as something akin to a guardrail. However, Lehi, Nephi, and Isaiah NEVER use the word rod in this way (see 2 Nephi 20:5, 15, 24, 26, for example). They always use the word rod to talk about something that is held in the hand and stretched out (with the exception of 2 Nephi 21:1, 4; Isaiah 11:4, although these work too). What does this change about how you picture, or think, of the “rod” that is coming from the Tree of Life”? If the Tree of Life typifies Christ (see my SNellFour post), then what is the Tree of Life holding out to all? Is His hand “stretched out still”? How one reacts to His outstretch hand makes all the difference.

Just as it was significant as to how the people reacted to the “rod” in the vision of the Tree of Life, it will depend on how we react when His hand/presence is “stretched out still”. If His hand is stretched out, then we must do as Isaiah admonishes:

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus Hugging a Girl

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#BOMTC Day 23, April 29~Jacob 6-Enos or Pages 133-138: Faith-Shakers VS. Faith-Makers

Click on graphic to read Jacob 6-Enos

Click on graphic to read Jacob 6-Enos

BEWARE OF FAITH-SHAKERS! Faith-shakers take on many forms. In today’s reading Sherem is the personification of a faith-shaker. Jacob describes meeting the faith-shaker Sherem with these words: “and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me… And he had hope to shake me from the faithnotwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken(Jacob 7:3, 5, emphasis added)

Jacob 7:2 teaches us that faith-shakers attack Christ and His true doctrine. Faith-shakers are antichrists.

An antichrist is an opponent of Christ; he is one who is in opposition to the true gospel, the true Church, and the true plan of salvation. (1 John 2:19; 4:4-6) He is one who offers salvation to men on some other terms than those laid down by Christ. Sherem (Jacob 7:1-23), Nehor (Alma 1:2-16), and Korihor (Alma 30:6-60) were antichrists who spread their delusions among the Nephites.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.39)

We may have faith-shakers in our life who are like Sherem, but I find that the more common and subtle faith-shakers that Christ’s disciples face today are FALSE DOCTRINE faith-shakers. Sure, a person can preach false doctrine, but it can also come from many other sources.

HOW Can False Doctrine Be a Faith-Shaker? President Boyd K. Packer, past President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught that:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986).

Therefore, believing false doctrines will change one’s attitude and behavior as well.

False doctrine is a great faith-shaker! What are some modern-day false-doctrine faith-shakers? Media, theories, environments, governments, etc. can all be faith-shakers. What false doctrines do they preach?  They speak of coincidental creation, overpopulation, redefining family and marriage, abortion, etc.

Robert L. Millet, a professor at BYU, put it this way:

I thought back on a few of the antichrists in the Book of Mormon–of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor–and reconsidered their doctrine, their approach, their success, and their demise. I then broadened my scope a bit and realized that evil attitudes, as well as perverse teachings and false systems of salvation, also qualify as enemies of Christ. Such teachings as ‘We have not [prayed about this], for the Lord maketh no such things known unto us’; ‘All is well in Zion’; ‘Eat, drink, and be merry’; ‘Dig a pit for thy neighbor’; ‘We have received and we need no more’; ‘There is no devil; ‘Ye cannot know what ye cannot see’; ‘Do this or do that and it mattereth not,’ and myriads of others–these symbolize the slogans of an antigospel.” (Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth, p.68)

HOW Do Faith-Shakers Preach? Antifreeze is probably a good object-lesson to illustrate an answer this question (see Alma 30:53). Antifreeze is very toxic, but animals are attracted to its sweet taste–they temporarily find pleasure in that which kills them.

Jacob 7:2-7 helps us to identify some of Sherem’s faith-shaker tactics. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (CR, Apr. 1975, 94–95).

 CLEAVE TO FAITH-MAKERS! Most of us have not experienced the great manifestations that Jacob did which helped him to “not be shaken” in the faith (see Jacob 7:5). So how can we “not be shaken”? Jacob 7:10-12 identifies three things that every disciple of Christ has been given to help them “not be shaken” in the faith. President Benson identified them during a talk in general conference:

May I suggest three short tests to avoid being deceived. . . .1. What do the standard works [scriptures] have to say about it? . . . 2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President . . . 3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost. . . . This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin” (Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16-17).

Jacob 4:6, 8, 13,16 and 2 Nephi 9:40 all contain valuable insights that will help us to become cleave to Faith-Makers and become unshakable, like Jacob!

CLEAVE TO TRUE DOCTRINE! There are a few questions that one can ask to evaluate a doctrine that is being presented and discern if it is a faith-shaker or a faith-maker. Faith-maker doctrines receive a YES to each of the following questions:

  1. Is the doctrine clearly expressed in the standard works of the Church?
  2. Is the doctrine found within the official declarations, proclamations, or statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles?
  3. Is the doctrine clearly taught or discussed by current general Church leaders in general conference or other official gatherings of the Church?
  4. Is the doctrine found in the general handbooks or the presently approved curriculum of the Church? (Source: Sunday School: Spring 2005 President’s Message)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

There is not anything in this world of as great importance to us as obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us search these scriptures. Let us know what the Lord has revealed. Let us put our lives in harmony with his truth. Then we will not be deceived” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:301).

Jacob 7:23 shows how this principle affected the Nephites after Sherem was revealed as a faith-shaker.

The late Robert J. Matthews, a well-respected Latter-day Saint scholar, wrote:

“The Book of Mormon was written specifically and pointedly for our time. The principles needed for salvation anciently are the same principles needed now. Likewise, the way of apostasy in ancient times is a pattern of apostasy in our day. The Book of Mormon shows how apostasies occur, and the terrible effects that apostasy has in the lives of individuals as well as in groups such as political governments and churches. Men such as Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor are notable examples of individual apostates in the Book of Mormon, and it clearly demonstrates their pride and sophistry. These were intellectual giants, but they were spiritually undeveloped and each fell victim to the cunning of the devil, who captured them with an appeal to their carnal and natural desires.” (Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series , p.359)

CLEAVE TO YOUR COVENANTS! During a very difficult time for the early Latter-day Saints, the Lord gave Emma Smith the following counsel:

“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

#BOMTC Day 23, April 29~Jacob 6-Enos or Pages 133-138 (2)

Interestingly, Jacob’s Faith-Shaker VS. Faith-Maker account with Sherem is followed by the faith-making experience of Jacob’s son, Enos. Enos is a pattern for becoming a Faith-Maker (Enos 1:8, 11). A close examination of his experience provides an excellent illustration of the effort required to become an unshakable Faith-Maker.

After Enos receives a witness for himself of Christ, he begins the faith-making process of seeking the welfare of others (Enos 1:8-16). As you continue to look for examples of Faith-Shakers and Faith-Makers during your study the Book of Mormon, identify the things that you can do to become a Faith-Maker and avoid Faith-Shakers.

Want to learn more about these chapters? Check out these links…

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