Zion

Recently we were taught in a Stake Conference about the importance of ‘Zion’ and how we can see it realised in our lives around us. Leading on from my recent post on ‘Separation and Unification’ this led on very well and it inspired me to consider how to build Zion a little more around each of us.

Where did Zion come from?

“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” (Psalms 50:2) We know that Zion is a unified body, who are perfected in Christ. The original Zion, who were led by the prophet Enoch and were taken up to be perfected and live with God, are found in the book of Moses. In there we read “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is Fled.” (Moses 7:69) These ancient inhabitants had achieved such a level of unity, peace and righteousness that the Lord removed them from the Earth, which itself was falling deeper and deeper into wickedness. What is interesting about this account is the origin of the city of Zion. We read in Moses 7:19 “And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion.” Enoch worked to build this city. The level of perfection achieved in Zion was not accidental, coincidental or happened overnight. It took work. As unifying things does, it took effort.

The concept of Zion has come from ancient times, however it is an ideal that we are commanded to strive to build Zion where we live, in our Stake and Ward where we are.

Importance of the Temple in Zion

In D&C 97:10-18 we learn about the importance of having the Temple as the focus in Zion.
10 Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that a house should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you.

11 Yea, let it be built speedily, by the tithing of my people.

12 Behold, this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I, the Lord, require at their hands, that there may be a house built unto me for the salvation of Zion—

13 For a place of thanksgiving for all saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices;

14 That they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.

15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;

16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

17 But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.

18 And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible.”

What inhibits the cause of Zion?

Anything could really. Pride, envy, jealousy or not being anxious in a good cause could all be things which inhibit the cause of Zion. Whenever we do not allow unification between ourselves, our families and those in our congregations, the cause of Zion is frustrated.

What are the Blessings of Zion?

Ultimately, we should desire to build Zion around where we live now. We read in 1 Nephi 13:37 “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.” Individually we will be given the greatest blessings that the Lord can bestow upon us. However, the blessings also come collectively. There are another group of people, apart from the original city of Zion, who were recorded in the scriptures as having reached this state of pure happiness. We find them in 4 Nephi 1:16-17 after having been visited by the Saviour Himself. This is part of their experience “And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God. There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” Now, I’m not sure whether we can be sure, but it seems to suggest in this verse that these people in the Americas after Christ’s visit were the happiest people that God had created – does that mean happier than the people of Zion that Enoch led? Possibly, but both were clearly in a Zion state. Something to aim for.

 

Fatherhood – An Eternal Calling

As we live in this ever-chaotic world, we see Satan working overtime to exert his influence over as many of God’s children as possible. As has been warned before, he has identified the fundamental unit of the family as a target for his strategy. This makes perfect sense. We are sent to Earth and the place where we gain our initial identity, security and direction is from those who we are brought into the earth from – our parents.

Elder L Tom Perry elaborated in his remarks: “During the past few decades, Satan has waged a vigorous campaign to belittle and demean this basic and most important of all organizations. His success is becoming increasingly evident—the grim facts are seen, reported, and heard about daily and involve the collapse of many family units. With the decay of the family, we see the terrible effects on our society—increased crime, behavior disorders, poverty, drug abuse, and the list continues to grow and grow.”

Whilst some circumstances make a complete family life impossible, the ideal stated in the Proclamation to the World is to have a father and mother, united and in love, to raise children into the world. Focusing in on fathers – there are two ways in which fathers are being lost in the family’s daily battle: physically not being in the family unit and also, the role of the father being belittled in today’s society.

A World with Diminishing Fathers

Looking at how there are less and less fathers in the world first – the statistics are worrying. We all know them. One click away and we can find the research. Here are a couple facts for you:

  • The most recent stats in 2015 by the Office for National Statistics shows that from 2005 to 2015 there has been an increase of 81,000 single parent families – now up to 2 million
  • Of all ‘families’ with dependent children, 25% are single-parent families (90% of those are without a father) – this is constantly increasing each year

It is clear that the erosion of the family is in full swing. Elder L Tom Perry further added: 

“Surely we have learned by now, from the experience over centuries, that the basic family provides the most stable and secure foundation for society and is fundamental to the preparation of young people for their future responsibilities. We should have learned by now that alternate styles of family formations have not worked and never will work.”

If we have not learnt from history then there are clear findings today. I will not go into details as to what these are for, once again, they can be found one Internet search away but it is eye-opening. One that I will mention which I would encourage all fathers to remember is this:

  • Among fathers living in urban areas, those who more frequently attended religious services were more likely to be engaged in activities with their children than peers who attended less frequently. Fathers who reduced the frequency of their religious attendance during the first year of their children’s lives became, on average, less engaged with their children compared to peers who maintained their level of religious attendance.

What does this teach us? As stated in Preach My Gospel “The restored gospel blesses and helps husbands and wives, parents and children as they strive to develop stronger relationships and spiritual strength in their families.”

A family based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and with a father and mother leading the way is more likely (according to doctrine and backed by scientific research) to succeed and achieve their potential than in any other way.

We see so many examples in the scriptures of fathers who, with their wives, led their family to peace and a knowledge of the Gospel:

 

Because these fathers were present – they were able to have an impact on their children. Notice that these stories all have a variety of outcomes. For Lehi, yes Nephi was valiant and true but not all Lehi’s children were. Two of Lehi’s children went on to create an ignorant, Godless nation, focusing on destroying their brother’s descendants – does that make Lehi a bad father? Alma the Younger was destroying the Church of God, leading others astray. Does that mean Alma wasn’t there for his son? Of course not. Whilst families with a father are more likely to succeed, it does not guarantee success. There are also a number of single-parent families without fathers who will also accomplish their goals and be able to be close to the Saviour. I was made aware this week of a young family with a heart-breaking story. After having cancer diagnosed and unsuccessful treatment (as well as torment on the Internet from insensitive commenters who mocked and branded the news a lie), a father of five children died at the age of 34. Does that mean this family will fail without their loving, caring father? I’m certain the Lord will bless them. It is simply more likely that with a father, a family is more likely to achieve their goals – why else would Satan be so focused on eroded the family unit itself?

A World of Diminishing Respect for Fathers

However, something that is far more concerning than losing fathers is losing the respect and the ideal of fatherhood. In a talk in the April 2015 Conference, Sister Linda K Burton said about the devaluing of the role of the father in today’s world: 

“On the other end of the scale is the degrading and mocking message that husbands and fathers are no longer needed. I plead with you not to listen to Satan’s lies! He has forfeited that sacred privilege of ever becoming a husband or father. Because he is jealous of those who have the sacred roles he will never fill, he is intent on making “all men … miserable like unto himself”

In today’s media, the role of the father is being attacked. I had not considered this. I suppose it was the example set to me in my home growing up that helped me to avoid this view. My Mum and Dad raised, and continue to raise their children, with the clear view to involve each other, love each other and respect each other. My wife and I are striving for that ideal. However, here are some things which, a first may seem trivial, but really are painting an alarming picture: 

  • In most welfare offices, fathers are not invited to case planning meetings, and when a home visitor is greeted at the door by a man, she often asks to speak with the mother. Given these scenarios, fathers are likely to get the message that they are invisible or irrelevant to their children’s welfare, unless it involves financial support.
  • In a study of fatherhood in popular TV sitcoms, psychologists concluded that fathers are generally shown to be relatively immature, unhelpful and incapable of taking care of themselves in comparison with other family members. In addition, the researchers found that fathers often served as the butt of family members’ jokes. All of these characterizations, while the intention may be humor, depicted fathers as being socially incompetent and objects of derision.
  • In a study of depictions of fathers in the best selling children’s picture books, a researcher concluded that of the 200 books analyzed, there were only 24 books where the father appears alone, and only 35 books where mother and father appear together. The author concludes, “because fathers are not present or prominent in a large number of these books, readers are given only a narrow set of images and ideas from which they can construct an understanding of the cultural expectations of fatherhood and what I means to be a father.”
  • Also in popular TV and movies, the ever-increasing ‘joke’ (to use the term ‘joke’ lightly) of children not knowing their fathers is ever increasing.

These, and many other more worrying direct degrading comments and views on fatherhood is having a major impact on how the world views fathers.

The Ultimate Father

We cannot take the role of the father lightly – to do so would degrade the role of the One Father we all share in common. Our Heavenly Father is the ultimate example. Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught “…Fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.” 

If you are a father, you have a divine assignment. It is infinitely more vital to you and the building of the Kingdom of God than your calling and your career. It is to be the standing replacement of a Father in Heaven that your little one has only left recently in their eternal lives. Do we recognise this? We will not be perfect like Him in this life but we are expected to fill the role He would if He were here with that child. Even if your child has reached their adult years, your Father in Heaven has been their Father infinitely longer than you have been theirs…and yet He has trusted you to be their father now, in the most important period of their eternal lives!

The way we as a father act, influences the way that our child sees our Father in Heaven.

Let us remember those we call ‘Dad’ and if we do not one to call our own, let us all one day look forward to when we shall meet the one we call ‘Father’. 

Choices

The Choice to Choose

Every day when we wake up, we are instantly presented with choices. Some choices are more trivial, such as “What shall I eat for breakfast?” – we even have the choice whether to eat breakfast or not. Some choices are more important “Do I get on my knees and thank the Lord for the new day?” At the times in the morning I’m sure many of us arise at, this choice may not be as easy as we think. I know when I go to our children’s room where our 3 year old son is insisting it is morning (despite it being 6am in the morning at a weekend) it can be easy to make small choices which will affect us later on.

All our decisions will have an impact on our lives. As mentioned, some will have more influence on us. However, do we ever stop to consider how fortunate we are to choose? How blessed are we that we are able to choose. From before the beginning of this world, an important choice was made. We made the choice to choose.

The War in Heaven

President Thomas S Monson said When we left our premortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency.” As spirit children of our Heavenly Father we were given an important opportunity. We had two choices: choose Satan and have no choice, or follow Father’s plan and have choice, but with that choice came accountability. Ironically, in order to accept Satan’s plan, we would have to use our agency to lose it – make that choice. We know that as we are on this Earth today, we, like all of the people who have lived and will ever live on this Earth made that choice to follow our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. There are, at least, two very important lessons we learn from this doctrine, this plain and precious truth:

  1. We recognised the value of our moral agency.
  2. Everyone else on this Earth…EVERYONE…once made the choice to follow Christ

Value of Moral Agency

When we, along with two thirds of Father’s children decided to accept the Plan of Salvation, the Plan of Agency, Satan and his hosts rebelled. In Revelation 12:7 we read:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels”

We do not the nature of this ‘war’ but we know that, ultimately, it was our agency, our ability to choose, that was at stake. Do we remember when we live our everyday lives just how blessed we are to choose? This agency has been fought over, retained and been given as a precious gift. This is why we veer away from the phrase ‘free agency’ because it really has never been free (the term free agency is also never mentioned once in the scriptures – moral agency is though). This phrase moral agency implies something much more accurate, yes we can choose but all our choices lead to a consequence which we do not decide.

Satan recognises the value of this moral agency and the potential it has to bless us, and that is why his tactics revolve, generally, around us giving up our agency to sin, the loss of free will because of the lack of blessings we receive. Lehi, in his great lesson to his son, Jacob, taught:

And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)

Each and every day, that War in Heaven is continuing around us spiritually. Will we make the choice to continue to follow Father’s plan and retain the full blessings of agency or will we yield some of that ability to choose to him who would make us miserable? Of course, in the haze and mists of the day, it will not be so clear that all the choices we make are that important, but they are.

All have made the Choice to Choose

The other truth learnt from knowing about this choice to choose that we all made is that everyone on this earth once accepted the same choice we did. Isn’t that a great motivator for missionary work? Just think: our colleagues at work, our friends at school and our neighbours around us all stood on that ‘battlefield’ in the War in Heaven shoulder to shoulder with us and our Saviour. When asked “Who will be faithful?” – at that time, all of us said we would, and all of us were. That is why we live on this earth today. We made the choice to choose also. In the year 2000, Elder Jeffrey R Holland said to an audience of missionaries in the Provo MTC: “So the fact of the matter is investigators are not only hearing our testimony of Christ, but they are hearing echoes of other, earlier testimonies, including their own testimony of Him, for they were on the side of the faithful who kept their first estate and earned the privilege of a second estate. We must always remember that these investigators, every man, woman, and child, were among the valiant who once overcame Satan by the power of their testimony of Christ! So when they hear others bear that witness of Christ’s saving mission, it has a familiar feeling; it brings an echo of truth they themselves already know.”

There may well be times where we think that our friends just will not be interested. They are living lives they are perfectly happy with, why would they want to listen? We know how much this Gospel has blessed us and they once felt the same as us, they simply do not remember. As children of God that have the opportunity to have plain and precious truths in this life – we must invite others!

How can we invite others? Start with small steps – I once went away from a Stake Conference around 4-5 years ago with the invitation from our Stake Presidency to be a better member missionary. I had, what can only be explained by me as a rush of adrenaline, the decision that I would speak to every person on the early bus I used to take to placement about the marvellous news I had. I then quickly realised that for me personally, that probably wasn’t the best place to start. So instead, we invited the missionaries into our home more often, I went teaching with the missionaries more. A few months later my wife and I were asked if we could help teach an investigator in our home – we of course agreed. I have to say – that was the easiest missionary work I have ever taken part in. The investigator came to us, built a great friendship with us and our son and he was baptised. I felt prompted later on to call him as our Activities Coordinator in the Elders Quorum and we had some fantastic Quorum brotherhood building experiences.

The Europe Area Plan urges us become temporally and spiritually self-reliant, find an ancestor and bring a friend. Knowing that all our friends once made the choice to choose, we must choose today to begin a pattern to become more missionary minded. We might not feel confident to go to someone tomorrow and invite them to be baptised. But we can make the choice to invite the missionaries into our home as a start – they will jump at the chance. As a missionary myself I would love to meet with the members briefly during the day as seeing so much rejection when you know how amazing this news is that you are sharing. Sharing some time with members can strengthen missionaries and may lead to future missionary opportunities. Wherever we are on the missionary spectrum, try to move today.

Once we understand how much value has been placed on our agency from the pre-mortal existence and we have been blessed even further with a knowledge of the Gospel in this life, the small choices like getting on our knees in the morning or studying regularly from the Book of Mormon suddenly become privileges, not mundane decisions.

The Ball is in our Court

As a primary school teacher in a school where around 80% of the children speak English as an Additional Language, we often come across moments where there is a little confusion in language. For example, we were having a discussion which led to a question. One student wanted to decide something but was unsure which response to go with. I, having spoken the English Language for pretty much all my life, said “Well, you can’t sit on the fence,” meaning the student would have to decide. This was followed by a look of confusion from at least half the members of the class and one child raised their hand and asked ‘Sir, what fence?” These peculiar phrases, or idioms, shape a lot of our language and all of us use them in day to day language. The phrase “sitting on the fence” can apply here – we have been given the ability to choose. We cannot decide to sit on the fence. The ball is in our court. We have to be led away from Father or go the whole nine yards. If we are not making choices which will lead to spiritual blessings then we must turn over a new leaf and get the ball rolling.

In 2 Nephi 26:23-24 we are taught by Nephi: “For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.”

We will never be forced to make the right choice; that is not God’s plan. However, he has asked, invited, us all to come unto Him. No one is exempt from this invitation. What we decide today will in large part determine whether we will allow the full blessings of the Atonement to enter our lives our not. As President Monson has said ‘Decisions Determine Destiny.’

We Are Accountable

However, despite this fantastic news that we are truly blessed to be able to choose, there is a word of warning – and it refers back to the definition of moral agency. We choose our decision, but we do not choose the consequence. Yet, we are fully accountable for that choice. To prove this further, we read in the Doctrine and Covenants 101:78, we learn… “That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”

We, not anyone else, are ultimately responsible for our decisions. We have often heard and sung the phrase ‘Choose the Right’. In a world of swiftly decaying values and attitudes, choosing the right is becoming increasingly more difficult. We can never take the approach that we are safe, for the War of Heaven is continuing around us; it continues to claim souls. However, like a call from a watchtower, our prophet, President Thomas S Monson had these words to say in his address: “We know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life.”

We are constantly making decisions of eternal significance. We read in the scriptures that by small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. Unfortunately, this can apply to the opposite. If we don’t do the necessary small and simple things, make those small decisions of course-correction, then it will have larger consequences.

We have a Guide

All of this can be unnerving. However, we have an Anchor, a Rock, and Iron Rod which we can hold fast to, not just cling to half-heartedly. Our Saviour Jesus Christ has felt the pains, sorrows and therefore difficult decisions we have to make in life. He can help us. He will help us, if we will just invite Him. We read in Alma 7:11-12:

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Because our Saviour knows how to support us, He knows what will give us the greatest opportunity to reach Heavenly Father. If decisions determine destiny, then Christ can support us in making the correct decisions to lead us back to Father.

Understanding Isaiah – 2 Nephi 20

Verse 1 – “Wo unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;” This is clear when linked with Moroni 7:18 “And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.” Those who judge others unjustly, will find that they will be. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of judging. Finding out about some event, or rumour, can be a tantalising subject to discuss and form opinions about. However, as with many times, this can lead to unnecessary upset, misunderstanding and fallouts. Not to mention that we will be judged the same when the time comes for our Judgement.

Verse 15 – “Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood!” This is a great analogy to pride. If we are blessed with success in our career or the service of the Lord, we cannot claim to be the main cause – the Lord is the one who can lead and guide us and His hand is in all things. Of course we can be pleased with our efforts and what we’ve worked on, but we must recognise all things come from Him.

Verse 18 – “And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body; and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth.” Again, this verse has double meanings. Isaiah is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by Assyria (Babylon), however it can a number of meanings. Destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming (as mentioned in the LDS chapter heading), spiritual death of individuals  who fall to temptation and so on.

Verse 26 – “And the Lord of Hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and as his rod was upon the sea so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.” This verse will have been included by Nephi because it comes back to his original message – his intention of writing this record way back in 1 Nephi – “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” (1 Nephi 1:20) The Lord is mighty to save. He will deliver us from all adversity if we are faithful. We can liken this to our lives, bringing us hope when we may feel overwhelmed.

Verse 33 – “Behold, the Lord, the Lord of Hosts shall lop the bough with terror; and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down; and the haughty shall be humbled.” A powerful message again to the dangers of pride. For those who act in pride or are prideful of their abilities will be brought low. An example of this happening is found in Helaman 4:12 where the Nephites are caught in the grip of pride and are left without the strength of the Lord “And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites—” We must be careful that we do not find ourselves in the same position.

Christmas!

​I honestly can’t decide what I have enjoyed most this Christmas Day…
Whether it was the sheer joy on our two children’s faces when they saw Santa had been, the smile from my amazing wife as we witnessed their happiness, getting thrashed by Josh playing with his Scalextric track, sharing in a marvellous breakfast with the Roberts Clan, seeing Elaina lovingly place her doll into a new high chair for the doll, singing praises to Him whose birth we celebrate with other cherished fellow saints, opening more carefully selected gifts with the Henley Clan, enjoying a delicious Christmas dinner with them, guiding two (still overjoyed) children to bed and wishing them sweet dreams or indulging in some Doctor Who and a few goodies…
Merry Christmas to all – I hope your coming days are filled with as much joy. The joy and happiness of Christmas doesn’t have to just last for one day (although I think the volume of food is best for the one day) – it can be for everyday, it can last all year. 
You all make this possible – light the world in some small way and you will bring the spirit of Christmas each and every day 🙂

Understanding Isaiah – 2 Nephi 15

Verse 2 – “And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” The fencing and the tower are direct parallels with the defences that the Lord provides for us. We have the prophets, scriptures, prayer, the gift of the Holy Ghost and so on…

Verse 3-5 – “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes it brought forth wild grapes. And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard—I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down;” However, despite the Lord’s blessings and his protection, Isaiah prophesies the downfall of Jerusalem as, despite being a chosen people, they turned away from Him and his strength. Of course, the writings of Isaiah do not just apply to that context but can be likened (and should be likened) to us. If we decide to disregard the watchtower and allow the fencing to fall into disrepair, temptations and storms can enter our lives without the protection of the Lord.

Verse 7 – “For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for judgment, and behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry.” Another verse that links to this one is found in the Old Testament – Amos 5:24 reads “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” The implications of these verses together are clear – as much as blessings will rain down upon all of us if we are willing to open our arms to receive them, the judgements of God are just as reliable. Of course, due to His mercy we can receive forgiveness from all we do, but we must repent and exercise faith in the Saviour’s promise.

Verse 8-9 – “Wo unto them that join house to house, till there can be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine ears, said the Lord of Hosts, of a truth many houses shall be desolate, and great and fair cities without inhabitant.” This is an interesting section. When I first read it, it wasn’t very clear to me. However, Micah 2:2 helps to shed a little more light on what was meant by Isaiah in these verses. It reads “And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.” Isaiah here prophesies and condemns those who are full of greed in the last days. The phrase ‘join house to house’ refers to individuals taking more than their share, never being happy with what the Lord has blessed them with.

Verse 10 – “Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah.” This section refers to how there will be a shortage in production of necessities. In the last days, the world will descend further and further into chaos and argument – part of that will be due to a lack of resources for mankind (particularly whilst the greed from the previous entry is occurring).

Verse 13 – “Therefore, my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” Once again, on it’s own, this verse was not very clear to me instantly. However, Hosea 4:6 sheds a little more light on it’s meaning. It says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” The House of Israel will forget their Lord, the knowledge of His Gospel and as such they lose out on promised blessings, on the living water of the Saviour and therefore feel thirst.

Verse 18-19 – “Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope; That say: Let him make speed, hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it.” Sin is a dangerous thing – if we make a mistake and it is not repented of quickly then we may get more and more entangled in its grasp. Isaiah paints a very vivid picture of how this can bind us spiritually – however, the Saviour has the power to break these bonds.

Verse 24 – “Therefore, as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, their root shall be rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust; because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” As with most imagery involving a plant with branch and root, this can be linked to the everlasting bond of familial relationships. Job 18:16 adds more to this understanding – “His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.” Our actions have an eternal impact. Our actions can be a part of building a legacy which sets up future generations of faithful disciples of Christ and provides life-saving ordinances to those that came before. Hence, the plant (both root and branch) will be sustained.

There was a lot more in that chapter! If anyone has any thoughts about what I’ve mentioned or anything else from this chapter then please add them!

 

Understanding Isaiah – 2 Nephi 14

Instalment Three of Isaiah 🙂

Verse 1 – “And in that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.” As this verse is the introduction this chapter divide, it can be a little confusing and out of its context. This can be seen as a continuation of the prophecy of the world in the last days. In that day, after the many wars and rumours of wars, this could be a reference to the fact many lives will be lost and so others will be left to find other means of welfare. There is also a link to Journals of Discourses by Brigham Young (11:270), George A. Smith (15:27) and Orson Pratt (15:44) which make a possible link between this verse and the fall of sons of perdition which is well worth looking into.

Verse 2 –In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the earth excellent and comely to them that are escaped of Israel.”  The fruit of the earth being excellent is a reference to the glory that awaits all those who are nourished by the roots of the Gospel – which glory is eternal, Celestial glory.

A bit of a shorter entry for this chapter as it is shorter anyway!