Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson: 32-35 — War Chapters

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson #32-35: War Chapters
Temporal Warfare – Learning Lessons about Spiritual Warfare
by Dave Hadlock

Aside from the Isaiah chapters, the war chapters can be some of the most difficult for me to read, especially after having read them many times. Hopefully, this will give you some new ideas to consider as you read through them the next time.
In Moses chapter 4, Moses depicts a scene that took place in the pre-mortal realm. He states that Satan was with the Lord God in the beginning and he went before the Lord in some sort of council stating, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1).

It would seem that Satan had good intentions and desired for all mankind to be saved. Yet, if we look more closely at what he was proposing, that was never his intention. The Lord said this about Satan, “wherefore…Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I the Lord God, had given him” (Moses 4:3). Without agency, it is impossible for man to be saved. In fact, without agency and the ability for intelligence to “act for itself…there is no existence” (D&C 93:29). Or in the words of Nephi, without “opposition in all things…it must needs have been created for naught; there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation” (2 Nephi 2:11-12). Nephi continued that “all things must have vanished away” (2 Nephi 2:13). In other words, Satan knew that restricting our agency would have resulted in a wasted creation. The world would have returned to a state of chaos.   Without the important building block of agency, there is no existence. It is impossible for mankind to be saved and exalted without the ability to choose. We can’t develop the attributes of deity without making choices.

Thus, I believe Satan never desired for man’s redemption and salvation; but rather (as Moses stated), he desired God’s honor and glory. According to Doctrine & Covenants 29:36, God’s honor is the source of his power. In the pre-mortal realm, Satan was really rebelling against our Father….he was not suggesting an alternative plan for the redemption and salvation of mankind. He desired to usurp God’s power and authority and to bring all mankind into his submission. That war for power and control which began in the pre-mortal realm continues throughout mortality. Satan’s desire is to bring us into his submission. While the Book of Mormon war chapters teach us principles that can help guide us in actual temporal warfare (including justification for war betweens nations and I would suggest between individuals), these chapters also teach us principles in spiritual warfare against Satan’s hosts.

At the commencement of these long series of wars in Alma 43, we read that Moroni, “had prepared his people with breastplates and arm-shields, yea and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing” (Alma 43:19). Almost as an afterthought, we find out that the Nephites were dressed also with a thick clothing. What might this have been and what does this have to do with preparation for spiritual warfare. This is is one of the first things Moroni does in preparation for battle; yet we have little scriptural insight into what he was actually doing.

Our first hint at what Moroni may have been doing comes in Alma 49. The Lamanite leaders had prepared their warriors for battle imitating the preparations of Moroni. In Alma 49:6, we learn that they had “prepared themselves with shields, and with breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins; yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness.” If they were imitating the Nephites, then we learn from this that Moroni’s thick clothing was made of “skins”. This begs the question…what kind of “skins” is Moroni referring to? Jumping forward in the war chapters to 3 Nephi, we find that the Gadianton robbers were now attacking the Nephites and that “they were girded about after the manner of robber; and they had a lamb-skin about their loins, and they were dyed in blood” (3 Nephi 4:7). It seems that the “thick skins” were lamb skins. If so and if they were imitating Moroni in his preparations for battle, it seems like Moroni was preparing his men for spiritual battle by dressing his warriors in the robes of the lamb, meaning the “Lamb of God” whose blood was shed in sacrifice. While these lamb skins may have served a practical purpose, it is just as likely the Moroni was spiritually dressing his warriors in the robes of their God. If we are fighting for God, he will endow (which means “to dress” from the Greek word enduo) and empower us to fight in His behalf. He will also give us guidance and principles for so doing. As we look at Mormon practices, I don’t think it is coincidence that most of our ordinances are done at a relatively young age. We are dressed in the robes of the Lamb early in life in preparation for the battles of mortality.

The actions of the Lamanites here also give us insight into the manner in which Satan works. He seeks to destroy by imitating the Son of God. One of Satan’s primary methods he uses to subjugate us is to deceive us by transforming himself “nigh unto an angel of light” (2 Nephi 9:9). The Lamanites and Gadianton robbers transformed themselves nigh unto the Nephites by dressing themselves in the robes of the Lamb.

As we read through the war chapters, we can look for strategies that allow us to maintain ourselves free from Satan’s bondage. Strategies that help keep us in a place where we cannot be deceived. Some of these strategies might include the following:

  • Alma 43:23 – Following the words of the prophet
  • Alma 43:35 – Surrounding and eradicating wickedness from our environment
  • Alma 46 – Making and keeping covenants
  • Alma 47 – Standing in Holy Places
  • Alma 47 – Recognizing that Satan “poisons by degrees”
  • Alma 48-49 – Strengthening our weaknesses
  • Alma 53 – Cleaning the inner vessel (clean from within first)
  • Alma 54 – Learning and remembering the reasons why we do what we do – the “why” matters

I believe we have more power over evil as we understand Satan’s motives and as we understand his strategies in our own lives. The battle that began in the pre-mortal realm is real and continues in this realm. Satan’s goal is to bring us into bondage. The Book of Mormon can be an instruction manual that shows us ways of fighting wickedness in the world.

Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine Lesson #28 – Alma and the Seed

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson #28:
The Seed: What is Alma Asking us to Plant in Our Heart?
By: Dave Hadlock

Alma’s request for his listeners to “experiment upon my words” has deep meaning for many of us in even a casual reading of the text. Yet, his call to experiment was not completely understood by his ancient listeners just as we often miss some of his intended meaning. After hearing this discourse, the confused Zoramites asked, “whether they should believe in one God…or how they should plant the seed…or in what manner they should begin to exercise their faith” (Alma 33:1). By taking a closer look at the context of this experiment, as well as Alma’s follow up on these questions, we get a greater understanding of what Alma is asking us to do.

Chapter 32 commenced with Alma “teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah” (Alma 32:4). As he was teaching, a multitude came upon him of the poor Zoramites. The Zoramites were a group of apostate Nephites who had apparently adapted the belief system of the surrounding pagan civilization. They were a people who bowed themselves “down to dumb idols” (Alma 31:1). Interestingly, it seems that when this civilization lost a correct knowledge of the attributes of deity and began to believe that God was a spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. It appears they adopted a pantheon of gods and made idols in representation of their pantheon. Then they created physical images (idols) to represent different attributes of their deities. The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost are “one” in that they all embody a perfection of attributes. Apostate civilizations often worshipped individual aspects of their attributes and represented them with different gods.

Alma noted that their afflictions (including poverty, being cast out of their synagogues, their low social status, etc.) had “truly humbled them, and that they were in preparation to hear the word” (Alma 32:6). This is probably included as it sets the framework for the experiment, in which the seed was to be planted in their hearts. The heart is often represented by soil. In the parable of the sower, the sower sowed seeds in different soil conditions. Christ compared it to “that which was sown in his heart” Matthew 13:19). The humbled Zoramites had hearts ready to plant the seed. Good soil is a prerequisite for the experiment. For those who are not yet humble enough for the experiment to be worthwhile, Alma gave us a means by which we can prepare the soil for the experiment. He taught us how to find humility.

Verse 13 stated, “Because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble seeketh repentance….(but) do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?” In other words, our conditions in life can humble us (poverty, war, pain, illness, divorce, etc.) or we can choose to be humbled by the word. King Benjamin taught this doctrine like this “the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state” (Mosiah 4:5). Just as life circumstances can humble us, so too can a knowledge of God’s goodness humble us.

Whether by the word or by life’s circumstances, these Zoramites had been humbled and were ready to repent and experiment upon Alma’s words. Alma instructed them to “compare the word unto a seed”. Alma asked of the Zoramites (and us) to try the following experiment.

  • Desire: You have to want to believe. At times in my life, I have to go all the way back to this first principle. Ask God for the desire to believe.
  • Plant the seed in your heart: The heart is the soil. If the seed is good, only the condition of the heart-soil will determine what happens with the seed.
  • Observe the seed: Does it begin to grow? If so, the seed is good. Alma points out that we can tell the seed is growing when it does the following:
    • Enlarges the soul
    • Enlightens our understanding
    • Begins to be delicious
  • Nourish the seed: Just because the seed is good, doesn’t mean we’ve taken advantage of what the seed has to offer. We have to continue with the experiment by nourishing the seed. If we do so long enough, the seed will create a tree, which tree produces a fruit.
  • Be patient: Alma suggests that if we are patient with the seed, we will be able to partake of the fruit, which fruit will fill us to the point in which we will never hunger or thirst.

Upon hearing the metaphor, the Zoramites remained confused. They wondered aloud if they needed to believe in only one God to obtain this fruit. In response to the parable, Alma clarifies the manner in which he intended for them to apply the experiment. In so doing, he taught them and us the nature of the seed and aspects of the God that we should believe in.

Alma answered their question by turning to the scriptures. In particular, he quoted prophets that taught of the “mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son” (Alma 33:16). He continued by explaining how  Moses raised up a serpent on a staff in similitude of Jesus Christ that “whosoever would look upon it might live” (Alma 33:19). Then he asks the Zoramites to “cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God” (Alma 33:22). And concludes, “now my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts” (Alma 33:23). The word that Alma wanted the Zoramites to desire to believe in was the capital “W” – “Word”. He wanted them to plant the Word “Jesus” in their hearts.

Going back through the experiment, let’s look at what happens if we will plant the One True God, Jesus Christ in our hearts.

  • Alma 32:28 — Now, we will compare Christ unto a seed. Now if ye give place that Christ may be planted in your heart, behold if He is the True and Good God, if ye do not cast out Him by your unbelief, behold he will begin to swell within your breasts. Ye will then begin to say within yourselves — It must needs be that Christ is Good, for He beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, he beginneth to enlighten my understanding, he beginneth to be delicious unto me.
  • Alma 32:41 — If ye will nourish your belief in Christ, by your faith, diligence and patience, He shall take root; and behold, he shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
Alma was teaching the Zoramites that Christ is the Tree of Life. He’s the Tree in the midst of the Garden. He was the Tree in Lehi’s dream. The fruit that comes from Christ is delicious above all. If we are patient, diligent and long-suffering, the tree (Christ) will bring forth fruit unto us (Alma 32:43). Christ’s fruit is the gift of mercy unto everlasting life, which the Father has bestowed upon us through his Son. This, says Alma, is the one God we must believe in. Christ is a God of mercy. We are dependent upon Him to bring this fruit unto us.

Book of Mormon – Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson #25:
Ammon: By Power or Authority?
By Dave Hadlock

The Book of Mormon account of the missionary journeys of the sons of Mosiah, particularly the account of Ammon, highlights and teaches principles of personal power. The word “power” is simply the ability to influence the beliefs and behaviors of others. In Alma, chapters 17-20, Ammon demonstrates the principles upon which true power is based. For those of us who seek to have more influence in the lives of those around us (including our own), the lessons learned from these passages can be profound.

Chapter 17 of Alma commences with the reminder that the sons of Mosiah had “refused the kingdom which their father was desirous to confer upon them” (Alma 17:6). Authority is positional power. It is power that is given or conferred upon individuals based upon their position in a group. It has the ability to influence behavior by compulsion (but I would suggest it is short-lived influence). On the other hand, true power is independent of position and authority. I believe part of the purpose of this passage of scripture is to teach us principles of power by juxtaposing it with authority. Ammon and his brothers reject the authority that could have been theirs in part to demonstrate that the ability to influence doesn’t come from position.

At this point in the account, Ammon took his journey into the land of Ishmael. Now traditionally when a Nephite went among the Lamanites, it was the custom to “carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of the land.” Again, look carefully, Mormon wanted to make it clear that Nephites were either killed, imprisoned or cast out of the land because none of these things were done to Ammon. In fact, it was said that the king “inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among his people” (Alma 17:21). Dwelling among the people wasn’t traditionally offered as an option to a Nephite. The king added to this by stating that “he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife” (Alma 17:24). Here we have Ammon, a Nephite, being offered the daughter of the king, putting him in line for authority power amongst the Lamanites. Ammon was being treated far differently than other Nephites would have been treated. Ammon who had authority offered to him among the Nephites was now being offered authority among the Lamanites1. Like his rejection of Nephite rule, he also rejected Lamanite authority. I believe he realized that the true ability to influence others would come through mediums much more powerful than positional authority.

As the account continued, Ammon refused the kings offer stating, “Nay, but I will be thy servant” (Alma 17:25). As a servant of the king, Ammon was out watching the king’s flocks. After the king’s flocks were scattered yet again, the servants “began to weep exceedingly”. They feared what the king was going to do to them. In response to this, Ammon was joyful thinking, “I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words” (Alma 17:29)2.

Ammon sought the ability to influence the king’s servants. He knew the first step in doing so was to “win their hearts”. While authority is power that is given or conferred, true power is earned. I once had a missionary companion teach this by stating, “authority is given; power is taken”. Cicero stated that “authority rests with the senate; power resides in the people”. Power resides in people willing to submit or give up their hearts. Ammon wanted them to give up their hearts to him of their own free will.

As the story continued, we learn how Ammon was able to win their hearts and how he was able to exercise power and influence over a whole kingdom. The Lamanites, who had scattered the flocks, drew near unto Ammon. When they saw “that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with their clubs to slay him” (Alma 17:36). As they attempted to kill Ammon, he “smote off their arms with his sword…and he caused them to flee by the strength of his”. I believe Ammon carried with him a metal sword3. I also believe that the Lamanites fought with wood and obsidian clubs, possibly like the club pictured below. When a metal blade came into contact with an obsidian/wood club, the obsidian would have shattered. Thus Ammon “smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him” (Alma 17:38). I believe the “arms” reference here are their clubs…their weapons. The word “arm” in Hebrew also means “power”. I believe there is a play on words in the original text showing the “power which was in Ammon” being stronger that the power (or arms) of those who attacked him.

The servants then returned to King Lamoni and retold him of this account. Look at the emphasis on the word “power” in this chapter and the re-telling of these events:
Alma 18:2 — The servants testified “of his (Ammon’s) great power”
Alma 18:3 — “We do not believe that a man has such great power” (Suggesting that Ammon was more than a man)
Alma 18:8 — The king asks, “Where is this man that has such great power?”
Alma 18:13 — The servants call Ammon “Rabbanah, which is powerful or great king”
Alma 18:20 — The king asks of Ammon, “tell me by what power ye slew and smote off the arms”
Alma 18:21 — “I know that thou art more powerful than all they” (The king recognized that the source of Ammon’s power was greater than any worldly power)
This series of testimonies from the servants and inquiries by the king lead Ammon inquire of the king in a “wise yet harmless” way by stating, “Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things?” (Alma 18:22). He is trying to influence the beliefs and behaviors of the king. He rejected the kings authority in hopes of being able to win his heart with true power. The king said, “Yeah, I will believe all thy words”. Ammon then proceeded to teach the king where true power comes from. He began by asking the king, “Believest thou that there is a God?” Ammon acknowledges that power comes from God. Joseph Smith taught that the power of faith is acquired by a correct knowledge of God and His attributes. This is why Ammon had to correct himself at the beginning of the account. He was very aware that it was not his (Ammon’s) power; but rather it was God’s power, which was in him.

Ammon continued explaining how we access God’s power. In Alma 18:17, Ammon said, “I am a man, and am thy servant.” We win the hearts of people by being humble and recognizing that we are just men and women. We win their hearts when we are willing to serve them. That power increases as “a portion of the spirit” dwells in us (Alma 18:35). That Spirit “giveth knowledge, and also power” according to our faith and desires.

When called on his mission, Ammon was told to “be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me” (Alma 17:11). Christ is the ultimate example of how to yield power and influence over people. He wins our hearts because he is long-suffering and patient with us. He wins our hearts because he is the ultimate humble servant. In the beginning, Satan tried to usurp Heavenly Father’s power; but he never understood this true principles of power. Moses said he, Satan, sought for God’s honor. In D&C 29:36, God states that he (the devil) rebelled against me, saying, give me thine honor, which is my power”. God’s power is not positional authority. You cannot compel people to change. God has all power because he has all of our honor. Satan could never have taken God’s power because he wasn’t willing to do those things that bring about honor and respect. God has all power because we willingly give up our hearts to Him because of the ultimate, humble sacrifice and service that He has rendered to us. This pattern was well understood by Ammon and is truly the pattern we should seek to emulate as we attempt to influence for good those around us. We earn their power as we earn their trust, respect and honor, which honor comes through loving, humble service.

1) I believe the Lamanite king somehow knew that Ammon was a prince among the Nephites. By offering his daughter to Ammon, he was trying to create a political alliance between the two kingdoms. I also believe that Ammon carried with him a symbol of that authority that he held amongst the Nephites.

2) Notice the self-correction here by Ammon. Writing on metal, he couldn’t simply erase mistakes so he corrected the misstatement, by adding “or the power which is in me”.

3) The sword of Laban was a symbol of authority and the right to rule among the Nephites (Mosiah 1:16). I believe his possession of a metal sword was one of the reasons why Lamoni recognized him as a Nephite prince.

Gospel Doctrine Lesson #34 New Testament

New Testament -Gospel Doctrine lesson 34
“Cultural Practices in The Church — What is Paul’s Counsel?”
by: Dave Hadlock
One of the difficulties in trying to understand Paul’s writings is the fact that we often lack information on the events that precipitated his letters. Many of his epistles addressed problems going on in the branches of the church, but we don’t always know exactly what those problems were. Often the members were disputing over unstated cultural practices. In 1 Corinthians, Paul gives interesting insights into dealing with members who struggle with the cultural aspects of the church.

As a word of caution when trying to apply Paul’s teachings, remember that because many of his epistles deal with cultural divisions in the church, applying his doctrine can be difficult. His teachings address specific cultural practices and their affects on the church. So when we do try to apply Paul’s teachings, we should look carefully at the problem solving process and underlying principles as opposed to to his proscribed solutions. The solutions are often culture specific.

In his letter to the Corinthians, we get hints of the problems occurring among the church at Corinth as we explore the themes he repeats throughout the entire epistle. In Corinthians 1:10 he states, “Now I beseech of you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment….For it has been declared unto me….that there are contentions among you.” The members of the church at Corinth were starting to divide into groups depending on their beliefs.

In many of the branches of the church, Paul was addressing the contentions that were taking place between the Christian Jews and the Christian Gentiles. However, it seems that in Corinth, the members were mostly Gentiles. From Acts 18:6 it appears that the Jews in Corinth did not embrace Paul’s teachings. Yet in spite of the fact that there wasn’t a division in the church based on Jewish or Gentile heritage, the church members still seemed to be able to find things to fight about.

In 1 Corinthians 8, we find that one of the disputes among the church members regarded “touching things offered unto idols”. Living among the pagan gentiles, the members of the church were disputing about whether or not it was okay for a Christian to eat “of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols”. Apparently after making sacrifices, the Greeks would offer up the remains of the sacrifices for sale in their markets. While we don’t struggle with the exact problem, Paul’s answer is interesting, especially as applied to what some people consider to be modern Mormon cultural practices.

Paul states, “we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.” (1 Corinthians 8:4) Meaning because there really don’t exist any other gods, the sacrifice is worthless. It has no power to save or help the individual…it holds no spiritual meaning. As Paul states, “But meat commendeth us not to God: for either, if we eat are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.” Paul says, for the believer in Christ, the eating of meat that had been offered as a sacrifice to pagan gods would have no spiritual effect. Because it wouldn’t make you a “sinner” to partake of the meat, you would expect Paul to conclude that it is okay to partake. But this is not his conclusion.

Paul continues by stating essentially that not everybody has the same strong faith…not everybody has the same knowledge about the true God. Because there are differing degrees of faith among the believers and non-believers, Paul states, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Meaning, just because you believers are free to partake of the meat and not be tempted to start following the practices of the pagans, doesn’t mean that you should partake of the meat. He argues that believers eating meat to sacrificed idols could prove to be a stumblingblock to those with less faith. “For if any man see the which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those thing which are offered to idols.” In other words, there are those weak in the faith who may believe that is okay to eat meat to sacrificed idols, worship those idols, and engage in wicked practices associated with those idols, often justifying their behaviors by contending that “the believers are doing it.”

Paul concludes by stating, “wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” Paul contends that there are practices in the church that we should avoid…not because the practice itself is inherently sinful or evil. In many cases, many of the cultural traditions in the church (how we look, what we wear, what we eat, what we do on Sunday, etc) make us neither better nor worse. Yet, I believe Paul makes a case for the reason why some of those things should be done. Many of the “cultural – not doctrinal” practices in the church purposely set up a bigger divide between God’s church and the surrounding civilization. This allows those who are weaker in the faith to more easily see the differences between the sins of the world and the goodness of God’s true practices. The hope is that by setting up a greater dichotomy, those who struggle will be less inclinded to embrace the world, justifying their choice by the behaviors of those in the church.

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 22: “The Sacrament — Leaving Egypt and the World Behind”

New Testament -Gospel Doctrine lesson 22
“The Sacrament — Leaving Egypt and the World Behind”
By: Dave Hadlock

In Matthew 26:26-29, we find the institution of the rite that we refer to as the sacrament. I believe that as we understand the context in which it was initiated, we will better understand the meaning and purpose of the ritual.
In verse 17 Christ’s disciples approached him saying, “where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?” Christ then gave his disciples on instructions for finding a private location where they could partake of the Passover meal. It was during this Passover meal that Christ instituted as a sacred ordinance the sacrament. I believe it is the new law fulfillment of the Old Law Passover ritual. This article will examine  the similarities between the ancient Mosaic law of the Passover and the New Testament sacrament.

1) New Creation — As the Lord prepared Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, the Lord spake unto Moses saying, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you”. The Passover feast was celebrated at the first of the year. That is the time in which all things are created anew. Similarly, the sacrament is partaken the first day of the week, representing the idea that by partaking of the sacrament, there is a new creation…old things are done away with.

2) Blood of the Lamb — As the Lord was preparing the Israelites to escape from bondage, He commanded them to “take to them every man a lamb.” This lamb was to be kept until “the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening”. Then they were to take the blood of the lamb and “strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses.” (Exodus 12:3-7). Later that night when the Lord passed through the land of Egypt, he would smite all the firstborn in the land, “and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you.” (Exodus 12:13)

During the last supper, Passover feast, Christ took a cup, “gave thanks and gave it to them, saying Drink ye all of it; For this is the blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”. (Matthew 26:27) The wine of the last supper was instituted as a fulfillment of the blood on the posts. By partaking of the wine/water of the sacrament, they disciples would have understand that the blood of the Passover lamb was protecting them from the destroying angel. The death of the Firstborn Lamb, Christ, protects from eternal destruction all those who symbolically partake of his blood.

3)  Unleavened Bread — After spreading the blood of the lamb on the door posts, the Israelites were instructed to eat unleavened bread with bitter herbs, “with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste.” (Exodus 12:8-12)  The unleavened bread was prepared so that they could eat quickly and escape. They were to eat of the unleavened bread for seven days as they fled into the wilderness. The bitter herbs spoke to the bitter nature of their bondage to the Egyptians and the bitter nature of sin. The leavening agent would have typically been a lump of the dough from the previous batch of bread. This dough would then be added to the new bread to make it rise.

The eating of unleavened bread had a practical and a doctrinal purpose. The practical purpose for partaking of unleavened bread was that it would require less preparation time allowing them to leave at a moments notice. However, Jehovah was also trying to teach them a deeper underling principle by forbidding the use of leaven. The prohibition would have suggested to the Israelites the need to distance themselves from the corrupting practices of the Egyptians. The leavened dough was the belief system in which they had been indoctrinated during their time in bondage. Christ taught that leaven in His time represented the false belief systems of the Pharisees. By not leavening their bread, the Israelites were being instructed to leave behind the false beliefs and practices of the Egyptians. They were to leave the corrupted leaven behind, hopefully never to return to them.

The sacrament bread was the New Testament fulfillment of the unleavened bread. Jesus blessed the bread, broke it and then said to his disciples, “Take, eat; this is my body”. Christ is the Bread of Life. In a sense, He is the uncorrupted/unleavened bread. Like the ancient Israelites partaking of the unleavened bread, when we partake of the sacrament bread, we are promising to leave Egypt, its practices and its doctrines behind. It is His broken body represented on the sacrament table.

By applying the blood of the lamb to their doors and partaking of the unleavened bread, the ancient Israelites were freed from the bitter bondage to the Egyptians. They were born again as new creatures, a peculiar treasure…an holy nation. Likewise, as we partake of the bread and water of the sacrament, we are freed from the bitter bondage of sin. Christ partook of the bitter cup so that we do not have to. He gave us the sweet sacrament cup in replacement of the bitter cup of sin. By partaking of the cup, We (like the ancient Israelites) promise to leave the world (Egypt) behind and to become new creatures, sanctified and pure. The ability to leave the world behind is only possible through the blood and body of Christ, the Lamb of God…the true Bread of Life.

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 18 – The Lost Sheep – Christ addresses the sinner and pharisee in all of us

New Testament -Gospel Doctrine lesson 18
“He Was Lost, and Is Found”
By: Dave Hadlock

In Luke Chapter 15, we find a series of three parables with the theme of finding something lost. As we look at these three parables, we will change the way we look at the parables by considering who Christ is addressing in the parable. This will also help us connect the parables and show how they teach us to change our lives.
Often when we read this parable, we view it from the perspective of the “publicans and sinners”. In verse one, we find that a crowd of sinners and publicans “drew near unto him…to hear him” speak so he is instructing the sinners. Yet, at the same time, the parables really come in response to the Pharisees and scribes who question among themselves how Christ could “receive sinners” and even eat with them.
By assuming we are both pharisees and sinners, we gain greater insight into the parables.
The first parable began with Christ speaking to the Pharisees stating, “what man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” Both groups (the Pharisees and the sinners) are found in the parable. Obviously, the “one” sheep that was lost represents the “sinners” in the crowd. The bigger question is how were the Pharisees being represented in the parable?
I believe the answer to this question is found a couple verses later in verse seven where we find a little divine sarcasm. Jesus, addressing the murmuring Pharisees, said,  “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Christ addresses the Pharisees sarcastically associating them with the ninety-nine sheep that are not lost. In other words, because the Pharisees in this parable are the ninety and nine “not lost” sheep, they feel they have no need of repentance. Isaiah 53:6 states, “All we like sheep have gone astray”. We are all lost sheep. There does not exist ninety-nine sheep that have no need of repentance.
Thus, the first step of repentance is a recognition that we are lost and in need of a Savior. Christ is the Good Shepherd but he can only find those who in their mortality (wilderness) experience are humble enough to recognize the fact that they are lost. This is the primary problem with the Pharisees…they have no need of a spiritual Savior. They don’t see themselves as lost. In a doctrinal paradox, we learn that we can only be found once we know we are lost.
The next step in making change in our lives is illustrated in the next parable. “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?” The one lost piece represented 10 percent of everything she owned. The number ten is interesting because it was a part of something that represented the whole (like tithing). The focus of this parable is on the value of that which was lost. She searched diligently because of the great worth of that which was lost. It was everything to her. Once the sinner recognizes he/she is lost, the change and repentance process can continue.
Value is ultimately determined by what is paid for something. Alma states that the price paid could not be “a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice” (Alma 34:10). The price paid for our soul was infinite. Thus, the worth of a soul is infinite. The price paid was the life of a God. Thus the value of the individual is the value of a god.

The last parable in the trio is known as the parable of the prodigal son. It began by stating that “a certain man had two sons”. Again we should remember that Christ is addressing both sinners and Pharisees in the parable. As the parable continues, we find that one son “wasted his substance with riotous living”. Obviously, this son represented the sinners who waste our Father’s inheritance with sinful, riotous living. I believe that leaves the “righteous son” as a symbol of the Pharisees.

As the story continues, the sinful son taught the way to change and repent. He recognized that he was lost saying, “I will arise and go to my father and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee”. After recognizing he was lost, he confessed the sin. Confession is a key to change. Sin prospers in darkness and retreats when it is brought to light.

He then began to recognize his worth, “when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have bread enough to spare.” He recognized he had at least the worth of a servant in his father’s house. As he repented, he’d come to learn that his worth was greater than that. What began as the worth of a servant grew into the worth of a son, and from the son into a prince. “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him”. Though the son saw himself as a servant, his father saw his true worth and potential. He ran out, embraced his son and then commanded that he be dressed in “the best robe, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet”. He was dressed in the robes of a prince. He was welcomed back into his father’s house as a full son.

Upon seeing the royal treatment of the wayward son, the “righteous son” was “angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him”. The righteous son was angry because he wanted justice. He wanted the law to punish. The father offered mercy. Anger is often a result of demanding justice. The law cannot save. Those who demand and want justice, like the Pharisees, often find themselves filled with anger and on the outside of the Father’s house looking in. The father in his infinite mercy will come out and intreat all those outside the house and invite them to come in. The problem with the Pharisees is that they don’t think they need to be invited in at the mercy of the host. They feel entitled to be there because of their works.

I believe this parable is a good measuring stick on the path to the Father’s house. I believe we naturally associate ourselves with one of the two sons. I would suggest that if we find ourselves more closely aligned the feelings of the “righteous” son, we should look into our lives and starting asking ourselves in what manner we are lost, in what manner are we like the prodigal son. As we discover those weaknesses then the atonement can more fully start to work in our own lives.

Gospel Doctrine lesson 13: Upon This Rock

New Testament -Gospel Doctrine lesson 13
“Upon This Rock”
by Dave Hadlock

caesarea phillipiIn Mattthew 16:18, Christ said to Peter, “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The word “this” is a demonstrative adjective that shows relative distance between the speaker and the object in question. The speaker is Christ so “this rock” must be close to His proximity. This article will discuss what Christ is referring to as the rock in this passage?

Understanding original intent of scripture can be difficult, particularly when the original scripture is obviously symbolic.This lesson will discuss three possible symbolic meanings to which Christ was referring when He said “this rock”.

At this point in His ministry, Christ and his apostles were at the ancient city of Caesarea Phillipi. Christ was probably standing at the foot of a great rock or cliff (as pictured above) when He uttered the words of building upon this rock. Christ used his surroundings to teach symbolically. By uttering this phrase at the foot of an actual rock, it would have lent context to the firm foundation and strength of the rock upon which the church would be built. Obviously, Christ wasn’t referring to building the church literally upon this rock, but rather He was using the surroundings to add power to His original intent. Scholars debate the original intent, usually discussing the following three possible understandings.
1) The rock is Peter: The Greek word for “Peter” is “Petros”. The word for “rock” in this passage comes from the Greek word “Petra”. There is a possibility that Christ is using the same root word as a play on words, meaning upon the rock of “Peter” I will build my church. This interpretation is strengthened when we consider that what directly follows is a promise to give Peter the keys of the Kingdom. There appears to be a formulaic (cause & effect) phrasing that takes place in this passage. He states “Thou art Peter…I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven”. Similarly in the New World, Christ says to Nephi in parallel manner, “Thou art Nephi…behold I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven.” (Helaman 10:7). The rock becomes Peter in that he represents the holder of the keys of the kingdom. The Church would be built upon priesthood authority or as stated by Paul in Ephesians 2:20, the household of God would be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”
2) The rock is Christ: Christ could have been referring to Himself as the Rock upon which the church would be built. Continuing with the teachings of Paul, the foundation was the apostles and prophets, with “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). Christ is often depicted in scripture as a “rock”. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul compares Christ to the rock from which water flowed after being struck by Moses in the wilderness, stating, “for they (the Israelites) drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ”. This understanding also makes sense given the context of the passage. Peter had just declared his knowledge that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”. The “this rock” may make reference to this declaration by Peter.
3) The rock is revelation: Joseph Smith taught that the “rock” referenced here by Jesus was the rock of revelation. This understanding is strengthened by the idea that Christ was referencing the means by which Peter knew Christ was the Son of God. For “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:17). Further strengthening this argument is the fact that this physical rock had waters flowing out from underneath it (see picture below). The living waters of revelation that flow forth from the firm foundation.

I believe Christ taught this passage symbolically and with ambiguity because His original intent was for this passage to be understood with the rock meaning all three of these possibilities. All three were in close proximity to Him and are consistent with other revealed scripture. I believe Christ meant that the church was to be built on the foundation of priesthood keys being given to His apostles. These keys would direct people on how to build their own lives upon the knowledge of and a relationship with the Rock, Christ. Which relationship we build and strengthen as we come to know Him in the same way Peter came to know him…not by flesh and blood, but by the Holy Ghost and the “Father which is in Heaven.”

When we as a church and as individuals follow the apostles and seek for personal revelation, we have the assurance that the “gates of hell” shall not prevail against neither the church nor us as individuals. Ancient civilizations often believed that the gates of hell were caves. As Christ spoke to His apostles, he very well may have pointed to the cave at the foot of this mighty rock (seen below) and stressed that through His power and strength, through a firm witness of Him, no gate of hell would have power over them.

caesarea phillipi 2

Gospel Doctrine – They Straightway Left Their Nets

Lesson 6: They Straightway Left Their Nets
By: Dave Hadlock

IMG_2358 Maxine Davie

Sea of Galilee at Night

One of the things I like to do when studying scriptures is to compare similar scriptural events. We can learn a lot by seeing patterns and similarities in passages. Patterns typically manifest laws and principles (causes and their effects). Doctrine and Covenants 52:14 states, “And again, I will give unto a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.”

In addition to looking for patterns in the scriptures, I have often found it instructive to consider small deviations within parallel passages. This article will look at similarities and differences between the accounts in which Jesus calls his disciples while they are in the act of fishing. One account deals with the original calling of the disciples at the beginning of his ministry. The second account takes place after his resurrection and prior to his ascension to heaven.

In Luke 5:1, we find Jesus speaking to a crowd of people. As the multitude gets larger, they began to press upon him to hear the word of God. At this point, to put a little distance between himself and the masses, he borrows a boat from Peter and pushes away from the shore onto the Sea of Galilee so that the crowd could hear him speak. When he’s finished speaking, he tells Peter to “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught”. Peter was skeptical because he had been fishing all night and yet caught nothing. Nevertheless, at Christ’s insistence, he let down the net and “inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake”.

At this point, Peter falls down at Jesus’ knees and then Christ calls him to work in the ministry, telling him that “henceforth thou shalt catch men.” Peter then forsook all and followed Jesus. It is not too much time later that Jesus called unto his disciples “and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles”.

The word “apostle” from the Greek word “apostolos” has the literal meaning of “sent”. The Hebrew equivalent is Shaliah (from the verb shalah – “to send”). The underlying meaning of the word is “to be sent with a commission”. We would think of it in terms of an “agent”, one who is empowered to act legally in behalf of someone else. Thus, apostles are literally agents who can bind things on earth in Christ’s name such that they “shall be bound in heaven” (Matt 16:19).

Looking at how Christ deals with Peter while fishing on the Sea of Galilee, we can gain some insight into what manner Peter was empowered to act in Christ’s behalf.
1) Luke 5:10 – “Fear not for henceforth thou shalt catch men”. Peter was called to act as an agent in bringing men unto Christ, both through his preaching and through the ordinances.

2) In the original call of Peter, it is noted that there was such a great multitude of fishes that the net brake (Luke 5:6). After His resurrection, when Peter returned “a fishing”, “Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes…yet the net was not broken”. There are a couple things regarding Peter’s apostolic calling that may be inferred from this passage. One may be the suggestion that Peter is the net that would break from time to time during Christ’s mortal ministry; yet after Christ ascends to heaven, Peter as the lead apostle would not break again.

The other thing this passage may suggest is that prior to this time, some of the fish may have slipped through the net. In John 21, there appears to have been a change in the responsibilities of Peter’s commission. This would then beg the question which fish were slipping through the net. I think this passage gives hints to the answers to this question. In John, he states that there were one hundred and fifty three fish caught up in the net (there was no number mentioned in Luke). One hundred and fifty three was the known number of species of fish at that time. In my opinion, this suggests that at this time, the gospel was now to go to all nations. Prior to this time, the gentiles were slipping through the net as the apostles told that they were “sent (commissioned as an agent) forth…not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:7).

Continuing with Matthew 10:7, the apostles had been empowered at the beginning of Christ’s ministry to preach to the house of Israel, to heal the sick, cast out devils and raise the sick among them. With Christ’s ascension to heaven, he is now commissioning Peter and the other apostles to take this work to all the world as symbolized by the one hundred and fifty three fish.

3) Comparing John 21 to Luke 5:11, we notice that Peter doesn’t forsake all in John and follow him. This may suggest that Peter did not need to be “re-called” or “re-commissioned”. If the apostles were legal agents of Christ, the only way that commission would have been altered was be decree or death of the principal. In this case the principal was Christ. Since, Christ had resurrected, he wasn’t dead, the original commission still stood. It wasn’t necessary for Christ to ask Peter to forsake all and follow him again.

As we look through the New Testament at the term “apostle”, we find Paul make reference to Christ as an apostle stating, “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus”. Christ was an agent of His Father. He acted legally as though He were the Father. It is one of the ways in which He and the Father were “one”.

One of my favorite parts about comparing these passages is to see the compassion with which Christ treats Peter and any who would be His disciples. Days earlier, Peter had just denied Christ three times. He had returned a fishing when he had promised to forsake all several years earlier. Yet, here in John 21, Christ allows Peter to accept him three times and to forsake all again and serve Christ as an apostle. The mercy with which Christ treats Peter is the same mercy with which he treats all of us in our journey to become his disciples.

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 3 – Shepherds and Wise Men

New Testament -Gospel Doctrine lesson 3
“Why Shepherds & Wise Men”
By David Hadlock

The Biblical account of the birth of the Savior includes the mention of two specific groups that were sent to bear witness of the birth of the Savior as well as two individuals that were sent to bear witness of His birth. This is in keeping with God’s law of witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1 — In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established). When the “Word” is made flesh, God establishes this truth with multiple witnesses. This lesson will take a look at why he specifically choose shepherds and wise men as those witnesses.

Shepherds: Angels appeared to shepherds as they were watching over their flocks in their fields somewhere near the birthplace of Christ in Bethlehem. The shepherds were instructed to seek out the Savior and then make known and testify of those things they had seen. “And when they had seen it, they made know abroad the saying which was told them concerning the child.” This begs the question why were angels sent to witness of the birth and what were they witnessing of.

By considering the Levitical priesthood role of the shepherd, we can gain some insight into why shepherds were sent and what they were proclaiming.

Role of the Shepherd – According to the Mosaic law, the shepherds provided the lambs that were to be sacrificed at the temple. Thus the shepherds were responsible to watch over the ewe during the birthing process. They were then to pick out those lambs from their flocks that met the requirements of the law of sacrifice. Meaning they were to pick out those lambs that fit the following criteria:

  • Firstborn
  • Male
  • Without Blemish

The shepherds sent to witness the birth of the Savior were looking for that lamb, which was “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). They were looking for the firstborn male without blemish. I imagine as they went “abroad” testifying of Christ’s birth, they testified that they saw the birth of the Savior and then bore witness of the fact that he was the Firstborn of the Father, born without blemish. He was the Lamb who would be sacrificed at some point to take away our sins.

Wise Men: Next to arrive on the scene and witness the birth of the Savior were the “wise men”. By looking carefully at the passage, we may be able to deduce who they were and why they were sent to witness of the newborn Savior.

  • From the East – We know that these men came from “east”. East of Jerusalem could be found the remnant of Babylon civilization. I would suggest that these men were descendants of those Jews that were carried captive into Babylon approximately 600 years earlier. Many Jews chose to remain in Babylon even those Cyrus the Great of Persia had captured Babylon and allowed Jews to return to their homeland.
  • For thus it is written – We know that these Jews were students of Biblical prophecies (Matthew 2:5). They knew that the prophets had written that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. They knew, probably from prophecy, that there would be a new star as a sign of his birth.
  • Received Revelation – The scriptures indicate that these were men who were sensitive to the spirit and open to revelation. In Matthew 2:12, they were “warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod.”
  • Wise Men – They were lumped in with a group called “wise men” from the Greek “magi”. Many scholars believe this designation to be Babylonian in origin. It was a general term that included astrologers, magicians as well as augurs and interpreters of dreams. Daniel 2:13, shows that Israelite prophets that could interpret dreams were included in with those deemed to be “magi” or “wise men”.

I believe the wise men were true Jewish prophets living in Babylon at the time of Christ’s birth. Prophets are special witnesses of the Savior. Thus, one of the reasons they came was to “worship him” (Matthew 2:2) and then bear witness of him. The 2nd reason they came may be inferred by the gifts they brought him.

  • Gold – A gift for a king. They recognized him as King of the Jews. There may have been a practical purpose to this gift. Joseph and Mary would need gold to escape Herod and go to Egypt. However, that this was a tribute to the King is significant.
  • Frankincense and Myrrh – Exodus 30:23-25 gives us the components of the “holy anointing oil”. Myrrh was a common component and frankincense may have been used to perfume it as well (30:34-8).

Anciently, the prophets anointed kings in Israel. I believe these prophets came to anoint The King of the Jews. Then as prophets, special witnesses, they bore testimony of the coming of the Messiah – the Anointed one.

I love scriptural paradoxes. Two groups bear witness of Christ’s birth, one group bears witness of the Lamb of God….the humble, lowly, meek of the world. They bear witness of Him who would descend below all things. The other group bears witness of the King of the Jews. He who would ascend above all. The profound truth is that He, Christ, can ascend to the throne of a King because he descended below all as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Gospel Doctrine lessons 42&43 – Write it Upon thy Heart

Jeremiah & Ezekial
(Gospel Doctrine
lesson 42 & 43)
“Write it Upon thy Heart”
by Dave Hadlock

TallyStickSplitMany scholars believe that earliest contracts were written on sticks that were marked with a system of notches and then split lengthwise. Each half of the stick recorded the same notches and each contracting party to the transaction received one half of the marked stick as evidence of the contract. Any altering of the contract would become apparent when the two sticks would be brought together upon fulfillment of the contract since there was a unique, singular fit where they came together. See image for an example of how these sticks worked.

The first law given by Jehovah to Moses was made “of two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). I like to think that each tablet of stone had the same law written on it, one for Jehovah and one for the Israelites. Any attempt by the Israelites to change the law would be immediately noticed as it wouldn’t match up to the stone tablet kept by Jehovah.

Ezekial 37 — I believe Ezekiel is drawing upon this ancient contract-making practice in Ezekiel 37:15-17. Ezekiel prophesied that the Lord spoke unto him saying, “take thee one stick, and write upon it, for Judah…then take another stick, and write upon it, for Joseph…And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand”. We believe that the stick of Judah is the covenant with Judah as written in the Bible. The stick of Joseph is believed to be the covenant with Joseph as contracted in the Book of Mormon. Each book notches the laws and terms of the contract between Jehovah and the house of Israel. When the two books are joined together, they become a sure witness of the terms and laws of the covenant and reveal the partners of the covenant. An understanding of this ancient practice of contracting helps illuminate a prophecy give to Jeremiah that will be discussed as follows.

tefillin manDeuteronomy 6:8 — Ancient Jews struggled with understanding the intent of God’s laws. Jacob taught that their blindness caused them to look beyond the mark. Many lost focus of the weightier matters of the law and became focused on how to correctly practice each individual statute of the law.

As an example, ancient Jews began wearing the tefillin in response to the Biblical command found in Deuteronomy 6:8 to “bind them (god’s laws) for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” While some ancient sects took this command figuratively; others, such as the pharisees, interpreted this passage literally and began writing portions of the law on small pieces of paper, putting them in boxes (as shown in the image above), and placing them on their heads and by their heart.

Most Jews currently living in Israel are secular and appear very western in their manner of dress and customs. However, when visiting Israel, we are still able to observe a small percentage of the ultra orthodox Jew who still observe ancient Jewish practice of wearing the tefillin (or phylacteries), placing the law of God on their heart and head.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 — In context of this ancient practice, Jeremiah received a prophecy that the time would come when the Lord would “make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The Pharisees had missed the mark by placing emphasis on the outward behavior and not understanding that God wanted the law written in their hearts, not in a box by their heart. Under the covenant, Jehovah wanted the Israelites to internalize the law by having it written in their hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 — Looking back at the written law, we see that the law was originally etched in stone by the finger of God and split in two. It was then etched in wood tablets for the tribe of Judah and Joseph and split in two. Now God commands us to allow him to etch his law into our hearts.

Jehovah commanded Ezekiel to “eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.” He continued, “fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness” (Ezekiel 3:3). Ezekiel was consuming God’s law to the point in which it became sweet to him. The consuming of god’s word has the ability to soften the heart. Once the heart is softened God can etch his law in our soul. Alma teaches that “blessed are they who humble themselves because of the word.” (Alma 32:14) This is the first step towards having the law written in our hearts.

Paul demonstrates the next step when he says to the people of Corinth that “ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:3). As we serve others with a humble heart, the spirit of God etches God’s law on our heart.

God’s law of sacrifice requires of us to have a broken heart and contrite spirit. Just as the tablet of law was split anciently to verify authenticity, we are then commanded to have the law written upon our hearts. Then that heart needs to be split and offered up to god. If the written law on our heart matches His heart, we “shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (Moroni 7:48). Moroni desires that “we may be purified even as he is pure”…that our hearts may may be broken, humble and soft as His is broken, soft and humble.

Gospel Doctrine – Leviticus – Mosaic Dietary Laws

Mosaic Dietary Laws: For what purpose?
Dave Hadlock

One of the exciting aspects of international travel is the opportunity to experience the cultures and foods of the regions visited. Food often reflects the culture of a region and with the Jewish kosher laws, this is particularly true in Israel. According to rabbinic tradition, there are a total of 613 Mosaic laws. This article will address the purpose of the Mosaic law and take a look at one of the Biblical, Mosaic dietary laws as it fits into the general purpose of all the Mosaic laws.

Law of Moses – The Purpose
Paul taught in Galatians 3:24 that the purpose of the law was to act as a pedagogue (from the Greek paidagōgos). The pedagogue was charged with watching over young men, keeping them from evil and guiding them to school where they could sit at the feet of the schoolmaster.

Thus, each individual component of the Mosaic law had as its purpose to protect the Israelites, keep them from sin and guide them back to the lawgiver. Some rabbis believe that there wasn’t necessarily a reason to the each individual component of the law. They believe that in some cases Jehovah was just testing their obedience and that the “why” doesn’t matter. As stated by one Rabbi, “The short answer to why Jews observe these laws is: because the Torah says so”.
I personally like to know the “whys” of God’s laws. It is easier for me to know the Lawgiver when I know the “whys” of His laws. Once I understand the “why”, it is easier for me to figure out the “hows” of putting the principles into practice. I believe there were cultural, pragmatic reasons for the laws of Moses. I also believe there were spiritual reasons.

In the Book of Mormon we learn that Moses did “prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people.” (Mosiah 13:33). Furthermore, Moses taught that “law of Moses was a type of his coming…the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ.” (Alma 25:15)

What we have in the Bible is the outward performances required by the Mosaic law. What we are missing in the Bible is Moses’ commentary on those laws. I can only imagine as Moses was giving the laws to his people, he was also teaching them specifically how those laws served as types of the coming of Christ and His redemption.

We’ll look now at how one of the Levitical, dietary laws may have served as a type of Christ. In Leviticus 11:2-3, Moses gives the law, “Speak unto the children of Israel saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsover parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among beasts, that shall ye eat.” I can only imagine after giving the law, Moses would have continued with some sort of prophetic explanation.

We know from the Book of Mormon that it should teach us about Christ, now we’ve just got to figure out in what manner it does that. So we’ll break down the individual components of this law and try to see how it does that.

1) The hoof of the animal must be parted or divided. In an Old Testament context, division and separation is required to create. The act of dividing is not only the means of creating but one of the purposes of the creation. As the gods create the heavens and the earth, they separate the elements. 2 Nephi 2:11 states, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.” Without separation and opposition, there is no purpose to creation. Even man must be separated from God in order for there to be purpose in creation.

The separated hoof may speaks to the need of this separation. However, with separation, there must be a power to unify. If we are not one, we are not God’s. The word atonement in Hebrew (kpr) has the literal meaning of bringing separated things together “at one”. This brings us to the second component of this Mosaic law (the need to unify the separated hoof).

2) The animal must cheweth the cud. By looking at the underlying Hebrew, it becomes far more obvious how this points to Christ and the overcoming of the separation. The word translated “to chew” actually comes from the Hebrew root ‘alah, which means to ascend or go up (usually with the connotation of a holy ascent). So to “chew the cud” is in a literal sense to make ascend that which has been chewed and swallowed. Swallowing is sometimes used metaphorically to mean death in scripture, with the earth swallowing up those that die. So the metaphor of “chewing the cud” reflects the idea of raising up that which has been swallowed or that which has died. Christ’s resurrection is the fulfillment of this Mosaic law prophecy in which Christ ascended from death; and His resurrection unlocked the bands of death allowing all of us who have been separated from God to return to him.

When you take your next tour to Israel, consider the various dietary laws practiced by the Jews and how these may teach you more about Christ and act as a pedagogue teaching you more about Him and drawing you unto Him. While the Jews have lost the full meaning of the law, we can feel assured that there is a greater depth and meaning to be found in their ancient practice.

For those of you who have discovered other ways in which the ancient mosaic dietary laws teach of Christ, I’d love to hear your thoughts (send me an email).

Israel Tours & Isaiah – Gospel Doctrine Lesson 40

Isaiah 52 & 54
(Gospel Doctrine lesson 40)
Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent
by: Dave Hadlock

As you drive up to Jerusalem from Jericho, you are able to look out the windows and see clusters of bedouin tent villages off to both sides of the bus. In the modern world, many bedouins have begun moving from tents into cement homes; however, anciently the bedouins lived in tents and wandered through the wilderness with their families looking for places to feed their herds.
Isaiah draws from the imagery of the Bedouin dwellers as they moved through the wilderness. He declares the need for Zion to “Enlarge the place of thy tent…lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.” In the ancient mindset, the act of “enlarging the tent” took place when the bedouin young man would marry and bring a wife into the family. Upon so doing, the family would literally enlarge the tent by attaching more goatskin to the tent, providing a safe place for the new couple to begin their new family.
Isaiah’s counsel comes in context of his prophetic concern that in the last days, the “children of the desolate” would be more “than the children of the married wife”. The married wife makes reference to the true church. The command to enlarge the place of thy tent is directed towards those who are members of the church. It is a repetition of the command given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to multiply and replenish the earth. God desires that his spiritual children have the opportunity to be born into the homes of “the married wife”, giving more of his spirit children to opportunity to be raised in the gospel. Isaiah is concerned that more are the children of the desolate.
Moroni in his writings to latter-day Israelites, reiterates Isaiah’s injunction to enlarge the tent borders and in so doing pulls from Isaiah 52 as well. He declares that Zion should not only be enlarging the borders but she should be putting “on thy beautiful garments”.
The scriptural context of beauty extends far beyond physical appearance. Isaiah says that “beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings” (Isaiah 52:7). In the Book of Mormon, Alma resorted to the waters of Mormon where he taught the Nephites the gospel and baptized them. Regarding the events that took place at the waters of Mormon, Alma states, “they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants” He continues, “the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer” (Mosiah 18:30).
Places and things become beautiful in scripture as they are associated with coming to the knowledge of our our Redeemer. In Isaiah’s counsel to the Saints living in the last days, he implores us to bring Heavenly Father’s spiritual children into homes in which they can come to a knowledge of the Redeemer and thus our “tent homes” become both enlarged and beautified.