Holiness to the Lord

Monogram on the Salt Lake Temple

This is a repost, but I added another photo below to the shot.

In honor of the Christmas Season, I thought I would share this photo as it seems to describe how I feel about Christmas more than anything else associated with the holiday.

We remember the Savior of the world who came to Earth.  He lived and died for us.  Through the Atonement we find ourselves resurrected.  For those who are willing, we find ourselves back into the presence of God forever.  It is this time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Celebration in my mind of something so sacred and holy seems to conjure images of reverence and quiet joy rather than exultation that rattles the stars.  It seems the humble words of Holiness to the Lord written on the life of an individual are more appropriate than what our traditions might have become in our nation.  These words written on the life of a soul seem to portray themselves at this time of the year in smiles and service springing from wells of everlasting life within the breast.

In Old Testament times, writing Holiness to the Lord on something indicated the item was set apart from the world, it was for some solemn trust before the Lord (see Exodus 28:36, 39:30).  My love of God and of his noble Son, seem to require a reverence and deep-abiding love for others and their lives.  Which would require the true meaning of Christmas to be in service of one another, especially our family, friends, and those in need.  This seems to be what Christmas is about.  We share gifts for their needs, enjoy food and time, and set aside our family.  We declare our most precious gifts of time, love, and family as Holiness to the Lord.

The temple represents worship of God and family.  It is there we look to the gifts of the Atonement for the physical and spiritual manifestations in our daily living.

It seems fitting that written on the door, here in monograph, we should find the phrase Holiness to the Lord.  We do not write Holiness to the Lord on objects or buildings to hope God will descend to touch them and make them his.  We write it to ascribe to whom the object or building already belongs.  This is a matter of perspective.

Hence, if we hope God will reach out and touch our lives, we are not in tune.  It is when we look up in gratitude that God has touched our lives, that we find the joy of the season.  If we hope our gift will be touched by God, we have missed the point.  It is in the giving of the gift that we seek to emulate God, and we find the words Holiness to the Lord written all over the item.

Christmas is when we take a moment to again realize that Holiness to the Lord is written all over our lives and world.  That we seek to give something back in return.  Not to another person, even though they may receive the gift, but to God in whose name all things really already have written, “Holiness to the Lord.”  Thanks be to God and his Son this time of year.

Door Knobs of the Salt Lake Temple with the inscription

Door Knobs of the Salt Lake Temple with the inscription

Slumbers Not

I stumbled upon this photograph again tonight and thought I would share it.  This picture was taken by an old roommate of mine at Utah State, I do not remember for sure which one, I think Mark Morris.

The contrasts of the photo are pretty dramatic.  This is taken from Darwin Avenue in Logan, Utah.  You can see the Wellsville Mountains on the west side of Cache Valley.  You can see the lighted Logan LDS Temple with its greenish spires and lighted facade.  Some other silhouettes are discernible and will be recognized by most people who have lived in Logan, particularly the LDS Tabernacle Spire and the red Wells Fargo sign.  This photo was taken 12 November 2003.  You have to click on it and zoom in to get the full effect.

Whenever I see the picture and the amazing sunset, I am reminded of Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio named Elijah.  The song particularly that comes to mind is “He watching over Israel, slumbers not” (from Psalm 121:4).

I know God is watching over Israel and not slumbering.  In the end, all things will come out right.  He is in charge, this is His world and His plan.

“When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land.  [T]hey shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards…they shall build with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despite them round about them; and they shall know that I am the Lord their God.”  Ezekiel 28:25-6.

“Let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.”  D&C 101:16.

Urine and the Sabbath

A couple of fun things going on in my life right now.  Wednesday I will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court as a Licensed Legal Intern.  I am pretty pumped about that.  That same day I am picking up a vehicle to drive to the J. Reuben Clark National Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We will be there Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Sunday morning we will leave to drive back here to Oklahoma City and be ready for classes on Monday.  Please keep us in your prayers for safe travels!  Now I just have to figure out how I am going to work out Valentines Day, without me here until late at night.

School continues along and I think this definitely has to be my most boring semester.  Administration, Agency, Corporation, and Constitutional Law are all very dry.  Some of the professors don’t help the situation a whole lot either.  Administration Law holds some interest for me, probably because I am most familiar with it of all the classes.  But hands down, my favorite class of law school is Debtor and Creditor Law, aka Consumer Bankruptcy.  While the material is interesting, the professor just makes it come alive.  He is there to help us become lawyers and it is manifest.  Other professors pontificate, alienate, and other motives which make it less than the best learning atmosphere.  Professor Vaughn comes speaking to us of personal experience and walks us through the adventure of consumer law.  Oh that all professors were just as good.  After one of the classes, I told him how much I appreciated his style.  He remarked that he initially thought about how smart he could look, and how he was going to make us all grovel at his knowledge.  He then realized that benefits nobody and the best approach is to make the material come alive and to make it interesting.  Boy am I glad he does.  We have some good laughs too.  Our Con Law professor enjoys himself too, but he does all the talking and it turns into a long class period.

Some exciting news on the home.  We had some friends who replaced some appliances.  We jumped at the opportunity to replace our dishwasher with a much newer version.  It is now in place and the old one is listed on Craig’s List, ready to go out to the highest bidder.

We have a squirrel living in the attic in which he marks his territory and we live with the intoxicating smell of a dehydrated squirrel.  I loaned a book in exchange for a squirrel trap, so here is for hoping (s)he falls for peanut butter crackers.  I cannot wait to get rid of him.  I patched the hole he made several weeks ago.  I am surprised he lived this long.  Unfortunately, we have a roof leak which probably replentished him with moisture.  At least he didn’t die between our new ceilings and the old lathe and plaster ones.  Come summer time we would be enduring something far worse than the once a week or so urine smell.  I would have to rip up some of those old ceilings to find him, and in cramped spaces, I can see me vomiting over the rotting corpse of a squirrel while we are both covered in insulation, dust, and plaster.

A couple of thoughts from the Old Testament reading before I stop tonight.  I hear from time to time that the only sacrifices to the Lord were blood sacrifices.  Those individuals need to read the Old Testament a little closer.  There are flour, bread, fruits, and all sorts of other things that were part of the law of sacrifices.  “Then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord…the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine…two wave loaves” and more!  Leviticus 23:10, 13, 17.

The thing that has fascinated me about Leviticus has always been Chapter 25.  The implications of this chapter in the modern world have always made me think.  What if we did this now?  It relates particularly to the Sabbath.  Today we celebrate and honor the Sabbath Day.  Why don’t we celebrate the Sabbath Year?  Why don’t we hold Jubilee?  It would completely revolutionize our economic system and all the ways we look at our society.  I mean, if we keep the Sabbath Day now, it would revolutionize our country.

“Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.  That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.  And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, and for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall the increase thereof be meat.”  Leviticus 25:4-8.

What if we took the entire 7th year off and dedicated it unto the Lord?  Serve missions?  Focus only on our families?  Travel a little?  The possibilities are endless.  Does that mean the whole country would have to take the same year off?  I don’t know what the ancient practice was, nor do I know if we could all take it off at the same time.  A GDP of 0 for a year?  Geez could we complain?  Sunday is a day off, and the 7th entire year.  Much better deal than any of us get now.  Go to school for a year, is that upholding the Sabbath?

Ah, and then the Jubile!  “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you: and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”  Leviticus 25:10.

So the thought comes, how in the world shall I ever make it through that year?  How in the world can I afford to do what is being asked for me.  To save up, prepare, and to endure that 7th year.  Well, the Lord has an answer for us.  “Then I will command my blessings upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.”  Leviticus 25:21.  How is that for a blessing.  Not only will we have enough for that one year, but we will have enough for 3 years.  Talk about a great return.  Some of that would have to go to restarting that new year, but wow, there will still be plenty left over.

Anyhow, I won’t go on anymore, but there is an economic system in Leviticus 25!  What if we were to live it today?  How fundamentally different would we be.  Forgiving everyone’s debts every 7 years would be beautiful.  No more house payment.  No usury.  It even talks about the suburbs in Leviticus 25:34!

There are many great things in the Old Testament.  Unfortunately we are all too smart and intelligent to consider giving another chance to the Spirit of the old ways.  We are more knowledgeable today, things are different.  So far, I doubt that, especially when I see our pride in knowing things are certainly different for us now when we seem to keep falling to the same old sins.

Laws and ordinances forever?

A day off from school from a snow storm that would not give much pause to those of more mountainous regions.  But I shall not complain of the wimpy Okies, after all, I have been relieved of a day of law school classes.  Last semester just about killed me from the sheer amount of information I was reviewing and trying to keep in my head.  This semester the amount has decreased, but the problem is how incredibly dry this semester’s classes are.  Tell me if this doesn’t sound like a snore: Corporations Law, Debtor and Creditor Law, Administration Law, Agency Law, and Constitutional Law II.  My rear fell asleep just from having to type it.  How shall I ever endure?

We work again on Saturday at the temple.  This will be our second go of it.  It has been interesting for me to think about the administering of the temple, rather than just the receiving of the ordinances and that which takes place in the temple.  This Tuesday, a couple from our ward received their endowments and were sealed right after.  It was beautiful.  There is a certain spirit that comes from it when it is for somebody live.

Here are a couple of thoughts as we have been reading.  We have just completed Exodus and are plowing our way through Leviticus.  Some of them are very interesting and fascinating, others just wear and you have to skim read.

“And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.  And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”  Exodus 40:12-13.  “And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.  And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith.  And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and Thummim.  And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the Lord commanded Moses.”  Leviticus 8:6-9.

So the sons of Aaron are to be presented at the tabernacle to be washed with water, anointed with oil, and clothed in the holy garments.  All this to be done to sanctify him and that he may minister.  So this is the line of Aaron, or descendants of Levi, that have this privilege.  Why was this privilege confined only to the sons of Aaron in his time?  Was it available to all before Moses and Aaron?  When would it be restored to all worthy lines?

What exactly do all these emblems, or parts of clothing mean?  What was their symbolism then, and how does that translate to you and me?

I guess the other question I have is what degree of the Mosaic Law was done away with?  Nobody seems to argue that the 10 Commandments were done away with by Jesus Christ.  Sure, the higher law technically is in force, but the lesser law, or the school master it was still pointed to the higher law.  The whole Mosaic Law was pointing to that last a great blood sacrifice, namely the atonement of Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away.”  Alma 34:13.

I always found the idea of the law being fulfilled, not passing away, to be an interesting though.  It shall be fulfilled, but not pass away.  Does that mean the spirit of the law still applies, but the actual outward ordinances done away.  I believe that is precisely what is meant.

The whole Mosaic Law was not something that was new.  It also was something that just disappeared overnight.  “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”  Galatians 3:24-25.

“Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses: for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled.  But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.  Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses: but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.”  Alma 25:15-16 (Between 90-77 BC).

The Law of Moses is the underpinning, and outward manifestation of our current law.  I would supplement your understanding of our law, a good study of the Law of Moses can be insightful.  After all, it was a schoolmaster for thousands of years.

“Their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.”  Exodus 40:15.

Murmuring Israel

I am supposed to be finishing up my Corporations reading (but I cannot bring myself to do it on a Sunday).  But I thought to share a few ideas before reading our scriptures and going to bed.

Today was a first for me.  Initially I had been asked to stand in for a priesthood ordination and I was happy to do that.  Well, the other two people who had been asked to stand in forgot.  It felt bad for the man being ordained since this was something that was very important to him.  Last minute, I was offered the privilege of conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained him to the office of an Elder.  It was an honour and a privilege.  It was the first time for me to have ever ordained somebody to any office in any priesthood.  In typing up the priesthood lineage, I almost felt like I had gained a son.  From here on out, at least as an Elder, I will be a part of his lineage and that will bind us throughout eternity.  Somehow I felt like a part of me went out and into him.  I don’t know if he feels or recognizes that, but I sure do.  Anyhow, I am glad the method for the ordination was clear in my head, and there was one right before for a refresher in verbiage and procedure.

Stake Conference last night and today were powerful.  I am impressed by how humble and simple our Stake Presidency is.  I have to admit, President Curtis Crane is a man I want to be like.  I see in him a type of person I want to be like.  I hope there is time.  The meetings included our Temple President speaking last night and our Mission President speaking today.  Of course the Stake Presidency also spoke.  It was good.  Something about hearing a large group of people singing together that always impresses me.  Powerful.

I know I had commented I would give some thoughts about the scriptures as we have been reading along.  Amanda has joined me in the reading and it has been good.  We will be starting in Exodus 32 tonight.  But the last few nights have held a couple of impressions I thought I would share.

The constant view of God to the people continues to amaze me.  The plagues that were taking place in Egypt were surely not unknown to Israel.  Furthermore, the fact that they were spared from the plagues would also be obvious.  While the magicians were able to reproduce some of the early signs (I cannot imagine they were weak reproductions) the power and magnitude became greater and greater.  Each miracle was more recognizable.  Finally, Israel finds themselves crossing through the Red Sea and headed towards a promised land.

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.  He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”  Exodus 13:21-22.  I find this thought simply beyond comprehension.  Then I wonder if it is so obvious to the people of Israel what is really going on.

The people didn’t seem to recognize what power was leading them.  “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?  wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us out of Egypt?  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?  For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”  Id. at 14:11-12.

Then in the next breath, “And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.”  Id. at 14:31.

Right afterward, “the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”  Id. at 15:24.  “[T]he whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”  Id. at 16:2.

The Lord responds to their pleas.  “Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.”  Id. at 16:4.

“How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?”  Id. at 16:28.

“Why chide ye with me?  wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?”  Id. at 17:2.

“And the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?  Id. at 17:4.

“Is the Lord among us, or not?”  Id. at 17:7.

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine.  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”  Id. at 19:4-6.

“Speak thou (Moses) with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”  Id. at 20:19.

Anyhow, this is only Exodus, but we see this exchange going back and forth between Israel and the Lord (through Moses).  When will we ever learn to just be obedient and quit expecting the Lord to coddle us?  The next chapter (32) shows where Israel got themselves into quite a bit of trouble for their inability to be constant.  I hope I can be more constant.  I always remember the verse from 1 Nephi 2:12, “And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.”  Hopefully we can all find that relationship with God so that we learn his ways, and his dealings, and we don’t end up like murmuring Israel.

Entertaining heavenly guests, marriage, and Lot

I feel like I want to write after one of my favorite chapters in the entire Old Testament.  (Nehemiah 8 is my favorite, fyi).  I don’t know how often I will get to write once school starts up, even if I will get to read regularly like I want.  So I might as well share a few thoughts before school gets too deep in session.

Genesis 18 has always been a favorite of mine.  There is something of this hopeful scenario we find ourselves in.  I guess it is sort of like winning the lottery, you just don’t know when it will happen.  However, if you are faithful, it most likely will occur, whether we recognize it or not.  I guess in that sense, I guess the odds are much better than the lottery, it is just a matter of when.  After all, the promise is given that those who are faithful shall receive of the Father.  Most Christian religions put it as after this life, but my faith places it as a possibility even within this life.  That good things come to those who are willing to receive.

Here we have Abraham out scratching a living out of the plains of Mamre.  While in the heat of the day, the long existence we sometimes find life to be, three guests appear.  It appears he recognizes them since he runs to them and bows before them.  He calls him “My Lord” and then asks the men to stay for a while, to wash their feet, and to rest themselves.  He prepares a meal for them from freshly prepared cakes and even a calf plucked for the occasion.

It is then in this conversation that we learn that these are messengers of the Lord.  It is then that they begin to bestow blessings upon Abraham and Sarah.  Sarah even laughs at the promises given.  I can imagine a giddy, quizzical, perhaps even non-believing laugh.  But she quickly dismisses the blessing whether she intended to or not.  Then comes the ultimate rebuke, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?”

Sarah then denies that she laughed, probably in shame and fear, for such an insult, especially to the Lord.  The blessings continue and the story goes on.

The part that I have always loved about the story is that in the middle of the day, on a very hot day, the blessings of heaven were bestowed.  Other versions of the story, most notably of the Midrash tell of how Abraham was actually worried that some traveler might be stranded out in the heat of the day and sends his servants out to bring in any such travelers who might be perishing in the heat.  His faithfulness was rewarded all the more.

How does this apply in my life?  I am reminded of Hebrews 13:1-2, “Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Abraham did entertain angels, but he was not unaware.  It appears his faithfulness was such that he recognized the Lord immediately, probably from past interactions.  It would have to be this type of personal interactions to follow the dictates to later offer up Isaac.  It would take some pretty serious personal experience for me to heed such a directive, despite its complete variance with standing gospel law.

The beauty of the whole scenario is that all who are faithful can receive the same blessings as Abraham.  “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.”  “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”  John 14:21, 23.

Whether the Lord himself, or by his angels, it is the same.  “For behold, [angels] are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.”  Moroni 7:30.  The callings of angels are further defined.  But if in full divine investiture of authority, we would not know the difference whether it was the Father and Son, or angels sent to act in their behalf.

All I know is that Abraham, a mortal man, entertained angels, perhaps Jehovah himself.  Either way, it is beautiful.  If Abraham can do it, certainly I have that same hope.  If Cain can speak with the Lord even in his worst sins; surely I, one attempting to follow him can speak and hear the voice of the Lord.

In other thoughts, more of questions since I have no clue.  At what point was what we call ‘incest’ no longer part of the plan.  I am not suggesting or proposing the idea, just curious when the Lord stopped it.  The Mosaic Law speaks against it, but obviously it was permitted for the children of Adam to procreate.  I know there are the believe that God created other individuals for the procreation of the race, even though the scriptures don’t mention it.

Lot’s daughters wanted to keep the commandment of producing seed (multiplying and replentishing the earth) but don’t seem to give much heed to any rules concerning incest.  Marriage is an eternal law dating clear to Adam and Eve.  But at what point was ‘incest’ not allowed.  The daughters of Lot sleeping with him smacks in the face of Adultery/Fornication whatever it would have been called at that point.  Abraham married his own half-sister.

I really don’t know the answer to these questions.  I don’t believe what Lot’s daughters do is right, certainly not by the commandments the Lord laid out for us since.  But what was the state of the the law then?  Then again, these daughters grew up in Sodom, so can we subscribe the false, ungodly actions to their surroundings?  Judah doesn’t fare much better in sleeping with family later.  Who knows?  The laws of marriage seemed much more loose to them, after all, how did we end up with concubines?  Especially where the Lord seems to approve of them?  So many questions!

The newest year

Welcome to 2010.  Somehow the years just don’t hold the same dazzle they once did.  I remember being awakened to the fireworks in my flat at 29 Handforth Lane, in Runcorn, England one decade ago.  As missionaries, we went to bed at 10:30 and were happily awakened at midnight.  Our flat was in a row of homes where we could overlook half of Runcorn and see clear to Frodsham, and the distant fireworks in Chester and Ellesmere Port.  It was a beautiful sight to watch.  Y2K didn’t hold all the worries many thought it would.  The last decade has certainly been amazing, in a wide variety of ways.  Who would have thought I would graduated from college, work in Washington DC, married, and entered law school?  I have met heads of state of foreign countries, visited abroad, and yet lived peaceably with my wife in Richmond, Virginia; Provo, Utah, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  I have worked in Pasco, Washington; Paul, Idaho; Branson, Missouri; Preston and Malad, Idaho, and started a fencing business in Logan, Utah.

1990 I rang in New Years at my Grandma’s house in Paul, Idaho with my Aunt and Uncle, newborn cousin, and Grandma.  Pretty low key and just some bottle rockets.  I remembered wondering what in the world the 90′s would hold in store!  Graduation from high school, mission to England and Wales, and college.

What does the upcoming decade hold?  Who in the world knows?  Probably children.  Probably starting my own firm.  At least one move.  We will just have to wait and see.

This is only talking about my myopic life.  Wars, changes of nations, economic bubbles, and much more have entertained the macro scenario.

All I can look forward to right now is 2010.  2011 is too far away to plan for as yet, except for my graduation from law school.  We hope to visit Boston this summer.  Rewire our home.  Make our yard a veritable garden.

One thing I think I will mention now is that it is the year of the Old Testament in church.  Which brings with it the goal to read the entire thing this year.  At 3 chapters a day, I will finish around November 7th.  I am looking forward to another year in the Old Testament.  I know it is possible.  A roommate and I read the entire Standard works in 2003, at 5 chapters a day.

Anyhow, as part of this goal, I plan on writing a bit more often, but with a couple of thoughts about the reading as I go along.

The one I feel to share about now is Genesis 1:26-27.  I committed these verses to memory during the summer of 1998.  I would recite them to myself as I walked through fields of sugar beets while I was moving the water lines.  For some reason the Spirit engraved them upon my heart and I find them very poignant.

I don’t want to go into all the doctrinal meanings of ‘God’ at the moment, but these verses tell us much of the nature and being of God.  It also tells us some of our relationship to God and how personal of a relationship that is.  That we are made in the image and likeness of God.  God created us, male and female, in the image of God, which it can be read is also male and female.  We also know that Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, also assisted in this creation of ‘man’, which I would submit that man is both male and female as well.

On top of that, Adam was made Lord over the whole earth, and Eve is the mother of all living.  This dominion is not one of destruction, or requiring the submission of all things by brute force, but Lord as our Lord is for us.  Loving, tender, kind, and assisting.  Lord over the whole world, like the kind and gentle Lord would be.  Eve is pretty much the same, the mother of all living and there to assist, nurture, and further in development.  Truly they are each a helpmeet for the other, just like ‘God’.

This same relationship and unity is given in symbolism with Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, and the church.  Bride and groom.  The allegory is carried throughout the entire Bible and even into modern day prophets.

Modern day prophets have given some assistance in adding the text to the verses as such, “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so.  And I, God, said, Let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.”  JST Genesis 1:27-29.

Creation is a thing of beauty.  In deed, man is the pinnacle of that creation.  God pronounced the whole of creation after the finale as “very good.”  Or as JST Genesis 1:33 puts it, “And I, God, saw everything that I had made, and behold, all things which I had made were very good.”  For some reason or another, despite what the world things, I must agree.  Even the sweltering heat in the middle of beet field in Idaho.

 

Prophets after the Old Testament? The New Testament says so.

Here is the response to a friend I met here in Oklahoma City.  We met most randomly and when he found out I was a member of the church he made it clear he was once a member.  He left for a number of questions he had and could not find answers to.  I asked if I might take a stab at them.  He gave me the three questions and I wrote them down with his e-mail.  The first question dealt with why the end of the Old Testament says “The End of the Prophets” and yet we believe in prophets after the fact.  I told him that was a fairly simple answer as the New Testament answered the question for us.  Here is my response.  I am not convinced it is the most orderly way to present it, but I think it does pretty well for doing it all in one sitting.

I have been looking up these scriptures for a couple of weeks now and trying to piece things together.  You will notice the Bible Dictionary is paraphrased (although not cited!) as well as a couple of other documents like the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

If I royally confused something, or need some more clarification, please let me know.  I already know I messed up the citation markings and format.  I am so confused on them at the moment.  I am sure law school will sort me out very soon! 

Lee,

I know I am delayed in my answers.  Moving into a new home, starting law school, and getting a host of other things squared away take time.  Additionally, I want to prepare some to give a quality and more comprehensive answer to your question.  These are not questions easily answered in one short sentence or two.  I expect you do not want just an answer, but also some scriptural references to reinforce what I am talking about.  Therefore, some of the answers may take a couple of e-mails.

The first question relation to prophets ending with the old testament seems to me pretty straight forward.  “If the end of the Old Testament states ‘The End of the Prophets’ why do you believe there were prophets afterward?”  However, in doing some homework, I find out it is not easily contained in a few short statements with a scripture reference or two to back it up.  While the gospel is very simple, we can dig in deep to find all sorts of nuances.  That is what is so beautiful about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It comprehends all things and is simple enough a child can understand it.

Initially, the question is, what is a prophet?  The classic Merriam-Webster gives 5 definitions.  1) one who utters divinely inspired revelations.  As one who writes the prophetic books of the bible or as one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God’s will. 2) one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight. 3) one who foretells future events. 4) an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group. 5) the last definition is the one used by Christian Science which I don’t think is of any relevance to what we are speaking since Christian Science is not part of our discussion.  That seems pretty straight forward.  I don’t think we will differ there.  Let’s recap some of it more directly with Christian theology.

The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God’s messenger and make known God’s will.  Often the message was usually prefaced with the words “Thus saith Jehovah.”  They taught men about God’s character, showing the full meaning of his dealings with Israel in the past.  It was part of the prophetic office to preserve and edit the records of a nations’ history; and such historical books as Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Sam., 1 and 2 Kings were known by the Jews as the former Prophets.  It was also the prophet’s duty to denounce sin and foretell its punishment.  He was to be, above all, a preacher of righteousness.  When the people had fallen away from a true faith in Jehovah, the prophets had to try to restore that faith and remove false views about the character of God and the nature of the Divine requirement.  In certain cases prophets predicted future events, e.g., there are the very important prophecies announcing the coming of Messiah’s kingdom; but as a rule a prophet was a forthteller rather than a foreteller.

I don’t believe you would have any issues with what we have characterized as a prophet thus far.  I think that pretty well generalizes what most individuals see when looking at the prophets of the Old Testament.

Whether being translated from the greek or the hebrew, the equivalent word basically means, ‘inspired teacher’.  These senses all include the idea of prophecy.  As is apparent, the words come from essentially the same place.  A prophet is a person who possesses the capacity of prophecy.  It is required then that we look into what prophecy means.

Revelations 19:10 tells us, “…I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  A testimony of Jesus Christ requires revelation and prophecy.  When the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts and we feel the confirming witness of Jesus Christ, that is revelation.  At that point we can say to ourselves, “if I believe, I will be saved” or “through Jesus Christ I will be resurrected” or “because of Christ I will be raised up to his everlasting kingdom” or some other variation.  Indeed, if I say to myself or another person that according to such and such a principle you will be saved or damned, that is prophecy.  You are a foreteller of circumstances which can and will occur according to your knowledge of Jesus Christ.  If Revelations is correct, and I testify it is, then your testimony of Jesus Christ in your life makes you a prophet.  For without the witness of Christ until salvation through revelation you would have neither faith nor hope of those things which are to come.  Paul in Hebrews 11 mentions a number of prophets and even Sara and comments in verse 13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  They were all prophets because they had a testimony of Jesus and looked forward to his promises.  These individuals were first prophets to themselves and to others.

The fact that everyone can be a prophet is mentioned in several places throughout the scriptures.  Moses voiced his approval of two of the Seventy who were prophesying in the camp.  “And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them” (Numbers 11:29).  In the next chapter he tells the people how to tell a false prophet from a correct one giving affirmation to other prophets than just himself.  “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.  With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches: and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8).  “And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20).  “Surely God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

If all who have a testimony of Jesus have prophecy, then all who have a testimony of Jesus are prophets.  Moses desired that all people were prophets having prophecy and a testimony of Jesus.  These prophets must maintain the testimony of Jesus thereby maintain that spirit of prophecy and revelation.  All the Lord’s people can be prophets as long as they maintain that testimony of Jesus and the attached revelation and prophecy.

According to this line of reasoning, as long as there is an individual with a testimony of Jesus, we have prophets upon the earth.  Indeed, I would argue the New Testament teaches us that prophets did not end with the Old Testament.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:12-13).  The prophets and the law prophesied until John the Baptist.  This does not distinguish a stop at the end of Malachi’s time.

Christ was known for prophesying.  Indeed, they mocked him for it.  “And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands” (Mark 14:65).  If Christ did in fact prophesy, he was a prophet after the Old Testament.  “And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” (Luke 22:64).  “Saying, Prophecy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? (Matthew 26:68).

Zacharias prophesied, “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,” (Luke 1:67).

Paul talks about prophecy as one of the gifts, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith:” (Romans 12:6).  He speaks as if they happen presently, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.” (1 Corinthians 11:4).  “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinithians 12:10).  “And thou I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have charity, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2).  “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.  He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edified the church.  I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying” (1 Corinthians 14:3-5).  He certainly is encouraging prophesying there, which makes those individuals doing the prophesying prophets.

Indeed not only does Paul encourage prophesy, he warns us against denying it with the very succinct, “Quench not the Spirit.  Despite not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)  To Timothy, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14).

Peter, the leader of the church, had a few things to say about prophecy as well.  “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:19-21).

If these instances are not enough to show that prophecy, and therefore prophets, were well and alive in the New Testament, how about instances where there will be prophets to come testified in the New Testament?

“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” (Revelations 11:3).  These two witnesses will prophesy and stand as prophets to Jerusalem at some later day yet to come.

Well, I have held so far that having the gift of prophecy entitles one to be a prophet.  I have shown where a number of instances show that prophecy was still alive and well in the New Testament.  What about the testimony of the New Testament of prophets?

The people of Jesus’ day considered John the Baptist a prophet.  “And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things.  The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?  And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not believe him?  But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.” (Matthew 21:24-26).  “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. (Luke 16:16).  John was considered present day for them.  Even Jesus Christ states that the prophets were until John.  This is to the present moment and even after Jesus Christ was born.

John was blessed by his father Zacharias, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:” (Luke 1:76).

Luke eludes the prophets are still around, “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:” (Luke 1:70).

Peter indicates the same thing.  In fact, he even says Christ is the prophet who Moses testified.  “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled…And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.  For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.  Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.  Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in they seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.  Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. (Acts 3:18-26).  “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” (John 6:14).

After the death of Jesus Christ, there are mentions of prophets.  “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”  (Acts 13:1).  They even mention them by name.  “And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.” (Acts 15:32). “And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.” (Acts 21:10).

What is more, the prophets are mentioned as being a part of the church.  “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:19-20).  Now that scripture does not clarify the fact that the church has presently prophets and apostles.  But it does state Jesus Christ was definitely among the apostles and prophets, in fact the chief cornerstone of them.  However, the next chapter makes it clear prophets are a part of the New Testament church, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his hold apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 3:5).  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Anyhow, I think that should all suffice for the moment.  I believe I have showed very clearly that prophecy, prophets, and the testimony of Jesus certainly did not cease with the Old Testament.  The New Testament is replete with all of the above.  Indeed, Paul makes it clear that prophets are one of the fundamental and operating parts of the church.  In fact, all prophets take their cue from he who was a prophet in every sense, even Jesus Christ!

It is my testimony that Jesus Christ lives, that he suffered in Gethsemane, that he died on the cross, and that he was resurrected on the third day.  It was the testimony of all true prophets who have ever lived.  In fact, Jesus Christ bore testimony of it himself.  He was the one who was to be lifted up.  It is through his name, his power, and his capacity that the church of God was organized and continues to operate even until this day.

If you have questions concerning this, please feel free to e-mail you.  I have been pretty exhaustive in the references I could find.  I hope it is very clear what I am trying to show.  As I get a chance, I will start working on your other questions.

Paul Ross