Sunday, October 30, 2022

Delivered by the Hand of God (Daniel 1, 3, 6; Esther) QUESTIONS

NOTE: As I'm looking at the rest of the year, I've realized that I'm going to run out of scripture blocks almost a month before the end,.  So instead of breaking up the blocks into smaller chunks, I'm going to publish one post per week until the end of the year, instead of two.  That will mean that one week will be a "question post" and the next week will include possible answers to consider.  For the New Testament next yar, I'll need to do a better job of dividing the posts so that I don't run out early.


As young boys, Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were carried captive from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.  They were selected as “well favored and skillful” children to serve in the King’s court.

READ Daniel 1:5, 8

This food and wine did not violate the Jewish dietary code, so why might the child Daniel be defiled by eating it?

 

Daniel asks to be able to perform a test and eat only legumes and vegetables for 10 days, to prove that he could be healthy without eating the King’s food – and the Lord supports him in his dedication. 

READ Daniel 1:17, 20

What blessings did God give them for their faithfulness to Him?



The Fiery Furnace

The King creates a large gold idol and commands his court to come worship it at its dedication.  When the music played, everyone was to fall down and worship the idol or be cast into a fiery furnace.

READ Daniel 3:12-18

What does the King’s statement “who is that God that can deliver you out of my hands” imply?

Nebuchadnezzar is the equivalent of the President of the USA or China or Russia today, so why are the 3 young men “not careful to answer” the King?

Why are they so bold in their statement: either our God will save us or if He chooses not to, we will die rather than serve your “gods”?

 

READ LoF 6:3-5

Why is “belief and supposition” not enough in a situation like this?

What is the lesson for us?

 

READ Daniel 3:22-28

Why did the 3 “fall down” into the midst of the fire after their guards had already been burned up trying to throw them into the flames?

What does it mean that the “form of the fourth man” was “like the Son of God”?

Why did the 3 have no “smell of fire” about them?



The Lion’s Den

Years later, Babylon has been defeated by Persia and King Darius is on the throne…

READ Daniel 6:3-5

Since Daniel’s performance at work was so strong, what was the only way these worldly men could destroy him?

 

READ Daniel 6:7, 10

What was the nature of the law they changed to ensnare Daniel?

 

READ Daniel 6:14-23

Why did Daniel pray with his windows open after he knew about the decree?

Why was the King not able to deliver Daniel?

Who was able to deliver Daniel?

How was Daniel delivered?

What is the symbolism in this story?

 

 

Esther

We are all acquainted with the story of Esther – how she saved her people, the Jews, by risking her life by coming to ask a favor of the King of Persia, her husband, and admitting to being a Jew herself.

READ Esther 1:10-12, 17-18, 20 and D&C 121:41-42, 46

How does the world’s way of treating women compare and contrast with the Lord’s way?

What did the Father gain by marrying the Goddess – did she bring anything to the relationship that He did not already have?

 

READ Esther 3:2

Why does Mordecai refuse to bow or reverence a man?

The King desires to reward one of his loyal subjects and asks Haman, his Grand Vizier, what he should do.  Haman, thinking the king is set to reward him, asks for several audaciously extravagant gifts, including the King’s own clothes, crown and horse. 

 

READ Esther 6:10

What does this verse teach us?

 

READ Esther 4:16

Why is fasting more effective than prayer alone?

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Ezekiel’s Visions (Ezekiel 36-39, 43, 47)

After the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon (from Ezekiel 35 to the end of the book) Ezekiel’s message shifts from an indictment of Israel to a focus on the latter days.  These include the restoration of the House of Israel, the efforts of the ungodly in opposing the Lord’s work, the destruction of the wicked prior to Christ’s coming in glory, and His glorious reign as Israel’s Millennial King – with an emphasis on His House on earth, the Temple.


A New Heart

READ Ezekiel 36:30-32

What is the Lord describing here?

Receiving the gift of godly sorrow (see 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

This is a spiritual gift but we must choose to accept it; if we do, we see ourselves as we truly are – and our need for Christ is fully exposed, which, when we also realize what it cost Christ to resolve our fallen state, will break our hearts – which is the required sacrifice.  But we must be open to it.

 

READ Ezra Taft Benson quote:

“Lehi taught that "no flesh can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:8). Even the most just and upright man cannot save himself solely on his own merits, for, as the Apostle Paul tells us, "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Therefore, repentance means more than simply a reformation of behavior. Many men and women in the world demonstrate great will-power and self-discipline in overcoming bad habits and the weaknesses of the flesh. Yet at the same time they give no thought to the Master, sometimes even openly rejecting Him. Such changes of behavior, even if in a positive direction, do not constitute true repentance. Repentance involves not just a change of actions, but a change of heart.  As we seek to qualify to be members of Christ's Church -- members in the sense in which He uses the term, members who have repented and come unto Him -- let us remember these principles. The gospel is the Lord's plan of happiness and repentance is designed to bring us joy. True repentance is based on and flows from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way. True repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change of behavior (see Alma 5:13). Part of this mighty change of heart is to feel godly sorrow for our sins. This is what is meant by a broken heart and a contrite spirit. God's gifts are sufficient to help us overcome every sin and weakness if we will but turn to Him for help…It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute "godly sorrow" (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (D&C 20:37). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance.”  ("A Mighty Change of Heart," 1986.)

READ Mosiah 4:1-2 and Alma 36:12-16

How does one receive Godly Sorrow?

It is a gift of the spirit – so through the Holy Ghost WHEN WE CRY UNTO THE LORD FOR IT.

Listening to an angel or true messenger preach repentance and the words of Christ.

Seeing yourself through the Lord’s spiritual eyes – “viewed self in carnal state”.

What causes the “inexpressible horror” of Godly Sorrow?

The thought of entering the presence of God – it is not the fear of judgment (the Judgment is just the occasion which enables the sinner to reenter God’s presence) – it is literally the fear or inability to withstand the glory emanating from the Lord.

The Holy Spirit (mind of God) is causing this to happen as it fills the wicked person, unprotected as they feel/are at this point by Christ’s grace and mercy – because neither group is actually standing in the presence of the Lord yet (Alma does later – after he has been forgiven and cleansed); if they were actually standing in His presence in His glory, they would be utterly wasted.

 

READ Ezekiel 36:26-29, 33-35 and Mosiah 4:3 and Mosiah 5:2

What is the Lord’s solution to Godly Sorrow?

To give us a new heart (a mighty change of heart with no disposition to do evil but to do good continually).

To give us a new spirit (the Spirit of the Lord).

To give us a remission of our sins (forgiveness – mercy).

To give us peace and joy (able to stand in His presence – see Psalm 16:11, 3 Nephi 28:10, D&C 93:33 and Alma 36:22).

 

READ Alma 36:17-22

What is this mighty change dependent on?

Understanding one’s true standing before Christ – one’s desperate need for Him.

CRYING out for mercy to Christ (Alma 36:18) – this is the true Hosanna shout: a cry or plea for saving help – and it is a shout, of desperation.

Exceeding faith in Christ that He will hear that cry and that through His Atonement, He has the power to save even the vilest of sinners (Mosiah 4:3).

Offering one’s whole soul or a broken heart and contrite spirit in sacrifice – the gift of the only thing that is truly ours to give.

 

 

A Valley of Dry Bones

READ Ezekiel 37:1-11, 14

How does the Lord bring the bones back to life?

Through the “breath of life”.

“(I) shall put my spirit in you and ye shall live”.

What does this vision symbolize?

It shows a resurrection.

But it symbolizes Israel coming back to spiritual “life” after being spiritually dead and dry.

It is the Spirit that does this.

So, it is a birth or rebirth of the spirit.

If the light has just gone out in a candle, how do you bring the flame back to life without using a match?

You blow the “breath of life” on it.

Breath is often equated with “spirit” (see Abraham 5:7, Job 27:3 and 14, Isaiah 42:5).

 

 

A Vision of Two Sticks

READ Ezekiel 37:15-17

What do these two “sticks” symbolize?

The Book of Mormon and the Bible coming together to testify of the gospel of Christ.

The two peoples and their cities coming back together – Ephraim and Judah: the modern day Zion and Jerusalem; also, the translated City of Enoch/Melchizedek and the latter day Zion.



The Winding Up Scene

READ Ezekiel 38:2, 8-9, 11,

What land or people is Gog attacking “like a storm”?

Zion.

This is not the modern day state of Israel but the remnant of Zion in the New Jerusalem.

 

READ Ezekiel 38:18 and Ezekiel 39:4, 7

Who will turn back Gog from Zion?

The Lord – not the people of Zion.

There will be no need for a stockpile of arms in Zion.

 

 

A Vision of the Temple of God

20 years earlier than this prophesy, Ezekiel had received a similar apocalyptic vision where he saw the glory of the Lord depart from the Temple (see Ezekiel 9:3, 10:18-19, 11:22-23).

READ Ezekiel 43:1-2, 4-7

What is Ezekiel seeing?

The Lord and His glory returning to His temple.

What does He tell Ezekiel the Temple is?

His home on earth.

Where His throne is – where He rules and reigns from.

 

READ Ezekiel 47:1-5

What happens the first time a person goes to the Temple?

They “barely get their feet wet”.

They experience the temple from their own perspective and on their own terms (the Lord meets us where we are and engages us there, if we will – think about the Road to Emmaus).

What is the symbolism in the water getting deeper with each crossing?

The more we live (walk), the deeper the meaning of the temple.

The more we return to the temple, the more we get from it – the “bigger” it seems – the more we realize we don’t know.

Why does the water rise so high that it cannot be passed over?

The closer to the Lord we get, the more we must receive Him on His terms – for His ways are not our ways; we do not comprehend Him or what He has in store for those who wait for Him and love Him.

What is the symbolism of “waters to swim in”?

We must be “immersed” in His living waters.

We have the opportunity to “lose our lives” in the swift waters – and by so doing find our life.

 

READ Ezekiel 47:7-9

What is the impact of the river?

It gives life.

It heals – even something that is as dead and as large as the Dead Sea – it is a miracle of healing.

Where does the living water or river come from?

The Temple.

The House of the Lord.

The place where you can go to see Him in the flesh.

 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Ezekiel’s Visions (Ezekiel 36-39, 43, 47) QUESTIONS

After the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon (from Ezekiel 35 to the end of the book) Ezekiel’s message shifts from an indictment of Israel to a focus on the latter days.  These include the restoration of the House of Israel, the efforts of the ungodly in opposing the Lord’s work, the destruction of the wicked prior to Christ’s coming in glory, and His glorious reign as Israel’s Millennial King – with an emphasis on His House on earth, the Temple.


A New Heart

READ Ezekiel 36:30-32

What is the Lord describing here?

 

READ Ezra Taft Benson quote:

“Lehi taught that "no flesh can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:8). Even the most just and upright man cannot save himself solely on his own merits, for, as the Apostle Paul tells us, "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Therefore, repentance means more than simply a reformation of behavior. Many men and women in the world demonstrate great will-power and self-discipline in overcoming bad habits and the weaknesses of the flesh. Yet at the same time they give no thought to the Master, sometimes even openly rejecting Him. Such changes of behavior, even if in a positive direction, do not constitute true repentance. Repentance involves not just a change of actions, but a change of heart.  As we seek to qualify to be members of Christ's Church -- members in the sense in which He uses the term, members who have repented and come unto Him -- let us remember these principles. The gospel is the Lord's plan of happiness and repentance is designed to bring us joy. True repentance is based on and flows from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way. True repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change of behavior (see Alma 5:13). Part of this mighty change of heart is to feel godly sorrow for our sins. This is what is meant by a broken heart and a contrite spirit. God's gifts are sufficient to help us overcome every sin and weakness if we will but turn to Him for help…It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute "godly sorrow" (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (D&C 20:37). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance.”  ("A Mighty Change of Heart," 1986.)

READ Mosiah 4:1-2 and Alma 36:12-16

How does one receive Godly Sorrow?

What causes the “inexpressible horror” of Godly Sorrow?

 

READ Ezekiel 36:26-29, 33-35 and Mosiah 4:3 and Mosiah 5:2

What is the Lord’s solution to Godly Sorrow?

 

READ Alma 36:17-22

What is this mighty change dependent on?

 

 

A Valley of Dry Bones

READ Ezekiel 37:1-11, 14

How does the Lord bring the bones back to life?

What does this vision symbolize?

If the light has just gone out in a candle, how do you bring the flame back to life without using a match?

 

 

A Vision of Two Sticks

READ Ezekiel 37:15-17

What do these two “sticks” symbolize?



The Winding Up Scene

READ Ezekiel 38:2, 8-9, 11,

What land or people is Gog attacking “like a storm”?

 

READ Ezekiel 38:18 and Ezekiel 39:4, 7

Who will turn back Gog from Zion?

 

 

A Vision of the Temple of God

20 years earlier than this prophesy, Ezekiel had received a similar apocalyptic vision where he saw the glory of the Lord depart from the Temple (see Ezekiel 9:3, 10:18-19, 11:22-23).

 

READ Ezekiel 43:1-2, 4-7

What is Ezekiel seeing?

What does He tell Ezekiel the Temple is?

 

READ Ezekiel 47:1-5

What happens the first time a person goes to the Temple?

What is the symbolism in the water getting deeper with each crossing?

Why does the water rise so high that it cannot be passed over?

What is the symbolism of “waters to swim in”?

 

READ Ezekiel 47:7-9

What is the impact of the river?

Where does the living water or river come from?

 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Cautionary Tales for Modern Israel (Ezekiel 3, 9, 13-14, 33-34)

Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Lehi in Jerusalem before the attack of Babylon.  There is not much recorded about him personally, but he was from a priestly family, may have been a generation younger than Jeremiah, and was taken captive into Babylon where he continued to prophesy.  In the first chapters of his book, he sees God in vision and is called to deliver the word of God to Israel.  This post is a cautionary tale to Priesthood leaders and Church members of any dispensation – this is a “don’t let this happen to you” kind of lesson.

 

 The Watchmen

READ Ezekiel 3:17-19

What kind of responsibility does Ezekiel have to his family, friends, and people?

If they do not repent, they will die – he must do his best to warn them, to save their lives.

If they are wicked but he has not warned them, their “blood” is on his hands.

If they are wicked and do not repent when he has warned them, they are on their own and responsible for their own destruction; but at least he’s done all he can to help them.

 

READ Ezekiel 9:2 and 4-5

Who are the six “men” that Ezekiel sees?

Angels with authority from God to seal souls up to life or reap them down in death (both spiritual and physical “deaths”).

What is the mark that is set upon the heads of those who cry against the abominations of Israel?

It is a sealing mark to save them from the destroying angels (see D&C 77:8-9,11).

Is this real and how does it inform Ezekiel’s mission from the Lord?

It is a real vision – Ezekiel is seeing what is happening and is about to happen on the other side of the veil, in and around Jerusalem.

It should add an urgency to the proceedings – people are being sealed if they accept the words he has received from God and repent, but if not, they will be destroyed.

 

 

The Shepherds of Israel

READ Ezekiel 13:2-3 and 10 and 14 and 1 Nephi 17:22

Revisiting the same theme of priestcraft that Jeremiah saw, what does it mean that the Priests built a wall with untampered mortar?

They built a structure with inherent weakness – it will fall if tested.

A wall is supposed to protect those within from enemies or weather – this wall is a false protection.

Their wall was to seduce the people into saying that they didn’t have to change – that they were safe and would have peace; implied is that they were righteous.

What does it mean that their “foundation shall be discovered”?

When the Lord has done His work of exposing and destroying the prophets of Israel, their foundation – which is not based on a connection to God – will also be exposed.

Why are they called “Prophets” if they aren’t connected to heaven?

They want to appear to be connected to heaven so as to be able to control the people by saying “thus sayeth the Lord” to legitimize their own will.

They call themselves Prophets.

 

READ Ezekiel 34:1-6 and 18-19

What is a “shepherd” and how does the role differ from a “hireling”?

The shepherd “owns” the sheep and is responsible for protecting and providing for the sheep.

A hireling is an employee who is tasked with the same things, but for money – it is a transaction-based relationship; the hireling may leave when the pay no longer is worth the task, but a shepherd should “lay down their life” for the sheep because they own the sheep.

Who are the “shepherds of Israel”?

The leaders of the Church – from the top (general or church-wide leaders) to the bottom (local leaders).

What are the shepherds doing or not doing?

They feed themselves at the expense of feeding the flock – they are literally fleecing the flock.

They do not feed the flock or protect it or heal the sick among it.

They rule the flock with force and cruelty.

They allow the flock to be scattered and lost (to leave the fold and become lost in a place where there is no safety or salvation).

What does it mean to “tread down the pasture” and “foul the water”? (v18-19)

The leaders don’t allow the sheep to feed from the good grass or drink the living water; in other words, they have changed the ordinances, broken the covenants, and taught their own philosophies about God, so that the people are lost in unbelief (incorrect understanding of God) and CANNOT EXERCISE FAITH IN CHRIST UNTO SALVATION.

This makes the people even more dependent on the “shepherds” because they are having a difficult time connecting directly with God because of the “incorrect traditions of the fathers”.

Why does God say “there is no shepherd”?

He means that they are shepherds in name only – really they are hirelings or worse than that – they are robbers.

A true shepherd would lay down his life for the sheep. 

 

READ Ezekiel 34:7-10

What does it mean “I am against the shepherds”?

God has been betrayed by those who were supposed to be His servants – those who were supposed to be protecting His assets (and enabling His work and His glory).

If you commit to be a servant of the Lord and betray Him, it would have been better if you had not KNOWN Him (or pretended to know Him).

He will destroy the wicked shepherds – root and branch.

 

READ Ezekiel 34:11-16

Who will the Lord install as the new shepherd to His people?

He will be the shepherd Himself.

How can God take the place of priests and leaders in the day to day lives of the people?

His ministry continues – the Atonement was only His “preparation”.

He and His angels can minister just as tactically to the needs of His sheep as can men.

At the end of the day, all the priesthood leaders were supposed to be doing anyway was to prepare the people, individually, to come unto Christ and be saved, then they stand out of the way… as no one will need to ask his neighbor “know the Lord?” for all shall know Him from the least to the greatest.  He can do this work with or without mortal priests; this infers that much of the value of using mortal servants to do His work is actually in the further development of those servants. 

 

In Israel, the priesthood leadership was all killed when the Babylonians invaded.  The few who were taken captive had to rely directly on the Lord, like the handcart pioneers, they “came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for (they) became acquainted with Him in (their) extremities.” (William Palmer)

 

 

Dependence on a Prophet

READ Ezekiel 14:1-6

These men are coming to the prophet for him to inquire of the Lord; why would God treat them with distain?

They are idol worshippers – they don’t have faith in Christ unto salvation, as we have discussed in previous blog posts.

God would like us to go to Him directly – there is no need for an intermediary, regardless of how spiritually gifted.

What does it mean that the Lord instructs the prophet that He will answer the men “according to the multitude of their idols”?

He will tell them what they want to hear.

If you come to the Lord with a preconceived notion (you’ve set up stakes – you have placed something or someone or an idea between yourself and the Lord), he will not break you of that notion.

You must go to the Lord in an attitude of meekness, humility, and teachability – asking and being willing to learn and do whatever He teaches you to do.

 

READ TPJS 266:2

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel—said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church—that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls —applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.”

Why would the people be darkened in their minds from depending on the Prophet?

To these Saints, they had made Joseph Smith into an idol. 

They were more concerned about getting from Joseph what they wanted, than being willing to receive what revelations and truth the Lord wanted to give them.

Examples include Martin Harris and the manuscript, Sidney Rigdon and the New Testament church, getting organizational “revelations” instead of doctrinal ones, focusing on building up the Church instead of finding the Remnant of Lehi amongst the Native Americans, and establishing Zion in the mountains.

What duties devolving upon themselves might they have been neglecting because of their over-dependence on the Prophet?

It was like Moses’ people – through their actions, they told Joseph Smith: “you go up on the Mount and commune with God for us”.

They should be sanctifying themselves so that they could experience the same things Joseph experienced (see TPJS 265).

 

READ Ezekiel 33:30-33

What is Ezekiel to the people who will come to listen to him?

Thrilling, goosebump invoking ENTERTAINMENT.

Why do they like what he says but do not do what he says?

Their hearts are not broken or contrite.

They don’t REALLY believe that he is a prophet – after all, their Prophet leaders are telling them that all is well in Zion.

What he’s telling them to do will result in their having to cleanse the inner vessel and submit their hearts and whole souls to God – losing control of their lives and submitting to God’s will – something that is unpleasant to them. 

 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Cautionary Tales for Modern Israel (Ezekiel 3, 9, 13-14, 33-34) QUESTIONS

Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Lehi in Jerusalem before the attack of Babylon.  There is not much recorded about him personally, but he was from a priestly family, may have been a generation younger than Jeremiah, and was taken captive into Babylon where he continued to prophesy.  In the first chapters of his book, he sees God in vision and is called to deliver the word of God to Israel.  This post is a cautionary tale to Priesthood leaders and Church members of any dispensation – this is a “don’t let this happen to you” kind of lesson.

 

The Watchmen

READ Ezekiel 3:17-19

What kind of responsibility does Ezekiel have to his family, friends, and people?

 

READ Ezekiel 9:2 and 4-5

Who are the six “men” that Ezekiel sees?

What is the mark that is set upon the heads of those who cry against the abominations of Israel?

Is this real and how does it inform Ezekiel’s mission from the Lord?

 

 

The Shepherds of Israel

READ Ezekiel 13:2-3 and 10 and 14 and 1 Nephi 17:22

Revisiting the same theme of priestcraft that Jeremiah saw, what does it mean that the Priests built a wall with untampered mortar?

What does it mean that their “foundation shall be discovered”?

Why are they called “Prophets” if they aren’t connected to heaven?

 

READ Ezekiel 34:1-6 and 18-19

What is a “shepherd” and how does the role differ from a “hireling”?

Who are the “shepherds of Israel”?

What are the shepherds doing or not doing?

What does it mean to “tread down the pasture” and “foul the water”? (v18-19)

Why does God say “there is no shepherd”?

 

READ Ezekiel 34:7-10

What does it mean “I am against the shepherds”?

 

READ Ezekiel 34:11-16

Who will the Lord install as the new shepherd to His people?

How can God take the place of priests and leaders in the day to day lives of the people?

 

In Israel, the priesthood leadership was all killed when the Babylonians invaded.  The few who were taken captive had to rely directly on the Lord, like the handcart pioneers, they “came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for (they) became acquainted with Him in (their) extremities.” (William Palmer)

 

 

Dependence on a Prophet

READ Ezekiel 14:1-6

These men are coming to the prophet for him to inquire of the Lord; why would God treat them with distain?

What does it mean that the Lord instructs the prophet that He will answer the men “according to the multitude of their idols”?

 

READ TPJS 266:2

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel—said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church—that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls —applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.”

Why would the people be darkened in their minds from depending on the Prophet?

What duties devolving upon themselves might they have been neglecting because of their over-dependence on the Prophet?

 

READ Ezekiel 33:30-33

What is Ezekiel to the people who will come to listen to him?

Why do they like what he says but do not do what he says?

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Jeremiah’s Prophecies (Jeremiah 7, 14, 17, 23, 29, 31)

Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon

READ Jeremiah 7:1-7

Why does Jeremiah say “trust not in lying words, saying ‘the temple of the Lord’…”?

Israel had a false sense of security that because they had the Temple, the Lord would protect them from their enemies.

Just because they have a temple doesn’t mean they will be protected unless they are living the covenants they have made there.

And living the covenants is not about the outward ordinances entered into in the Temple, but it’s about the spiritual renewal of the inward being.

How do we know that Israel were not living their temple covenants?

Jeremiah tells them they must “thoroughly amend their ways”.

They are oppressing the stranger, the poor, the widow – they are taking advantage of those that are most vulnerable.

They are following other Gods – “saying Lord, Lord” but not following the Lord’s commandments and Ways.

They ultimately are driven out of Jerusalem and those that remain are taken captive into Babylon.

What is interesting about this time period (609 BC) is that this is right after the religious reforms of King Josiah, implying that they had embraced the “outward ordinances” and performances like the Temple but had not received a mighty change of heart.

Why are the outward ordinances and behavioral standards necessary but not sufficient for salvation?

Appropriately performed actions come from an inward relationship with Christ.

The outward appearances can be faked – a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” – someone who is appearing to be righteous by adhering to your preconceived notions of what a righteous person should act like.

The outward performances are a lot easier to do than the inward sanctification – sacrificing your whole soul on the altar to Christ is tough – and it is real.

 

READ Jeremiah 7:23-24, 28, 30

They have the Temple, so how has “truth perished”?

They may “walk” into the Temple and do the actions but they are still following their own will and the imaginations of their hearts.

They do not receive correction from the Lord.

They have introduced abominations into the Temple ceremony – they have “changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant”.

 

 

Practicing Priestcraft

Let’s see how the Priesthood Leaders react to Jeremiah’s indictment of their “religious” behavior…

READ Jeremiah 14:13-14

Why would the prophets say to Israel that the sword and famine will not touch them but they will have peace?

Because their Prophets are not receiving revelation from God.

They are preaching comforting things that the people want to hear –i.e. “all is well in Zion” (see 2 Nephi 28:21).

They are doing it to stay popular and listened to – i.e. priestcraft (see 2 Nephi 26:29 and Jeremiah 23:11); it will keep them in power.

 

READ Jeremiah 23:11 and 16 and 21-23

What was happening in Israel?

The prophets and priests who were called to lead were not connected to the Lord.

They had the correct priesthood ordinations, authority, bloodlines and trappings of righteousness but their hearts were far from the Lord.

What were they teaching?

Their own doctrines – but saying they were from the Lord.

Things that were pleasing and flattering to the people – making them vain.

They insinuated that God was directing the people through them – that God does not minister directly to the people any more… “am I a God at hand… and not a God afar off?” (v23).

 

So, Babylon storms in from the North and destroys many of the people of Judah and Jerusalem and takes a remnant off to be slaves in Babylon.



Jeremiah Prophesies Israel’s Return to the Lord & Holy City

READ Jeremiah 29:12-15 and READ Jeremiah 17:13-14

What is the secret to Israel finding the Lord again?

Search for the Lord with ALL YOUR HEART.

Ask to be healed and saved – lay your heart on His altar.

Turn your heart back to Him.

 

READ Jeremiah 23:3-6

What will the Lord do to the flock?

He will gather them from their lost state into one fold.

He will set righteous shepherds to feed the flock.

He will come Himself to the earth to reign over the flock and protect them – He is the Good Shepherd.

 

READ Jeremiah 31:31-34

How is the new covenant with Israel different from the old one that they broke?

It is new in that it is offered new again to modern Israel! (and as many of us Gentiles that will rise up).

It is not a new covenant – it is the everlasting covenant offered to the Children of Israel below Mount Sinai.

What is the new (and everlasting) covenant?

I will put my law in their inward parts and I will write it in their hearts.

I will be their God and they shall be my people.

They shall ALL KNOW ME.

I will forgive them and sanctify them that they can stand in my presence.

What does it mean to have God’s law written in our hearts?

We have become one with Him – our wills have been offered to Him and swallowed up in His will.

We have a mighty change of heart – only desiring to do good.

We are filled with love (His Law is love – love the Lord with all they heart and thy neighbor).

What must we do to have God’s law written in our hearts?

We must offer our whole souls upon His altar in sacrifice (see Omni 1:26).

It is up to us – a personal journey – Christ waits at the Gate to receive us; but He also ministers to us, usually incognito, on the Way.

It is answered in the life we live; we cannot KNOW THE MASTER WE HAVE NOT SERVED.

What is the difference between saying “they shall all know me” vs. saying “they shall all know about me”?

You must know Him personally – not knowledge concerning Him.

There is no longer a need for an intermediary to teach you about Him or to stand between you and Him.

Eternal life comes by knowing God yourself.  That is what Jeremiah is talking about here (see John 17:3).

If you think Christ is the Son of God, you will follow Him.  That cannot be done without keeping His commandments.  He does not love any of us more than another.  The conditions under which He may come to one are the same as those under which He may come to another.  We cannot reject those conditions and then expect to receive what He offers.  His gifts are free but the manner in which we take delivery is by accepting His ordinances and abiding by His teachings.  When we do, the gifts flow naturally. 

We will know the Master we have faithfully served. 

 

READ D&C 88:68 (…for he will unveil His face unto you, and it shall be in His own time…)

This this true doctrine?

Yes.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Jeremiah’s Prophecies (Jeremiah 7, 14, 17, 23, 29, 31) QUESTIONS

Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon

READ Jeremiah 7:1-7

Why does Jeremiah say “trust not in lying words, saying ‘the temple of the Lord’…”?

How do we know that Israel were not living their temple covenants?

Why are the outward ordinances and behavioral standards necessary but not sufficient for salvation?

 

READ Jeremiah 7:23-24, 28, 30

They have the Temple, so how has “truth perished”?

 

 

Practicing Priestcraft

Let’s see how the Priesthood Leaders react to Jeremiah’s indictment of their “religious” behavior…

READ Jeremiah 14:13-14

Why would the prophets say to Israel that the sword and famine will not touch them but they will have peace?

 

READ Jeremiah 23:11 and 16 and 21-23

What was happening in Israel?

What were they teaching?

 

So, Babylon storms in from the North and destroys many of the people of Judah and Jerusalem and takes a remnant off to be slaves in Babylon.



Jeremiah Prophesies Israel’s Return to the Lord & Holy City

READ Jeremiah 29:12-15 and READ Jeremiah 17:13-14

What is the secret to Israel finding the Lord again?

 

READ Jeremiah 23:3-6

What will the Lord do to the flock?

 

READ Jeremiah 31:31-34

How is the new covenant with Israel different from the old one that they broke?

What is the new (and everlasting) covenant?

What does it mean to have God’s law written in our hearts?

What must we do to have God’s law written in our hearts?

What is the difference between saying “they shall all know me” vs. saying “they shall all know about me”?

 

READ D&C 88:68 (…for he will unveil His face unto you, and it shall be in His own time…)

This this true doctrine?

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Jeremiah’s Prophetic Call (Jeremiah 1-2, 20, 24)

Jeremiah’s ministry to Israel (Southern Kingdom) lasted forty years – from the time of King Josiah until the Babylonian invasion and captivity in the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah.


Pre-mortal Life/Ministries

READ Jeremiah 1:4-5

Why is it important to understand that you lived before you came to earth?

It gives context to this earth life – that it is the “second” act in a three act play.

We are eternal beings having a mortal experience – this should reverence the interactions we have with each other.

It is possible that we have taken upon ourselves a specific mission or objective, over and above the critical but common objectives of all in this second estate (body and proving ground), but without knowledge of that objective, what are the chances we will accomplish it?  Understanding that you lived before this earth begs the question of why, exactly, YOU are here. 

We knew Father and Mother much more intimately than we realize – and they knew and loved us, more than we can comprehend.

What is the danger of focusing on who you might have been before you were born in mortality?

If doesn’t matter at all if you were “noble and great” if fail to be faithful to the Lord and His gospel while in the flesh; in fact, it might be worse for you.

All of us are in “peril every hour” here in mortality – anyone can fall, i.e. King David, Judas, etc.

 

 

Jeremiah’s Prophetic Call

READ Jeremiah 1:6-10

What is Jeremiah’s initial response to hearing of his mission?

He doubts his own ability.

He is afraid of what others in authority will say of/to a mere “child”.

His faith is not perfect in Christ – he is worried about his own capability and contribution, not realizing that the Lord sustains and enables those He calls, if they will act in faith and obedience.

Why did the Lord touch Jeremiah’s mouth?

He improvised an ordinance and “anointed” him to “proclaim…the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (see Isaiah 61:1-2).

This was to give Jeremiah faith in the specific area of help that the Lord knew he needed – where he doubted himself the most. 

 

READ Jeremiah 1:17-19

What will happen to those who fear man more than God?

God will confound them in front of men.

God will not support that person because they have set the man up as an idol to worship – one with seemingly more power (in the moment, at least) than God.

 

READ JSH 1:25

What will the world do if you say to them, “I have actually seen a light…”?

They will persecute you.

Because they have not seen a light (they fear that you will think you are better than they are or think you are better than they are; that you will tell them what to do from an authoritative source (God); that you are crazy and worthy of being mocked or dangerous and should be defended against – because they do not believe in God.

What will happen if you deny your experience?

You will be condemned by God.

Jeremiah has been commanded to share his experience and the message that he has received from God – what has the Lord promised him if he will not fear man?

First of all, Israel will fight against him (v19).

But the Lord will defend him – make him a “defensed city”, so that the people will not prevail against him.

 

 

 Jeremiah’s Message

The stipulations of the Mosaic covenant, the Law, were from the beginning inseparably connected with specific blessings and curses, depending on obedience to commandments.  They are laid out in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. 

READ Deuteronomy 28:1-2 and 28:15, 20

What are the blessings given in the Law?

Set you on high above all nations.

What is the curse given to Israel in the Law?

They will be “vexed” in all they try to do.

Until they will be destroyed.

What is the cursing for?

Failing to listen to the voice of God.

Failing to keep the commandments and statues in the (lower) Law.

While Moses delivered the Law, as a preparatory gospel to help Israel get back to Sinai and the promise of rising up and ascending the Mount to know God themselves, Jeremiah is sent to give them one last warning before the curses inherent in that covenant are finally executed upon the people of Israel, at large.

 

READ Jeremiah 2:13

What evils have Israel committed?

They have forsaken the living God who saves – they have not come unto Him as a people with the exception of a few prophets, which is what the Law was intended to facilitate.

They have created their own philosophies about what constitutes being saved – these may include “God”, even Jehovah, but they have created their own “beliefs” about Him, which are pleasing to them and their culture – this is called “unbelief” because they are believing things that are not true.

These beliefs, no matter how strongly they might be held, will not lead one to salvation.  In Isaiah, we talked briefly about the attributes of God and why they engender faith.

 

READ Hebrews 11:6

What must we do to please God?

Have faith in Him.

Love Him.

 

READ Moses 1:39 and Moroni 7:38

Why are good works and kind hearts not enough to please God?

Because His work and glory (what pleases Him) is to bring about our immortality and eternal life and…

That cannot happen (no man can be saved) unless they have faith in His name.

 

READ LoF 3:2-5 and D&C 93:24

What does true and living faith – the kind that leads to salvation – require?

Faith in something that is true.

Faith in a correct idea of God’s character and attributes.

An actual knowledge from God (revelation) that you are following His will.

We are damned, by definition – i.e. because we cannot have faith unto life and salvation – if we do not seek out and find the truth about God and our standing before Him.

 

READ Alma 12:10-11

What happens to those who harden their hearts against the truth – regardless of how difficult it might be for them to receive it given their traditions or the things they think they know to be true?

They receive less and less until they know nothing concerning the mysteries of Godliness.

And then they are taken captive by the devil.

 

Back to the mortal cursings that come to a people who don’t believe in the living God, after they have been given knowledge of Him in plainness, even as plain as word can be…

READ Jeremiah 24:10

What is the Lord’s last warning to Israel through Jeremiah?

Repent and come unto me or…

I will send famine, pestilence and the sword to destroy you.

 

READ 2 Nephi 1:20

America has a similar covenant upon it – what is it?

Worship me by keeping my commandments and prosper.

Disobedience to Christ leads to destruction.



Persecuted for My Sake

READ Jeremiah 20:1-2

Who is Pashur and what did he do to Jeremiah?

He is the equivalent of the President of the Church – Chief Priest and Governor of the Temple.

He publicly shames Jeremiah by putting him in the stocks right outside of the Temple and in the main public thoroughfare.

He is basically “excommunicating” Jeremiah – casting him out of the Temple and the Church – publicly shunning and shaming him to the Church, based on the testimony of others that heard Jeremiah prophesy.

 

READ Jeremiah 20:7-9

How was Jeremiah deceived by the Lord?

The Lord promised that if Jeremiah feared God more than man that the Lord would stand by him.

And right now he’s feeling pretty abandoned.

What was Jeremiah’s solution to all the persecution?

To stop prophesying and preaching of the living God.

Why could Jeremiah not stop crying repentance, even against his better judgment?

The Holy Spirit was too strong within him - he felt that he couldn’t stop preaching.

Had Jeremiah lost his agency?

No – but given the choice of not doing what he felt so strongly he must do (preach repentance and prophesy) vs. retreating into the safety of seclusion, he chose the Lord.

Once you come unto Christ – you have left neutral ground forever and you cannot go back to it.  You KNOW and you must stand as a witness or risk condemnation.

This is part of what it means to be “valiant in the testimony of Jesus”.

 

READ Jeremiah 20:14-18

So, given that Jeremiah has chosen to continue to testify, why does he wish that he’d never been born?

Being excommunicated from your Church (and hated daily by all you meet for 40 years (including, in many cases, your family) is heartbreaking.

This is an Abrahamic test for him.


READ D&C 122:7-9

How does God’s understanding of our limits differ from our own fears and feelings about them?

First of all, He can resolve all of the issues in a second if He chose to do so; like the David and Goliath problem – Goliath is really fighting God not David, if David has the faith to see it.

Christ has descended below us all and knows how to succor us in our afflictions if we will but come unto Him for healing.  Sometimes that’s what He wants us to learn.

 

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Jeremiah’s Prophetic Call (Jeremiah 1-2, 20, 24) QUESTIONS

Jeremiah’s ministry to Israel (Southern Kingdom) lasted forty years – from the time of King Josiah until the Babylonian invasion and captivity in the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah.


Pre-mortal Life/Ministries

READ Jeremiah 1:4-5

Why is it important to understand that you lived before you came to earth?

What is the danger of focusing on who you might have been before you were born in mortality?

 

 

Jeremiah’s Prophetic Call

READ Jeremiah 1:6-10

What is Jeremiah’s initial response to hearing of his mission?

Why did the Lord touch Jeremiah’s mouth?

 

READ Jeremiah 1:17-19

What will happen to those who fear man more than God?

 

READ JSH 1:25

What will the world do if you say to them, “I have actually seen a light…”?

What will happen if you deny your experience?

Jeremiah has been commanded to share his experience and the message that he has received from God – what has the Lord promised him if he will not fear man?

 

 

 Jeremiah’s Message

The stipulations of the Mosaic covenant, the Law, were from the beginning inseparably connected with specific blessings and curses, depending on obedience to commandments.  They are laid out in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. 

READ Deuteronomy 28:1-2 and 28:15, 20

What are the blessings given in the Law?

What is the curse given to Israel in the Law?

What is the cursing for?

 

READ Jeremiah 2:13

What evils have Israel committed?

 

READ Hebrews 11:6

What must we do to please God?

 

READ Moses 1:39 and Moroni 7:38

Why are good works and kind hearts not enough to please God?

 

READ LoF 3:2-5 and D&C 93:24

What does true and living faith – the kind that leads to salvation – require?

 

READ Alma 12:10-11

What happens to those who harden their hearts against the truth – regardless of how difficult it might be for them to receive it given their traditions or the things they think they know to be true?

 

Back to the mortal cursings that come to a people who don’t believe in the living God, after they have been given knowledge of Him in plainness, even as plain as word can be…

READ Jeremiah 24:10

What is the Lord’s last warning to Israel through Jeremiah?

 

READ 2 Nephi 1:20

America has a similar covenant upon it – what is it?



Persecuted for My Sake

READ Jeremiah 20:1-2

Who is Pashur and what did he do to Jeremiah?

 

READ Jeremiah 20:7-9

How was Jeremiah deceived by the Lord?

What was Jeremiah’s solution to all the persecution?

Why could Jeremiah not stop crying repentance, even against his better judgment?

Had Jeremiah lost his agency?

 

READ Jeremiah 20:14-18

So, given that Jeremiah has chosen to continue to testify, why does he wish that he’d never been born?


READ D&C 122:7-9

How does God’s understanding of our limits differ from our own fears and feelings about them?

Cana, Nicodemus, and Jacob’s Well (John 2-4) QUESTIONS

The Marriage in Cana READ John 2:1-11 Why did Christ’s mother Mary ask Him to help the wedding party that had run out of wine? Why doe...