Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Return to Israel & the Second Temple (Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai) QUESTIONS

Returning to Israel

Background: The temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, when they sacked the city, killing or taking captive back to Babylon, the Jews.  In 539 BC, Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians.  Soon after, Cyrus the Great of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Israel.  Another twenty years later, the Jews completed the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.  This “Second Temple” survived for almost 600 years until it was destroyed by the Romans several decades after Christ’s life. 

 

 

Rebuilding the Temple

READ Ezra 1:1-2

Who commanded that the temple be rebuilt in Jerusalem?

What issues might the Jews have had in rebuilding the Temple?

 

READ Haggai 1:3-4, 7-8

Did the Lord want this temple built - why?

 

 

The Word of the Lord

READ Nehemiah 8:1-3, 8-11, 17-18

Who was Ezra?

What did Ezra do for the people?

Why did the people weep to hear the scriptures?

How was Ezra able to help the people understand the scriptures?

 

 

The Legacy of Josiah

One might ask why, with the exception of Malachi 100 years later, that from the time of Daniel to John the Baptist, there were no actual prophets in Israel? 

From reading the Book of Mormon (which was written by prophets before the attack by Babylon) and hints from the New Testament, what truths were hidden/distorted/changed by Josiah and the Deuteronomists?

 

Out of this apostasy, masquerading as truth, came the “dry ground” or lack of revelation from God that the people found themselves living in when John the Baptist and Christ were born – an extremely piously religious people who were devoid of the Spirit of the Lord and, ironically, ended up killing the One sent from heaven to teach and save them. 

 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream & Daniel’s Visions (Daniel 2, 7, 10)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

READ Daniel 2:1-6

What is the “catch” for the magicians and wise men of Babylon in interpreting the King’s dream?

He will not tell them the dream but says it is “gone” from him.

They must have the original dream AND the interpretation revealed to them.

 

READ Daniel 2:9-11

What else has been bothering the king?

This is a set up – the king is suspecting that he has been the victim of fraud in the past.

What is implied by the king’s logic – “if you can tell me the dream… I shall know that you can show me the interpretation”?

They cannot use their own intellect.

They MUST connect through the veil to something – God or angel or devil or spiritual entity.

The king believes in the spirit world while the magicians do not.

Or at least the magicians do not believe they can reliably and accurately connect through the veil to the gods or unseen world – enough to get a very specific answer to this request: to see the same dream and get the correct interpretation.

The king has likely NOT forgotten the dream and is waiting to see if they will be able to reach into the spiritual realm and bring back the truth.

What is implied by the statement “the gods, whose dwelling is not with the flesh”?

There is a rigid division or wall between mortality and the spirit world – it is not a veil which can be parted.

The gods are not ministering among them but are in their heavens.

The gods have given their power unto men.

 

READ 2 Nephi 28:3-6

What is one of the signs of a Church that has been corrupted?

They claim to be God’s own Church.

But they teach their own learning.

They deny the Holy Ghost and power of God.

They say God has “done His work” (God is not actively involved with the people in a way that they know Him and know it is Him – He has left the earth).

They teach God has given His power to men.

They teach people to disbelieve in miracles or supernatural occurrences (because that will likely contradict the will of the men to whom God has “given His power”; also while God might have given His power to them, they never display that power in any public way that could be measured or assessed with any certainty).

Why do they teach the people to doubt miracles and “supernatural” occurrences?

Because the priestly leadership is not receiving revelation or displaying spiritual gifts themselves (i.e. Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men).

They become very threatened by those that do (i.e. Daniel).

They usually say that the person who is experiencing these things is “of the devil” – they try to discredit them.

 

READ Daniel 2:15-18

Why did Daniel need time to receive revelation?

These experiences are real and require faith and spiritual “labor” (i.e. “crying all the daylong” and into the night like Enos or wrestling with an angel like Jacob).

 

READ Daniel 2:19, 23, 27-28

How did God reveal the dream and its interpretation to Daniel?

In a “night vision” or a vision at night.

How was this different than what had happened to the King and why?

The king “dreamed a dream” (v1).

Daniel had to have more sure knowledge than a mere dream – he needed a vision and an interpretation, which comes more reliably while awake (and from a true messenger) than in a dream.

 

READ Daniel 2:31-35

Why would the Lord give this dream to a heathen king?

He is no respecter of persons.

Giving a dream like this to one of the most powerful people in the world is guaranteed to increase visibility into the dream (and Daniel’s miraculous interpretation).

Why would the Lord not give the interpretation to the king?

The Lord choses “revelators” who “reveal” His will and knowledge.

These people must have covenanted with Him; they must worship Him.

God wanted the king to have to become a seeker after truth. 

 

READ Daniel 2:36-43

What does the image represent?

Various kingdoms of the world throughout time.

If the gold head represents Babylon, what kingdoms are represented by the silver, brass, iron and clay?

Silver = Persian/Medes.

Brass = Greeks/Macedonia (Alexander the Great).

Iron = Roman Empire.

Clay = European nations (including the USA, according to Joseph Smith, see TPJS 123:2).

 

READ Daniel 2:44-45

What is the stone cut without hands?

The kingdom of God or Zion.

An incorruptible Gospel or roadmap back to God with its enabling Atonement.

It is NOT a corruptible mortal institution or Church – the Kingdom of God is God’s House or royal family that He is hoping to reconstitute again upon the earth – it is a Kingdom because Christ is its Lord and Father, and those who live there are His Sons and Daughters. 

What does “cut without hands” mean?

The Kingdom is not created or led by men with “hands” to build things, but by God who commands with His voice and waits to be obeyed. 

The Lord “brings again Zion” (see Isaiah 52:8) not man.

It is the heavenly angels that bring men and women to Zion (see Moses 7:27).

Ultimately, it requires becoming a Son or Daughter of God and receiving the testimony of Jesus (see D&C 88:75) to live in Zion and be able to withstand its glory, which causes fear among the mortal armies of the earth such that they won’t go up to fight it because it is “terrible” or filled with heavenly glory that even they can see with their mortal eyes (see D&C 45:70).

How does the Kingdom “break in pieces” the Kingdoms of the World so there was “nowhere found them”?

The Lord will use the wicked kingdoms of the world to destroy each other (see D&C 63:33).

The truth will destroy the kingdoms and organizations that work in the dark and depend upon lies to engage their people.

Angels will protect Zion but they will not be attacking people (see D&C 45:70).

Ultimately, the Lord will destroy the wicked at the Last Day when He comes in glory with the hosts of heaven.

How can the truth destroy the kingdoms of this world?

When the world discovers the truths that business leaders are hiding, their stock falls and their companies are bankrupted or sold.

When free nations discover the truth about its corrupt politicians, they become lame ducks or are impeached, and their followers/parties suffer (i.e. Nixon, Clinton (both of them), Trump).

When the world discovered the truth about the Soviet Union (it was bankrupt and built around a fa├žade of power), it fell.

Our world is built upon falsehoods constructed carefully in the dark – when they are exposed in the light of truth, people lose faith in them and turn away, and in the vacuum other wicked people come and take advantage or destroy them.

What does the Kingdom “becoming a great mountain and filling the whole earth” mean?

It is the complete removal of all aspects of the culture, values, behaviors and influences of all of the nations and empires the Lord names in the dream (including the USA, according to Joseph Smith).

When Christ comes again, the earth will be His to rule.

Mountain = temple symbolism = house or palace or residence of the Lord, who is present on earth to reign personally.

 

READ Daniel 2:48

Can the King make Daniel a “great man”?

Great in the eyes of the world, perhaps, but Daniel has already shown that this kind of “greatness” is fleeting at best.

The king cannot make Daniel great – only God can make Him great or “perfect in Christ”.

 

 

Daniel’s Visions

READ Daniel 7:13-16

What is Daniel’s reaction to seeing in vision a coronation ceremony of the Savior and Michael?

It is awe-inspiring.

It makes Daniel’s head spin.

He needs a guide to help him comprehend what is going on.

This experience reminds me of Joseph Smith’s experience in the Sacred Grove – but one can grow in the capability to rend the veil and experience glory, as when Joseph and Sidney Rigdon saw The Vision (D&C 76), Joseph was reported to be strong while Sidney was as weak as a rag after the experience, not being used to the intensity of the glory and its toll on the physical body. 

 

READ Daniel 10:4-12

Why is Daniel the only one to see the vision?

The others are unprepared.

Or unworthy (see D&C 67:10-14).

Are these experiences real if only one person can see them, while in a group?

Yes.

Just because only one person in a group can see a certain light spectrum doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist or impact the others, even though they can’t see those particular light waves. 

 

READ Alma 30:15-16 and Moroni 7:29-30

How would you contrast how the teachings of the world (Korihor) and the teachings of The Lord (Mormon) would interpret  Daniel’s experience at the river?

The world would tell Daniel that he is crazy or a liar.

The Lord would have assessed Daniel’s faith, character, and sanity/mental capacities before He showed him the vision.

Why are spiritual experiences like this anecdotal?

We are all to have our own personal relationship and experiences with God.

They are adapted to our own capacities and where we are in our personal journey back to God.

Like the oil from the Parable of the Ten Virgins, these anecdotal experiences can’t be shared – you have to experience it yourself, which is as God desires it.

The Lord never makes things easy because there is no growth in easy (weight lifting is a great physical analogy).  The world will not believe you, and that is part of the trial.

 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream & Daniel’s Visions (Daniel 2, 7, 10) QUESTIONS

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

READ Daniel 2:1-6

What is the “catch” for the magicians and wise men of Babylon in interpreting the King’s dream?

 

READ Daniel 2:9-11

What else has been bothering the king?

What is implied by the king’s logic – “if you can tell me the dream… I shall know that you can show me the interpretation”?

What is implied by the statement “the gods, whose dwelling is not with the flesh”?

 

READ 2 Nephi 28:3-6

What is one of the signs of a Church that has been corrupted?

Why do they teach the people to doubt miracles and “supernatural” occurrences?

 

READ Daniel 2:15-18

Why did Daniel need time to receive revelation?

 

READ Daniel 2:19, 23, 27-28

How did God reveal the dream and its interpretation to Daniel?

How was this different than what had happened to the King and why?

 

READ Daniel 2:31-35

Why would the Lord give this dream to a heathen king?

Why would the Lord not give the interpretation to the king?

 

READ Daniel 2:36-43

What does the image represent?

If the gold head represents Babylon, what kingdoms are represented by the silver, brass, iron and clay?

 

READ Daniel 2:44-45

What is the stone cut without hands?

What does “cut without hands” mean?

How does the Kingdom “break in pieces” the Kingdoms of the World so there was “nowhere found them”?

How can the truth destroy the kingdoms of this world?

What does the Kingdom “becoming a great mountain and filling the whole earth” mean?

 

READ Daniel 2:48

Can the King make Daniel a “great man”?

 

 

Daniel’s Visions

READ Daniel 7:13-16

What is Daniel’s reaction to seeing in vision a coronation ceremony of the Savior and Michael?

 

READ Daniel 10:4-12

Why is Daniel the only one to see the vision?

Are these experiences real if only one person can see them, while in a group?

 

READ Alma 30:15-16 and Moroni 7:29-30

How would you contrast how the teachings of the world (Korihor) and the teachings of The Lord (Mormon) would interpret  Daniel’s experience at the river?

Why are spiritual experiences like this anecdotal?

Sunday, November 6, 2022

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

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?

The King’s food was consecrated to the Babylonian deities – so eating it was like taking a sacrament or worshiping those idols.

This is not a “word of wisdom” issue, as wine does not “defile” you.

 

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?

Knowledge and skill in learning.

Understanding of visions and dreams.



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?

The King is an atheist – he doesn’t believe in Gods, just in his own power.

The idol is really him – by worshipping the idol, the people are worshipping the king.

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?

They do not care about public opinion or finding favor in the eyes of the world – they are not politically correct.

They do not fear men – even the most powerful man in the world.

They don’t even fear death.

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”?

They KNOW the God in whom they have trusted (see 2 Nephi 4:19-20).

Death holds no fear to those who know that the path they are pursuing is in accordance with the will of God (see LoF 6:3).

They are valiant in the testimony of Jesus (Jehovah) which they have received.

 

READ LoF 6:3-5

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

They would grow “weary in their minds and faint” – facing death would introduce too much doubt in their minds and they would not be able to exercise enough faith to be saved (faith and doubt are mutually exclusive).

What is the lesson for us?

If you’re ever about to be thrown into a fiery furnace for not worshipping the gods of this world and you have not already received an actual knowledge that the course you are pursuing is according to the will of the living God – IT WILL BE TOO LATE AT THAT POINT.  It is the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

You CAN KNOW this from God with an “actual knowledge”.

You can’t be too young to find out – it is not reserved for the mature.

It is not tied to status or callings – these were young men working in the government of a foreign power, not “prophets” or priests back at the Temple in Jerusalem.

You never know when this knowledge will be absolutely necessary to your physical wellbeing and eternal salvation.

 

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?

They were worshipping the God they saw in the fire.

They had been protected from the flames and continued to be.

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

He was brighter and more fiery than the flames that surrounded Him or the other 3 figures and the glory that surrounded them.

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

It was heavenly glory not mortal fire.

Heavenly glory looks like fire to our eyes - Joseph Smith, in the 1840 account of the First Vision wrote that he “expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with hope of being able to endure its presence” and in 1835 said “a personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed” and 1943, “directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage.”



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?

By putting him in a dilemma where his belief-based behavior would offend the world or be deemed illegal.

They were seeking to “cast out the righteous” by changing the laws that they might “more easily… do according to their own wills” (see Helaman 7:4-5).

Today this can be done via social media’s “cancel culture.”

 

READ Daniel 6:7, 10

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

No one could talk to God directly – they had to go through the King or leader.

It placed the leader/King in the role of “god” to his people – or at least a mediator between God and man (which is a role only a god can have – i.e. Christ).

It is the position that all priestly men who desire to control others with religion seek to create for themselves.

 

READ Daniel 6:14-23

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

He is VALIANT in the testimony of Jesus.

He is not afraid of public opinion or unrighteous laws or death.

He has faith as his friends SM&A: “He will deliver (me)… but if not…” I will continue to worship Him and Him alone.

Why was the King not able to deliver Daniel?

He had painted himself into a corner, as the law said that the king could not change a decree after it was made.

He would cease to be the King, which he lacked the fortitude to do.

Who was able to deliver Daniel?

The “living” God who Daniel “served continually” in “innocence” (repentance/forgiveness) and faith (as manifest in the king’s statement “he will deliver thee”).

How was Daniel delivered?

God sent a true messenger from His presence – a “lion whisperer”.

This teaches us how heaven works when it interacts with mankind on earth – it is not “fairy dust” or “inspiring the lion not to attack” – even if we cannot see what is really going on (there is more going on than we can/will see); God still abides by the natural laws of the universe.

What is the symbolism in this story?

Christ’s wrongful conviction by evil men.

A leader who did not agree but could not deliver Him.

A stone to cover the “place of death”.

A believer coming “very early in the morning”.

Salvation based on the innocence of the one accused.

Walking out of the “place of death” alive.

 

 

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?

World’s way is that men dominate women and require them, using compulsory means, to do the man’s own will.

The Lord’s way is that a man seeks to influence a woman by persuasion (not duress or compulsion), long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness and pure knowledge (Holy Spirit = the mind of God = pure intelligence).

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

He could not create life without Her.

He had knowledge but lacked wisdom without her.

 

READ Esther 3:2

Why does Mordecai refuse to bow or reverence a man?

He worships the living God, not a mortal man – he is not an “idol” worshiper.

He does not fear what men can do to him.

Paying flattering honor to another man will only cause that man to become prideful, which will damn him unless he repents.

 

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?

That God has a sense of humor.

That God won’t always allow the wicked to have joy in their pride and evil ways.

 

READ Esther 4:16

Why is fasting more effective than prayer alone?

Fasting strengthens the spirit relative to the now weakened physical body.

Fasting reminds us of our constant dependence on the Lord for life.

The group is humbled and aligned before the Lord – they are becoming one, which is a prerequisite for Zion and pleasing to the Lord.

 

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...