Sunday, August 20, 2017

Moroni 7:8-13

Mormon continues telling us if an evil man gives a gift, he does it grudgingly. The Lord made it clear how he expects us to act. “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64:34).

The gift he gives will be considered evil and not accepted of the Lord. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 15:8).

If a man will pray without real intent, God will not receive such a prayer.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering [GR doubting, hesitating]. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
“For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

If a man is evil, he will not be able to give a good gift to the Lord. “Mormon, who had seen nothing all his life but ‘a continual scene of wickedness and abominations’ (Mormon 2:18), has a great yearning for peace and rest (Moroni 7:3-4), but he is convinced that unregenerate men are not capable either of receiving or giving good of themselves (Moroni 7:10), and must remain as nothing until they have charity, ‘the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:44-47).”[1]

A bitter found cannot bring forth good water. “The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14). A good fountain cannot bring forth bitter water. James asked, “Doth a fountain [GR spring, well] send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter” (James 3:11).

He who serves the devil cannot follow Christ. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

He who serves Christ cannot serve the devil. “And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father” (2 Nephi 31:10). “And he that will not take up his cross and follow me, and keep my commandments, the same shall not be saved” (D&C 56:2).

“The polarized condition of the world today, however silly, is not to be denied. But is it consistent with the real polarity of good and evil? If God and Satan stand each surrounded by his host, they are not human hosts. The human race is placed not at either pole but squarely between the two. In that position each individual is free to gravitate in either direction; that is the testing to which all are subjected during this time of probation, every day of their lives. As long as they are living here they are subject to being tried and tested.”[2]

All things good come from God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error [GR deception, wandering sin]” (1 John 4:2, 4, 6).

“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God” (3 John 1:11).

That which is evil comes from the devil. The devil is an enemy of God, constantly fighting against Him, tempting us to sin and continually do evil.

 “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.
“Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him” (Alma 5:40-41).

“What [the devil] tempts [Adam and Eve] with is lunch. We can put the situation in terms of two employers who are competing for the services of the man Adam and his posterity, who are intentionally placed in the middle between them: on the one hand, ‘the devil ... inviteth and enticeth ... continually’ to work for him, while on the other, ‘God inviteth and enticeth ... continually’ to work for him (Moroni 7:12–13).”[3]

That which is of God invites us to do good continually. “And there are none that doeth good except those who are ready to receive the fulness of my gospel, which I have sent forth unto this generation” (D&C 35:12).

“And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father” (D&C 84:47).

It entices us to good and love God. “And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal” (2 Nephi 33:4).

Anything that makes us to desire to serve God is inspired of Him.

[2] The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Hugh W. Nibley, Maxwell Institute website.
[3] Work We Must, But the Lunch Is Free, Hugh W. Nibley, Maxwell Institute website.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Moroni 7:1-7

Chapter 7

An invitation is given to enter into the rest of the Lord—Pray with real intent—The Spirit of Christ enables men to know good from evil—Satan persuades men to deny Christ and do evil—The prophets manifest the coming of Christ—By faith, miracles are wrought and angels minister—Men should hope for eternal life and cleave unto charity. About A.D. 401–21.

Moroni shares teachings of Mormon on faith, hope, and charity to the Nephite people in the synagogue.

Mormon begins by telling the congregation he is permitted to speak to them “because of the gift of [God’s] unto me” (Moroni 7:2).

“Mormon, who abridged the record, laments when he sees his kinfolk descend into wickedness, because he ‘saw that the day of grace was past with them’ (Mormon 2:15). He seems to imply that there is a window of opportunity wherein one can obtain grace. He tells one audience that he is able to speak to them ‘by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Moroni 7:2), and tells his son, Moroni, that he prays that Jesus, ‘through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you’ (Moroni 8:3).”[1]

He is speaking to church members who “are the peaceable followers of Christ.” These are those who have a sufficient hope they will “enter into the rest of the Lord” (Moroni 7:3).

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

Mormon judges these things because of their “peaceable walk with the children of men” (Moroni 7:4). “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6).

“Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me” (D&C 19:23).

“Mormon … for example, speaks to the ‘peaceable followers of Christ’ who have entered into the rest of the Lord, whom he recognizes because of their ‘peaceable walk’ with men (Moroni 7:3-4). Maybe peace has seemed like something that just happens if we are lucky; or it may seem like a luxury that we can sometimes live without. But learning to establish real inner peace is indispensable to spiritual progress.”[2]

He reminds them it is by their works they will know them. If their works are good, they are also good. “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them” (3 Nephi 14:20).

An evil man cannot do good. If he makes an offering, it will do him no good.

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.
“Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name?” (D&C 132:8-9).

If he does not offer a prayer with real intent, it will do him no good. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).

“And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith” (Alma 34:28).

“Mormon wove several crucial words and phrases from the Sermon on the Mount into his impassioned speech to his people, which is preserved in Moroni 7. The following echoes are unmistakable: “By their works ye shall know them” (Moroni 7:5) has changed only one word from 3 Nephi 14:20, “fruits” to “works.” “A man being evil cannot do that which is good” (Moroni 7:6) declaratively and deliberately answers the rhetorical question of 3 Nephi 14:16, “Do men gather grapes of thorns?” (inverting the good/evil to evil/good).”[3] (emphasis in original)

“For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness” (Moroni 7:7).

[1] The Grace of Christ, John Gee, Maxwell Institute website.
[2] Zion and the Spirit of At-One-Ment, Catherine Thomas, Maxwell Institute website.
[3] Worthy of Another Look: Reusages of the Words of Christ, John W. Welch, Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22/1 (2013): 68.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Moroni 5:1-2; Moroni 6:1-9

Chapter 5

The mode of administering the sacramental wine is set forth. About A.D. 401–21.

When the Savior instituted the sacrament among the Nephites, he gave them instructions about the manner in which the wine [today, water] is to be administered. “And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:11).

Moroni then records the words of the blessing on the water.

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it.”

The church used wine as a part of the sacrament in the beginning. When in Harmony, PA, Joseph was going out to purchase the wine for the sacrament. He was met by a heavenly messenger and received a revelation concerning the use of wine as a part of the sacrament. He was told, “For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins” (D&C 27:2).

Since August 1830, the Church has used water to represent the blood of Christ.

When we partake of the water, we are to “do it in remembrance of the blood” of Christ (Moroni 5:2).

We promise to “always remember him” (Moroni 5:2). “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament [GR covenant] in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20).

“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25).

In return, we will “have his Spirit to be with [us]” (Moroni 5:2).

Chapter 6

Repentant persons are baptized and fellowshipped—Church members who repent are forgiven—Meetings are conducted by the power of the Holy Ghost. About A.D. 401–21.

In this chapter, Moroni outlines the procedures for administering baptism and conducting church meetings. He tells us “elders, priests, and teachers were baptized” (Moroni 6:1).

“The ‘priests and teachers’ referred to throughout the Book of Mormon are often—although not always—two distinct groups, even though, undeniably, the book often attributes teaching functions to its priests. ‘Priests’ and ‘teachers’ are mentioned in close proximity to one another twenty-two times in the Book of Mormon, and in every instance except one ‘teachers’ are mentioned after ‘priests,’ suggesting that they might represent a subordinate priesthood office among the Nephites as they do in the church today. (It is clear from Moroni 3 that the offices were distinct, at least in later Nephite practice.)”[1]

Those who are baptized would “[b]ring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8).

Moroni taught only those who have “brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it” (Moroni 5:1). Moroni wording is similar to Matthew 3:8, those being baptized were to bring “forth therefore fruits meet [GR appropriate to, worthy of] for repentance.”

Jacob emphasized the importance of baptism early in Nephite history. “And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 9:23).

Christ taught the Nephites, “ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God” (3 Nephi 11:38).

Those who were to be baptized were to come “forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (Moroni 6:2). Additionally, they were to witness to the church they had “truly repented of all their sins” (Moroni 6:2).

“Moroni helps us understand how we can teach by the Spirit without replacing, diluting, or dismissing the Holy Ghost as the real teacher. Moroni said the Saints conducted their experiences ‘after the manner of the workings of the Spirit.’ This requires more than just having the Spirit with us. To conduct ourselves “after the manner” of the Holy Ghost means that we may need to change our way of teaching to emulate the way the Holy Ghost teaches. As we align our manner with the Holy Ghost’s manner, then the Holy Ghost can teach and testify without restraint. This important alignment may be illustrated by the following example.”[2]

Those who were baptized “took upon them the name of Christ, serving Him to the end. Christ asked the Nephites, “Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name” (3 Nephi 27:5).

After being baptized, they were cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost. Their names were recorded, and were numbered among the church, that they might obey the word of God. “And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19).

“A second key to ensuring those we teach and lead are ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moroni 6:4) is also found in the Savior’s direction ‘to preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth’ (D&C 50:14; emphasis added). Not only are the Savior’s words directing us to follow the guidance of the Spirit as we prepare and as we teach; He is also teaching that it is the Spirit that is the most effective teacher in any given situation.”[3] (emphasis in original)

“As Jesus had said, ‘I know my sheep, and they are numbered’ (3 Nephi 18:31). Being so numbered allowed them to partake of the sacrament, for Jesus had directed his disciples to give the sacrament only to ‘the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name’ (3 Nephi 18:5).”[4]

“In keeping with the fact that the power of the Holy Ghost is the way by which God works (3 Nephi 29:6), ordinations took place by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 3:4), those baptized were cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 6:4), and the power of the Holy Ghost led the worshippers “whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing” (Moroni 6:9). The power of the Holy Ghost enables one to confess that Jesus is the Christ (Moroni 7:44).”[5]

The church met together frequently to fast and pray. “And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord” (4 Nephi 1:12).

“Also, I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth” (D&C 88:76).

They also spoke “one with another concerning the welfare of their souls” (Moroni 6:5).

“Moroni reports that ‘the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus’ (Moroni 6:5–6). In doing this, the church was obedient to the Lord who had commanded the people to meet together often, to pray for each other, and to partake of the sacrament’ (emphasis in original).”[6]

The church was to observe “[a]nd see that there is no iniquity in the church” (D&C 20:54). If someone has been found to sin, and there are three witnesses who condemn them, and they refused to repent, they will no longer be “numbered among the people of Christ” (Moroni 6:7).

Repentance, with real intent, is essential. “Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (Mosiah 26:30).

“[I]n in His mercy, He allows for improvement over time rather than demanding immediate perfection. Even with the multitude of sins occasioned by the weakness of mortality, as often as we repent and seek His forgiveness, He forgives again and again.”[7]

“For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing
“And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such” (Moroni 7:6, 9).

Our meetings are to be conducted “after the manner of the workings of the Spirit” (Moroni 6:9). “The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God” (D&C 20:45).

“But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit” (D&C 46:2).

We are to be guided by the Holy Ghost. “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be” (1 Nephi 13:37).

When this is done, those conducting will be led by the Holy Ghost to lead them “whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing” (Moroni 6:9).

[1] Authority in the Book of Mosiah, Daniel C. Peterson, Maxwell Institute website.
[2] Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit, Elder Matthew O. Richardson, October 2011 General Conference.
[3] Nourished by the Good Word of God, Elder Daniel K Judd, October 2007 General Conference.
[5] NOTES - Book of Mormon Pneumatology, John Christopher Thomas, Maxwell Institute.
[7] The Savior Wants to Forgive, Elder Craig A. Cardon, April 2013 General Conference.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Moroni 4:1-3

Chapter 4

How elders and priests administer the sacramental bread is explained. About A.D. 401–21.

Moroni shares how the sacramental bread is to be administered. It is based on Christ’s example when he ministered to the Nephites.

“1 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded his disciples that they should bring forth some bread and wine unto him.
“2 And while they were gone for bread and wine, he commanded the multitude that they should sit themselves down upon the earth.
“3 And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat.
“4 And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.
“5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.
“6 And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.
“7 And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:1-7).

“In reporting the Savior's teachings on the sacrament, 3 Nephi 18 includes only the Savior's paraphrase of the ordinance, not the precise wording of the sacramental prayers. Later, Mormon's son, Moroni, the final editor of the Book of Mormon chronicle, prepared two supplementary chapters (Moroni 4 and 5) dealing specifically with the manner of administering the Lord's Supper.”[1]

The ordinance of the sacrament is to be administered by an elder or priest.

They are to kneel and offer the blessing over the bread.

Let’s break the blessing and look at each part.

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ”

We begin by calling upon the Father in Christ’s name.

“to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it”

Sanctify means “to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use.”[2] We are asking the bread be blessed for our sacred use.

“that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father”

When He established the sacrament, Christ commanded we eat it in remembrance of Him.

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

“And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:7).

“that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him,”

We promise Him we are willing to follow and obey Him by taking upon His name. We also promise to always remember Him.

“and keep his commandments which he hath given them”

We also promise to keep His commandments.

When we do these things, we making a covenant with Christ. We covenant we will do all these things.

As with all covenants, it is a two-sided agreement. In return for keeping these covenants, the Lord makes us a promise.

“that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

The promise the Lord makes is we will always have His Spirit to be with us. The Spirit will guide us and help us to keep our side of the covenant.

“[O]ne of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon, as stated on its Title Page, is to show that God remembers the covenants he has made with his people (see also 1 Nephi 19:15-16; 2 Nephi 29:1-2; 3 Nephi 16:11), it is especially appropriate that the renewal of covenants includes a commitment to ‘always remember him, and keep his commandments,’ as the faithful affirm their willingness to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ (Moroni 4:3).”[3]

“Of all the blessings we can count, the greatest by far is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as we partake of the sacrament. We will feel greater love and appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite sacrifice made possible our being cleansed from sin. As we partake of the bread and water, we remember that He suffered for us. And when we feel gratitude for what He has done for us, we will feel His love for us and our love for Him.

“The blessing of love we receive will make it easier for us to keep the commandment to ‘always remember him.’ You may even feel love and gratitude, as I do, for the Holy Ghost, who Heavenly Father has promised will always be with us as we remain faithful to the covenants we have made. We can count all those blessings every Sunday and feel grateful.[4]

[1] The Book of Mormon: A Blueprint for Organizing the Church, Scott H. Faulring, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 67.
[3] “O Man, Remember, and Perish Not” (Mosiah 4:30), Louis Midgley, Maxwell Institute website.
[4] Gratitude on the Sabbath Day, President Henry B. Eyring, October 2016 General Conference.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Moroni 2:1-3:4

Chapter 2

Jesus gave the twelve Nephite disciples power to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. About A.D. 401–21.

One of the first things that happened when Christ began his ministry among the Nephites, was to select twelve Nephite apostles. “And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment” (3 Nephi 13:25).

He laid His hands on their head and told them, Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles” (Moroni 2:2).

“[T]he text recorded by Moroni is faithfully dependent upon the earlier account. In both instances, the twelve are called the ‘disciples … whom he had chosen’; the manner of ordination by the laying on of hands is specified; the operative words bestowing ‘power’ to ‘give the Holy Ghost’ are the same; and the certification that the ‘multitude heard it not’ is consciously repeated. These words add further evidence of the high degree to which the Nephites venerated the words that Jesus spoke while he was with them. Presumably these leaders used these words of Jesus as they, in turn, conveyed to their successors the same priesthood power and authority that Jesus had given them.”[1]

Moroni concludes by informing us Christ spoke thee words during His first appearance. He was speaking only to the twelve. The multitude did not hear these words.

Chapter 3

Elders ordain priests and teachers by the laying on of hands. About A.D. 401–21.

In chapter 3, Moroni gives us direction dealing with priests and teachers in the church.

Alma2 followed this process. “And now it came to pass that after Alma had made an end of speaking unto the people of the church, which was established in the city of Zarahemla, he ordained priests and elders, by laying on his hands according to the order of God, to preside and watch over the church” (Alma 6:1).

“After they had prayed unto the Father in the name of Christ, they laid their hands upon them” (Moroni 3:2).

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ [GR having left behind the beginning of the doctrine], let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
“Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2).

“From the same comes the administering of ordinances and blessings upon the church, by the laying on of the hands” (D&C 107:67).

After they have layed their hands upon the person’s head, they pray, “In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest (or if he be a teacher, I ordain you to be a teacher) to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen” (Moroni 3:3).

“And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them” (Moroni 3:4).

“Notably, the procedures utilized here again follow the instructions given by the resurrected Lord. First, the elders ‘prayed unto the Father in the name of Christ,’ just as Jesus had originally told the disciples to do: ‘Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer’ (Moroni 2:2). Second, they began the ordination by stating that it was performed ‘in the name of Jesus Christ,’ just as he had instructed: ‘in my name shall ye give it’ (Moroni 2:2). Third, they laid their hands upon those whom they ordained, just as the Savior had done as he had ordained the twelve disciples. And fourth, the Nephite elders ordained priests and teachers ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them,’ the power that was bestowed upon them by Jesus himself. Thus, again, we can see the extent to which the Nephites followed the instructions and example of the Lord and did as he had instructed them.” [2]

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Moroni 1:1-4

Moroni tells us he is writing “a few more things, contrary to that which I had supposed; for I had supposed not to have written any more” (Moroni 1:4). As he finished his father’s record, he wrote, “how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not” (Mormon 8:5).

The Book of Moroni, not being an historical account, discusses various gospel topics.

The Book of Moroni

Chapter 1

Moroni writes for the benefit of the Lamanites—The Nephites who will not deny Christ are put to death. About A.D. 401–21.

“After his first two attempts to conclude the record, Moroni returned to building this ‘house of Israel,’ perhaps in part because he was dissatisfied with his efforts in writing a grand summary for his story and its accompanying narrator commentary. He may have added multiple endings simply because he lived longer than he expected. But because he changed his entire narrative approach in the final ending, it is probable that he continued to write at least in part because he was not entirely satisfied with his first two endings. After his first formulaic ending, he added many more pages of narration and narrator commentary. Maybe this final ending provides the resolution that has evaded him in his previous endings.”[1]

The wars continue. Nephi described them.

“And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land.
“And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away” (1 Nephi 12:20-21).

It appears there were still Nephite Christians. Moroni tells us the Lamanites killed any Nephite who refused to deny Christ. Alma2 told Helaman1, “But whosoever remaineth, and is not destroyed in that great and dreadful day, shall be numbered among the Lamanites, and shall become like unto them, all, save it be a few who shall be called the disciples of the Lord; and them shall the Lamanites pursue even until they shall become extinct. And now, because of iniquity, this prophecy shall be fulfilled” (Alma 45:14).

“Seventy years later, Moroni2, the last custodian of the Nephite record, reported that his extinct people's enemies were engaged in fighting that was ‘exceedingly fierce among themselves’ (Moroni 1:2). ‘The Lamanites [and, he implies, independent robber groups] are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war’ (Mormon 8:8–9). So the Nephite retreat and defeat constituted only one episode within a more general pattern of widespread social and political degeneration quite unlike the less sharp conflicts of earlier times.”[2]

Moroni makes it clear he will not deny Christ. This is why he wanders wherever he can for his own safety.

Even though the Lamanites destroyed the Nephite civilization, Moroni writes in the hope his words “may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord” (Moroni 1:4).

[1] Moroni: The Final Voice, Mark D. Thomas, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 94.
[2] Last-Ditch Warfare in Ancient Mesoamerica Recalls the Book of Mormon, John L. Sorenson, Maxwell Institute website.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ether 15:17-34

The battle continued. Neither side was able to defeat the other. At night, cries from both armies were heard, mourning those who had died.

Again, Coriantumr wrote Shiz, telling him he would end the battle then and there. He would give him his kingdom. All he asked of Shiz was to spare the lives of his people.

Because of their wickedness, the Spirit of the Lord ceased being with them. “For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul” (2 Nephi 26:11).

After seeing the destruction of his people, Mormon wrote Moroni, telling him to “[p]ray for them, my son, that repentance may come unto them. But behold, I fear lest the Spirit hath ceased striving with them; and in this part of the land they are also seeking to put down all power and authority which cometh from God; and they are denying the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 8:28).

“And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts” (D&C 1:33).

Instead, Satan had full power over the Jaredites. “But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God” (Mosiah 16:5).

Their hearts were hardened by Satan, and they were now paying the prices of their sin. “[H]e that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief” (Proverbs 28:14).

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness [GR hardness] of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).

“And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things” (Alma 24:30).

“In the case of the Jaredites, “the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed” (Ether 15:19). This is atē[1] at full play. The Lord withdrew his Spirit because the people had blinded their minds and hardened their hearts, and willed it that way. The result was self-destruction.”[2]

Over the next two days, the battles continued during daylight, and they retreated after sunset. The armies were drunk with anger and slept with their swords. “And if [the Nephites] perish it will be

“God offers no promise of victory to armies that neither heed his word nor keep his commandments; without God, boasts of victory are no more than fustian. The final battle at Cumorah simply validates the principle given already to the ancient Israelites: through war, and by the wicked, God will punish his people. ‘The judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed’ (Mormon 4:5). Their battle fury, ‘as a man who is drunken with wine’ (Ether 15:22), is redolent of the ‘wolfish rage’ of the Homeric warrior, the amoq (amuck) of the Malaysian hero, or the frenzy of the Germanic berserkr or Celtic fighter when he is possessed.”[3]

The battles continued until the army of Shiz consisted of 32 people and Coriantumr’s army consisted of 27. They met again and fought for three hours and fainted due to the loss of blood. Some of Coriantumr’s army were eventually able to flee. Shiz and his remaining soldiers pursued them.

Shiz’s army finally caught up with Coriantumr and the battle continued. It came down to two survivors – Coriantumr and Shiz. They fought and Shiz passed out due to the loss of blood. Exhausted, Coriantumr leaned on his sword, and in the process, cut off the head of Shiz. “And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died” (Ether 15:31). Coriantumr then collapsed.

“Writing of Ether 15:29-31, Decker informs his readers that Shiz’s struggle for breath after his beheading at the hands of Coriantumr ‘violates several biological realities’ (p. 114). Unfortunately, though, Ed Decker’s grasp of ‘biological realities’ is inadequate for the evaluation of the story. Dr. Gary Hadfield, professor of neuropathology at the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, whose knowledge of biology is adequate, has recently shown that the account of Shiz’s demise given in the Book of Mormon is entirely plausible.”[4]

The Lord commanded Ether to go forth and see “the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled” (Ether 15:33). It was here that Ether finished his record (the twenty-four plates – “And I take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the Book of Ether” [Ether 1:2].).

“Now the last words which are written by Ether are these: Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen” (Ether 15:34).

An interesting perspective.

“It is therefore possible that in his old age Ether visited Mosiah, either still in the land of Nephi or in Zarahemla. He also might have been translated. In this connection Moroni preserved an interesting note from Ether. After finishing his abridgment of Ether’s book, Moroni found it worthwhile to quote Ether’s last words: “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God” (Ether 15:34). Moroni must have had a reason to include these words of Ether. Apparently, Ether suspected he would be translated. If he were chosen to hand over the sealed record and interpreters to the Nephites, he was likely aware of this calling when he wrote his last words, and he also would have known that he lived contemporaneously with the Nephites (see Ether 11:21), even though he must have been in his old age. It is possible, then, that Ether knew he had an important mission to fulfill but had not yet been commanded by the Lord to carry it out.”[5]

And it is here Moroni intended to end the Nephite record.

[1] A spiritual blindness that impels the individual or society toward its doom.
[2] Hubris and Atē: A Latter-day Warning from the Book of Mormon, Richard D. Draper, Maxwell Institute website.
[4] P. T. Barnum Redivivus, Daniel C. Peterson, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 7/2 (1995): 95.
[5] A Third Jaredite Record: The Sealed Portion of the Gold Plates, Valentin Arts, Maxwell Institute website.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ether 15:1-16

Chapter 15

Millions of the Jaredites are slain in battle—Shiz and Coriantumr assemble all the people to mortal combat—The Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive with them—The Jaredite nation is utterly destroyed—Only Coriantumr remains.

After Coriantumr recovered from his wounds, he remembered Ether’s words.

“And in the second year the word of the Lord came to Ether, that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people—
“Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:20-21).

Nearly two million men, women, and children had died in the war. His heart was filled with sorrow over the loss of so many.

Seeing the words of the prophets had been fulfilled, Coriantumr was moved to repent of the evil he had done. His soul mourned and he could not be comforted.

He wrote and epistle to his enemy, Shiz. He told him he wanted to spare the people more war. He also offered to give up the kingdom for the life of his people.

“After losing millions of people in battles, Coriantumr ‘began to repent’ and wrote to Shiz, ‘desiring him that he would spare the people, and he would give up the kingdom for the sake of the lives of the people’ (Ether 15:3—4). It was of course a personal feud—the world polarizes around over-rated individuals—and Shiz agreed, ‘if [Coriantumr] would give himself up, that [Shiz] might slay him with his own sword’ (Ether 15:15). That was going too far—nobody repented, and both sides ‘were stirred up to anger’ (Ether 15:6) and would have nothing but total victory.”[1]

Coriantumr’s forces were losing to Shiz’s army. Seeing his army was about to fall, Coriantumr fled to the waters of Ripliancum. There, they pitched their tents. Shiz followed him and pitched tents nearby.

The battle continued. Coriantumr was wounded and passed out from the loss of blood. Coriantumr’s army was able to force Shiz’s army to retreat, fleeing southward. They pitched their tents at the hill Ramah. Moroni reminds us this is where Mormon hid the Nephite records. All the people in the land were gathered there.
Ether was able to observe what was happening. “And as he dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of this record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night” (Ether 13:14). The gathering of the people took place over a period of four years.

All the people were armed, including women and children. They were given shields, breastplates, and head plates. The battle lasted all day. At night, they were weary from the battle. Causalities were identified. So many died, “their cries, their howlings and lamentations, that they did rend the air exceedingly” (Ether 15:16).

[1] The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Hugh W. Nibley, Maxwell Institute website.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ether 14:1-31

Chapter 14

The iniquity of the people brings a curse upon the land—Coriantumr engages in warfare against Gilead, then Lib, and then Shiz—Blood and carnage cover the land.

Because of the wickedness of the people, a curse spread across the land. If a person put up a tool or sword, it couldn’t be found on the morrow. “And it shall come to pass, saith the Lord of Hosts, yea, our great and true God, that whoso shall hide up treasures in the earth shall find them again no more, because of the great curse of the land, save he be a righteous man and shall hide it up unto the Lord” (Helaman 13:18).

They began to hold on to their swords with their right hand. He would do this to defend his property and family.

Two years after Coriantumr killed Shared in battle, his brother rose up and attacked. He was defeated by Coriantumr and chased into the wilderness.

The battle continued in the wilderness. Thousands died. Coriantumr laid siege in the wilderness. The brother of Shared went out at night and killed part of Coriantumr’s army. It appears they were in a drunken stupor. Shared continued on to the land of Moron and placed himself upon Coriantumr’s throne.

Coriantumr and his army lived in the wilderness for two years. During that time, he strengthened his army.

Moroni then tells us the brother of Shared is named Gilead. During that time, Gilead also strengthened his army through the secret combinations. Then, he was murdered by his high priest as he sat on the throne. While the high priest escaped, Lib killed him and took over the kingdom. Moroni describes him as “a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people” (Ether 14:10).

During the first year of Lib’s reign, Coriantumr attacked the land of Moron. He and Lib fought and Lib wounded the arm of Coriantumr. Even so, his army continued the attack, forcing Lib to flee to the seashore.

Lib attacked Coriantumr’s army and fled back into the wilderness of Akish. Coriantumr’s army continued to withdraw to the plains of Agosh. Coriantumr had taken all his people with him. The battle continued there and Coriantumr killed Lib. Lib’s brother, Shiz, took over the army and attacked Coriantumr. He forced Coriantumr’s army to retreat.

While Shiz was pursuing Coriantumr, he burned many cities, killing women and children. Because of his brutality, the people asked “Who can stand before the army of Shiz?” (Ether 14:17).

The people began to flock towards the armies. Some fled to Shiz, others fled to Coriantum.

This devastating war of bloodshed and carnage let the land strewn with dead bodies. “And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers [HEB ravines], shall they fall that are slain with the sword” (Ezekiel 35:8). They didn’t bury the dead because the battles were so swift, no one stayed behind. The stench of death spread throughout the land.

Shiz continued to pursue Coriantumr. He had sworn to avenge his brother’s death by Coriantumr’s hand; however, the word of the Lord came to Ether, telling him Coriantumr would not die by the sword. “And thus we see that the Lord did visit them in the fulness of his wrath, and their wickedness and abominations had prepared a way for their everlasting destruction” (Ether 14:25).

Coriantumr was chased to the seashore, where he battled the army of Shiz for three days. The destruction was terrible among the armies of Shiz. People became frightened and fled from Coriantumr’s army to the land of Corihor. There, they pitched their tents in that valley.

Coriantumr’s army went to the valley of Shurr and pitched their tents there. He sounded a trumpet calling the armies of Shiz to battle.

“Now polarization had reached the critical stage: ‘And thus we see that the Lord . . . had prepared a way for their everlasting destruction’ (Ether 14:25), says Moroni, looking straight at us. As the people of Shiz retreated, they ‘swept off the inhabitants before them, all that would not join them’ (Ether 14:27). Meanwhile, ‘Coriantumr did gather his armies together upon the hill Comner, and did sound a trumpet unto the armies of Shiz to invite them forth to battle’ (Ether 14:28), suggesting the formal set battles of epic literature and the Middle Ages, as ‘polarized’ as a chess game.”[1]

The fight continued. Shiz attacked Coriantumr and wounded him so severely, he was believed to have died. Seeing the massive loss of life, Shiz commanded his people to withdraw back to their camp.

[1] The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Hugh W. Nibley, Maxwell Institute website.