Saturday, October 13, 2012

The First Vision, Part 3

Joseph Smith History 1:18-19:

18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

In drawing near unto God with our lips, are our hearts near to Him too?  This was what was pointed out to Joseph as a reason not to unite with the churches of his day.  Many religions and individuals go to great lengths to dispute that Joseph was a prophet.  Regardless of technicalities of what people believe, it's important not to overlook the heart of the message.

Ignoring the reasons which I have found broadly on websites to dispute Joseph's veracity, let's look again at the main thing which was emphasized in the lips/hearts relationship.  Often in the scriptures, prophets will quote other prophets as an addition to their testimony.  Here Joseph is quoting the message he was given, yet also citing scripture.  Whether or not we believe Joseph, it was already referenced in Isaiah, citing the Lord.

Isaiah 29:13:  "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"

and also in Ezekiel

Ezekiel 33:31:  And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness."

and again in Christ's mortal ministry

Luke 6:46:  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

This idea has really sat with me this week.  A good friend posted on her Nerdbook wall that when we find people disputing over politics, we should consider kneeling down and begging God for mercy, to save us from the challenges we face, rather than trusting in the arm of the flesh.  Amen!  It feels as though so many people claim to worship God, but when it comes down to it, we do very little that He asks.  We trust in our own strength, rather than asking Him to give us of His.

For example,

One friend told me how she is Catholic, and is very devout even though her parents aren't, but because her parents "really bothered [her]" she yelled the Lord's name in a very profane way to tell her mother to leave her alone.  Why would someone who revered God do this?  Screaming the Savior's name as a manner of profanity to express anger, by a Catholic?  Why???  Are we not commanded not to take the Lord's name in vain?  Do Catholics not believe the Bible?  I hear people of countless denominations do this.  It is very clear in Exodous that this is not something to be taken lightly, but so many "followers" do it, and quite flippantly I would add.  This is probably one of the easiest of the "Big 10" to keep, but why is it so disregarded?

We draw near unto Him with our lips, but our hearts of far from Him.

Some of my friends who read this blog are of a faith that believes that because the Law of Moses was fulfilled when Christ came, that there is no need to revere the Old Testament.  With that, there appears to be less heed given to keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Why?  We don't de-value the commandment not to take life, just because Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses, but commandments like this one which is one I believe is intended to offer us great blessings by it's observance are disregarded.  How about not requiring our manservant or maidservant to work?  How many of us so quickly and easily make a habit out of making people serve us food, sell us unnecessary goods and services, or even do our own unnecessary work on the Sabbath?  Laundry?  Lawn mowing?  Excessive baking or large meals for company?  It was given to us as a day of rest – as a blessing.  Why don't we revere it?  Would we be less stressed during the week if we honored this one?

I suppose some don't revere it because we draw near unto Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him.  I don't care what religion we each are.  This message given to Joseph and previous prophets is one that should not be overlooked with the gloriousness of the vision he experienced.  The message is important, and while Joseph was given more in that vision which he was not permitted to share, it doesn't negate the importance of what brevity we were given.  We're not just to think (for those that are Latter-day Saints) that this is a reason we can get puffed up in pride, thinking how lucky we are to not have to affiliate with such a church.  Perhaps we should use it as an added measure of caution, so that we don't puff up ourselves, drawing near unto God with our lips, but allowing our hearts to drift far, far, far from Him.

Joseph Smith History 1:20:  He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?

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