Monday, May 18, 2015

Living Prophets and Dead Prophets

Last evening my dad asked if he could ask me a question.  "Of course," I said.  He asked me if I had to choose between following a living prophet or a dead prophet, which would I choose.  Well, this is a trick question, because the assumption is that one might disagree with another, but the truth is, if they are both true prophets, their message will coincide with one another.  True prophets do not contradict one another.  If they did, one would be out of the way, and creating a God which is changeable.  God is not a changeable God.

This morning I was studying a bit in Isaiah 9.  Nephi also quotes these verses, and his quotation of Isaiah can be found in 2 Nephi 19.  Often I used to wonder why in the world Nephi took the time to copy so much of Isaiah, if he saw our day and knew we would have a copy of the Bible, which contained almost entirely the exact same language.  Did he include this because he thought the Bible might be mistranslated?

I think that question is highly unlikely.  The best answer I have seen was in Denver Snuffer's Nephi's Isaiah.  Isaiah is quoted in all of the standard works.  He is quoted in the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price.  Christ quotes him during his ministry.  Joseph quotes him often, using his words to describe our current condition in ways that would cause persecution if he were to speak outright.  Why does Nephi quote him?

It is likely that Nephi was shown many of the things that other revelators were shown.  Rather than rewriting or adding to scripture,  he quotes Isaiah, and attempts to show us how Isaiah's words are applicable to our day.  It's often difficult to process and understand how Isaiah's words apply to us, however if you focus on what you can understand rather than what you can't, there are some rich gems.  With prayer and inquisition of the Lord, I feel we can find much greater understanding.

Isaiah 9 contains several verses which were utilized in Handel's Messiah.  Every time I've read these verses in 2 Nephi 19, I end up not even really processing the words, but I sing the song in my head.  Even then, I don't really think much about them.  What caught my attention today began in verse 13.
13  For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.
14  Therefore the Lord will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
15  The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
16  For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
17  Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
I don't think it will make anyone happy to suggest that Nephi is quoting Isaiah here, knowing that in large measure, the only ones reading this message will be Mormons.  It will be us.  So let's examine it.

Who are the people he references?  

Who are the "ancient and honourable"?

Who are the "leaders of this people"?

Why shall the Lord have no joy in their young men?

Why she he have no mercy for the fatherless and widows?

Why might we be hypocrites or evildoers?  What is our sin?

The part about every mouth speaking folly reminds me of a message I heard this weekend, from a woman receiving prophecy.  (Her name is Mena Lee Grebin.)  She was commanded to share several of the visions and dreams she had.  Some of which even included a "Thus saith the Lord".  I invite all readers to listen to her message, and ask God if it is true or false.  There ought to be no fear to ask God, as he promises us through James that he upbraideth not to those who ask with sincere hearts.  Either way, her message repeats Isaiah, Nephi, Joseph, and many other prophets, who remind us of those who draw near to the Lord with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him.

Anyways, verse 18 continues to warn of the upcoming calamities.  I'll include them below without comment.

18  For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

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