Episode #6: Published February 3, 2020
Let’s see if you can finish this scripture: “Men are that they might have . . . ?” If you said "joy," you're absolutely right. But has it ever felt like the opposition in your life makes it difficult to feel that joy? In this week’s Sunday on Monday study group, we’ll be digging into 2 Nephi 1–5 and learning more about the law of opposition and why it’s essential for experiencing joy.
Tamara Uzelac Hall grew up in Utah and Missouri fully intending to get married, raise her 12 children while putting her husband through medical school, God had other plans. She went to college and received her both her bachelor's and master’s degrees from BYU. She served a mission in Fresno, California, and worked as a social worker until God steered her life in a completely different direction, becoming a full-time seminary and institute teacher instead. After buying a house and settling nicely into a family ward, she was set up on (another) blind date with a widower, which miraculously worked and catapulted her into married life and became an insta-mom to two little girls. Currently, she and her husband are the parents to four girls and live in Utah. She is a host for Time Out for Women, a featured speaker at Temple Square Youth Conferences, Retreat for Girls, girls’ camp, and has been a speaker at BYU Women’s Conference. She loves all things scripture and is a lifelong student of the Hebrew language. A good flash mob makes her cry, she is a (self-proclaimed) champion Oreo eater, and she believes that cheese is God’s way of saying, “Hey, everything is going to be OK.”
Tamu Smith is the co-founder of the blog Sistas in Zion. She is a freelance writer and film producer. Her most recent projects include the book Can I Get an Amen? Celebrating the Lord in Everyday Life, formerly known as Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons, as well as the Jane and Emma movie, in which she and her Sistas in Zion cohort (and partner in crime) Zandra Vranes helped write and produce alongside seasoned writer Melissa L. Larson. While she enjoys participating in the type of tongue-in-cheek humor found her website sistasinzion.com, Tamu finds true fulfillment in looking beyond the surface and "celebrating the Lord in her everyday life." Tamu is ever known as a "busy body," she finds a way to squeeze every second out of every hour daily. She feels fortunate to have the type of husband who supports her “crazy." It is because of his enduring support she's able to wear the many hats she wears: writer, actress, committee member, activist, teacher, wife, mother, and her favorite to date, Ya-Ya (grandma). Tamu resides in Provo, Utah, with her husband, Keith, and a few good kids.
Colin Rivera, our LDS Living Marketing Manager, is a songwriter from England who dreams of one day competing on both Jeopardy and Survivor. He believes that while NSYNC's biggest hits are incredible, the Backstreet Boys have a more impressive full catalogue. His ideal day would be a rainy, grey, cold day spent reading, eating movie theater popcorn with all the butter, and looking after his sister's giant fluff ball of a cat named Chuck.
Question: Can you name all 10 commandments in order?
Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (Exodus 20:4).
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Exodus 20:7).
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).
Honor thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12).
Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13).
Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15).
Thou shalt not bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).
10. Thou shalt not covet (Exodus 20:17).
Question: Why is important to know these 10 commandments in order?
Scripture: Matthew 22:36-40 teaches, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
If the two great commandments are to “love God and then love man,” then the 10 commandments support this, and we can see that when we look at the commandments in two sections:
Everything we have been asked to do as members of Christ’s church fall under one of the 10 commandments.
Quote: “The Ten Commandments comprise the great moral code of our society. They have been repeated over and over again. They were cited more than once in the Old Testament (see Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5), reiterated in the New Testament (see Romans 13:9), written in the Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 13:12-24), and recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 42:18-28). We had better memorize them, just as we have learned the alphabet and multiplication tables” (Russell M. Nelson, The Power Within Us, DB. 1988, pp. 124).
Ok, so are you ready to memorize the 10 commandments in order?
Dr. Susan Easton Black taught me the 10 Commandments in order back in 1996. I’ve never forgotten them, and I’m going to teach you the same way she taught the class using mnemonic devices.
You can find an in-depth explanation of these mnemonic devices in the transcript of this study group starting at 7:38.
Here we go:
Knowing these in order has been helpful as I teach them to my seminary students as well as to my family. And if the blessing is true, knowing them and then keeping them is what will bless me and my family.
We’ve all heard that scriptural phrase in 2 Nephi 2, “Opposition in all things”—and I for one sometimes feel like the “all things” is leaning a little too heavily on the “ALL” part.
And it seems like this chapter is full of opposition. In fact, renown Latter-day Saint scholar Hugh Nibley said this of 2 Nephi 2, “We are on the second chapter of 2 Nephi, perhaps the hardest chapter in the book” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Vol.1, pg.260).
So let's take a look the law of opposition and why it's so important for us to understand it in 2 Nephi 2:11-16.
Scripture: 11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
While it's rarely pretty, “The law of opposition makes freedom of choice possible” (President Howard W. Hunter, "God Will Have a Tried People," April 1980 general conference).
In fact, you could label this chapter “AGENCY” all in caps at the top of the page. And here's a quote by Sister Sharon G. Larsen, a former second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, that illustrates the importance of agency and opposition.
Quote: “To become a committed follower of Christ, we must have the option to reject him. So Satan is permitted to exercise his power, and yielding our will to God can sometimes become difficult. Yet it is in this exercise of acting for ourselves that we grow” (Sharon G. Larsen "Agency — a Blessing and a Burden," Oct. 1999 general conference).
Sharon’s quote really struck me. As a mom I don’t want my kids to have the agency that would allow them to reject Christ. That really scares me. And yet, in this lesson I learned of its importance. My only hope is that they use that agency while they still live at home so I can help (force) them to make the right choice (wink).
Question: What brings you JOY?
I was once taught by a religion professor that JOY=children. As a mom, I’m not quite certain that is what is means.
In fact, Nephi teaches in 2 Nephi 2:25-28 that JOY=JESUS CHRIST and HIS ATONEMENT.
And here's what Relief Society General President Sister Jean Bingham said about joy:
Quote: “Lasting joy is found in focusing on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and living the gospel as demonstrated and Taught by Him….Come unto Him. I testify that as you center your life on Jesus Christ, you will find joy in your circumstances, whatever they may be.” (Jean B. Bingham, "That Your Joy May Be Full," October general conference 2017.)
When we look at these verses in 2 Nephi about joy, verse 25 cannot stand without verse 26. We have to teach them together.
Scripture: 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
With absolute certainty I can testify that my greatest source of joy has come from following Christ and His example. Especially when dealing with my kids—Christ’s way is always the right way and it does bring joy.
Question: If you were going to write your own Psalm, what would it sound like? What words would you use?
2 Nephi 4 has been called or referred to as the Psalm of Nephi because:
It resembles the book of Psalms in content and poetic style. Like David who spent Psalms 25-31 praying and singing to God for forgiveness and redemption, Nephi does the same thing.
The most popular name for those verses, the “Psalm of Nephi,” was coined by Sidney B. Sperry in his 1947 book Our Book of Mormon, in which he argues that it is the only psalm in the Book of Mormon.
Context for the psalm: Nephi is now a father and husband. His own father has died. He is now the leader and his older brothers are furious. In fact, 2 Nephi 5:2,4 points out that they want to kill him
Let's read and label the different parts of Nephi's psalm in 2 Nephi 4:
17-19: Expresses sorrow for sin (What are the sins that easily beset me?)
20-25: Lists blessings (What has he done for me?)
26-30: Sees his blessings and resolves to improve (How can I improve?)
31-35: Trusts the Lord and prays that the Lord will redeem him.
Question: What would it look like in your everyday life if you were to “live after the manner of happiness”?
Despite living after the manner of happiness, Nephi didn’t have a lot to be happy about. Let's look at why in 2 Nephi 5:
1-4: Mean brothers and Nephi “cried much over the anger of his brethren.”
5 and 6: Nephi takes family and goes into the wilderness—starting all over again. (Interesting that this is the first mention of sisters).
9: The Nephite nation begins.
10: The Nephites keeps judgements, statutes and commandments.
12: They have the plates, Liahona, sword of Laban.
14: Nephi makes swords to protect his people from the Lamanites.
15 Nephi teaches his people to build buildings.
16 They build a temple
17 Nephi causes people to be industrious.
Look at everything Nephi does and teaches his people in verses 10-17 and 26.
Verse 27 says they were "livedafter the manner of happiness."
It does not say living after the manner of ease. But through all of work, they were able to find happiness.
In 2 Nephi 5:20-21, we learn about the curse that was placed on the Lamanites.
Scripture: 20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.
21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
As one of this week's guest hosts Tamu Smith mentions in this study group, the curse was not the color of their skin. In fact, Joseph Fielding Smith said, "The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord. . ." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 3:123-124). (See Tamu's comments about these verses in the transcript at 45:43.)
The updated Come, Follow Me manual on the ChurchofJesusChrist.org also clarifies that the curse was not the color of Lamanites' skin but the withdrawal of the Spirit:
"In Nephi’s day the curse of the Lamanites was that they were 'cut off from [the Lord’s] presence … because of their iniquity' (2 Nephi 5:20–21). This meant the Spirit of the Lord was withdrawn from their lives. When Lamanites later embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, “the curse of God did no more follow them' (Alma 23:18).
"The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood. The mark initially distinguished the Lamanites from the Nephites. Later, as both the Nephites and Lamanites each went through periods of wickedness and righteousness, the mark became irrelevant as an indicator of the Lamanites’ standing before God.
"Prophets affirm in our day that dark skin is not a sign of divine disfavor or cursing. The Church embraces Nephi’s teaching that the Lord 'denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female' (2 Nephi 26:33). President Russell M. Nelson declared: 'The Lord has stressed His essential doctrine of equal opportunity for His children. … Differences in culture, language, gender, race, and nationality fade into insignificance as the faithful enter the covenant path and come unto our beloved Redeemer'" (“President Nelson Remarks at Worldwide Priesthood Celebration” [June 1, 2018], newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Though there was a misprint in the physical copy of the Come, Follow Me manual, Elder Gary E. Stevenson said at the 2020 NAACP Luncheon:
Quote: “We’re asking our members to disregard the paragraph in the printed manual. Now I’m deeply saddened and hurt by this error and for any pain that it may have caused our members and for others. I would just like to reiterate our position as a Church is clear. We do condemn all racism, past and present, in any form, and we disavow any theory advanced that black or dark skin is a sign of a curse" (Elder Gary E. Stevenson, "NAACP luncheon honors Huntsman Foundation, Rosie Rivera; Elder Stevenson encourages all to ‘build upon our common ground,'" Deseret News).
Skin color has nothing to do with the curse. The curse was, and still is, being separated from God. The darkness is what comes as a result of choosing darkness rather than light. 2 Nephi 30:6 teaches that when the wicked are restored to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, that “the scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes.” The eyes are key to our darkness, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:21-23) The darkness is the absence of the Spirit, the loss of light, that causes someone to appear “dark” and it has nothing to do with skin tone.
We have all heard that scriptural phrase, "Opposition in all things," and I for one sometimes feel like the, "all things," is leaning a little too heavy on the, "all" part. The good news is that we're not alone. I mean, who can forget good old Job, am I right? And today we get to talk about sort of the Job of Book of Mormon, Nephi, and how he was able to live in the manner of happiness despite all of that opposition.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living where we take the Come, Follow Me lesson for the week and really dig in the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall.
And this week, we're going to be discussing 2 Nephi chapters one through five and there is a lot to discuss. But before we get in too far, I want to just make sure you know that there are two different ways that you can use this study group podcast. It's divided into six distinct segments and they're about eight to 10 minutes each. So, you can either listen to one segment every day and study your scriptures, or if you want to just do it all at once and listen to it in an hour, go for it. I think that's pretty awesome. Whatever works best for you, we've got you covered.
So, for today's study group, I am joined by my two friends Tamu Smith and Colin Rivera.
Hi, how are you?
Uh ,Tamu, just give us a, "Hey y'all," cause it's my favorite thing you do with your Southern accent. Right? Say it again.
Hey, y'all! How y'all doing today?
Colin, we need a little bit more from you so people know your real voice here.
How do you do?
Is that okay?
Will you please say, "The rains in Spain fall mainly on the plains."
In what dialect?
Rains in Spain.
Colin's our resident Englishman.
Where are you from?
So I grew up in Sussex on the south coast and more recently London. Ever heard of it?
Okay. Yeah, it's a small little town. It's lovely there.
Of course. It's lovely, lovely there. We're so happy to have you with us, Colin. You're our very first male participant.
Listen, I promise Tamu and I will go easy on you. Right, Tamu?
We will be kind, and he has an accent so it's easy to be kind.
Yeah, you don't want to beat up a British man.
It's really easy though.
I know, for us, it would be. I'm just kidding. Okay. Well, if you want to know what these two lovely friends of mine look like… see! now I want to talk like you!
So do I.
Hello, jolly good.
I can talk like y'all.
All right, if you want to know what these two yahoos look like you can go to our show notes and you'll get to see a picture of them and a fun bio, you're going to find our show notes at ldsliving.com/sundayonmonday, and you'll be able to find their bios and a lovely picture. A great headshot, right?
Absolutely… with an iPhone.
I'll get my agent to send it through.
Yeah, a cropped picture from your sister's wedding right, Colin?
All right you guys, grab your scriptures. Let's dig in. Okay, we are in 2 Nephi chapters one through five, which you're probably thinking five chapters? But it's five chapters. Like it's so much stuff. I don't know about you guys, but when I was reading this, it seemed like the overriding theme of these chapters was, "Keep the commandments and be blessed." "Keep the commandments and be blessed." Would you agree?
And so, it kind of had me pondering and thinking a little bit about what exactly does that mean, "Keep the commandments." What do you think about?
The 10 commandments?
You think of the 10?
Honestly, at first though, when I think about keeping the commandments, I think about that phrase, "Keep the commandments," and I'm not sure if this is too off topic, but kind of this cultural perception that sometimes we slip into, of like the prosperity gospel, the, "You will be blessed if you keep the commandments, you won't be blessed if you don't." And therefore if my life is going well, it's because I'm righteous. If my life is not going well, what am I doing wrong? And that can create a lot of anxiety and a lot of judgments from one person to another. And so, I think it's interesting to talk about the commandments in the context that Nephi and Lehi teach them, but also to understand really what they mean when they say, "Keep the commandments and you'll be blessed." It doesn't always mean your life will always be better if you do keep the commandments and your life will be bad if you don't, because we see that in practice that what we do.
We do, we do. If you keep the commandments, you'll be rich. If you pay your tithing, you're going to be loaded, right?
Yeah, you'll be healthy.
What I find fascinating in our culture oftentimes is when we do say, "Keep the commandments," or when I was teaching seminary and I would say, "What are the commandments?" A lot of times my students would say, “word of wisdom, pay the tithing, law of chastity.” And it's interesting because they couldn't name the actual 10. And President Russell M. Nelson said this about the 10 commandments. He said, “The 10 commandments comprise the great moral code of our society. They have been repeated over and over again.” we would agree, right? “They were cited more than once in the Old Testament, reiterated in the New Testament, written in the Book of Mormon and recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.” Then he says this, “we had better memorize them, just as we have learned the alphabet and multiplication tables.” And I thought, I don't think that's ever really taught. And the first time the 10 Commandments were taught to me was by Dr. Susan Easton Black at BYU.
That was the first time you learned the 10 Commandments?
I did not learn the 10 commandments in order until I was in college.
Okay, well growing up in the Church of God in Christ, a Pentacostal Church, you learn it, it's on the wall, it's Sunday School, like you learn it there, and they preach about it on most Sundays. And so that's how we get it.
That is fascinating to me because growing up, I'd heard of the 10 commandments, I saw the movie, couldn't even name the first one. Here's an interesting thing to think about: why are the 10 commandments so important? And why do we even need to know them? When you think about what the Lord said in Matthew chapter 22… Let's go there. Let's go to Matthew chapter 22, 36-38, because the question is, they were trying to trick Jesus when saying, "Master, what is the greatest of all the commandments?" They want to know what he was going to say of the 10. And this is the answer he gives. Colin, will you read Matthew chapter 22, verse 36, through 38?
"Master, which is the great commandment and the law? Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto to it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
And what's so cool about this is that he couldn't name one of the 10, he summed up the 10 in those words right there, because the first five commandments are about our relationship with God, the last five commandments are about our relationship with mankind. So that is why it's important for us to know the 10 commandments. And that's how they're broken down. Just like you said, the greatest commandment is to love God, and to love your fellow man. So, when we know the 10 commandments, and we can recite them, and we can teach them, how much better our relationship with other people and with our Heavenly Father we will have by knowing just the simple 10 commandments. So, I'm going to do a little quiz right now. And what I want you guys to do is just name the 10 commandments for me. How well do you know the 10 commandments? Ready? Go?
No other gods before me. Thou shall not take the Lord's name in vain. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shall not steal.
She's killing it.
Colin's like, "What she said."
I'm just naming the 10 Commandments, I'm not killing anything.
You're right. You are winning the game. Uh… thou shalt not bear false witness. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Honor your father and your mother. Steal? Thou shalt not steal. Graven images. No graven images.
I think you got all 10 between the two of you.
Now, what if I told you that I could teach you the 10 commandments in order? In the next six minutes? What would you guys think?
Let's do it.
I would be interested.
Okay. In the next segment, I'm going to teach you the 10 commandments the way they were taught to me by Susan Easton Black, and it's game changer.
Now in the last segment, we talked about the 10 commandments, and why they're so important to know. And now I'm going to teach you how to remember the 10 commandments in order. Are you ready for this? Don't write anything down and all I want you to do is just repeat after me, okay? And it's going to be a mnemonic device, which definitely works. That's where you associate a picture or an image with a number or something so you can remember it. Oh, by the way, if you're listening and you're driving around in your car, repeat out loud, and your kids will think you're crazy, but it's awesome because then they'll learn the 10 commandments. So, say them out loud while you're driving. Okay, here we go. One, sun. Two, shoe. Three, tree. Four, door. Five, hive. Six, sticks. Seven, Heaven. Eight, gate. Nine, line. And Ten, pen. Okay, now you're probably thinking, "What in the world?" I'll give you six because it's my favorite one to teach and kids always remember it. So six, what was the thing that rhymed with six?
So, imagine in your mind, two guys, they each have sticks in their hands and they're beating each other to death till one of them dies, "Thou shalt not kill." Okay, so now you know how it works. So we're going to go number one. So "One, sun," during this time the Egyptians, they're believing in the God of the sun, the God of the moon, the God of everything. And the problem was is when Moses went up to get the plates and he came down, what did the children of Israel build? And what are they starting to worship on?
Was it a calf?
Yes, a golden calf. Yes, absolutely. They were used to worshiping other images and different things. So the first thing God wants them to know is there's nothing to take my place. There's only one son, not "s-u-n," but, "s-o-n." So there can be no other gods before me. That's the first commandment. No other gods. There's only one God. The second commandment, "Two, shoe." So you said when the children of Israel were waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain, they built this golden calf. And so imagine in your mind the golden calf, and on his feet, all four hooves are Nike tennis shoes, which is so silly. But the second commandment is there can be no graven images. There can't be anything so picture Moses shoving that golden calf off the altar, no graven images, we're not going to worship anything false anymore. There's also this really cool sub story about why they actually built a golden calf because in Egypt belief system, there was a God who was the ox, a heifer who was the mother, and a calf who was the son. And so they really were worshipping what they thought was the son. But it was the wrong way they were going about it.
Yeah, the problem was that they were worshipping the actual idol instead of the son. It wasn't just symbolic, it was they were worshipping the statue.
Yeah, no more statues, no more graven images -- Two, shoe. Okay, three tree: picture in your mind a tree and when you cut that tree in half, what do you see on the inside? All those rings, right? All those rings or what sometimes we like to call them veins. If you look on wood, like see all these lines right here on this desk, the wood lines. Those are the veins of the tree. And the third commandment is "Don't take the Lord's name in vain." Three, tree, vain, don't take the Lord's name in vain. Okay, four, door. You go to church on Sunday. You look beautiful and you're there and you're ready to worship and you go to open the chapel doors and someone has shot with a gun holes in all of the doors making the door holy. Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day holy is four, door.
That's a scary thought though.
Well, it is scary in our day and age. I know in the 90s it was when we learned it. Maybe I should change it to a new device… but anyway… it works. So the holy door, keep the Sabbath day holy -- four, door. Okay five, hive. Picture a beehive. And inside the beehive who rules the hive?
The queen bee, the mother, am I right? I'm sure there's a king somewhere in there but honor thy father and mother. Six. What's the six's commandment?
Thou shall not kill.
Good job. Okay, seven, heaven. Your home cannot be a heaven on earth if you're sleeping around or committing adultery. And that's how I say it to my students. You would agree, right? Totally. So, seventh heaven, Thou shalt not commit adultery. Eight, gate. Picture a robber and he has a mask and he's sneaking up to the gate and he's unlocking it. He's trying to pick the lock. And so if he can break in he's going to steal everything. So eight, gate -- Thou shalt not steal. Okay, nine, line. Picture phones lines back in the day when they existed and picture two people talking on the telephone, and the lines are connected. And boy, are they talking about someone in their neighborhood who did all sorts of crazy things, and they're gossiping and spreading false rumors and lying. So what's the ninth commandment?
Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Yep, don't bear false witness Don't lie. And then ten, pen. Picture the most beautiful gold pen you've ever seen, but your neighbor owns it. Boy, if you could have it, it would get you out of a couple of jams. It's a pretty penny. But you can't because the 10th commandment is, "Thou shalt not covet." Or you can't want what other people have. No coveting thy neighbor's goods. Those are the 10 commandments one through 10. So I'm going to throw out some random numbers. See if you can name them. You ready? Here we go. Don't cheat.
I won't cheat.
Okay. I'll say the number and the mnemonic device, see if you can remember? One, son.
No other gods before me.
No other gods before me.
Good job. Two, shoe.
No graven images.
Lord's name in vain.
Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day.
Thou shall not kill. Oh wait, yeah I'm thinking of the gun shots -- four, door.
The door's holy.
The holy Sabbath day, yes.
Good job. Five, hive.
I'm from the hood y'all.
Honor thy mother and thy father.
Good job. Six, sticks.
Thou shall not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not..
...bear false witness.
Bear false witness
Or lie, I like to do that. And ten, pen.
Thou shalt not covet.
Yeah! You did it!
I'm gonna struggle with this one. It's gonna throw me.
No, you'll remember.
My family has a motto...
Yeah, it's: Rivera's don't lose. So, I feel like we, I feel like I honored my father and my mother.
You totally did because...
I didn't know if you did because I didn’t know we were competing!
I kept the fifth commandment. You're welcome.
You totally won. Wow, you did some pride to the Rivera name.
No, we were doing it as a team, team one.
You know, it's on. Like Imma let some neckbones go.
You guys did an excellent job. Okay that was so great because you just learned the 10 commandments in order one through 10. And that is important for us to know as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
And why is it important that we go in order again?
It is. I love it because the two great commandments hang on these 10. If we can learn all 10 of them, we know the first five. No other gods, no graven images, don't take the Lord's name in vain, Sabbath day holy, and honoring our parents, physical and spiritual. Those first five are about a relationship with God. The next 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 are about a relationship with mankind. If we know those 10 commandments, it changes the way we have a relationship with God and the way we treat our fellow men. That's what I think anyway, what are your thoughts?
I actually have never thought about it. To be honest.
That's okay. What are you thinking now then?
You know, now, I think I want to learn them all in order. And there was a time that I knew them all in order, there was a song that we would sing growing up, but I'm going to learn them all in order. Because I mean, what you said doesn't feel wrong, so I'm gonna give it a try.
I like it.
Yeah, I feel like, I mean, even the fact that he gave them in a certain order means there's some importance to it. Yeah, I think it's something that we need to pay attention to. And I feel like every other commandment, every additional commandment that we've received over the years, eventually you can kind of trace them back to these commandments. And of course, you can trace them back to the great two commandments that the Savior talks about in Matthew.
You know Colin, I'm so glad you brought that up because that's a question that I would get from seminary students because then they would say, "Well, then where does the word of wisdom fit? if it's not in the 10?" And I would say just what you said, "Well, they all can come back to the 10 commandments because if you're having an issue with the word of wisdom, that means something in your life is more important than God." Taking that substance means more to you than your relationship with Heavenly Father, so what does it become? It becomes a God. It becomes a graven image, right?
Yeah, and of course, certain issues with substance abuse can lead to stealing and lying, and you know, of course, that's just one example. Everyone has their stuff, but you can see how it all relates back.
Absolutely. So, knowing those 10 are a reminder to us of him, and having a relationship with him and then with our fellow men. So, Colin, let's go back to the very first question that you raised, that says, "If you keep the commandments, you'll be blessed." Now that we know the 10 commandments in order? What does that look like for us today? How does knowing these 10 bless us then?
That is a great question. Do you have any thoughts?
I mean, I think about how the 10 commandments applies to me today. If my relationship with God is solid, when the Prophet says something, if it is applicable to me, then because of my relationship with God, before I start to apply, this medium, I'm going to go to God and say, "Is it right for me? Is it right for my life?" And if it's something that I'm supposed to do, I have faith that God will enact in me, the Holy Ghost, and that I will have that witness that this is for me. And so I think that you know, all too often when we think about the 10 commandments that was given, it was given through a prophet to the people. And then we have these other commandments that have been added on through a prophet to the people, they still have to have a witness that this works for them. I think that sometimes we, because we get a witness of something a prophet said, we have an expectation that everybody else should just act on it, because we said because he said, and we act it, and now they should act. And I think that it's our own personal witness, because we have, we should have our own personal relationship with God.
Along those lines about it being a personal experience, I think the biggest trap we fall into when it comes to the prosperity gospel idea, and that kind of faltered that we've we fall into is the comparison amongst other people. I think that absolutely I don't believe that it's false that we are blessed when we keep the commandments, and we're not blessed when we don't, I think that's absolutely a true principle. But the trap we fall into is comparing our blessings to the blessings of other people. And so therefore, if I keep word of wisdom, and I still have health problems, let's say I've never smoked in my life, but I still develop lung cancer. I'm still being blessed for keeping the word of wisdom. All I have to do is compare me to me, and am I getting the blessings in my life that God thinks are right for my personal life and my experience with him, and try not to compare it to other people, because people can still have happy lives without additional blessings. And maybe I'd be a lot worse off even if my life is difficult, if I wasn't keeping those commandments, you know.
No Colin, that's a great perspective. When you consider that when the 10 Commandments were given, they were hard for the people who they were being given to. They had to completely alter their entire lifestyle and wandering in the wilderness for 40 years -- how was that being blessed? They probably thought if we keep these commandments, then God's going to get us the heck out of here, and we're going to live a great life, no, they still had 40 years of a trial. And you know, the number 40 in Hebrew means a period of testing or trial. So did they wander for a total 40 years, or just as long as it took for them, to get them where God wanted to bless them in the way they needed to be blessed. And so I look at that idea and then I look at second Nephi, life did not get easier for Nephi or his people. But they're surely promised, if you keep the commandments, you will be blessed. And then we go right into this whole, "Opposition in all things." And I don't think that's what they were looking for, but it's the way the Lord is going to get them like you said, Colin, get them blessed in the way they need to be blessed. And when you look at your life with that kind of perspective, keeping the commandments, doing what's right so the Lord can bless you in the way you need to be blessed, not the way your neighbor’s being blessed.
And I guess it just depends on how we see blessings. I don't think that God withholds blessings from us because of our behavior, because if that were true, then the world would be turned upside down. I think that it's how we recognize those blessings. I may not be blessed, in a sense of financially I may be blessed with, I'm walking down the street and I don't get shot in the neighborhood that I live in and other people have. You know, because I have had witnesses that God says, "Go here, don't go there." And I didn't go there and over there people died. We have to break down what a blessing is, and how we see blessings in our life. I see blessings in my life that other people may not think are blessings but for me, they are.
It's a great way to look at that. Let's go into then how, "Opposition in all things," affects blessings and our lives and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. So in the next segment, we're going to talk about that. So be thinking about, does it sometimes feel like life leans a little too heavy on the opposition in all things aspect?
Let's go in our scriptures to second Nephi chapter two, when I read second Nephi chapter two, every time I do, I feel like it's so overwhelming and Hugh Nibley said, "We are on the second chapter of Second Nephi, perhaps the hardest chapter in the book."
Wow that's amazing.
I never thought about it being the hardest chapter. For me, the hardest chapters are the begats, but now it might be hard. I don't know.
He remembers that it was Isaiah and Nephi, right? Wow.
That's what I thought. And when I read that, I'm like, "Whoa, Heaven help us." So here's what I know we can do for sure. Go to second Nephi chapter two. And at the top of the page, anywhere in chapter two, maybe on all the pages, I would write, "Agency. Agency, agency agency." This is the premier chapter about why we need agency and how it fits into our lives. So, let's just go to the classic opposition in all things verses, second Nephi chapter two, verse 11. Anyone want to read verse 11? Maybe verse 11 and 12. All right, Colin.
11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
I think Colin's voice should be one of the voices for when the scriptures read aloud to you. I'd like a nice British voice. Okay, can we talk about these verses, "There must be opposition in all things," someone tell me why.
I mean, well, it literally says there can be no happiness if there isn't misery there. Like if there isn't opposition in all things, we can't have either of these emotions, right? We can't if everything's just neutral, happiness is happiness because it's so positive but in relation to what, right? It can't just be in relation to nothing or else it doesn't exist. There's no death without life because life is the opposite of death. You know, you can't have either one of them if you don't have one of them.
You took it from verse 11 through 12. But I also like to focus on verse 10, And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement
We have the atonement. And if we choose to focus on the atonement, we can be saved, we can be redeemed. Because also at the beginning of this chapter, the first word is, "Redemption comes through the Holy Messiah." And because of our agency, we can choose to be redeemed, or we can choose to stand on our own without the shield of the Savior. And I choose to stand with the shield of the Savior. And because of that, I can be redeemed.
Tamu, thank you for sharing the role that the atonement plays in agency and being redeemed and choosing him or not choosing him. Sharon Larson in October 1999 General Conference said this in one of her talks and I want to get your perspective on this, because it really hit my heart and she said, "To become a committed follower of Christ, we must have the option to reject Him, so Satan is permitted to exercise his power and yielding our will to God can sometimes become difficult. Yet, it is in this exercise of acting for ourselves that we grow."
My personality, I'm a saver, like, I'm the oldest sibling and what I do is I save my siblings, like I jump in and I save them. And then as I was reading this, we all have to stand before him. I can't save them from this life. And so I think that sometimes in families, we have this idea that we can say, like, "Oh, I'm going to save you from this disaster that may happen," instead of allowing it to happen, and then being there as a sister, or to help them through it, as opposed to being there to save it.
Well, and as a parent, I feel like sometimes I want to keep my kid from making that choice. I don't want them to choose Satan or I mean, it's interesting, to be a committed follower of Christ, we have to have the option to reject him. I don't want that option.
I think that's super important.
I'm scared of the rejection part. What happens if they reject them?
I think it's really important because you could argue that if they don't have that option to reject, they're not actually choosing Christ, and they're not actually being righteous, and therefore they're not going to be blessed for that. Obviously, we're not saved, except through like his grace, right? And then we and faith without works is dead of course, we know that those principles, but faith without works, the works part is not just us doing, it's us choosing to do. And so having that opposition in all things means that we are proactively choosing Jesus instead of passively choosing Jesus because there isn't another option and that's where the blessing comes in.
Oh, I like that because there isn't another option.
And also when we reject him, he's not rejecting us because of grace. So we still have that come around.
I'm a big fan of letting my kids experience agency in my home, that's where I want it to happen. I don't want to wait till they're 18 to figure stuff out like, yeah, it makes me think of that song. You know the song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," so beautiful. There's a really great line in that where he says, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for the courts above." The man who wrote that song had a lifetime of experience of rejecting and accepting the Savior. But I love the line where he says, "Here I lay my Ebenezer," and I was like, why is Ebenezer Scrooge in the guy's song? But it's kind of cool because in Hebrew, it's two words, "Ebin, aiza." And ebin is rock and aiza is help. So he's saying here I lay my rock of help, my Savior Jesus Christ is that word in that song, and when we think about that Ebenezer in our own lives, the rock of help that helps us get through this life of agency, because it's the one thing God cares about, is our agency. It's just so sad sometimes. Right?
Yeah. Or it's pretty great. I mean, that's why Satan's plan wouldn't have worked. Like that's why Jesus and the Savior's plan was so perfect is because if there's only one option, we can't actually be righteous, we can't show the Lord, our true love for him. Because we don't have that level. Like we're not choosing to do that, you're just living by default. That's why it wouldn't have worked, and why the Savior's plan is so perfect.
Colin, I love that you just said, "And it can be really great," because in the next segment, that's exactly what second Nephi talks about, is how this agency leads to joy. So let's talk about that next, how opposition can lead us to joy and why that is so important.
We have a scripture mastery scripture to start this one out with in fact you can finish it. Adam fell that men might be...
...and men are that they might have joy.
You know what I was once in a religion class where the professor had us mark that scripture and circle the word joy. And I was single, very single at the time and he said, this word joy right here is referring directly to children. I remember when I read that I'm like, "I believe it," and I don't know now that I'm married with kids.
I have kids and if he would have said that, I just would have dropped the class. Like at this stage in my life I'm just like, "You know what, deuces."
Ah, Colin any thoughts?
Me as the person with no children here. I don't feel really qualified. I love children. They are amazing. Like, I love children. I probably don't really want to hold your baby though. Can I say that on the podcast?
Well you just did, so...
Okay, but they're beautiful and wonderful and delightful.
Okay. Well, let's talk about the aspect of this because you have agency, agency, agency. Now we need to talk about, what does joy look like for you? What is joy?
Joy. It's interesting that they use the word joy. Because when I think of true joy, it's different to pleasure or excitement. Joy to me is lasting. It's a feeling of peace. It's a feeling of security in the Savior and in life. Like if I'm feeling true joy, I'm happy, regardless of what's going on in my life. I like I'm feeling joy anyway. And of course, there are difficult times always, but I'm still feeling joy versus like, I could be happy and sad while still feeling some inner joy.
I think of joy as being something that's internal, I can be sad, and still have joy, I can still have that peace.
Yes, thank you., Tamu. So in second Nephi, chapter two verse 25, highlight that verse. And if you have paper scriptures, draw a line and connect that verse to verses 27 and 28. These two verses are what define the joy that we receive. And verse 26 actually introduces us to the source of that joy, who is the source of the joy in verse 26? Messiah, absolutely it's our Savior, Jesus Christ. And so Tamu, will you read verses 27 and 28 out loud.
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and call things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;
I love the idea that joy comes from the Great Mediator, obeying and keeping his commandments, being faithful unto his words, choosing eternal life, and that goes back to what you said Colin, how the Savior's plan just was better, even though Satan's plan sounds real nice, sometimes not gonna lie.
Yeah, well, it sounds nice in the sense of like, we wouldn't be choosing the wrong, we wouldn't be messing up. But like all of the things that he's saying, we are free to choose, it was no choice, we're not gonna be able to choose captivity and death. We're not choosing eternal life either. That's why it was just so impossible and the Savior's plan was so perfect is that we are free to actually choose those things through him.
And when you think about our ability to choose, I thought about, "Oo it would be so easy to just do Satan's plan," but then when you think about our ability to choose, it is the choice that makes us like gods and other species don't get to have those choices. They don't get to make those choices. And we do, because we are here to make mistakes to figure out what we like, to figure out what we dislike, so that we can become like unto our father.
Those are such great thoughts and ideas. I want us to look into this because Lehi is speaking to his sons at this point. And he's teaching these sons, sons who have definitely exercised agency on all levels. And I think it's interesting the wording he uses in second Nephi chapter two, verse 30. And I just want us to look at this because he says, "I have spoken these few words unto you all my sons, in the last days of my probation and I have," and this is interesting, "I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet and I have none other objects say that be the everlasting welfare of your souls." That phrase right there, "I have chosen the good part." Many women are familiar. I probably should say men probably are too, but you're a woman, you know that story, Mary and Martha, because forever we are like, "Oh, she chose the better part," and it doesn't say that it just says she chose the good part. And there's such a great talk by sister Holland because she says that phraseology right there, "Chosen the good part," is a word for Christ. Like she chose Christ. She chose to listen to his words. And here's Lehi saying, "I chose the good part." He's about to die. I think he knows that. He's on his way out. And that's his testimony to his sons. I've chosen the good part. What are your thoughts?
I think it's really interesting that he goes out of his way to say, "I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls," I think, and this is just the Gospel according to me, of course, but that sounds to me like someone saying, "Look, I'm trying here, and just know that this was my intention." And that's what I would say if I was not necessarily sure if my message was landing. I hope it was. I know that I'm an imperfect father, I'm not the master teacher like the Savior is, I'm a human. I'm doing the best I can. But just know that this is what I'm trying to accomplish. Please just listen.
Thank you for highlighting that, Colin. Because what he does next is Lehi then calls all of his children in, and he offers them father's blessings. Go to second Nephi chapter four, verse 12. Because I always wonder this when my dad would give me blessings. There were times when he would say things in his blessings and I was like is that heavenly father or my dad? I really like this in second Nephi chapter four, verse 12, it says, "And it came to pass after my father Lehi had spoken unto all his household, according to the feelings of his heart, and the Spirit of the Lord, which was in him, he waxed old, and it came to pass that he died and was buried." How beautiful the idea of him giving his feelings as a true tender parent and a prophet of the Lord to all of his children. So Lehi is buried, and now Nephi takes over. And then we go into second Nephi chapter four, and we talked about the Psalm of Nephi.
Colin, I heard a rumor that this is part of the reason you agreed to be part of our discussion today was because we're talking about the Psalm of Nephi.
Don't believe everything you hear. I love all of the scriptures, but I especially love the Psalm of Nephi.
Why do you love it?
It's just so humanizing. I mean, obviously it's beautiful. And it's poetic and it's spiritual but I especially the love. I love him, talking about his frailties and talking about his weaknesses and being frustrated with himself. Like, obviously, we know that the prophets throughout the years are human beings, and it's nice to see it in writing. It's nice to see that preserved.
So before we get into some real deep discussion about the Psalm of Nephi, at the top of your page in second Nephi, chapter four, I have written the Psalm of Nephi. And a psalm historically is a song or a hymn. And so I often wonder and maybe Colin have you ever thought of this, like, Nephi singing this?
Yeah, I thought about that. And maybe it's more kind of, I don't know, poetry, but it's an art form. Absolutely.
Definitely. In Psalms 25 through 31, it's David writing, praying, and singing to God for forgiveness and redemption. And Nephi does the same thing right here in this Psalm. Some things about Nephi to consider, he is a father, he's a husband, his own father has just passed away and now he is the leader of these people and his older brothers are furious. In fact, in chapter five of second Nephi, they're actually plotting to kill him again. And so Psalm...
Yeah, classic. Colin, I'm curious, is there anything that stands out to you in this Psalm or anything that resonates with you?
Honestly, I love the beginning. I love in verse 17 especially where he says, " Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities." Again, it's humanizing to me. It's him being like, "Yeah, I know, I'm blessed with all of this, but I'm still so upset sometimes about my own actions." I'm like, that's me. That's how I feel like, I have some anxiety stuff kind of going on. And I can be sometimes a bit too focused on the mistakes that I'm making and the times that I fall short, and what I feel are the Lord's expectations, rather than focusing on all of the amazing blessings that I have, which I'm so grateful for, but it's nice to know that even Nephi, the, "I will go and I will do," prophet, also did the same thing. He's like, "Oh, my goodness," and his sins are probably, I don't know, less plentiful than my own. But it's nice to see him feel the whole range of emotions and be able to relate to that.
It's a good way to put it. The go and do prophet is the most real we see him be. He becomes human to us. That's cool.
One other thing is, one of the reasons I love that so much is it's not just that it's humanizing and we can relate to him, but it's because it transitioned into this beautiful passage of hope. And it tells me, "Oh, Nephi felt that way. What I'm feeling right now is how Nephi felt." And then look, what Nephi was able to do with it, it gives me hope of action and turning it around and improving and relying on the Savior instead of constantly staying in that state of wallowing.
You know, I think it's important for us to study the Psalm of Nephi to break it down. There's actually four parts to this Psalm. And so I'm going to give you the titles of the parts and what verses they are. As I give you these sections, I'm going to ask you a question at the end for you to be thinking about. So here's the first section. So verses 17 through 19. He expresses sorrow for sin. And the question for you to think about is what are the sins that easily beset you? What do you struggle with? What would your Psalm read? Then Mark verses 20 through 25, those are the verses where Nephi lists all of his blessings, and maybe listing what has the Lord done for you. And then verses 26 through 30. Nephi sees blessings and resolves to improve, then maybe spend some five verses just writing about how you can improve in your own life and what you're going to do. And then verses 31 through 35, Nephi writes, how he trusts the Lord and prays that the Lord will redeem him. That's that hope part, Colin, that you're talking about how it ends with just this overwhelming sense of hope that the Lord will redeem you after all that you have done.
I love the power, he says, "Awake my soul, no longer droop in sin." He doesn't say, "Awake my soul, no longer sin." He's effectively to me saying, don't be so discouraged by the fact that you're sinning. Let's resolve to do better. Let's trust in the Savior. Don't let it drag you down rather than don't sit, and he's not just saying be better.
Yeah, well, you know, it's sometimes we lose sight of the fact that it talks about in second Nephi 32, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is faith, repentance, gift of the Holy Ghost, and baptism. And I think if repentance is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then surely sinning must be too. That was part of the plan, right? That is the built-in part of agency you're going to sin. And so to be able to write your own Psalm and go, "Yeah, I did. Boy, I messed up, and look at all that the Lord has done for me and here's how I'm going to improve. And boy, I hope he saves me." Tamu will you read for us from the Psalm in second Nephi chapter four verse 34.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
I mean, if I were to put your name next to any verse scripture, it's that one.
That is how I live my life. I want to have a relationship solely with the Lord that when you tell me something that is good for me, I will listen. Because the spirit acted on that.
Thank you for sharing that. Nephi definitely put his trust in the arm of the Lord. And he had to prepare for what he was going to do in second Nephi chapter five, because up to this point, yes, he had been asked to do a lot of difficult things. But now it's huge. And for him to be able to trust in the Lord and know that God will giveth to him liberally. He's going to need that as we enter second Nephi chapter five, where he starts all over now by himself with people who are going to leave him and the brothers break off. So we're going to talk about that in the next segment.
We are now in second Nephi chapter five. And let's talk a little bit about some of the situations that Nephi's in. What is the climate, what's going on with Nephi and his brothers?
It's a difficult family situation, you could say.
His brothers want to kill him.
That would make it hard.
He's trying to defend his people. He's trying to build a temple. Yeah, there's a lot going on.
A lot. And I also thought what was interesting about this, just a little side note, this is the first time we actually find out that Nephi had sisters, first mention of them. Chapter five, verse six, let's give a shout out to the ladies. So that's in second Nephi chapter five verse six, so he does have sisters. But yeah, I mean that's a lot of discord going on and so as a result, Nephi and the people who want to follow Nephi are going to go and it's interesting because he doesn't say to Laman and Lemuel, "Get out," like he gives them the land they've already built up and he's going to go and start all over. And this is a huge undertaking, go to second Nephi chapter five, and let's look at verse 15. Actually, verse 15, and 16, and 17, these three verses kind of agree, like they kind of tell us what's going on.
15 And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.
16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.
I'd say. I mean, imagine being a person at this time. What are you thinking? You chose to follow Nephi and...
I'd get some skills.
Get to work. He's also doing it with his family. It's difficult for my family and I to pick a board game to play. He's building, basically a civilization and a temple and he's able to get his family and to teach them to do it. I think that's really impressive. Good leadership.
Well, and also they trust him. And for them, the blessing was probably not being with Laman and Lemuel.
Did you just say the blessing was they didn't have to be with Laman and Lemuel?
Just feeling a little shady right now. A little shade towards them.
She's not wrong.
There might be a little bit of truth to that. All right, all right.
Sometimes you just need a bit of space.
And space they got, that's for sure. So okay, so go with me to second Nephi chapter five. And let's look at verse 27 because after all of that, the heartache, you know, all of the hard work and he's tried, like you said, some families can't even play a board game together and he's getting these people to build an entire civilization. Look at verse 27, it says, "And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness." And I put next to that verse, "Not the manner of ease." I think sometimes I want it to be easy, and that would make it happy, right? Tell me your thoughts about living after the manner of happiness versus ease. Is there a difference between, like in the world what it means to be happy versus in our religion?
I wonder if it relates back to what we were talking about joy, in chapter two. Did they have tired days? Did they get injured while building buildings? Did they have a difficult time foraging for food and things like that? Yeah, like probably almost certainly, but they could still be happy, they could still feel true joy because they were choosing life and happiness instead of the alternate.
This is off-topic a little bit, but I also feel like if we can address it, then it helps with a lot of the issues that will come up and have come up in Sunday School classes. If we go to verse 21, "And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them." As a black woman who is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this has been problematic for me. But I think that you know, when you know better, you do better, right? If you have electronic scriptures like I do, and you start to click on the curse, you go to Topical Guide and it talks about what the curse is, but then you skip down to blackness. And 2 Nephi 26:33, "For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men." When you click on skin, it takes you to 2 Nephi 30:6 (the episode misquotes and says 2 Nephi 3:26): "And then they shall rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes." It's not your skin coloring, it is your skin countenance. It is your spiritual countenance that you carry. When we're talking about the darkness, and I just want to, if I can, get in front of that, and correct it before we're sitting in a Sunday School class and someone who doesn't have an electronic version, and someone who doesn't have an updated version of the scriptures, they start to elaborate on what that means, what they think it means, or what they may have been taught it meant. It does not. So it would be wise for them to go to lds.org and start to look those things up on their own.
You know, Tamu, thank you so much for bringing that up. And you know, I feel like it's very important for us to know and everyone needs to hear that dark skin is not the curse. So maybe you might be aware that there was a misprint in the Come, Follow Me manual where it did identify the dark skinned as a curse. But the Church has addressed that misprint as false, and they updated the manual on the ChurchofJesusChrist.org website and they corrected it. In fact, here's what Elder Stevenson said about the misprint at the NAACP luncheon. Quote, "We’re asking our members to disregard the paragraph in the printed manual. Now I’m deeply saddened and hurt by this error and for any pain that it may have caused our members and for others. I would just like to reiterate our position as a Church is clear. We do condemn all racism, past and present, in any form, and we disavow any theory advanced that black or dark skin is a sign of a curse." You know, one of the things I think everyone needs to do is just take in their scriptures and in my scriptures, I've written this right next to that verse, a quote from Joseph fielding Smith and he said, "The curse is the withdrawal of the Spirit." That is the only thing it is, end of sentence, end of discussion, and so when we talk about it on those terms. It just beautifully defends what you said, it is a withdrawal of the Spirit. And it is, how did you say it again, it's a darkness of...
It's this darkness that falls, I mean, I've seen people who have, who have lost their light, and we know immeaditely what it looks like and more than that we know what it feels like and I've seen people who have gained light. And you immediately know, and I just think that we have to correct the dogma of old and right the wrong that was put out there.
You know, Tamu, going back to that idea of the countenance of light or countenance of darkness. I can't help but be drawn to the scripture in Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians 5:5, it says, "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." And when you talk about who the light is, John teaches us that light is Jesus Christ, we are children of Christ. And then you cross reference that to Mosiah and Mosiah says we become His children through our covenants. It beautifully defends what you've just said, you can have the light or lose the light, depending on choosing the good part like Lehi did, or it's a living after the manner of happiness. Right? I don't know. Now, I'm really thinking even more deeply about 2 Nephi 5. I think there is purpose in citing this verse that you read to us in 21, about the skin of darkness, and then living after the manner of happiness. There is purpose in them being in the same chapter.
I wholeheartedly agree. Where was it, somewhere in here, it talks about how misery loves company. And I think about the lives that Laman and Lemuel went on to live as we read through scriptures. And I think about having joy. “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” And that joy is eternal and that joy is internal. And it doesn't mean that we always are happy. It doesn't mean that we don't have sadness. But it means that we have the joy because we know ultimately, that we are followers of Christ. We are followers of light. And I do think that when people are miserable, it is a very dark place for them internally, and they bring other people, they will drag you down with them, if allowed, if they're allowed to. I don't think that it is by happenstance that we have this here today.
That's a discovery for me. Like I just now considered how the idea of that, those two things are in the same section. That was great, Tamu. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for that idea. And that for bringing that up.
Thank you. I feel like it just went, "Eh." So we need to get the energy back up. So say something.
We have to go back then because, you know, we said earlier that Nephi was sort of the Job of the Book of Mormon, right? And how as hard as his life was, he still was happy. And he still lived after the manner of happiness as it says right here. And I think we've all been Jobs in our lives. Everyone feels like that. People used to joke that my husband was Job. Because his story is so tragic right because before we met him, you know, his wife gets diagnosed with breast cancer. He works for his company and then takes two weeks off break, to take care of her, goes back to work, the company he's working for pays him a paycheck, and he goes to cash it and it bounces. And they lost all their funding. And he doesn't have a job but they said, "If you work for us for free, will pay the health premiums." So he worked for free for six months while she continued with breast cancer and going through all the treatments.
And so his dad said, "Let me just fly in and take you fishing." He's from Oakland, California, "And I'll cheer things up for you." So he flew in from Oakland. They woke up Saturday morning to go fishing and his dad didn't want to wake the girls up using their bathroom, so he walked down the hall, and as he did, he tripped on the top stair and fell down the flight of stairs in our home and died of a brain aneurysm six days later from that fall. And so then a year goes by after grieving for that, that his Michelle, his wife says, I want to have more kids. So they went back for a year free of cancer for a checkup and the cancer returned. And she had to start all over chemotherapy radiation and now he's totally unemployed. No work. So some guys in the ward said you should come and play basketball with us. Like that'll blow up your spirits. He's six four, he's great at basketball, goes up first first layup and ruptures his Achilles tendon. And then he's on crutches for six months, while their youngest Kyrsten, who has mild cerebral palsy started having grand mal seizures, and they had to lifeflight her to LDS hospital to save her life. And people hear his story and they did say that. They're like, you're the Job of our time. And when we met, the only reason that I thought I could marry this guy was because he told me his story on our first date, and I said, "And you're still active, like you still believe in God, because people leave the church for so much less." And he just was like, "Yeah.” I mean, I feel like he chose to live after the manner of happiness, right? And Life was hard for him. And so I think all of us in our lives and you brought this up at the beginning Tamu, the idea that that Nephi is the job of the Book of Mormon.
Yeah, but I'm even thinking about your husband and the things that he went through. I'm not saying that with Nephi like, Nephi had angels that he had personal contact with. I'm like, "Where is my angel?" I think that we all go through those Job-like moments. And if you're not, God bless you. Look, don't even speak to it because it might be coming down the line. God is not gambling on you. There's no deal with the devil for your soul. But I think that we do go through our little moments. And we have to ask ourself, "Is this real? Is God real?" And if he's real, then we know that Adam fell that we might have some joyful moments and we might not. But we will have eternal joy.
I think it all comes back around to what we were talking about earlier with the idea of making a proactive choice. If everythings really easy all the time, how significant and how powerful is our choice to follow the Savior when it's really easy to? It's in those really difficult moments, the job like moments, that that's when the Lord really sees, "Oh, he's faithful, oh, she's faithful, like they're really my disciples," that's when the going gets tough that's when we really can show him.
Well, this has been such a great discussion and I have loved everything we've learned today. The 10 commandments in order, why we need to know them, agency and we we've touched on some heavy topics. So, here's what I want you to do. Take a minute and just give me what was your takeaway from today? What was something you've learned that you didn't know or something that's going to stick with you?
The 10 commandments in order.
What is the sixth?
Thou shalt not kill. Say it again, ask me again. Thou shalt not kill.
I beat you.
I'll give you one, here we go soon, see who can get it first. Three. Three, tree.
Not the Lord's name in vain.
Ah that's a tie. We could do this all day.
And so, knowing that we needed to know them in order and what the importance was -- the first five connects us to God, the second connect us to our brothers and sisters here.
For me, it's the focus on agency. It's just so important to just refresh. A commitment to proactive agency and discipleship and making discipleship, a deliberate thing.
For me, it was second Nephi verse 21. And, you know, the skin of blackness and then living after the manner of happiness, and what that looks like that. That was like for me, I'm going to be processing that for a while.
And also that we are a part of a living gospel. The fact that we have a living gospel in these scriptures. As we get more knowledge and information of the meaning of things, we can go in and correct it, and hopefully our membership will feel blessed because of that.
Absolutely. Tamu, it was great to have you here, so much fun, and Colin, thanks for being with us.
Thanks for having me. Thanks for being so kind and welcoming.
I think we might have you back. I know, you did great. And I want to thank those of you who are listening. Thanks for being here. I want to hear what your takeaways were. This is so important to me. It's my favorite thing at the end of the week to look on Instagram and Facebook and see what you've learned. Now, if you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook or Instagram and you're not following us, you should because it's a really great place to ask questions as you study. Every week, at the end of the week, we're going to post a question asking what your big takeaway was. Comment in the post as it relates to the lesson and let me know what you learned. And I'm going to read every one of them because I love hearing what your takeaways were and what you learn from the scriptures. It's so cool, and I've loved reading what people have written so far in the past five weeks. Your takeaways have amazed me. You can get to both of our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode at LDSLiving.com.com/SundayonMonday. And you know what, go there anyway, because it's where we have all the links to the references, and we have a complete transcript of this discussion. So you'll probably want to check it out. It's actually pretty cool. The Sunday and Monday study group is a Deseret Bookshelf plus original brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our awesome study group participants were Tamu Smith and Colin Rivera. And you can find more information about these two at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday where their bios and pictures will be. Our podcast was produced by KaRyn Lay with post production and editing by Katie Lambert. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here and we'll see you next week and remember, you're God's favorite.