5: "I Will Prepare the Way before You" (Jan. 27–Feb. 2)
*This week's study group originally noted that one-third of the Book of Mormon consists of Isaiah. The transcript and show notes have been updated to note that one-third of Isaiah is in the Book of Mormon.
Do you ever wish you had a Magic 8-Ball that could answer all the important questions you have about your life? Like what God wants you to be doing or how to get through a trial? While those Magic 8-Balls don’t actually exist, God has given us something much better—our own personal Liahonas. In this week’s Sunday on Monday study group, we’ll be digging into 1 Nephi 16–22 to find out what our Liahonas are and how they can help guide us through the storms of life.
Mark Twain once joked that if Joseph Smith had left out the many instances of “and it came to pass” from the Book of Mormon, the book would have been only a pamphlet. (Roughing It, American Publishing Company (Hartford, Conn.), 1901, p. 133.)
In 1 Nephi 16, this phrase “and it came to pass” it is found 31 times out of 39 verses. It seems redundant so what’s the deal?
According to Donald W. Parry, a brilliant BYU Hebrew scholar who is cited and sourced in the Jewish community:
"The English translation of the Hebrew word wayehi (often used to connect two ideas or events), 'and it came to pass,' appears some 727 times in the King James Version of the Old Testament. The expression is rarely found in Hebrew poetic, literary, or prophetic writings. Most often, it appears in the Old Testament narratives, such as the books by Moses recounting the history of the children of Israel."
"But why does the phrase 'and it came to pass' appear in the Book of Mormon so much more often, page for page, than it does in the Old Testament? . . . the translators of the King James Version did not always render wayehi as 'and it came to pass.' Instead, they were at liberty to draw from a multitude of similar expressions like 'and it happened,' 'and . . . became,' or 'and . . . was.'
"Wayehi is found about 1,204 times in the Hebrew Bible, but it was translated only 727 times as 'and it came to pass' in the King James Version. Joseph Smith did not introduce such variety into the translation of the Book of Mormon. He retained the precision of 'and it came to pass,' which better performs the transitional function of the Hebrew word.
"The Prophet Joseph Smith may not have used the phrase at all—or at least not consistently—in the Book of Mormon had he created that record. The discriminating use of the Hebraic phrase in the Book of Mormon is further evidence that the record is what it says it is—a translation from a language (reformed Egyptian) with ties to the Hebrew language (See Morm. 9:32–33.)" (Donald W. Parry, "Why is the phrase 'and it came to pass' so prevalent in the Book of Mormon?", Ensign, December 1992).
When I learned this while studying Hebrew, it became a game change for me. I realized Joseph Smith would have to be a Hebrew scholar to write the Book of Mormon, and we know that he wasn’t. How would he have known that “it came to pass” was a familiar Hebrew phrase and one that is used (and not necessarily translated) throughout the Bible? I never imagined that the redundant and often made fun of phrase “it came to pass” would strengthen my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith.
What challenges or hardships are in your life? What consumes your thoughts and sometimes plagues them? How do you deal with them? Is there something specific that you do?
As we study this chapter and the next few chapters in first Nephi, let's take a look at some of the hardships Lehi and his family had to face.
- They left their home
- Left their land of inheritance
- They were living in tents (camping)
- A lot of murmuring
- Broken bows
- Loss of and lack food
- Everyone is a little on edge
- Father Ishmael dies
- Women giving birth in wilderness
- Living upon raw meat
- “. . . many afflictions and so much difficulty . . . so much that we cannot write them all" (1 Nephi 17:6). And we haven’t even gotten to chapter 18 yet (exasperated sigh).
- Where are they going? That would be my question on probably every day during this journey. What’s the destination or are we just living out here forever? Did God tell you where we were going? I need details.
It's interesting that the Liahona shows up now, during all these trials.
How the Liahona Worked
According to 1 Nephi 16:28-29, the Liahona worked according to their:
The 4 Liahonas We Have Today:
“The words of Christ can be a personal Liahona for each of us, showing us the way. Let us not be slothful because of the easiness of the way. Let us in faith take the words of Christ into our minds and into our hearts as they are recorded in sacred scripture and as they are uttered by living prophets, seers, and revelators. Let us with faith and diligence feast upon the words of Christ, for the words of Christ will be our spiritual Liahona telling us all things what we should do” (W. Rolfe Kerr, “The Words of Christ—Our Spiritual Liahona,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 37).
2. Patriarchal Blessing:
“The same Lord who provided a Liahona for Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage—not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. . . .
". . . . Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read. It is to be loved. It is to be followed. Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life’s dangers. . . . Your patriarchal blessing is to you a personal Liahona to chart your course and guide your way” (Thomas S. Monson, “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 65–66).
3. Holy Ghost:
“As we strive to align our attitudes and actions with righteousness, then the Holy Ghost becomes for us today what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family in their day. The very factors that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona not to work anciently will likewise cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost today” (David A. Bednar, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 30).
We may not always follow the commandments perfectly, sometimes all we can do is “strive” to keep keep them like Nephi did (1 Nephi 17:15).
I have used each one of these modern day Liahona’s and I know that they work. Recently the one that made a difference when it came to a specific trail I was facing, was my Patriarchal Blessing. Crazy right?! I mean come on, I’m well into middle age and I guess I never thought that an answer would directly from words in my patriarchal blessing. I had been praying about something and the answer came from a specific line in my blessing. I actually had to find my blessing and read it just to make sure I wasn’t making it up or to make sure it was true. It was true and my prayer was answered. I guess I had neatly folded it and tucked it away for too long. It’s now where I can readily find it. And yak now what, there’s some pretty good stuff in there which is still applicable to my life today.
Question: What would you say is the most difficult thing you have been asked to do? What was your response?
In 1 Nephi 17, Nephi is faced with a big hardship—he is asked to build a ship. Nephi has no experience (that we know of) with buildings ships and yet is immediate response to God is “Lord, wither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?” (1 Nephi 17:8-9).
Oh yeah, and if that wasn’t a hardship enough, he must convince his brothers to help him. And once the ship is built, Laman and Lemuel abound/tie up and torture Nephi, the Liahona stops working, Laman and Lemuel threatened anyone who even speak Nephi’s name, Lehi and Sariah driven to their sickbeds with worry, little brothers Jacob and Joseph are in need of nourishments, and the ship is almost swallowed up into the depths of the sea before Laman and Lemuel repent and untie Nephi.
But as soon as Nephi is freed, he grabs the Liahona, prays to God, and “there was great calm.”
I think there is a lot of meaning in those words.
The great calm came after the storm. It came after many prayers (Of course, Nephi was praying while being tied up as well as his wife, mother, father and brothers and others on the ship who loved him.). But the calm came after the storm.
Without being too dramatic, there have been times in my life when I felt like Nephi on that ship. After doing everything that was asked only to find myself still going through trials just waiting for the “great calm.” During one particular trial, my favorite go-to quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland seemed to be the only thing that gave me hope:
Quote: “He [Heavenly Father] does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed. In spite of this counsel, I know some of you do truly feel at sea, in the most frightening sense of that term. Out in troubled waters, you may even now be crying with the poet:
It darkens. I have lost the ford.
There is a change on all things made.
The rocks have evil faces, Lord,
And I am [sore] afraid.
No, it is not without a recognition of life’s tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God’s love and the Savior’s power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only one who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us—as well as the sea—to “be still.” Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to “be of good cheer.” Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe!”(Elder Jeffrey R Holland, “An High Priest of Good Things to Come” General Conference October 1999.)
I believe. After the many trials and heartache, I still believe.
Question: What do you delight in?
Nephi tells us in 2 Nephi 11:2 and 25:5 that he delights "in the words of Isaiah." But don’t feel bad if you didn’t answer the same. He’s a prophet so it’s kind of his job to look past answering “eclairs."
But before we study the words of Isaiah, we should take the time to learn more about him. Here are some fun facts about Isaiah:
- Isaiah is the most messianic prophet of the Old Testament. He saw and wrote and prophesied of the Savior's coming more than any other Old Testament prophet.
- His name translates as “Jehovah Saves" or The Lord is Salvation”
- Isaiah was prophet for 40 years, his ministry took place between the years 740 and 700 BC. He received his calling the year king Uzziah died (Isaiah 6, 2 Nephi 16:1) According to Isaiah. 1:1, Isaiah served as a prophet during the reign of several kings in Judah, including Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He had personal dealings with at least two of those kings.
- Isaiah was married and, according to one ancient Jewish source, his wife was a daughter of one of the kings of Judah, making Isaiah a member of the royal family by marriage.
- In Isaiah 8:3 (2 Nephi 18:3), Isaiah's wife is called "prophetess," suggesting that she too had the gift of revelation.
- Isaiah and his wife had at least two sons who served as signs to Israel, as did Isaiah and his wife themselves. "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 8:18, 2 Nephi 18:18).
- According to Josephus, Isaiah was martyred for the faith (see Antiquities of the Jews, 10.3.1). king Manasseh, who took rule at the early age of 12, reportedly put Isaiah in a hollow tree and had him sawed in half (Hebrews 11:37 may be an allusion to this, also see Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 4:279).
Notes and Stats About Isaiah
- One-third of Isaiah is in the Mormon.
- There are 433 verses quoted (when accounting for several of the same verses quoted more than once, and a few verses clearly drawn from Isaiah but not identified as such in the Book of Mormon, the verses quoted from Isaiah may run as high as 446. See Monte C. Nyman, Great Are the Words of Isaiah, pp. 283-87. 2 Nephi 12:2).
- Of those 433 verses, 352 more than 80 percent of the total number in the entire book come from Nephi’s two books.
- The Savior even quotes Isaiah 54 to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 22 and in chapter 23 and He commands them to “search these things. "Yea a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”
4 Keys to Understanding Isaiah
The Isaiah verses in the Book of Mormon can be overwhelming, but they can also be understood. Nephi teaches us four keys to understanding Isaiah:
- Be righteous—do not do "works of darkness" or "doings of abominations" (2 Nephi 25:2). Righteousness brings the Spirit, which increases understanding.
- Be "filled with the spirit of prophecy" (2 Nephi 25:4), which is the spirit of revelation. The gift of the Holy Ghost and the spirit of revelation go together.
- Live in the last days, "when they [Isaiah's prophecies] shall come to pass, . . . for in that day shall they understand them" (2 Nephi 25:7, 8).
- Make the effort to search, which implies mental and spiritual exertion. Jesus declared twice that we ought to "search these things diligently" (3 Nephi 20:11; 23:1), and Moroni added, "Search the prophecies of Isaiah" (Mormon 8:23).
Question: Okay, now that we’ve resolved all of your Isaiah anxieties (haha). But really, how are you feeling about Isaiah now? Don’t stress, we are about to liken these words unto us and be persuaded to believe in Christ that we may have hope.
Of all the words of Isaiah, I wondered why Nephi choose to recite Isaiah chapter 48 as the very first Isaiah chapter referenced in the Book of Mormon. I thought about this for a while and what came to me was that it is a message of hope from Isaiah and the first word he uses is “hearken.”
In Hebrew, hearken means HEAR or shema, which means to obey. You will "hearken" several times in the scriptures. It is the first word used to open the D&C 1:1 HEARKEN (hear and obey).
The message of hope is that IF we will just HEARKEN to God's commandments THEN we can have peace as a river and righteousness as the waves of the sea.
When I was a little girl, my entire world revolved around my religion. I was a oversized-zealot in a pint-size body. Anytime I would see someone breaking a commandment or doing something wrong, I was quick to “cut them off” as the scriptures say and assign them to their degree of glory and eternal torment. There wasn’t really any degree of mercy or grace in my judgment.
Thankfully God has given me time to figure this out (repent) and learn that no one has been cut off yet . . . no one. Here is one of my all time favorite scripture chains that prove this.
A scripture chain is where you turn to a scripture reference and next to the verse you write in the next scripture reference. Then turn to that reference and write in the next reference until you get to the last reference where you write in the first reference. This way wherever you start you will be able to find all of the verses about that topic.
In the last scripture reference, JS-H 1:40, it says “That day has not yet come” when people will be cut off from God's presence. This verse of scripture is important in that it is repeated several times in Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, D&C, and Pearl of Great Price.
So the goods is . . . NO ONE HAS BEEN CUT OFF YET! NO ONE! This truth is astounding to 8-year-old me.
Quote: “Many paths can lead us astray, and we sometimes feel the pain of thorns so deeply that we seem paralyzed and unable to move back to the paths of righteousness that we desire. But Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, with all the great and godly love He has for us, longs to stretch out His arms and guide us back. If we but exercise our faith, completely turning to Him, He will strengthen us and help us overcome our deepest woes” (Janet McClellan, "Thorny Paths," October 2013 Ensign).
Mark Twain once joked that if Joseph Smith had left out the many instances of, "And it came to pass," from the Book of Mormon, the book would have only been a pamphlet. That is such a good quote. So Mark Twain said that and I think he might kind of be right. Today we're going to talk about that specific phrase, why it matters, as well as some other things that are found in first Nephi chapter 16 through 22. 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 into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tam Uzelac Hall. If you're new to this study group, we want to make sure that you know how to use this podcast. Maybe you're an overachiever, like me, who likes to get your scripture study done all in one day. Well, you can listen to the full study group discussion at once, but you can also listen to this in segments -- one segment per day as you study every day, you'll hear a little music like one of those fun storybooks when you're a little kid, and when you hear that music it means the segment is finished. So listen for the music and then you can pause, or you can keep on going. Another awesome thing about our study group is that each week we are joined by two of my friends. And it's a little different each week depending on who's here. So today, we get to have Sharon Staples and Sharmaine Howell joining us.
Top of the morning, everyone.
Hey, what's up.
It was so fun, it was perfect.
And I just wanted to make a clarification because on some of the surveys people thought that our friend Sharon was Sherri Dew, and they thought I was very rude for interrupting Sherri Dew throughout the course of our discussion. You are not in fact Sherri Dew.
I am not.
Cause I don't think Sherry is gonna hold a cigarette, cigar in her hand and a rum and a coke in the other. Yeah, no. So thank you for sharing because made it real and I loved that great. And then Shar...
Hi. My favorite thing that I like to say about you is that you tower me in heart and in height.
No, great. That's awesome.
You're six feet tall.
Just a little bit under. Both of you of my very good friends, and so I can't think of anyone I'd rather be here with to talk about today's topic.
We feel the same about you, Tammy.
Oh, it's gonna be great. You can find a lot more pictures and information about them because if you're anything like me, I have to have a face with a voice. So you'll find that in our show notes at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. So here's what we're doing today, and this is going to be a really fun discussion. We are talking about first Nephi chapter 16 through 22. You guys have read those. And so I'm really looking forward to your insight and things that you learned. We're going to talk about Lehi's family, their wanderings in the wilderness, how God gives us light in our own wildernesses. So are you ladies ready?
Let's do it.
Okay, grab your scriptures and let's dig in.
Ready to rumble.
Here we go. Okay, we are going to be in first Nephi chapter 16. And I've read this several times. And this time, I decided to just listen to it. And so I put it in my car while I was driving and as I listened to it over and over and over again, the phrase, "It came to pass," was said, and it just kind of struck me because so then I went in, I counted it and I saw that of 39 verses in this chapter, "It came to pass," is said 31 times. That was a lot. And maybe it just kind of stood out to me now for the first time because of studying this phrase in biblical Hebrew and Sharon and I've been taking a biblical Hebrew class now for five years?
Yeah, five years, probably.
Has it been that long? Oh I don't know anything. not long thing.
We started at the Jewish community center. And we've since...
Oh yeah, that's right.
Yeah. I remember when our teacher taught us about the phrase, "It came to pass." It struck me because I always just thought, "It came to pass," was just this Book of Mormon phrase that Joseph Smith likes so we put it in a ton. And then she said that it is actually a Hebrew phrase. And it's used often in Hebrew writings, and especially in Scripture. I think for me, it struck me because then I thought there's no way he could have written the Book of Mormon.
No, there's too much Hebrew in it. I mean, that's just amazing.
So much Hebrew.
Which testifies to me of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Which it makes it authentic, and that's important to me. I mean, I have a spiritual, heartfelt testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon because the spirit has told me it's true. Now I'm getting an intellectual testimony of words and phrases and ideas and all the inserts that are of ancient Hebrew originality, and and it just says, "Well, wait a minute, this book is true. And it's amazing. I love it."
Well, Shar, tell me too because we've been bible studying together for like a year. And every once in a while, I'll bring in some like, this is what it means in Hebrew. How is that? Or has it changed the way you read the scriptures?
Well, here's my question, I guess. So the Book of Mormon was written in reformed Egyptian, is that what it says? So why is it important to know the Hebrew meanings? Because like, to me, I guess I have a little disconnect, like, why is that so important that that phrase in Hebrew, if it wasn't written in Hebrew? How does that connect? You know what I mean?
No, that's such a great question. I had the exact same question too, because the same like wait a minute in the beginning rewritten and reformed Egyptian, but then under the learning and understanding of my father, which would have been Hebrew, and so no one really knows what reformed Egyptian means, other than it would have been written in the style of Hebrew writings. And originally in Hebrew, but then in the reformed Egyptian.
Is that because they had spoke Hebrew?
So they, they would have that in their writing?
And Nephi and all his people would have had the basic Hebrew language as their basis.
Okay. I've always wondered that because I'm like why do we need to know what the Hebrew words are? It wasn't written in Hebrew.
That's a great question. Well, then that makes this word so significant. So in Hebrew, the phrase, "It came to pass," is, "wayehi," and it's repeated over and over again. Now this is interesting, because you're like, well, then why don't we read it in the Bible as much? And this is kind of cool. I found this, this was written by Don Perry, Donald W. Perry. He's a professor down at BYU and in my opinion very brilliant. In fact, Sharon, there's a book that we use that we got through the Jewish community center that quotes him exactly. Now how cool. These Hebrew Jewish scholars are quoting Don Perry. And so this was neat. He was talking about the phrase, "it came to pass." And he said that "wayehi" is found about 1204 times in the original Hebrew Bible, but that it's only translated 727 times as, "It came to pass." Because when the King James version was being done, the translators decided, instead of using, "it came to pass," over and over and over again, they substituted words such as "and, became," and, "was," they didn't stick to the originality of "wayehi," and, "It came to pass." And I really like how Don Perry said that when Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, he didn't introduce such variety. He just kept it exactly as what the word was. He didn't alter it or change it.
Nope, he just put it down the way he saw it.
Which if anyone was translating and saw it that many times, like the translators of the New Testament, you would change it because the redundancy. Oh, I mean, 31 times in 39 verses, and it became repetitive to me, that's why it struck me. I'm like, "We gotta talk about this." If you want to read more about this, you can check out this great Ensign article that I got this information from, and it's going to be in our show notes at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. So just go to the episode there and click on it. The show notes for each episode, have all of the references so you can read more about what Dr. Perry said about this word. So that's the significance of that word. And then I also read another scholar when someone asked the question, why is, "Came to pass," so prevalent The Book of Mormon? And he said, "Because in the Book of Mormon, nothing came to stay, everything just came to pass." So I did like that. That was kind of funny. So I think it's going to be really great for us now to dig in and find out what "came to pass" all of the things that happened from here on out in first Nephi. So in our next segment, we're going to look at, "What came to pass," over 31 times in chapter 16? And hint is not pretty. But let's see how God can take what's not pretty, and he's going to guide us through it.
I want you guys to think about your own life. And how do you think people deal with hardships in general? Or how have you dealt with hardships and heartache?
It's different for every person. Some people overeat, some people starve themselves, some people take it out on their children, some people take it out on their spouse, some people turn to the Lord, some people go to the temple, I mean it, it's so different for every person in overcoming what you're going through. And my motto has always been and I try to live it is you know, "If you're going through hell don't stop, keep going." And so, you know, you just, you just keep going. And you find ways of doing that -- prayer scripture study, loved ones, friends, ecclesiastical leaders. There's so many resources and helps available to each person and Heavenly Father pleads with us to access them. And he says, "Please," you know, "Talk to your Bishop, talk to your parents, talk to whomever you need to and work it out because we got to get you home, we got to get you home."
That's a great way to summarize that -- "we got to get you home." Sharon, I'm kind of stuck on in a good way, the gamut of how everybody can deal with heartache, depression, just difficult times in your life, and I think back to Lehi and his family. I mean, you've got these two older brothers who are dealing with it through anger. I feel like Sariah was grieving. She was so sad. Is there a healthier way to deal with these things or is however you're dealing with it is healthy?
Well, you have to deal with it in a way that confirms who you are. A: you have to identify it. B: you have to identify how you cope with it and see, "Am I capable of coping with it differently?" And where can I go to get the help to cope with it differently?
That's what I think too. You have to have the tools. And I think sometimes like in my life, that's been a problem sometimes, whether it's been postpartum depression after a baby or whatever, I didn't have the right tools to get me through it. But I think finding the tools, whether it's counseling or books, or going to the temple, prayer, scriptures, you have to have the tools to get you through it.
Those are really good answers. And I like that you use the word tools, both of you, because that seems to be the thing that the Lord gave Lehi and his family. Just from reading, can you name some of the hardships -- what stood out to you?
I mean, living on raw meat in the wilderness and having babies out there. Holy cow.
Eight years in the wilderness. Not only that, but he broke his bow. They didn't have anything to eat. Everybody was down on him because he seemed to be the breadwinner. Just one thing after another. The murmuring of his brothers. What was amazing to me Is he still loved them, even though they murmured and tried to kill him and all those terrible things that we go through with the rest of the Book of Mormon, he still prayed for them, still wanted them to turn to the Savior and turn to the Father. So a lot of hardships, but it didn't get him down.
No, he had a great way to...
And his way of handling it was turning to the Father, turning to the Lord, and seems like a pretty good program.
Absolutely. What I think is interesting is when I was reading through this, and I thought, "Oh my gosh, hardship after hardship, after hardship," it just seemed to be unrelenting. I mean, eight years camping, I'm a camper, listen, I love to camp. Now I'm not doing it for eight years, and trying to find my own food and how difficult when you put it in your own perspective, and then I think of what my own difficult is and what makes life hard, and who I turned to. I love this part of the story where it to me it just shows that heavenly father gets it. Like in our extremities, and they were, they were in their extremities and here the Lord says, "You know what, let me help you out. I'm going to give you a tool," and what is that tool that the Lord gives them? The Liahona. Let's go in our scriptures to first Nephi chapter 16. And let's look at verses 28 and 29. Because this is what's unique about the Liahona is that it was a ball of curious workmanship, that's one of the ways described, but I like these two verses that tell us how it worked. And so Shar, Will you read verses 28 and 29?
"And it came to pass that I Nephi beheld the pointers which were in the ball that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed, which we did give unto them."
So I'm going to pause there, do you see the three things that allowed it to work? What were they?
Faith, diligence, and heed?
Perfect, okay, so mark those in your scriptures, and now read verse 29.
"And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord and it was written and changed from time to time according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things."
What stood out to you as we read those verses?
He's continuing to teach them. Their struggles are being sustained and supported by his alleviating them by continuing to tell them about what they need to know and what they need to do.
Yeah, I like how it said, "from time to time," it changed from time to time and I think that, you know, I sometimes wonder like a little bit decision paralysis in my life, like, do I need to wait for the Lord to tell me everything or just go ahead and do it, but he tells them from time to time and it changes. And I think that just gives me comfort that he's going to be there. He's writing and he's going to just constantly be there.
And that we must recognize the small things. The small things that will help us and not wait for the miracle, the angel, the, you know, the hit on the head, the whatever, but by small means, he will bring about great things in our lives, not just Nephi and the boys in our lives by small things.
It's those little things that I think are what help us. For me, what stood out was where it says that the writing was plain to be read and it did give us an understanding of the ways of the Lord. Like it's just easy. It is not hard and I think we make it so much harder than it needs to be. And when we think about because then you know this story is so great. And I remember at one point in my life thinking why I sure would like a Liahona right about now. Just a magic eight ball. Can I just shake it and have it say, "Things look optimistic." I mean, well, you know, whatever it is, but then if I were to say to you what would you say are our modern day Liahona's? What is an example of things today that the Lord has given us to guide us?
Definitely the Scriptures.
For sure the scriptures.
They hear his words and they guide us all the time.
Well, the first thing that came to my mind was the GPS. People doubt the Liahona, but they don't doubt their GPS.
No matter what it says, you're gonna go where it says.
Yeah, it's a miracle. And it was a miracle, then, why negate a Liahona when you're holding a GPS in your hand, hello. You know, it's, it's like, the Lord will provide for them where they needed to get where he wanted them to go. And the scriptures and ordinaces. Oh my gosh, the ordinances, covenants to be a covenant person.
Personal revelation and prayer. I think those are like our own personal little Liahona's, right?
Patriarchal blessing is the biggest.
I mean, I would tell my students as a seminary teacher, it's the single most important thing you can do as a teenager is to get that patriarchal blessing. If you want a modern day, Liahona, that's it. It's going to tell you where he wants you to be, where you need to go, things you need to look out for. This is a really fun quote, and it was written by President Thomas S. Monson. Now he wasn't President of the Church at the time because this was a General Conference in 1986. But he said, "Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read, it is to be loved, it is to be followed. Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life's dangers. Your patriarchal blessing is to you a personally Liahona to chart your course and guide your way." Now Shar, you're writing stuff down, why?
I just really love that quote. Two months ago, I was just in a rut, and I was thinking, "What is my purpose? What am I doing?" I am a mom of all these little kids and I cry all the time, as you can tell right now. And I just kept thinking, "What is like, what am I doing? What should I be doing? And what should help me to feel like I'm a real person here?" And the thought popped in my head, "Read your patriarchal blessing." You know, I was like, "Okay, I'll read it tomorrow, I'm going to bed." The next day, I woke up and I read it. And it answered every single one of those questions I had, and it like, plain and clear, and I've never even got those answers from that ever before. And it told me who I was and what I was doing that very day, and why I was doing it. And that's so true. Patriarchal blessings, they're the real stuff.
How old were you when you got yours?
I was 15.
And how amazing that at 15 years old, who would have ever thought 20 years down the road, 30 years down the road as a mom, that it would apply then.
And that it would just give me that light and that peace that I needed that very minute. I needed it. Heavenly Father reminded me that that's where I would find it. I think it's awesome.
Oh Shar, thank you for sharing that and for confirming that that quote that the Prophet gave is true. Patriarchal blessings really are Liahona's. Loved your words. Thank you.
Well, in addition to patriarchal blessings, you have a Father's blessing, your grandfather's blessing, a brothers blessing, a bishops blessing, a stake presidents blessing there, they're all there for us. We just, if we just access them like you did, you went to a source and got your answers if we would just go to the source, you know, get up off our little derrieres and move forward and go to a source and get the help.
And we've talked a lot about that like going to sources and there's a really great quote from Elder Bednar and he cites that the Holy Ghost is also our Liahona, and this is a really cool quote. I'm gonna have Sharon read this because I just like these words so the very bottom of the page...
"As we strive to align our attitudes and actions with righteousness, then The Holy Ghost becomes for us today, what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family in their day. The very factors that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And the very factors that caused the Leona not to work anciently, will likewise cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost today." Beautiful quote.
What do you like about it?
Well, it speaks to my spirit. I believe him. The Holy Ghost is my buddy.
When we talk about the Holy Ghost, one of the best things about this experience and doing a gospel study is that anytime you speak truth, the spirit is in the room and I learned that as a seminary teacher. The moment no matter where you are, you can be in a math class and if someone speaks truth about math, the spirits there. In history if that's truth, the spirits there and that's been an experience with this, that anytime you speak truth, the Spirit here testifies to us. Wow, that is truth being spoken. And it's the same with our own personal Liahona's. The commandments, the scriptures, patriarchal blessings, they all speak truth and they invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And when we think about the Liahona and the role that it played, we have a major issue coming up in the scriptures next, and it's the story where Nephi has to build a ship. And so let's go into this into our next segment, we're going to talk about Lehi being asked to build a ship and Sharon, I want you to share your story. Because you have a wonderful personal story about building a ship and how modern day Liahona's can help us build our own ships.
Now in the last segment, we talked about finding our own Liahonas through using sources like the scriptures, patriarchal blessings, and the Holy Ghost, and Sharon, you mentioned a story that perfectly illustrates this about how you had to build your own ship, kind of like Nephi did. So let's turn to first Nephi chapter 17. And Sharon, will you read verses eight and nine?
"And it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto me saying, thou shalt construct a ship after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters." And Nephi's response is so tender and so dear, like, "Lord, whether shall I go that I may find the ore to molten, that I may make the tools to construct the ship." And I think of the times in my life when I've been called to a position and asked to do something by the Lord when the bishop says, okay, Sharon, the Lord has called you to teach this or be president of this or do whatever. And my answer has been, "What? You want me to do what?"
Can I just pause you for a second in your story because I didn't know you very well yet. I just moved into the ward. And you were called as Relief Society president. And I loved this about you and was shocked because the first thing you said, the bishop asked you to get up and share your testimony, and you said, "Hey, I really don't want to do this."
"There's no part of me that wants to be Relief Society President," and I was like, "Can you say that over the pulpit cause she just did. I thought, "I love Sharon!"
Well, the excuses I gave you know, I'm taking a class, I'm working I have to tend my neighbors kids, I don't know the language, I don't like teenagers. I mean, whatever the calling, whatever it was, my response is "What? You want me to do what?" Instead of, "Lord, where should I go to find my counselors? Bishop, will you help me decide on what to do?" Or, "I know there's a teaching moment tomorrow, there's a conference, should I go to that?" Whatever the calling, whatever it was, throughout my life, it was, "I can't do that. I don't want to do that." And it was such a teaching moment for me and a learning moment for me when I read what Nephi said, "Lord, where shall I go to do it?" Because the end of that sentence, or the end of verse eight says, "Which I shall show thee." I didn't read that part when the bishop called me or the Stake President called me. I didn't read the part that says, "And the Lord will show you, Sharon." You don't have to say, "What? I don't want to do that." You just say, "The Lord will show Me." And since then whatever it is, I know that the Lord will show me because he promised it to Nephi. If he's gonna promise it to Nephi, he's gonna promise it to me.
Wow, Sharon, here's what I like when you just said, "If the Lord promised it to Nephi, he's going to promise it to us." Because, in theory, that sounds like a great idea, but then the natural part of me goes, "But you probably have to be perfect like Nephi was, that there's some qualifications there to get that kind of help. So tell me a little about that. Because really, will the Lord really help everybody? If they want help?
He promises it over and over and over again. In the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants, he says, "I will be on your left, I will be on your right, I will guide you." He says, "Knock and the door shall be opened." I mean, the scriptures are just filled with him saying, "I will help you do this, but you've got to come to me." You've got to say, "Lord, where shall I go to find the ore?" You have to say, "Lord, where shall I go to learn the language for the mission? Where shall I go to get my counselors? Where shalI I go to love teenagers? Where shall I go to?" You know, you have to go to him. It's there. That's what's amazing. And he's always there. It's amazing.
Shara, what were you writing?
I stopped writing stuff. I'm not taking notes anymore. I love it. In verse three, it stands out to me in chapter 17, where he says, "God did nourish them and strengthen them and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." To me, that's like Nephi's motto, like that's the same as in first Nephi 3:7 like, I will go and do because the Lord will do it for me. And that's he saying it here again. He's going to nourish us, he's going to strengthen us, and he will provide the means. And like Sharon said, "If we are going to him," and it was just like the clear cut like Laman, Lemuel didn't, Nephi did. It was just such that black and white of seeing how when they didn't, he didn't provide the means for them. You know, the Liahona stopped working for them. The Liahona started working for Nephi like he just showed right there. That's how it works, you know?
Well, there's a word that stands out to me in this chapter. In chapter 17, verse 15, I feel like this is kind of a saving word for us, especially for me when I'm like, do I have to be perfect? I like how Nephi says in verse 15, "Wherefore, I Nephi, if I did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord..." I feel like, as long as you're striving, you're qualified. Right?
Right. Once you're on the rung of the ladder, just so you stay on the ladder.
Doesn't matter where you are on the ladder, but at least you're holding on to it.
One rung at a time. And keeping the commandments, which pretty good advice for us today.
Mmhmm. And he did strive and because of that, he was able to do exactly what the Lord asked him to do. He built that ship. And he got his brothers to do it with them, and Sharon I love the story that you shared, because this idea when you don't think you can do what the Lord's asked you to do, as long as you're on that ladder, if you're just striving to do it, you're going to be able to get there.
So here we are, the ship is built. And you would think that all is lovely and wonderful and everyone's kumbaying as they're boarding the ship, right? And then now what happens? What's the next just, "Oh, come on."
Laman and Lemuel and some of their spouses and friends start murmuring again. They do terrible things to Nephi.
Right, time up. They threaten to kill them.
It's just awful because they're out in the middle of the ocean and they think that they're lost again, but the storm comes up because they are murmuring. They can't do the Liahona because...
Yeah, what happens to the Liahona.
Toast for them. And it takes them two or three days to realize that, duh, you know? So it's a hard time again, for Nephi and they're happy. They're happy that he's sad, and he just wants them to be good. He wants them to turn to the Lord and talk about dysfunctional family. You know, it's bleak. It's very bleak.
Very good description. Yeah, very bleak. Finally, Laman and Lemuel repent. And when they repent, they get the Liahona Nephi actually grabs the Liahona and he prays for help. And I like how the scripture says, "There was great calm." So let's go to that verse in first Nephi chapter 18 verse 21 Is anyone else's scriptures like mine? Pages falling out. I'm like, "I think it's on the page that fell out." It is. So first Nephi chapter 18. Look at verse 21. "It came to pass after they had loosed me. Behold, I took the compass and it did work whether I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord. And after I had prayed, the winds did cease and the storm did cease and there was great calm." Do you think that great calm was just talking about the weather?
I think it's talking about their hearts and their anxieties and fears. I mean, they were being pushed back by wind for days, right? I love that. The wind ceased, the storm ceased, and there was calm.
Did you feel that Sharmaine after you had read your patriarchal blessing? Would that be a good description?
Oh, definitely. I felt like such a... anxiety is not the right word, but just such unrest, you know, days following up to that. And when I read my patriarchal blessing, it was just peace, even though nothing was really fixed. And nothing was really you know, "Oh, now life's all butterflies and roses." It was just calmness and peace. You know?
What about you Sharon? Was there a time you felt great calm when you accepted your calling?
I was a temple worker at the time. And I had just been released, because my mother needed my help. And I walked out of the temple doors and looked around and the voice said, "You are to be the Relief Society president," just as clear, as clear as clear. And at that moment, there was no anxiety. It was calm, because I was concerned and anxious about leaving my temple duties. I said, "What am I going to do now?" And my mother was ill and I had to help her. And I thought, "Oh my gosh." So when I walk out, I thought I know, I'm going to do. You're going to be the Relief Society president in your ward. And so that was a reassuring, calming moment. And then what was awful is that when I would go to church, and I would see the bishop walking down the hall, I would go into the ladies restroom. Or I would, I would duck into a classroom and say to myself, "I don't want to do you know, I don't want to talk to him. I don't want to," but eventually it happened. And I did the usual thing you want me to do, "What?" You know, that kind of thing. The calming moment came when I got the blessing to be the Relief Society president. And they'd laid their hands on my head, said all would be well, and I knew it would be because I had great counselors and a great blessing, and believed in the priesthood. And so that was calming at that point in time. I knew what I was to do. I knew who my counselors were. I knew that. And that's true. It's true in every calling, once I get that priesthood blessing, then I know what direction I go and what I'm supposed to do and I turned to the Lord instead of doing it on my own instead of ducking into the ladies restroom when you see the bishop, you know, you don't do that.
So that wasn't true when I got called to be the organist. I never felt great calm about that.
Oh, well, no.
I still don't, I didn't I was released.
You know what's kind of cool about that great calm. It seems like when there is that great calm, you become teachable. When you have that moment, just sit back and sit with it because the Lord is about to teach you. And that's what happened in the scriptures, that there's this great calm and now Nephi seizes on this opportunity to teach his brothers about Isaiah, and what Isaiah has to say. So in the next segment, we are going to talk about why Isaiah, and what Nephi had to say to his brothers about Isaiah.
All right, ladies, I have a question for you. And you can give any answer you want. Tell me, what do you delight in?
I delight in the confirmation of anything from the Holy Ghost. Whenever I get a confirmation I just soar. I'm just so delighted to get that confirmation.
That's such a good answer. Mine's Diet Coke, and a thing of popcorn on my leg in a movie theater by myself. That's true. I go to movies by myself because I don't want to share with anybody.
That's where I'm at in my life.
I just delight in a movie. I want to say church answers first off, but...
Well, that's the first thing that came to mind so.
Of course it did, Sharon. You're so righteous. And I really do mean that. I'm not saying that like piffy. Of course, she said something like that. When you think about that question, what do you delight in? I think you need this background to understand why Nephi is going to take so much of the room on the plates to talk about and to give us information from Isaiah and many of his revelations. And you can just look right here, go to second Nephi chapter 11 verse two, what does it say that Nephi delights in?
"And I Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words."
There it is. And then you can put a cross reference next to that. Second Nephi 25, verse 5, it's going to say the same thing again. And in verse five, we have, "Yay, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah." So he loves the words of Isaiah. And so right here, we have this great column, and he's like, and I'm gonna hit them hard with the words of Isaiah. If no one can relate to that, if I were to say, what do you delight in? If anyone did think the words of Isaiah, you are awesome. That is so great. If none of you think you could ever delight in the words of Isaiah, let's just take a moment and learn about who Isaiah is. I think it's important for us to know a little bit about him before we read his word. So here's some fun facts about Isaiah: his favorite color's green, he's a Scorpio and he likes long walks in the park. Ah I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I don't know that about him.
Okay, here are some really cool things about Isaiah that I thought was significant. So Isaiah was married. And this is neat because there's a scripture reference about his wife in Isaiah chapter eight, verse three, Isaiah's wife is called a 'prophetess.' That's suggesting that she too had the gift of Revelation. Well that's kind of cool when you think about this power couple then, and that scripture in Doctrine and Covenants, "Like cleaveth unto light," it's no wonder that he married someone like himself. So she's called the prophetess. They had at least two sons that we know of. And I think this is kind of cool. According to an ancient Jewish source, his wife was the daughter of one of the kings of Judah, making Isaiah a member of the royal family by marriage. So that would kind of give them an in with a royalty and the ability to say all the things he said and I think that's pretty interesting. He also stood as a type for the God, God the Father. So this is interesting. His name is translated in Hebrew as, "Jehovah saves," or, "The Lord is salvation." Sharon...
Well, it's Yeshua, meaning, "Jesus saves." And that was his entire message. Which is just amazing. Yeshua --Jesus saves.
He was the most messianic Prophet of the entire Old Testament. He saw and wrote more about Jesus Christ than any other Old Testament prophet.
With that knowledge, I will read him again and again and again. Whether I understand him or not, because of who he was and what he said and everything about him, and I will try to understand him more. Especially because the Savior quotes him. He's one of the Savior's best resources.
Yeah, when the Savior comes back to America, he quotes Isaiah and he says, "Great are the words of Isaiah." You should know these.
Yeah, he was a great prophet.
We're going to study this in second Nephi but we actually get to read Isaiah's calling to become a prophet. He was a prophet from the years of 740 BC to 700 BC. So 40 year mission. Can you imagine if I got my mission call -- "Dear Sister Uzelac, you're hereby called to serve for a period of 40 years." I'd be you Sharon, "Yeah, I'm out. What? You gotta be kidding me." So he served a mission. His mission as prophet lasted for 40 years. And it would be in the middle of his mission that the Assyrian captivity took place. That's when we lost the 10 tribes. We need to know that in order to understand his writings, and then we need to know that also, because Lehi comes around 600 BC, and then it will be in around 583 BC that Jerusalem is destroyed. The very thing Lehi was trying to tell everybody: "Repent or be destroyed," and even his sons were like, "That's not gonna happen." But that will come up in first Nephi. When we read about Isaiah, knowing what his mission was, for that 40 year mission was just to try to tell the people, "Listen, if you don't repent, we're going to be destroyed." And he was trying to keep everybody from being held captive. He didn't want the 10 tribes to be lost. He knew the results of that. And he also knew how wicked the people had to have become to get to that point. That's a lot to take in about Isaiah. So you will find that in our show notes and transcripts. So you can go ahead and just read all of that information. When we talk about Isaiah, I mean Shar, tell me your thoughts. When you first hear that we're going to study Isaiah, what do you thinking?
I think there's definitely a lot I need to learn because a lot of it's a little confusing. I mean, knowing about him helps me a little bit because I think, like why is he this prophet that, you know, Jesus quoted and why is he in all the scriptures and all the different books, like why is it so important? Because I'm missing something. Like, what am I missing? That's what I keep thinking like, what am I missing here? Why is this so awesome?
Do you remember when we went and we were reading in first Nephi chapter six, verses five and 6, Nephi says, "I'm not going to occupy the place with things that are not of worth." Like we're not doing that. It's only important things. And then he takes the time to put all of this Isaiah on the plates. This is kind of fun. So these are some neat stats, one-third of Isaiah is in the Book of Mormon.
That is amazing.
That much dedicated to him, especially thinking about how hard it was probably to engraven. It's like, "I would not rewrite that."
And to make more plates to do that. He had to make the plates first off.
That's saying something I think about his words.
There are 433 verses quoted out of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon. There are 352 of Isaiah verses quoted in the Book of Mormon, it's more than 80% of the total number of the entire book come from Nephi's two books. Isn't that interesting? And then we talked about even the Savior quotes Isaiah in third Nephi, chapter 22. If you're thinking, "Okay, I'm ready to do this. I'm going to study Isaiah," there's some really great steps. They're going to help you become successful in studying Isaiah. So we're going to write these four things down. They're taken from second Nephi chapter 25, which we've kind of talked about, but Nephi outlines, "If you want to get a better understanding of Isaiah, there are four things that you need to do. Four things that we have to be prepared with before we get into his words. So here are the four things, I'm going to give them to you. They're also in our show notes. And you can just go ahead and number one through four, the very first thing that second Nephi, Chapter 25, verse two says, "You got to be righteous." So if you're wondering, "Well, what does it mean to be righteous? It probably means you have to be perfect." There's actually a great definition of the word righteous in second Nephi chapter nine, verse 18. And one time I had an LDS religious professor say to me, "You need to read it with the commas, in order for it to make sense." And then he read it to me. And he said, "But, behold, the righteous," he says, "Now we're going to we're going to define that. They are, the Saints of the Holy One of Israel," number one, so baptized members of the church. Two: "They who have believed in the Holy One of Israel," you've got to believe in Jesus Christ. Three: "They who have," oh this is a good one, "they who have endured the crosses of the world." And number four: "And despise the shame of it." Circle the word "it" and put "world." That's what it's saying. And you despise the shame of the world as you carry those crosses. "They shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world and their joy shall be full forever." That's what it means to be righteous. Did that change your viewpoint on righteous?
Yeah, not not doing things perfectly and not doing it all. Sometimes you think the list of righteousness is a lot of things. But it's, it's those simple things.
What about, "Endured the crosses of the world?" What did you think of?
Well, that would be just about everyone. Each one of us has our crosses to bear. If we want to be righteous, we need to pay attention to chapter nine, verse 18.
And to despise the shame of the world. Like you don't even care what they think about the fact that you're trying to do what's right. The second one, going back to second Nephi, Chapter 25, verse four says, "You need to be filled with the Spirit of Prophecy." If you go to ChurchofJesusChrist.org and do the little search button and type, "Spirit of prophecy," you're going to get lots of good talks, and lots of good things about this. There's a great talk on the spirit of prophecy that I read by L Aldan Porter. I'll put the link to it in our show notes if you'd like to read that. But he talks about the importance of the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy and how easy it is to obtain. It is not impossible for anyone. And you already have it. You just got to use it. Then the last thing we have is you have to be able to live in the last days. Done. I like that. Second Nephi chapter 25 verses seven and eight. And then make the effort to search which we're doing right now. So how are you guys feeling about Isaiah, have I resolved all your anxiety?
It makes sense now, thank you.
I live in the last day, I'm totally righteous. To own in on that gift of prophecy, smooth sailing, we're gonna put forth the effort. So now that all all of our anxieties have been calmed. We're going to do what Nephi says in first Nephi chapter 19 verse 23, and he said that he took the words of Isaiah and he did liken those scriptures on to us for our profit in our learning. So we are going to profit and learn from the words of Isaiah in the next segment. You guys ready to do this?
Okay, here we go.
Now listen, of all the words that Nephi could have chosen to put on the plates, at this moment, of all the words he could have spoken to his brothers. I was wondering like, why did he choose these? He could have chosen so many things to say to him at this time. He could have given him a major tongue lashing, he could have wagged his finger, there's a great calm and he has a chance to speak to them. And this is what he picks. He picks Isaiah chapter 48 and Isaiah chapter 49. And I thought, why? Sharon, will you read in first Nephi chapter 20 just the first word in verse one.
And that's the first thing he's going to say to them. Now tell me about that word. What does it make you think of?
Pay attention. Listen up. This is important. I need you to look in my eyes. You know, I need you to pay attention to what I'm going to say.
And I probably, Shar, have you ever done this when you're talking to your child, "You're like, Look in my eyes, eyes up, eyes up. Here, we go." Yeah, I have to say that to my teenager, right here. If you're not looking at me, I know you're not hearing me. So this is a really significant word in the Hebrew language. Because in Isaiah 49, it's not, "Hearken," it's, "Here." And when any person of Jewish descent or religion hears the word, "Here," this is a really important word because it's the most repeated prayer of all Judaism. It's taken from Deuteronomy chapter four. And it starts with the word "Here." And they say it every single day, "Here, O Lord," over and over again. And what's really cool is that in Hebrew, the word "here" or "hearkened," doesn't just mean listen, it actually means the word "obey." When you read in scriptures, the word "hearken" or here," it's asking you to literally do something other than just listen with your ears. What we're about to hear, Isaiah is asking us to obey the words that are going to be said. So that is significant to what is being said to the brothers, hearken and hear this. See isn't that interesting? He says them both. "O house of Jacob, who are called the name of Israel." So he's talking to us. He's talking to those of us who have entered the waters of baptism, those of us who belong to the house of Israel. So in first Nephi, Chapter 20. Let's read verses eight, nine and 18. Can we all take a turn, Sharon, we'll start with you.
Eight? "Yea, and though heardest not, yea thou newish not, yae from that time thine ear was not opened. For I knew that thou would deal very treacherously, and was called a transgressor from the womb."
So he's saying, "Look, I know you, I know who you are. You might be so stubborn," probably speaking to me. Verse nine Shar:
"Nevertheless, for my name's sake will I defer mine anger and for my praise will I refrain from thee, that I cut thee not off."
Highlight, "I cut thee not off." We're gonna talk a lot about that. It's often in scripture where the Lord says, "I will cut you off or thou will not be cut off," that phrase "cut off" we're going to talk about in the next segment, but I want us to highlight it to be familiar with those words. So let's continue. We were still in first Nephi chapter 20. Let's read verse 18.
It says, "Oh that thou has hearkened to my commandments."
There it is, "Obeyed, hearken to my commandments." And this is an "if and then." "Oh" is kind of the "if" so if you had just hearken to my commandments, then have thy peace been as a river and thy righteousness as the ways of the sea. Here's a question that would be great for those of you participating at home to sort of ponder or write in your journal. When have you felt peace as a river or the righteousness as the waves of the sea? What does that make you think of? Sharon? Sharmaine?
Well, the "peace of river" I can appreciate and understand because I picture a river being calm and peaceful, "the righteousness as the waves of the sea." That's powerful. Righteousness as the waves of the sea would be crashing, demanding, obvious...
Almost never ending.
I mean I keep coming back and back and back down and rolling and rolling. It's like, they never stop. They're loud. righteousness is obvious.
This is an interesting idea -- concept to think about that he would use these words Isaiah is using, this metaphor, or is it a simile? I never know the difference. Like or as, but have you had your peace as a river? I think the only time I ever felt that righteous was on my mission. I felt like a force of nature. Didn't matter. I could do anything, convert anyone, when I walked off that plane into Fresno, California, I was like, "Get ready, because you're all going to be Mormon." Sorry, you're all gonna be members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints in 18 months, but has there been a time for you Shar?
Okay, peace as a river, I have felt, I have never felt righteous. Really, I cannot think of a time, place and instance. I've never felt righteous. Wow, I've felt peace as a river. And I felt humility. And I have felt confirmed in my belief. Righteous? I'm not there yet.
I think it comes back to that definition we just talked about of righteousness. And maybe your belief of what it means to be righteous is not true.
Because you have endured the crosses world, consistently over and over again.
I can't go there. I don't. It's not in my DNA yet, to feel righteousness. But thanks for asking.
Well, thanks for being honest.
I think it's a great thing for a lot of us to think about and ponder on that. Have you felt that and if you haven't, what can we do to feel those things? Shar?
I mean, just reading that scripture, “If thou had hearken or obeyed the commandments, and then you would feel peace as a river.” And I think that's the truth in my life. That's what I've seen and felt that peace is when I've been obeying the commandments. I have a lot of experiences of having small little kids and feeling, you know, like, almost no desire to keep the commandments. I don't know if that's a good thing to say, zero desire, and I'm just praying for desire. But I think when you start to do that, and you start to obey or hearken, that's what my life has been filled with peace.
Beautiful. That's a great way to describe that. This section, and if you go to first Nephi chapter 21, at the top of the page in chapter 21, write the word “forgotten.” That seems to be the theme of this chapter is that you're not forgotten. And as you read that, I want you to keep that in the back of your mind.
In fact, in first Nephi, chapter 21, verse 15, he says over and over again, “I will not forget the O house of Israel,” you haven't been forgotten. So put forgotten up there and think about that as you read it. Because one of the things that's important for us talking about the word forgotten is then going into the idea of being cut off. Because sometimes we in our culture tend to be, and I am one of them, professional cutter off-ers. We think that the Lord will forget the wicked, and that He will forget us. And so that's the paramount message of all of these chapters, and what Isaiah has to say is “I have not cut thee off yet.” So in our next segment, we're going to talk about what that means to be cut off.
I don't know if you guys were like me, but when I was a little kid, I can remember sitting in the back of my family’s station wagon driving around in the very way, way back. No seat belts, it was 1978. And I would see people and I would observe people and I remember specifically a time where I saw someone smoking. And I probably had just learned a lesson in Primary and I saw him smoking and I thought, “Well, they're probably not going to heaven.” Like, I cut him off. Yeah, I was a professional cutter off-er pretty much all of my life.
And then when I learned about the different degrees of glory, and I met somebody, I'm like, “Oh, yeah. son of perdition.” You know?
Anybody else like that growing up? Probably not you Sharon.
I would have cut you off though.
You would have, yeah.
Sharon, you're out.
Oh, yeah. I mean, my grandma always taught us the phrase, “Jesus says don't smoke.” As little kids, she would tell us that all the time, “Jesus says don't smoke.” So same thing, if I saw someone smoking, “Oh, Jesus says don't smoke.” You know, and I think my parents had to stop us a few times from saying that to people but yeah, you know, there was a line for sure.
Our culture tends to be this way. It is getting better, I will say that, but it did come back to me when I was over at your house Shar. And you said to me that your daughter said, “Mom, is Tammy a member of our Church? She has three holes in one ear and two holes in the other ear.” I did back in the 90s. It was really cool to pierce your ears lots of times. So I did it. And I was really cool, in the 90s. So I had an experience where I took them out. But that made me laugh. For the first time, like your daughter cut me off. Awesome.
“Are you sure she goes to Church? Does she read the scriptures?”
And so funny. I think it's important for us to discuss this and to look at these scriptures, because here's what's important. If you don't do what the Lord has asked, you will be cut off. That teaching, that phraseology is repeated in every standard work that we have. If it's in all four standard works, it therefore must be important. So here's what we need to know. And I'm going to put these in our show notes. But here's a really powerful scripture reference, a scripture chain, which is what I like to do.
So for those of you who have never heard of what a scripture chain is, it's something we do in seminary where we give you the starting scripture, and then we have you write next to that the next scripture you would go to, and then we turn there, and then we put another scripture to the side of that and then we turn there until we get back to the scripture that we started with so that you can always follow and find where all the teachings are on that one subject.
So we're going to give you a scripture chain for the idea of being cut off. Now when this scripture was given, being cut off, it is literal. It is the Lord saying, “You are cut off from my presence, you are no longer allowed to be with me, you will not be with me in the next life.” It's very harsh. It's the worst thing that could happen. And so we don't want to use that phrase simply by just saying, “Well, somebody does something bad they're cut off.” Or when someone in our family makes poor choices, we tend to think, “Oh, they've been cut off, they've removed themselves.” So if that's concerned that you have then this scripture chain is going to actually give us some hope. And it did for me when I learned this, so that's why I want to share it with you.
Here are the scripture chain references. The first one you're going to go to is Deuteronomy chapter 18, verses 18 through 20. This is the first time it mentions being cut off in the Old Testament. Okay, when you go there, then you're going to want to put this reference, Acts chapter three, verses 22 through 23. This is where this idea of being cut off is taught, in the New Testament. From that scripture in Acts, you're going to write first Nephi chapter 20 verse one, where we had read earlier. The next scripture will be first Nephi chapter 22 verse 20, where you’ll be cut off. The next reference is in third Nephi, chapter 20, verse 23. And this one's significant because now the Savior is with the Nephites and the Savior's quoting this idea of being cut off. But he says, because you'll as you read, it'll say, “the prophet.” if you don't follow the prophet, you'll be cut off. If you don't follow the prophet will be cut off. And then the Lord says, I am that prophet, it is me. So he says, if you don't follow me, you will be cut off. The next reference, you want to connect that to is Doctrine and Covenants, chapter one, verse 14, and then this is the game changer for me. Go to Joseph Smith-History, one, verse 40. This is really powerful. And this is when Moroni is appearing to Joseph Smith three times. And he repeats the same thing over and over again to Joseph Smith. And he recites scriptures to Joseph Smith, and here's one that he recites to him. So we're going to go to Joseph Smith-History one, verse 40. And who wants to read verse 40 for me? Anyone?
Shar, Hit it.
“In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses; precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but that the day had not yet come ‘when they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,’ but soon would come.”
Why is it amazing, Sharon?
Well, my gosh, it just enhances your understanding of the prophet and what these verses mean, of being cut off. That's kind of like an epiphany and a moment of understanding.
When I read this, and it was shown to me by another professor, my first thing I said was, “No one's been cut off yet. Oh my gosh.”
We still have time.
Because I have already put people in the kingdom. I could be God's right hand man on that day, but like, whoa, no one's been cut off yet.
Take a deep breath. We’re good.
Yeah, deep breath. That's exactly what those verses mean. And so if no one's been cut off, then you can see how Isaiah his words are messages of hope for everybody. You have not been forgotten. He will remember you. And not just you. He is talking in the specific chapters of Isaiah, the lost 10 tribes. Oh my gosh, how sad that was when they were taken into the Assyrian captivity and we lost them. And then Jerusalem thought they'd go untouched like, well, he's not going to hurt us. And Lehi warned them, but then they did. They were destroyed, their temple was destroyed. And we have all these people like, “But what about us?” And that's all it is, is a message of hope. No one's been cut off from my presence.
And like Nephi sharing that with his brothers saying, “Come on, like, it's not over yet. You're still not cut off.”
And so confirming. It confirms what the Lord has said in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 chapters over and over and over again. Marvelous.
And I just think, “There's no way Joseph Smith wrote this, right?”
It’s amazing how we confer, the Lord, the Liahona. He gives us what we need. He gets us where he needs us to go for the benefit of all mankind if we just let him, if we become his tool. Oh my gosh, this was this is a good, good section to read and study. So Sharon and Sharmaine, I just want you to tell me what are your takeaways? What did you learn today as we studied?
Well, that I need to study more. I need to read Isaiah again and again and I need to go more in depth. Because the feeling I have now is this is true, and it will be even truer if you keep studying. It's a boost, it's an enhancer, it's a keep going, you know, keep, don't stop here. He didn't bring you this far to stop, keep going. So I'm encouraged to read more and to study more and pray more and to get a deeper understanding, a deeper conviction than what I already have. It's been great. Well, the Book of Mormon is great so, there you go.
I love it. I love the, the whole message of like, we need to strive, we can try. Righteousness is not perfect. It's all just giving our best. And to me, that is all I need to hear is I can keep striving and trying. And like Nephi when he built the ship, he said, I will show you the way. To me, that's what helps me each day is like I keep trying to keep doing my best he will show me the way.
Thank you, Sharmaine for sharing that. He will show us the way. The idea of striving and learning more and, Sharon, what struck me today that I really liked was the idea of striving and sometimes all that looks like, all it looked like for me when I was a young mom. Who are we kidding? I wasn't young. I was 40 when I was a mom with young kids. My strive really was what you said Sharon, I just had one foot on one rung of that ladder. That was as good as it got for me that day. Some days I'm just holding onto the ladder for dear life. I wasn't even on a step. And I love that you confirmed, Sharon, that's okay. Like I'm there I'm holding on to that ladder. I'm striving so hard. Because the whole message of Isaiah is a message of hope for God's people. And that's us.
And it doesn't have to be a striving of stress. It's not a striving a stress it's a striving of hope, of comfort, of, again, I'll be on your left hand I'll be on your right hand I will go before you. It’s a striving of we can do this. Not you can do this. It's we can do this. It’s not stress.
I just want to go, “We can!” Harrah for Israel! That’s my favorite movie of the Church movies. So true. Oh, great, wonderful takeaways. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you for sharing.
And I want to thank those of you who are listening. Thanks for being here. And I want to hear what your takeaways are also.
If you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook or if you're not following us on Instagram, you should, because it's a really great place to ask questions as you study. And I try to answer anything I can during the week. And then 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 learned from the scriptures. You can get to both of our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode at ldsliving.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 probably want to check it out. It's pretty cool. The Sunday on Monday study group is a desert 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 Sharon Staples, not Sherri Dew, and Sharmaine Howell.
And you can find more information about these ladies at ldsliving.com/sundayonmonday. 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. We'll see you next week. And remember, you're God's favorite.