7: "O How Great the Plan of Our God!" (Feb. 10–Feb. 16)
When you were a kid, were you ever afraid of monsters? Maybe you still peak under the bed or in your closets just to be sure nothing is lurking there? In this week’s Sunday on Monday study group, we're digging into 2 Nephi 6–10 to talk about THE monster—death and hell—and it's pretty scary. But don’t worry, we’re also going to share how to defeat this monster through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Let’s be honest, the Isaiah chapters of the Book of Mormon can be a little intimidating. There are so many references to Hebrew words and culture that can be a little confusing, especially in the 21st century. So let’s begin with a little historical context to help us understand the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi.
Go to 2 Nephi 6:8:
“And now I, Jacob, would speak somewhat concerning these words. For behold, the Lord has shown me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried away captive.”
In 587 BC, shortly after Lehi left Jerusalem, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and deported many of the Jews to Babylon. Prophets repeatedly warned the Jews that this would happen if they did not repent of their wickedness:. (2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 26:18; Helaman 8:20).
So Isaiah was right, the Jews were taken into captivity. BUT in 2 Nephi 6:9, Jacob prophecies that the Jews will return again to Jerusalem: “Nevertheless, the Lord has shown unto me that they should return again.”
This prophecy was fulfilled around 537 BC when king Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered the Babylonians, allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
So let’s break this all down into a timeline:
- Isaiah preached during 720 BC
- Lehi preached during 600 BC
- Jews are taken captive by the Babylonians 587 BC
- Jacob prophecies of the Jews’ return between 599 and 545 BC
- The Jews return to Jerusalem about 537 BC
Now that we know about the historical context of Isaiah's and Jacob's prophecies, let's dig into what Isaiah is talking about in these chapters.
When you hear the word "wedding," what images come to mind? Do you think of a celebration? Cake? Flowers? In scripture, the meaning and symbolism attached to this word is very significant, and is a little different than what we might think of when we hear the word “wedding." So let's study why this word is important in the scriptures and what it represents.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says in his book, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon, there is a metaphor in scripture that is the most of all metaphors and it is used by prophets and the Lord to describe the relationship between Deity and the children of the covenant. Any what that metaphor is? Yep, it's marriage.
The Lord uses the marriage metaphor to explain His relationship with Israel and us. He also uses a divorce metaphor to teach an important concept.
Here's how these two metaphors work. We are married to Christ through covenants (see Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:14, 31:32; Matthew 9:15, Revelation 19:7, 3 Nephi 22:5). The moment we leave him for another lover (sin), we separate/divorce ourselves from Christ (it’s like we drew up the papers and are ready to serve them to Him).
So what does divorce symbolize in the scriptures? Why do you think that the Lord uses this word? And is there happiness or hope after the kind of divorce the Lord is talking about?
Let's look at 2 Nephi 7:1:
- The law of Moses required that a husband give his wife a "bill," or certificate, for a divorce to be valid (Deut. 24:1-4). But there is no such bill in this case. The Lord has not divorced Israel.
- He also speaks of Israel as His children, asking to which creditor He has sold them. In ancient Israel, a creditor could take a debtor's children and sell them into slavery to pay the debt (Ex. 21:7-8; 2 Kings. 4:1; Nephi 5:1-5).
- The Lord assures Israel that he has not sold her, they have sold themselves.
In 1 Nephi 21:14, the idea of being forgotten is taught and it is what Israel accused the Lord of doing. They were separated but not divorced. The Lord explains this and offers hope in vs 1-3.
Now let's look at 2 Nephi 7:2:
- God’s power and He can do anything, nothing is too hard for the Lord.
- Is my hand shortened? I can do this! I can save you. I can deliver you. All you have to do is fear the Lord, obey the voice of the prophets, and walketh not in darkness but in light (2 Nephi 7:10).
And now let's look at 2 Nephi 7:3:
He is all powerful and can do anything. Just as the Lord has great power over the elements so also does He have power to redeem and deliver which what the Lord is trying to get us to understand.
Now look back at 2 Nephi 6:11, 17. We need to be reminded that all is not lost. Christ’s mercy is the ANSWER.
Question: How would you teach the meaning of mercy to your children?
Listen to this definition of mercy found on churchofjesuschrist.org:
"Mercy is the compassionate treatment of a person greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."
Here are some more things that mercy could be:
- When Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.
- When we receive guidance from the Holy Ghost.
- When we are healed from sickness through priesthood power.
Elder Holland spoke of mercy in a devotional he gave to BYU students in 1974 called “Borne Upon Eagles’ Wings.” In his talk, he included this quote from CS Lewis:
"I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A [mathematical] sum [incorrectly worked] can be put right; but only by going back till you find the error and then working it fresh from that point. [It will] never [be corrected] by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot “develop” into good, [worlds without end]. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound" [C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: Macmillan Co., 1973), p. 6].
We need this mercy now more than ever. We are living in the times that Isaiah saw and described in Isaiah 51-52 and Jacob reiterates in 2 Nephi chapter 8. So let’s take a look at that next and talk a little about why Jacob included this particular chapter from Isaiah in a book about our times.
Isaiah lived in 700 BC and wrote prophecies about his day and ours. Then Jacob lived in 545 BC and he preached what Isaiah wrote. And then Joseph Smith translated them in 1829–1830 AD. And now, we are sitting here in 2020—the future—reading these words and relating to them. Doesn’t that blow your mind???
In these chapters, Isaiah is speaking to us. I had a companion who one time yelled, “Hi, Isaiah!” because she thought if he saw our day, he probably saw her say hello. And I’m pretty sure he could see what a nut she was.
So let's see what Isaiah wanted to tell us. Scan 2 Nephi 8 and mark as many action words as you can find:
5. "Shake thyself" (2 Nephi 8:25)
So why are these words so important?
Awake: In this context, awake=awake from SPIRITUAL SLUMBER.
There are so many “awakes” but the one we are going to focus on is in 2 Nephi 8:24–25, let’s go there.
"Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion . . . " Joseph Smith explained this expression by saying that Isaiah, ". . . had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost." (D&C 113:8).
Zion/Jerusalem: Zion and Jerusalem are the two capital cities of the Lord's kingdom. They symbolize the covenant people.
Beautiful garments: Israel is to replace her slave garments with beautiful garments, perhaps the garments of royalty or the holy garments of the temple. One of the ways in which Zion puts on her beautiful garments is through the law of consecration (D&C 82:14-20).
Uncircumcised/unclean: These words refer to the disobedient, sinners, or disbelieving Gentiles. Such will not be found in Zion.
Shake thyself from the dust: The Lord's people are to take action to rid themselves of the dust, which term represents sin, humiliation, and servitude.
Arise/sit down: The Lord's people are instructed to get up from the dust, where slaves must sit, and sit instead in a place of honor, as on a throne. In contrast, Babylon has been cast from a throne into the dust.
Loose thyself . . . bands: Joseph Smith wrote: ". . . the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. . . . The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles" (D&C 113:10). These are images of Israel coming forth from both physical and spiritual slavery.
Captive daughter of Zion. The daughter of Zion, or Jerusalem, is captive not only to foreign oppressors but also to sin.
Now we are awake! Once we have awakened, and Zion has put on her holy garments, Jacob tells why he read us the words of Isaiah:
1 And now, my beloved brethren, I have read these things that ye might know concerning the covenants of the Lord that he has covenanted with all the house of Israel—
2 That he has spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning down, from generation to generation, until the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God; when they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise (2 Nephi 9:1-2).
Now, remember that monster we talked about at the beginning of the study group? Well, this power and strength is what we need to defeat that MONSTER and we are going tp study that in the next segment.
Were you ever afraid of monsters? I think it is fascinating that in this chapter Jacob doesn’t calm our fears by saying, “Oh there’s no monster, you’re perfectly safe." In fact, he is telling us just the opposite.
BYU scholars D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner believe that 2 Nephi chapter 2 and chapter 9 are “. . . two of the most important chapters in all of scripture” ( D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner, Verse by Verse The Book of Mormon: Volume One: 1 Nephi through Alma 29, Deseret Book, 2011, p. 117). Let’s find out why.READ: 2 Nephi 9:7 \
Now, before we get too far in, I have to show you something cool. Turn back to the Title Page of the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi chapter nine does exactly what the title page said it would, “. . . that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”
Okay, now let's go to 2 Nephi 9:7:
"7 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more."
Let's talk about what an infinite atonement means:
1. It's the past, present, and future (look at date in corner: 559 years before Christs’ birth).
2. It's accomplished by an infinite being with never ending power and influence throughout the universe (Jesus Christ).
3. It covers all of God’s creations.
Speaking of the word "cover," the Hebrew word for atonement is kafar or to cover.
Think of all the ways you “cover” something and then apply that to the Savior and His atonement.
Okay, now Jacob introduces to that monster:
"10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit" (2 Nephi 9:10).
- Awful monster= death and hell
- Death=death of the body, physical death
- Hell= death of the spirit, spiritual death
Question: What does the imagery of a monster teach you about death and hell?
Now that we know what the monster is, let's pay attention to all of the Os in this verse and the next couple of verses because “O”=expression of awe. Jacob is in awe of the power that Christ’s atonement has over our escape from the awful monster.
"O the wisdom and mercy and grace" (v. 8)
"O the great goodness" (v. 10)
"O the great plan" (v. 13)
"O the greatness and justice" (v. 17)
After introducing "the awful monster," 2 Nephi 9:19-20 are verses of hope and mercy.
Jacob taught us that about the greatness of God, who He is and how he has provided redemption from our fallen condition. As we would expect a loving father to behave—He is helping us return to Him. It’s not a trick or an episode of American Ninja Warrior, it really is easy and doable.
In the next segment, I love how Jacob is all about choices and consequences and we are going to learn what those are.
In this segment, Jacob offers us some wonderful direction and I don’t think that there could be a better ending to this monster stuff. So let's take a look at 2 Nephi 10:21, 23-25
21 But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren" (2 Nephi 10:21).
23 Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life (2 Nephi 10:23).
24 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved (2 Nephi 10:24).
25 Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen (2 Nephi 10:25).
So here's the good news: all is not lost! In fact, Jacob perfectly ends his sermon with "cheer up your hearts," meaning we should be of good cheer (look up all of the scriptures references for this phrase—so fun).
Christ is our best cheerleader ,“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.)
Quote: Neal A Maxwell said, “Much sifting will occur because of lapses in righteous behavior which go unrepented of. A few will give up instead of holding out to the end. A few will be deceived by defectors. Likewise, others will be offended, for sufficient unto each dispensation are the stumbling blocks thereof! A few will stumble because, in their preoccupation with the cares of the world, they do not have oil in their lamps. And, again and again, those who refuse to eat their spiritual spinach will come off second when they wrestle with the world. Some, because of the scorn of the world, will grow ashamed and let go of the iron rod. (See 1 Ne. 8:28.) A few who have not been Saints, but merely tourists passing through, will depart from the path. A few, failing to be of good cheer, will even charge God foolishly. (See Job 1:22.)
"Surely, brothers and sisters, already too many Church members have broken hearts and broken homes because of broken covenants and broken promises. Society’s increasing slide toward pleasure seeking brings our so-called civilization comparatively closer to Sodom than to Eden…. And in these days, being of good cheer is part of being valiant in the testimony of Jesus. (See D&C 76:79; D&C 121:29.)” (Neal A Maxwell, "Be of Good Cheer," October 1982 general conference).
“Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours . . . and the riches of eternity.” (D&C 78:18.)
Segment 1 0:00
Okay, when you guys were a kid, were you afraid of monsters? Were you that kid who thought that there was a monster under your bed? Or in your closet? I don't know. Maybe you still believe in monsters? Well, if you think monsters aren't real after today's study group session, you may think differently. That sounds pretty ominous, doesn't it? Don't worry, we won't have real monsters in our group. We're just going to talk about that awful monster that Nephi mentions in the Book of Mormon. Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshop Plus original brought to you by LDS Living where we take the Come Follow Me lesson for the week and we really dig in the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall. Now I know you probably have this down for those of you that have been listening, but if you're new, here's something I want to tell you about the study group that I think is pretty cool. Our podcast is divided into six different segments and they're about eight to 10 minutes each. So you can either listen to the whole podcast all at once, if you have an hour, or you can just study your scriptures for 10 minutes a day. How great is that? And just listen throughout the week, study what we're talking about, mark your scriptures, and think about it and then come back the next day. We're also here in our study group with some of my friends and that's what I love about this is I get to bring people that I love and so today we have Sharmaine Howell, and we have Erin Hallstrom.
Hi guys, I'm so glad you're here. Oh, I told Shar's mom I'd give her a shout out because she babysits your kids every time you come to record.
I'm only here because she's there with all the little ones.
Do you wanna do a shoutout to your mom, Erin?
Of course. Hi mom.
Erin is filling in last minute. The guests we had, my friend that I was having, she has laryngitis. And so we're so sad. So Erin's stepping in truly last minute. So I'm kind of nervous because Erin's kind of my boss. She's over LDS living. Oh, so thank you for stepping in.
Well, you're welcome. We'll see how this goes, Tam. Okay, well if you want to find out about my guests and learn more about Erin, go to LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday where you can read the BIOS about my friends and see fun pictures, and you guys right fun ones. Shar's, yours is funny too.
Yeah, that made me sweat, writing a bio.
I liked that you included raising a dog -- a puppy, with four kids. Five, five kids. All right, ladies, this week we are going to study second Nephi chapter 6 through 10. And it's some pretty heavy Isaiah stuff. Erin, your nostrils are flaring. Tell me what you're thinking.
Well, what I'm thinking is, when I agreed to sub, I did not agree to this lesson. No, I'm happy to be here. But to be frank, Isaiah terrifies me.
Why does it terrify you?
It is so shrouded in mystery and symbolism, and I'm not a dumb person, but it makes me feel dumb.
I think a lot of people can resonate with those thoughts. Shar?
Yeah. I mean, I would probably say I feel like I usually am a dumb person, and this is even worse. No, just kidding. No, I feel like there's so much that I'm missing. Yeah, that's what I think when I think of Isaiah, I'm like, "Wow, that sounded like really important and I wish I knew what this was all talking about."
I think that it's really important to acknowledge that Isaiah is difficult to understand. And it is shrouded in mystery until you understand what certain words mean and what this word means in Hebrew, that again, I'm always going to say how Hebrew changed my life. Because when you read those words in Hebrew, then you're like, "Of course, he said that," but before. Oh my gosh, when I was teaching seminary, yeah, I was just with the students, like, I don't know what this means.
But it seems so important in so many books. It's in so many scriptures that it seems like we should get this over and over.
Well, of all the things to be repeated in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, it's fascinating to me that this is one and I wish I understood it better.
And I have to tell you, in preparing for today's lesson, I mean, I was wicked nervous, too, because I'm like, I don't want to get it wrong. I gotta know what I'm talking about. I thought I knew what I was talking about, maybe I don't know. And so I really dug in and studied. And I can assure you that when we're done, I think you're gonna feel a little bit better about Isaiah. Like you're gonna come away going, "Okay, at least I know that." So the first thing we're going to start with is a little bit of history and context so that we understand why Isaiah is saying what he's saying and the people that he's speaking to. Okay, so grab your scriptures. Let's dig in. Let's go to second Nephi chapter six. And we're going to read those out loud, so Shar will you, I'm going to give you a second to turn there, and then Shar, will you start with reading verse eight, please.
"And now I, Jacob, would speak somewhat concerning these words. For behold, the Lord has shown me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried away captive."
Okay, I'm going to give you a date to put next to that verse, put 587 BC. This is where the Book of Mormon and the Bible come together. If you put a cross reference and go back to first Nephi chapter one, it's in 600 BC that Lehi is telling the people, "You got to repent. If you don't repent, the Lord's going to take you captive," and no one's believing him. So in first Nephi chapter one, verse four, I want you to look at that verse because Lehi is pointing out, and Nephi's telling us, "For it came to pass in the commencement of the afirst year of the reign of bZedekiah, king of Judah. . . “ Next to verse four, put this cross reference Second Kings, chapter 24, verse 18, it's going to take you to Zedekiah, the story about Zedekiah and what was going on at this time when Lehi is trying to tell the people you better repent. It's really cool when you look at that, because then you go, oh my gosh, it's here in the Book of Mormon. It's here in the Bible. This really happened. So in 600 BC is when the Lord says to Lehi, "Get your family out." So 600 is when Lehi takes his family and leaves. And now go back to second Nephi chapter six, verse eight. Look down to the bottom of your page in the brackets. It gives us a date, it says it's between 559 and 545 BC.
Okay, so why did we write 587 BC?
Because it would have been in 587. According to history, you can actually look this up that that's when the captivity took place, and Jacob's speaking between 559 and 545. I mean, I'm not real good at the math but...
So the Lord is showing him this has already happened.
Exactly. Look what I saved your family from. And if you look up history, it really did happen. Things like this I love in the Book of Mormon, because I'm just like, Joseph Smith kind of made that like, how do you know that? I love your face, Erin, you look pensive right now.
No, it's really interesting. I didn't realize there were those kind of connecting markers of I would use the word, "Proof."
I think that's a great way to put it. It was proof for me. And when we get into the words of Mormon and Messiah, we're going to go back to that Zedekiah scripture, because there's actually some really fun stuff. And proof that that's where the people of the city of Zerahemla come from. So that's kind of but we'll get there later. Okay, so now go to verse nine, and then Shar, keep reading and read nine.
“Nevertheless, the Lord has shown unto me that they should areturn again. And he also has shown unto me that the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, should manifest himself unto them in the flesh; and after he should manifest himself they should bscourge him and ccrucify him, according to the words of the angel who spake it unto me.”
Okay, next verse nine, I want you to put this date -- 537 BC, because in 537 is when the King Cyrus of Persia who came and took the people, he actually allowed the Jews to go back. And that happened in 537.
When it says they should return again?
Yes. Now Isaiah here is speaking then to the people. He is alive right before the captivity happens. He's alive before Lehi. He is a prophet during the year 720 BC. So in 720 BC, he's saying if you don't repent seriously, you're going to be taken into captivity and they don't believe it. They don't believe it. We go from 720, then they go to 620, Lehi 600 Lehi leaves with his family and then 587 it happens.
Oh, I love that timeline. I feel like I think of Isaiah and I just think like it goes all the way back to Genesis who knows when Isaiah like lived and prophesied? It's just so vague in my mind, but to hear that he was, you know, only just a little over 100 years before Lehi, prophesizing and...
No, I agree. It kind of blows my mind a little bit.
Does it help put Isaiah into context then?
So now when we start to read these words...
And why they were so like, these are the words of Isaiah, because those were their scriptures. That's what they were learning and what they just had heard.
Yeah, this is fascinating.
And then we can take it one step further because Isaiah speaks messianically so all of his words are for these people. And then they're for us. Look, if you guys don't repent, you're going to be taken captive, but who's our captor? Satan. So that's what's kind of cool when you read these, you're like, you understand the context, and then once you understand that you can take it a step further and go, "How does this apply to me? Oh it totaly does. So how you feeling now?
I'm kind of jazzed. It's kind of fun. I knew this would happen; It kind of bugs me. I wanted it to still be hard. But aren't you so fascinated about Isaiah now? There was that guy who was really just wise and everyone came to him and but you couldn't understand a word he said, even then, or were they all...
And he had a house over there. That was the house of Israel. You can tell it's in Isaiah.
Was he funny? I don't know. I'd like to meet him. I can't wait. He's like this sage, old...
He's like a Gandhi man that's just like up in a cabin, just writing scripture.
Will you think of the power that you get from even a parable, right? And I think of Isaiah as a supercharged parable, right? And so there's so many layers to the meaning...
And it's everything from the beginning to the end. And it's all about Christ, and there's so much in it.
And what I liked about how we expressed our insecurities about Isaiah because it just seems so futile and hopeless when you start to study him, but he is the prophet of hope, because what he continues to say and we'll see this throughout every segment today is that Isaiah is like, "Yeah, but you can still, it's okay." And I love that about Isaiah, he is the prophet of hope. And the Book of Mormon is the book of hope. It's another testament of Christ and the book of hope. So knowing this history about Isaiah, it's going to be really helpful for us to understand them, why Israel felt like they had been forgotten, and why they felt like they had been forsaken. They actually say those words in first Nephi, Chapter 21. You don't have to go there because we've studied it. But those are the words they use in that chapter. "Why have you forgotten us? Why have you forsaken us?" And Isaiah is like, "He didn't." In fact, in the next segment, we're going to talk about the words, "Divorce, sold, put away," and put them into context of what it means because it's a verse we sometimes read and go, "What?" So let's go into the next segment, and talk about second Nephi chapter seven.
Segment 2 10:52
So I have to start this section out by talking about weddings and marriage. Cause Shar you're married.
Are you married Erin?
I am not. Are you going to ask me how long I have not been married?
Erin's not married still singing, "All the single ladies." That's okay, that's okay. I was in the trenches first with Erin as a single gal before I was in the trenches with you with kids.
Yeah, which is worse.
I think single is.
Single trenches are worst?
There are times though when I think, "Oh, this is easier."
Well, you're right. The days you can do whatever you want, spend whatever you want. But and maybe I don't know if you guys are like me, but I had dreamt of my wedding day since I was a little girl. You guys the same?
Yeah, pretty much.
I would say yes. Until, like 10 years ago. And let me be clear, though, just because I don't aspire to it or I don't want it. It's just my thoughts about it changed. I don't know if this rough but leave it into the discussion. But my thoughts about it change. And so and so I've stopped visualizing that day, more I'm visualizing a relationship.
It's interesting when you say, "My thoughts about it changed," because we're going to talk about marriage, because marriage is a really prevalent important part of what Isaiah talks about. But why does your thoughts about it change? I'm curious to know if it's the same reason why the Israelites thought about it changed.
Because I don't care about a wedding. I care about a marriage.
What's the difference for you?
It's a day of celebration, which I think is great. Don't get me wrong. Like it'd be fun to wear a pretty dress and have your friends come greet you but for me, it's about the commitment and about the...
Person that you're getting married to, not the wedding day.
That is exactly the crux of what Isaiah is trying to teach. Elder Holland says in his book called Christ in the New Covenant. He says that the marriage metaphor is one of the most commonly used metaphors in all of Scripture, where Christ is the groom, and we are the bride. It is over and over again and in our show notes. I'm going to list all the scriptures that there are where it shows, he's the bridegroom, we're the bride. We become married to Jesus Christ, as soon as we enter into any covenant with him. That is so important for us to know because what's the earliest age we can enter into a covenant with Christ? Eight. To tell an eight year old, "Today you're getting married." I mean, you wouldn't say that at a baptism.
It is. It's totally weird. But I think it's important for us to acknowledge that we shouldn't be saying to these kids, today, you're being cleansed from all your sins. We actually don't believe that, and Moroni teaches no one under the age of eight is even, you aren't even accountable yet. But if we were to teach those little kids, today's the day you enter into your first covenant with Christ.
And to this relationship with him.
Yes, that's what you said, Erin, it's not about a wedding date, it's about the marriage.
And it's not even about the baptism day, right? As much as like, I mean, the act of getting baptized, of course, but it's not about like this perfect day and the decorations and the dress and it's about the covenant and the relationship that we're starting. I think that's so cool.
Isaiah is trying to bring that metaphor up again to the Israelites in second Nephi chapter seven, verse one. Let's read verse one. Because when you read this at first, you're like, what is it talking about divorce, blah, blah, blah. And now we're going to understand what these words mean. So Erin, will you read that for us?
Sure. “Yea, for thus saith the Lord: Have I put thee away, or have I cast thee off forever? For thus saith the Lord: Where is the bbill of your mother’s cdivorcement? To whom have I put thee away, or to which of my dcreditors have I esold you? Yea, to whom have I sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.”
Let's go to these words. Because Yeah, tell me what that face is.
I have no idea if I put the correct emphasis and the correct way. I was just reading words. I feel like, I teach youth Sunday school and I feel that sometimes when they're reading the Scripture, and I'll be like, "Oh, great. What do you think of that?" And I'm like, they have no idea, they were just reading words. And that's a little bit how I feel. I mean, I heard certain words like divorcement.
No, I'm so glad you said that Erin, because as soon as you know what these mean, then you go, "Oh, no wonder he's saying that," okay, highlighting your scriptures, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement?" in the law of Moses, a husband would have to give his wife a bill or a certificate for a divorce in order to be valid. So that's what he's talking about. The Israelites are saying, you know, poor us, God left us. He left us alone. We're all here like a single mom. And he went off and did his own thing. And Isaiah is like, "First of all, where's the bill of divorcement? God didn't give you a certificate saying he left you." That's what that's reference.
What has he shown, where has he shown that he's actually left you?
Perfect. That's exactly what that's saying, so show me, you don't have a bill. You have to show proof that he's left. That's why he says that to them. The next one, he says, "To whom have I put thee away? Or, that "or" connects the thought, "Or to which of my creditors have I sold you?" So this is interesting. He speaks to Israel as if their children and he's asking which creditor he has sold them to like well, then who's your creditor, who did I sell you to? Do you have any proof? In Israel, a creditor could take a debtors children and sell them into slavery to pay the debt. So he's like, "Did he sell you? You're not sold to anybody, who's your creditor then, prove him." And they can't, they can't really...
He hasn't given you away.
Exactly. And so the Lord assures Israel, that you know what? "Behold your iniquities, you have sold yourselves." What does that mean?
You're the one that stepped back, right? You're the one that's leaving this relationship.
You're not listening to me.
Yep, that's exactly what it means -- you did this to yourself. And I think that's important for us to acknowledge because sometimes we use that, that lingo or that language in our culture where we say, "The Holy Ghost left you," but you've left, you've done this to yourself, and Isaiah is teaching that. And the great thing about this is that then he talks about it's okay though, that there's going to be hope. So look at verse two, because he says, "Wherefore when I came, there was no man." Then the Lord says, after he says, "O house of Israel," will you start reading there Shar?
Yeah. "O house of Israel, is my hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke, I dry up the sea. I make the rivers of wilderness and their fish to stink because the waters are dried up, and they die because of thirst."
Like think of that, and he says, "O house of Israel, is my hand shortened that I cannot redeem, that I have no power to deliver." Like you really think I can't help you? And then after when you're like, what the sea, what are we talking about? That's just the Lord using figurative language to say, "I am all powerful. Look what I can do." I can do anything. If I can do that, why couldn't I help you?
And that's what we believe, right? My oldest when he was five, he was playing with a friend that's not a member of the church. And I just hear him, she said, "Who's that," at this picture of Jesus in his room. And he said, "Oh, that's Jesus. Don't you know him?" She's like, "No," and he's like, "He's all powerful."
You're a good mom.
I was like, "Dang, who taught you that?" But that's true. That's what we believe, right?
Oh, that's a beautiful story. He's all powerful. For a little kid to recognize that. And for us to be reminded of that, he's all powerful. Like, he can make this right. That's kind of the message of this scripture block that we're studying in the Come Follow Me lesson this week. Turn the page because this is kind of cool. In second Nephi, chapter seven. It's worth noting that verses four through nine is called, "The Servant's Song." And you can write that on the outside of your scriptures, "The Servant's Song," because then what is sung here are our words to the Lord. And I just, I really like that, in fact, Isaiah saying in verse eight, and nine,
Wow, the imagery of having the power to smite someone with the strength of your mouth, with strength of your words, and to be that emboldened. I think there's times when I feel a fever pitch or something and I think, "Oh I wish I had the words for this."And the reality is, is that if we ask him like the Lord can help give us words and give us that kind of power.
I love at the end of seven where it says, "I know that I shall not be ashamed." Sometimes I think as like a member of the church, I know I wish I had that power with my the words. I mean, I have this strong testimony, but my actions make me look like I'm ashamed because I don't say it. I don't share it. I don't bear my testimony. I don't stand up when I feel like I need to. So I like how it says, "I'm not ashamed and I can find that power with him." You know?
Well and the sentence right above it. I'm glad you brought that up, in verse seven, he says, "I have set my face like a flint." What that truly means is, it is a sign of firmness and determination. We are firm, we are determined, we are going to share our testimony and what we believe. And it can be as simple as he's all powerful. That's what I like about that.
This is really beautiful. I kind of didn't know I would resonate with it this way. Like, it's really beautiful. I want to print this off and have it on my mirror or something. I don't know. No, that's gorgeous.
So now that we know this, because here's what's kind of cool is that what we see is that it's Christ's mercy who's going to save us, that's the heart of this whole lesson. Because in second Nephi, chapter nine, they're going to use the word mercy five different times in second Nephi, chapter six, and second Nephi chapter 10, the word mercy just comes up over and over and over again. And so I think it's really important for us to take some time to study that word. So in the next segment, we're going to talk about the word, "mercy," and what it means in our lives.
Segment 3 20:50
I want you to think about this word and Sharmaine and Erin, tell me, how would you teach or explain the word mercy to someone? And just as a side note, the very first talk I ever had to give in church when I was 12 years old, in 1980 whatever, my topic was justice and mercy. A 12 year old.
I bet you killed it.
My dad did, he wrote it for me. Still don't know what it means, anyway, go ahead. How would you describe mercy?
Mercy, I think is like, someone being kind to somebody or, you know, cutting them Slack. Almost Merciful, like, you know, you don't maybe not deserve it even.
But like in a in a small, micro way.
Well, it was interesting because I thought I knew what mercy was, I still think we do. We defined it really well. So I looked up Mercy on the ChurchofJesusChrist.org and this is what it said. “Mercy is the compassionate treatment of a person greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Was it like the grace, almost like we are showing grace to each other in a way that Christ does to us.
Oh, I love that now. That's a great way to look at it. Yes. Is it hard to show people mercy?
Yeah, like that part that says, "...greater than what is deserved." I'll tell you a story about the first real life experience that I had with mercy. One of the assignments that I got as a seminary teacher, was they needed someone who would teach Institute at the women's prison out in Draper, Utah. And I was like, "Yeah, I'll try that." That sounds like fun, you know, a great time. And so I can remember, the week leading up to going in I was starting to get really nervous because I thought I'm going to a women's prison not a jail, it's like federal prison, prison. And I went and visited with man who was over the prison system. And he talked to me a little bit about it, and he kind of resolved some of my concerns. And then he gave me a blessing. And it was such a great blessing. He gave me the ability to see the women the way Christ does and to love them and to have mercy. I remember the day that I went for my very first assignment. I show up at the prison, I go through all of the stuff, I have to go through metal detectors, pat downs, they have to check the inside of my mouth. They're looking for anything that I might be bringing in. You know, I'm like, I'm just here to teach the Bible to these women. The pat down ended, I got all my stuff, I walk out of the room, and I look across the yard to where I'm gonna have to walk to this next building. It's not very far. And I remember walking and my heart is just racing. And I get in the room, and it's just silent. And I'm by myself. And then the bell rings and in pour about 25 women. And they're all in the same jumpsuits. And they're the most lovely, friendly, kind, shaking my hand, hugging me, introducing themselves to me. And I didn't anticipate what happened. As I'm teaching this class and I'm sitting in this room of these women who, in your mind, you would think aren't deserving of anything that the Lord can offer them, they are these women who maybe feel forgotten or forsaken. And it just made me think like, is the Lord's arm too short? Like, is it not long? It's long enough for them. And I remember the man who met with me said, "You will learn more about the atonement in this moment than you will in your whole life by working with prisoners." And the Spirit was so strong in this room, I thought, how could it be strong when these women are sinners. And it was there. In fact, on Sacrament, when they have separate meetings, they don't even get to take the bread and water, wasn't even part of the service. It's just talks, prayers, and songs. That's where they're at. And when I think of the word mercy, I think back to that experience where even his arms stretched out still to these women who have every bit as much to call on the Atonement of Jesus Christ as I do.
Like in that last part we just studied, he's not left us, right. He's not he's not going to leave any one of us unless we leave him.
And he did not leave those Women.
Yeah, he's still there. He's in that building. He's walking those halls too.
Everyday. And to hear them ask questions that they would ask and insights that they would have. This my favorite moment is, so when they would come in, and we would do a q&a at the beginning, and I would just say, "How are you guys doing, anything you want to talk about?" And of course, every time I came, I would have a full on lesson plan. Here's what we're gonna talk about. I never once taught a lesson. I would do q&a the whole time. Okay, turn to this scripture. Let's look at this. And I can remember one woman raised her hand and she said, "I just have a simple question. So today's my parole hearing, and I'm praying so hard that I am going to get paroled, and I'll be able to get out of here." And you know, the women are like, "Oh, yeah, we're praying for you. We're praying for you," and and she says, "In fact, I'm so serious this time I'm actually fasting and I haven't fasted ever. I've never fasted." I go, "Okay, what's your question?" She goes, "Well, I'm just really worried because I think I may have broken my fast I didn't mean to, but do you think if I fast will still be answered if I had a drink this morning?" And I said, "I think so," then she goes, "Because I just couldn't not have coffee at breakfast." And I said, "You bet, you bet God is gonna give you mercy and grace. We're gonna pray for you right now that you will get paroled." I loved that moment and that experience. Okay, I'm going to have Erin read a quote that I took from a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Holland, and it's specifically on mercy. And he gave this talk to the BYU students in 1974. And the talk is called born upon eagle's wings. And when he gave this he's quoting CS Lewis and CS Lewis wrote a book called, "The Great divorce." How perfect is this? It is absolutely what Isaiah is saying, "We divorce ourselves from the Father."
“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A [mathematical] sum [incorrectly worked] can be put right; but only by going back till you find the error and then working it fresh from that point. [It will] never [be corrected] by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot “develop” into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound.” [C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: Macmillan Co., 1973), p. 6] Elder Holland added, “So God is just, but mercy claimeth the penitent and the evil can be undone.”
Erin, tell me why that resonated with you.
It was just emotional, I didn't know what this quote would say when I started reading it. But it's the thought that we are all still in it. We don't have to give up on people. All who choose wrong roads don't perish, basically, evil can be undone. I love that. It's the atonement encapsulated in this beautiful language.
And when we talk about this, the idea of mercy, look for that word when you study second Nephi chapter nine, because often Isaiah will say, "Oh, the great Merciful One," and we'll talk about the meaning of the word, "Oh," each time but it's important for us to understand mercy so that we can go on then and study what is described in Isaiah chapter 51 and 52. But in second Nephi chapter eight. So we're going to talk about that and why Jacob included this particular chapter from Isaiah in the book about our times for us.
Segment 4 28:12
When I was thinking about Isaiah, because remember, we talked earlier, he's speaking to us, he is speaking to Israel and Judah, but he's also speaking to us. So it's kind of like the movie, "Inception." You ever seen that? The dream within a dream within a dream? It still haunts me. I saw it years ago. And I think about it all the time. That's kind of what Isaiah is like. Because if you think about it, here's Isaiah speaking in like 700 BC, and now Jacob's sharing his words in 554 BC, and then we copy those words so we can read them and Joseph Smith translates them in 1829 AD, and now it's 2020 and we're reading them. So it's just this like these layers of Isaiah, and so he's speaking to us. And it's just kind of funny because I did have a mission companion one time when we were out tracting and she yelled out, "Hi, Isaiah! Hi Nephi!" I'm like, "What are you doing?" She goes, "Well, if Isaiah saw our day, he probably saw me say that right now." And I'm like, "And he probably saw that you're crazy." So keep on moving. I never thought of that ever, in a million years, and I'm like, she may not have a bad point.
I mean, he did not see it in that detail.
I don't know Erin.
There's a lot of people that assume they know, but I don't think they do.
Oh, I love that. Okay, so we're going to go into second Nephi chapter eight. I like to call second Nephi chapter eight, the action chapter. I want you to scan your eyes and call out every action where you can hear and they usually start the verses. So just look at each verse and just call out the action words.
"Hearken, look, lift." Come on, Erin.
You're way better at this than me, clearly. I'm like, I'm seeing them right after you.
I'm just seeing the first word, that's it.
Give Erin a chance.
Yeah. And if you're reading in your own scriptures and you want to take some time go through and mark all of these action words.
"Awake, awake, awake," there's a lot of those.
Yes, lots of "awakes," very good.
"Singing, mourning, drunken," maybe that's the wrong one.
So these words are important words to highlight. This is an action chapter and we are being called to do these things. We've talked about the word hearken before, hearken or here. Anytime you read that word, it means obey, it doesn't just mean listen, that's a completely different word. It means with all your body, with all your faculties, a physical action of Harkening. He wants you to obey, but the one we're going to talk about in this section is the word awake because when you see awake, it's twice, it's awake, awake, awake, awake. Now, in Hebrew, this is really important to know because you're going to see a lot of times Isaiah is going to write and then even the Lord when he comes back to visit the Nephites, he uses numbers where he'll say something. If the word's once, that's okay. If it's said twice, it's important, but if he says something three times, that is the most important. So when you see, "Awake, awake," he's calling us like you better wake up, pay attention more than just, "Hey, wake up, you're going to be late," like when you go to get your kids up for school. This is the second time I'm waking you up, and if I wake you up a third time, there could be trouble. Like, that's what we're talking. So there's a lot of, "Awake awakes," but the one we're going to pay attention to is in second Nephi chapter eight, and we're going to do the, "Awake, awakes," in verse 24 and 25. So let's just go there, because we read these. And Joseph Smith teaches what these are in Doctrine and Covenants. So it's important for us to pay attention to why this was put in right here. Shar, will you read verses 24 and 25? And then we're just going to mark what these words mean.
Here we go. Let's, let's take these words and what they mean. So we have, "Awake awake," when you see that word awake, it means awake from a spiritual slumber. That's what Isaiah has been trying to do is wake them up to who they are and what they need to do. So awake, awake from your spiritual slumber. And then he says, "Put on my strength, O Zion," highlight that. The question was asked to Joseph Smith, "What does that mean put on thy strength?" And in Doctrine and Covenants section 113, verse eight, Joseph Smith taught when he says, "Put on the strength O Zion." It is a direct reference to the priesthood. And here's the quote, "To those who God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of the priesthood to bring again Zion and the redemption of Israel. And to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood which she, Zion, has a right by lineage and to return the power which she has lost." So that priesthood power, and then when we go into these words, and it says, "O, Zion." Zion is referencing us and the people of Jerusalem to Isaiah but then when we read the word Zion, it should resonate with us. He's talking to us. And then he says, "Put on thy beautiful garments." And what would you see beautiful garments would be?
I think of garments.
Yeah, that's exactly it. That's exactly it. And I like how it says it can be the Holy, one of the interpretations is it's the holy garments of the temple. We're talking about putting those on and what that does.
And does that also include temple clothing, or just like the temple garment?
Well, I have right here, the holy garments of the temple, according to section 82, verses 14 through 20, is what it's talking about. And we put on the beautiful garments. One of the ways we do that is through the law of consecration is what Joseph Smith taught. So I think that's interesting. I like to think that it really is the holy garments. And those are so serious to me. And one year I did what I called the year of the garment, because I had heard and I had taught people that the garments protect us. And when we go to the temple, we learn that and I was like, do they really though, or do we just kind of say that to ourselves? And I'm like, I'm going to study what the garment is as best I can and I read everything. I read Jewish midrash. I read what the Jews believe. They believe in a holy garment. They wear a holy garment. And what I found was fascinating, because Jews truly believe that the garment is holy and will protect you.
You read the Jewish Midrash? What is that?
That's a great question. So Jewish midrash. It's an ancient commentary. And it's actually part of the Hebrew Scriptures, and they attach it to the biblical text. So it's kind of like Joseph Smith translation that we attach.
And we believe that it's helping us understand the scriptures.
Perfect. That's a great example. Yep. And so when we talk about these beautiful garments, that the power of the priesthood that comes through those, that's important to know, go back into the scripture back into second Nephi chapter eight, verse 24. Because there's a couple other words we need to know. When he talks about at the end, he says, "No more come onto thee, uncircumcised and unclean." The idea of being uncircumcised was not of the covenant. That's what that word means. So they aren't even covenant keepers. That's fascinating. Why would you circumcise to be a covenant keeper? I love what one religious scholar wrote. And he said, "Because it was the one part of the body that was directly related to seed, and so you made a covenant with the Lord, that you would be a covenant keeper and so would your children."
I mean, just backing up just a little bit when you talk about the garment. And we so focus on, "Oh, it'll protect us, it'll protect us," and almost always what I thought when I was younger, and I think a lot of us do this, is we think physical protection. And it's not to say that that can't happen, but we go there. And as I'm hearing it, talking, I mean, really, it's the protection of the priesthood, which can be spiritual. It can be emotional. I mean, there's lots of layers of protection that we are asking for.
And almost that visual reminder to us as we put it on to remember, right, the covenants that we have made and the protection we can get.
That's a great application of that. Okay, let's go into, "Shake thyself from the dust." The term dust represents sin, humiliation, or servitude and servitude to false gods or sin. That's what that means. And then we have, "Arise, sit down." Isn't that interesting? The arise, sit down. So this is what this means. The Lord's people are instructed to get up from the dust, where in ancient times, slaves would have to sit. You were not given the grace to stand, if you are a slave you would sit and so you're a slave to sin is what this is talking about. And so rather than being a slave to sin, "Arise, stand up, shake off the dust, loose thyself from the bands." That's a great one. In that verse, he says, "Loose thyself from the bands of the neck." And here's what Joseph Smith said about it again, in Doctrine and Covenants section 113, verse 10, The Lord says, "The bands of the neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in the scattered condition among the Gentiles." So being oppressed.
So you said arise means get up from the dust, like get up out, stop sinning, right? So then why does it say then sit down?
Okay, great question. When it says sit down, it says instead of in a place of honor as on a throne, like so now you're going to take your place, sit down.
Those verses that say like, sit down on the right hand of God, right? Is that the same kind of?
Yeah, that's exactly it. Yep, that's what it means, arise and then sit down, take your place, loose the bands from your neck that have been holding you captive all this time. And then he says, "O captive daughter of Zion." We'll talk about that in the next scripture block next week. But that's an important term too, because Israel and Judah were always referred to in that form as a daughter of Zion. So he's talking to a group of people. He's not talking to girls, or young women, so that's important to know. Okay, how are we doing?
Wow, that made sense.
Yeah. I love it. That was so much fun. Okay, so now what we're going to...
We understand Isaiah.
Yes, you do. You're Isaiah scholars. Yeah, just kidding. We're close, though. We're better than we were when we started.
Okay. All of this is setting us up then to talk about this awful monster.
I don't even know what you're talking about. Is there a monster in this?
There is. There's a monster in scriptures. We're going to talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 5 37:58
Were you afraid of monsters as kids?
You really were?
100% yeah. Well I don't know if they were like monsters, like Monsters Inc. You know? It was more of like, turn off the light and dart to my bed and jump before somebody could reach out from under the bed and grab my foot.
Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I to this day, cannot sleep with a limb hanging off my bed.
When I was a kid, my room was in the basement. I was by myself down there. And so I would have these images of this, I don't even know why, this crazed lunatic maniac, skinny, gangly man running down the stairs as fast as he can with his arms flying up in the air and coming into my room, I don't know what he was going to do when he got there, but I was scared of this, like, that was my monster in my head. When kids are afraid of monsters, what's our immediate go to his parents though?
It's not real. Come on, don't worry about it. It's not real.
Go back to bed, say a prayer. Check the closet. Look under the bed.
Lights on. Nothing's there.
Jacob doesn't do that. He doesn't say to us, "O the monsters not real." No, Jacob is gonna scare us. And he's going to be like, you're right there is a monster and let me tell you what it's going to do to you. Can you imagine as a parent doing that, "Oh it's real." Yeah, I do like the approach Jacob took though because before he scares us, he does say, "Let me tell you how you can beat the monster." But before we get into that, here's what I want you to know. Because I did think this was interesting. There's two BYU scholars that I love their books. It's D Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner. And this is what they said about second Nephi chapter nine. They included it with second Nephi chapter two. They said, "These two chapters are two of the most important chapters in all of scripture." That was big for me. So second Nephi is one of the most important books of all of scripture according to these two biblical scholars. So let's go back to Jacob and talk about how we can beat this monster. Let's go to second Nephi chapter nine, verse seven. And Erin will you read verse seven out loud?
"Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement, save it should be an infinite atonement, this corruption could not put on incorruption."
He says there must needs be a what?
Highlight that word. What I did in my own scriptures is I highlighted, "Infinite atonement." And then I drew a line down to the date down in the bottom of your page in those brackets again is that date that we've used. Because I think it's fascinating that here we are, 500 years before Christ is even born, Jacobs teaching us about this atonement.
It always fascinates me. It hasn't happened for them, and he believes it.
So how does the word infinite work into that then?
It's covering them before and after.
And it covers everybody and everything, and there is no time it is endless. There's no beginning, no end to this atonement. And so he's saying that there is this infinite atonement that you're going to be able to use that's going to help you beat this monster. A great little cross reference I would put next to that verse is the Book of Mormon title page. Because second Nephi chapter nine, will absolutely do what the title page said it would do. So let's go back to the title page and let's look at that second paragraph where it tells us what the Book of Mormon will do. And we can see right here it says, "And also to the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God manifesting himself." It says that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they're not cast off forever. I mean, how great that we're learning that right now. And what a great way to lead into a discussion about the atonement. Whenever we would teach the word atonement, and as a seminary teacher, I would write on the board, "At one." Does that sound familiar? And tell me what that means when you hear, "At one."
Well, surely combining your spirit with and your will with God's and Jesus Christ. I mean, really like understanding and becoming one with him.
And I loved teaching it that way. And then I learned what the Hebrew word for was atonemen and i t really enlightened the way I understand it. So in Hebrew, the Hebrew word for atonement is, "kafar." And what that word means is, "to cover." Now I want you to think about the word "cover." Use a sentence with the word "cover."
Can you cover my back?
Perfect. What else? I always know the one, but all the time I probably still do it with my friends, "Can you cover me?" Because I don't have enough cash. "Who can pay for my movie ticket?" "Who can cover me financially," right? When you hear the word "cover" and you think of anything...
Cover, cover you up with the blanket or...
Something nice and soft, a down comforter. Perfect, perfect. Now take that exact what we just talked about and apply it to the atonement. Heavenly Father is like, "No, I got your back. I got your back. I'm gonna cover you." Or I'm a little short.
Yeah, will you cover me because I am falling short here. And he's like, totally...
Yeah, you can't even afford it. That's what he'll say, "You can't even afford to pay the price of that sin. So I'm going to cover you."
Yeah, "You don't even know how much that one costs."
Totally. And then the last one, that, "Comfort Me."
Oh I love how that word means, "Cover."
Isn't that cool? So now when I think of the word atonement, I think to cover, it's going to cover us. It's going to cover everybody that's going to cover everything. So in here when he's saying, "There must needs be an infinite atonement, an infinite cover, to cover everybody and everything all throughout time," and what is it going to cover us from? And that's what Jacob wants us to know it because he then will teach us what it's going to cover you from, and it's scary. Okay, go to second Nephi chapter nine verse 10. And let's read about the monster. So Shar, will you read second Nephi chapter nine verse 10?
"O how great the agoodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our bescape from the grasp of this awful monster..."
What kind of monster?
Highlight that. Not just a monster but..
An "awful monster."
Like what do you think of when you see that?
Terrible and scary.
Yeah, keep going.
"...yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit."
So that's the monster.
That's the monster, and what is it?
Death and hell? Like separating, right? Ourselves from God.
Yes, and there's two types of death here that this verse is referring to. So, the first death is the physical death. That is the death of the body, which we are all familiar with. But then the second one "hell," that is spiritual death, which I can't comprehend yet. But we're quick to do that with sometimes when people make poor choices, we're like, "They're spiritually dead," and they're not yet, but because of the atonement, we will be redeemed from physical death, we will be resurrected, and then we'll be redeemed from a spiritual death. And that's what the atonement does for us. It saves us from that awful monster, it covers both of them.
So what is the imagery of the monster? What does it teach us about death and hell? Why do you think he uses that word?
Well, it's unknown. It's scary. So we're fearful of something that we don't understand. When I think about death. There are moments when I have that. I can't say I'm fully ready. I've had that in my family, people who have reached older ages and they're like, "I'm settled. I'm ready." And I hope to get to that point. But I'm still fearful of it. You know? Because there's still a lot of unknowns, you know, in my mind.
Yeah. And Jacob wants us to be scared. I think what he's trying to help stir inside of us is the hope. And as scary as it is, look what Christ did for you. And that's where I want you to look in section nine. Look at all the times you see just the letter "O" you see a lot of "Oh's, oh, oh," starting out a lot of those verses. "Oh, the greatness of our God."
"Oh, the wisdom."
Keep going. Look at all the "oh's." Tell more "oh's" that you see.
"Oh, the greatness." "Oh, how great."
"Oh, the greatness."
So here's what's kind of cool. When it says "oh" in Scripture, it's an expression of "ah." Now Jacob was expressing his "ah" for all of the goodness that he is. "Oh, the greatness. Oh, the mercy Oh, the justice." He has this "ah" expression and I like that because here's what I want you to do. I want you to add your own "oh." In your own life right now, if you were to say, give an expression of "ah" for what the Savior is in your life, what would you say? "Oh," what? I'll give you mine. For sure mine is, "Oh, the tender patience of God," with me for sure. "Oh, the patience."
I could totally echo that one.
I mean, I would say, "Oh, the power that I feel that he has," because I think one of the things that I'm struggling with, or that I always struggle with is finding humility. And so I'm always in awe of the power and the need to remind myself of the greatness of something else that's not me. Does that makes sense?
I think I would say, "Oh, the forgiveness and the acceptance of who I am," just patiently waiting for me.
I think it's great for us to think about that as we drive around running errands, think about our "oh" and and say that about our Father and about the Savior Jesus Christ like, "Oh, the..."
"Oh, the love."
Yes, I like that. "Oh, the love." That's a perfect example of that. Thank you for sharing your "oh's." Because I think that's a powerful concept for us to add to our daily lives, just a daily "oh." Jacob does that and he talks about the greatness of God and how he's provided redemption from our fallen condition. And we talked about this that he would have just said, "Oh, don't worry, the monster, you're fine." He doesn't. And then what he does is he kind of gives us this, what we like to call as consequences and choices, like Jacob is a perfect parenting moment in the next chapter because he does this love and logic with us and we don't even realize it. So we're going to look at Jacob's use of that consequence of choices and how they apply in our lives.
Segment 6 47:42
Erin, you can totally appreciate this because when I was single and older...
What do you have to say?
I just have to say when I was single, I was the best mom ever. Right?
Oh yeah, 100%.
We're the best moms to ever exist. Like I remember truly one time I saw this woman at Fred Meyer and her kid was having a complete meltdown, a tantrum because she wouldn't buy him a sucker. And I was watching this go down, and I really in my mind, I'm like, "Oh, that poor mom. She just needs love and logic, consequences and choices. If she just gave that kid consequences of choices. He wouldn't be having this meltdown."
Yeah, totally. That's probably me and my kids.
I mean, it's hard to raise human beings.
I think I called you a couple years ago, and I was like, "Tammy, what do I do? My kids are just wild. I don't know what to do with them right. What do I do?" And you're like, "Shar, you're the adult. You can do this." Like, "Oh yeah, I'm the adult."
I did tell you that. You're in charge. Because a lady told that to me one time. Because my kid was having a fit. She's crying cause I told her to get out of the pool. And I was like, "Oh, okay." And the teacher goes, "Hey, little girl, what's your name?" It was her first swim lesson. And she's like, "My name is Sophia," and the teacher goes, "You will not bully your mom with your tears. Do you understand me? When your mom says get out of the pool. Get out. You're not in charge, your mom is," as I was like, "Well, I'll be."
You're like, "Um, I'm in charge, sweetie, get out of the pool."
That was the best thing ever. I've used that line so many times. I'm like, "You're not in charge, don't bully me with your tears. Get out of the pool." I mean, it's the best. Okay, Jacob doesn't really do that here. I mean, truly the consequences of choices works. It's kind of a divine principle because Jacob uses that. And the Lord uses that with us, doesn't he? If you do this, then you get this. It's a classic parenting one on one from our Heavenly Father. We're going to go to some beautiful softening words from Jacob as a father and read in second Nephi chapter 10 verse 20. So let's just start there in verse 20. Shar, hit that.
"And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an disle of the sea." That is so beautiful.
Yeah, tell me why.
I love that "don't hang down your heads, you're not cast off." It's like, "Yeah, we can tell we're in this place where we don't feel our best."
It's not so bad. Sure. It didn't turn out like you thought it would. But guess what, it's even better.
Yeah, I love that. We are in a better place, you were taken out of the place that you thought was your best place. Now you're in a better place.
And the Lord is saying that to us. Like, "Don't worry, don't hang down your heads." Turn the page or go to second Nephi chapter 10. And we're going to read aloud verses 23 through 25, and Erin, will you read those out loud for us?
"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life..."
Pause. Okay, where's the consequence of choice there? What do we got?
You're free to choose. It's up to you. You can have eternal life or eternal whatever. What is it called?
Eternal everlasting death.
Everlasting. Let's get that right.
Yeah, I like that. You can do whatever you want.
Yeah, you can do it either way.
Yeah, "I'm gonna tell you what to do." Classic parenting.
You are free to choose.
That works every time when I'm like, "Listen, I'm not gonna tell you what to do. You can either have this or this?"
Yeah, he does that but I like how he starts out that verse. What does he say first? Before even giving us the choices?
"Cheer up your hearts."
Like when you read those words. What do you think?
He's just saying, you know, "Be of good cheer." Like, "Okay, you're gonna be okay, hang in there." That's what I feel like. Just, "hang in there, you're gonna be okay." But you have this choice to make.
And I will say that really understanding the concept of freedom and how it relates to our spiritual happiness, like has cheered me, because everything's a choice. I'm not being acted upon, I'm acting upon it. So if I feel acted upon, that's just me choosing to be, you know what I'm saying? There's something that is incredibly empowering about our faith. When we realize and when we really own the fact that we are choosing to follow the commandments, or to not follow, that's my choice. I'm choosing either way.
And God's gonna let you. He loves agency.
And it's interesting because you can't not choose.
You're choosing one way or another.
One way or the other whether you feel like you're just sitting there being idle, you're not. It's the absence of choosing as a choice. I love that.
It's interesting how, either way, there's a choice, you can't not not make a choice. Okay, keep reading 24 and 25.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen."
What does that mean? "Reconcile yourselves to the will of God." I mean, it seems like a lot. What does that mean?
Well, when I hear the word "reconcile," I wish I had a dictionary in my head, but it's to make peace with something.
That seems right.
Okay, so I looked up the word, and I think this is pretty cool. The word "reconcile" means, "to restore friendly relations between," Now think about that. "Reconcile yourself to the will of God, that ye are reconciled unto God," in verse 24, "...after ye are reconciled unto God," after you've made friendly relations with him, like you've come back. Oh, that's good. That changes the way I view that verse.
Instead of reconciling yourself to the will of the devil, is what it says.
I find that fascinating, we never talk about the fact that there are times when we are just becoming comfortable...
Or friendly. We don't even think about, we only think about it in terms of God and yet we're always taking action. I mean, that references what we talked about before, is that we're always taking action, we're always choosing, and there are times...
And we are becoming friendly with the will of the devil.
That changes things for me. Like the idea of becoming friendly with Satan. I would say, "Oh, I would never do that. I would never choose that but of course I do all the time. All the time, I'm trying to be friends with him."
Yeah, we're just becoming like little tiny micro choices we're becoming more and more comfortable with his will. Which is awesome and terrifying, terrifying monster if you will.
Those positive habits are going to make you who you are or those negative habits are going to make you you. It goes both ways.
I'm so glad you asked what that word meant.
That's good stuff. Okay, I'm gonna have this quote because I did find this quote by Neal A. Maxwell. And I think this is pretty great. It's a little bit long but bear with us, it's worth listening to and it will also be in our show notes. But Shar, will you read this quote by him about agency and sharing up our heart?
Yeah, I have a really good Maxwell voice. So here it goes.
"Much sifting will occur because of lapses in righteous behavior, which go unrepented of. A few will give up instead of holding out to the end. A few will be deceived by defectors. Likewise, others will be offended. For sufficient unto each dispensation are the stumbling blocks thereof. A few will stumble because in their preoccupation with the cares of the world, they do not have oil in their lamps. And again and again, those who refuse to eat, their spiritual spinach, will come off second when they wrestle with the world. Some because of the scorn of the world will grow ashamed and let go of the iron rod. A few who have not been saints, but merely tourists passing through will depart from the path. A few, failing to be of good cheer will even charge God foolishly. Surely brothers and sisters, already too many church members have broken hearts and broken homes because of broken covenants and broken promises. Society's increasing slide toward pleasure seeking brings our so called civilization comparatively closer to Sodom, then to Eden. And in these days being of good cheer is part of being valiant in the testimony of Jesus."
What stood out to you? There are so many things in there, well I mean of course I giggled with the spiritual spinach, loved that, but what else?
It reminds me a little bit of the Lehi's Tree of Life vision, like the groups of people and what people are doing and you know how some are going this way and some are shamed and some are worried about what the world's doing.
Read that broken part again.
"Broken hearts and broken houses?"
"Surely brothers and sisters, already too many church members have broken hearts and broken homes because of broken covenants and broken promises."
It goes back to that idea of being married to Christ, and caring more about that relationship than the festivities all around us.
So I also thought the end was really interesting. Where he says, "In these days, being of good cheer is part of being valient in the testimony of Jesus." And I don't know that I think about it that way. I feel like it's important to say I don't think it means just slap a happy face on yourself, or like to feel like you need to always be happy. Always be cheerful. Nothing bad ever happens cause we all know that's false and fake. But what does real cheer in the Gospel mean? And it's just hope, right? I mean, ultimately?
Yeah. And Jacob says, "cheer up your hearts."
"Lift up, look up," yeah.
Remember that you're free to choose. Like, that's awesome.
Yeah, I think so. Let's end by going to Doctrine and Covenants section 78, verse 18. And I will read that it says, "And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours." That just goes right with what you're saying, Erin.
And when he says "you cannot bear all things now," I think that's, "Boy, ain't that the truth."
It's a lot.
But just everything is yours, if you just come back to him. Come back to your covenants, come back to accepting mercy and grace in your life and he's there. He has not forsaken you. He's not giving you a bill of divorcement. How you feel now? Do you feel like you're Isaiah scholars?
A little bit.
Do you feel a little better, I should say.
I'm really hoping this is the lesson I get to teach Sunday School. I feel super prepared now.
I do too because you are prepared. So I want to ask you this. What was your big takeaway? Like what's the one thing you're gonna remember from this lesson? Or if you were to go out of here and tell someone what you just did? What would you teach them?
There's a couple parts that I really loved. But one was totally how the word atonement means "cover." I love that and thinking about that in my life and thinking about how he covers us. I love that.
Learning that now, the meaning of that, do you think that will change the way you teach it or view it or anything? How does that affect you?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, it helps me in my daily life. But I think also teaching my kids. You know, "Atonement doesn't mean this act or this event that happened, but somebody's always there for you." I mean, that means that to me now, and I want to teach my kids that.
And when they sin to go, "It's okay. It's covered. The atonement covers that."
Erin, what about you?
I think my takeaway is slightly different, but related. It's the idea of his arm being long enough. I think there are times when I think, I don't know that God has any care over this specific thing that I really want, or I really need or like, I feel a little like the people saying, "Where have you been? I've been hanging out, where have you been?" You know? And so it's just a reminder to me like God never left. I don't have my bill of divorcement, you know, I mean, I really don't, and his hand is long enough for me.
Wonderful. I love that. The idea of that, that his hand is long enough to cover me. That's good, Erin. My takeaway for me was when you asked what the word "reconciled" mean, like that was to have a friendly relationship with to think of coming back into God's graces as a friend. There's a scripture that I love that says, "Abraham was a friend of God." And every time I reviewed that I'm like, "How do I become that?" Like, "How, do I have to almost sacrifice my son to be his friend?" But you don't, and I just think to be reconciled to him and not Satan. Like I will teach it that way. Yeah, that was my takeaway. I like that. I'm so glad you asked that question. See how important is to ask questions. People need to ask more questions. That was great. Well, thank you.
I love you guys. I'm glad you're my friend.
Oh, you're welcome. I'll do you a solid Shar, and be your friend.
That was such a great time. For those of you listening, I want to know what your takeaway was. I'd really like for you to share what you learned throughout this week as you studied the scriptures. Now if you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook or Instagram, go ahead and follow us because we really want you to join us. It's a great place to ask questions like we talked about. And I will actually answer some of those, which is kind of fun. So at the end of every week, we are going to post, "What was your takeaway?" And I read all of them and I love to see what you're learning and you can get both of those on our Facebook and our Instagram by going to show notes for this episode on LDS living.com/SundayonMonday, and it's not a bad idea to go there anyway, because that's where we have all the links to the references and the transcript of this entire discussion so you can find all the quotes we used and scripture references.
The Sunday 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 Sharmaine Howell and Erin Hallstrom. 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 and we'll see you next week. And remember, you're God's favorite.