Archive | August, 2014

Beat Their Swords Into Plowshares

31 Aug

Recently I have been thinking a great deal on the many prophecies that have been given and recorded in the scriptures; particularly those that deal with the last days. So I have decided to write some short posts addressing a few of these prophecies. Some have been fulfilled, some are in the process of being fulfilled, and some we are still waiting to see. I will draw from all the standard works, and in each post I will address only one prophesy.

 Micah 4: 3-7

In my last blog I spoke concerning the rather famous prophecy of the Mountain of the Lord’s House. In that blog I said I would later address other portions of the same chapter (Isaiah 2). I also noted that the same prophecy was repeated in 2 Nephi 12 and Micah 4. The same is true of what is stated next, which is also a famous prophecy. I give it here.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2: 4-5)

In Nephi we get a little added on at the end.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks—nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways. (2 Nephi 12: 4-5)

However, Micah gives us a much greater prophecy, giving details that many miss. Isaiah and Nephi are more famous prophets, but in this case I want to turn to what Micah says, for there are things here that I think few people have noticed.

And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. (Micah 3-7)

 Nephi adds only a statement concerning the wickedness of the house of Jacob, which had gone astray. Other than that it is the same as Isaiah. What these two contain is only the very first verse of what Micah tells us, however. Verses 4-7 are entirely new and contain a great amount of information. These verses speak directly of the Millennial age and what life is going to be like after Christ returns. So let us look at all of it.

Swords and Spears to plowshares and pruning hooks: This is a prophecy of the ending of all war. All three of these chapters contain this prophecy, and say directly that no one will learn war, let alone fight one.

Sit every man under his vine…none shall make afraid: Not only will there not be no more war, but every man, or every family will have what they need. All men will be provided for, without fear of loosing it.

Walk every one in the name of his god: This is what most people do not realize. When Christ returns he will not wipe out everyone who is not a Christian, or who is not a Mormon. Nor will it be that every other religion will be destroyed and everyone will instantly embrace the gospel. Rather, when Christ returns all will live in peace to pursue their own beliefs, for, as Micah says here, “all people will walk everyone in the name of his god, and we (meaning the saints or the faithful) will walk in the name of the Lord our God.” All religions will still exist after Christ returns. That is the reason for the last part of this prophecy.

I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out: The great work of the missionaries and the gathering of Israel will continue into the Millennium. Those who were cast out and afflicted will become strong in the gospel and live under the rule of Christ.

Let us not think that the second coming is the end of all hardship and toil. Let us not look to that day with the expectation that all will be instantly converted and the world will be one big community. The work of conversion and teaching will continue, for all men will still have their agency and many will still choose to follow the beliefs and religions they cling to now. We will simply live without war, and will all that we need to be happy and healthy, but we will still be doing the Lord’s work.

The Mountain of the Lord’s House

25 Aug

Recently I have been thinking a great deal on the many prophecies that have been given and recorded in the scriptures; particularly those that deal with the last days. So I have decided to write some short posts addressing a few of these prophecies. Some have been fulfilled, some are in the process of being fulfilled, and some we are still waiting to see. I will draw from all the standard works, and in each post I will address only one prophesy.

ISAIAH 2: 2-3

Isaiah chapter two is a lengthy prophecy dealing with many aspects of the last days. For this I will be focusing on just verses 2-3. This is a fairly well known prophecy among members of the church, but I wonder how many people have looked at it in depth, and so this is my intent at this time. The actual text is as follows.

And  it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

This prophecy is actually restated two more times in the scriptures, both with almost the exact same wording. The first is in Micah chapter four, verses 1-2, and the second in second Nephi chapter twelve, verses 2-3. Actually, both of these chapters are really just restating the same prophecy of Isaiah. Each gives a few unique details (which I will discuss in other posts), but it appears to be essentially the same. Here are the text of these two chapters in regards to this prophecy.

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Micah 4: 1-2)

and…

And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (2 Nephi 12: 2-3)

There are only minor difference between the three, and those amount to style and not meaning, so I do not feel the need to do a comparison of them. Let us rather just look at the various elements that this prophecy contains. I am sure most members, and many non-members are familiar with what is taught concerning this prophecy. So, I will deal with that at the end. Let us first consider the basic meaning without reference to any particular religion or denomination. There are several aspects to this prophecy. Let us consider each in turn.

  1. The Last Days: It is commonly understood that the last days are our day, and there is no reason it should mean anything else here.
  2. The Lord’s House: Most commonly the Bible refers to the temple as the Lord’s house, or the house of the Lord. However, the term can also refer to the family of a person, or, in the case of the Lord, the church and gospel.
  3. The Mountain of the Lord’s House: In the scriptures mountains are frequently associated with that which is holy. Prophets are taken to mountains to have visions; before the temple was build sacrifices were usually done on mountains (i.e. Abraham and Isaac); Solomon built the temple on a mountain. So, here Isaiah is indicating the holiest aspect of the Lord’s house.
  4. Shall be Established: To establish something means to found, or institute, or bring into being on a firm or stable basis. So, in the last days (not the days of Christ) the church of God would be established. If it is to be established at that time, than previous to that time it was not established (or was, but was later lost). So, for a period of time before this the church of God did not exist on the Earth.
  5. In the Top of the Mountains: Since the term mountain has already been used as a metaphor, to do so again (especially with a different meaning) would be confusing. As such it is apparent that this reference is literal in its meaning; the prophecy will occur among the peaks of a mountain range.
  6. Exalted Above the Hills: With the term exalted we are drawn back to the metaphor of holiness. The hills take on a comparable meaning to the Mountain of the Lord’s house.
  7. All Nations Shall Flow Unto It: Again, this seems to be very literal in meaning; all nations, or people of all nations will seek out the Lord’s house.
  8. House of the God of Jacob: See ‘Lord’s House’ above.
  9. He Will Teach Us…in his paths: It is at the Lord’s house that the people will learn truth and become able to walk after the Lord.
  10. Out of Zion…From Jerusalem: This clearly separates Zion and Jerusalem into two different and distinct places, both of which are centers for learning the gospels.

So, what do we have in this prophecy? In the last days God will establish His Gospel (the mountain) and his church (the Lord’s house), and will do so in a mountain range, though which range is not specified. This church and gospel will be greater than all other churches (exalted above the hills) and will attract people of all nations who are seeking the true gospel of Christ. It will eventually have two centers, Zion and Jerusalem, from which the gospel will be dispensed to the rest of the world.

As to the fulfilling of this prophecy that many are familiar with in the church, this is also somewhat misunderstood. It is generally thought that the Mountain of the Lord’s house is the temple, and that the building of the Salt Lake Temple was in fulfillment of this. However, that is not really accurate. The temple is only part of the prophecy, and the Lord has revealed that Zion is to be in Missouri, not Utah. I do agree that the Salt Lake Temple began the fulfillment of this prophecy, but only that. It was not until the church was in Utah, in the top of the mountains, that it was truly established or on a firm foundation. Thus the church and the gospel were truly established in the top of the mountains. The building of temples worldwide is a continuation of this prophecy, as the temples are the holiest aspect of the gospel, and thus can be called the mountain of the lord’s house. But the prophecy will not be fully fulfilled until there is a temple in Zion (Independence, Missouri) and Jerusalem, and the church headquarters are established in both places.

Oppression of Women: Apology and Explanation

4 Aug
In my last post I asked the question of whether or not the church oppresses women. I asked people to voice their opinion on the subject. I also gave a link to the blog that prompted me to ask the question in the first place. Before continuing I have to apologize for putting this link in the blog, as I said I would not be doing that (if you read the about at the top left of this blog). That was a mistake, and I will not do it in the future. However, it is done, and because that blog has a great deal to do with this one I am leaving the link in .
Regarding the question of my last post, only one person that commented on my last post actually gave a direct opinion in their initial response. Another gave an opinion only when coaxed. Others chose, rather, to comment on the blog that I had cited, and generally to ridicule me in the way I expressed myself then, or in the opinions that I hold. That was not what I wanted at the time, but I allowed them to do so, and engaged them in that discussion. Not to long after a number of them simply gave up, generally ridiculing me as they did so, and stated their refusal to return and read anything else I said.
Now, my mind works very different than most people. I have always had difficulty in explaining myself unless I take sufficient time to do so. On these blogs my responses are sometimes (and more often then they should be) a reaction to previous comments rather than carefully considered responses. So, I am not always sure if people are understanding my meaning or not, and I admit that I am not always clear in my meaning. For this reason I am writing this blog to more fully explain my opinions and the things that I said, both on my last post and the blog that prompted it. I don’t know how many of those who read and posted to my last blog will read this, but it is something that I feel I need to do.
Please note that I will use the username of those that I refer to. I already made the error of linking into the other blog, and so there is no way to avoid people knowing who I am speaking of, and so for the ease of writing and following my thoughts I will use their usernames.I would like to address what Agelius said. He made the comment

“I’m just saying that all you really had is your opinion that it’s not oppressive. Since it’s an inherently subjective thing, insisting that your opinion holds ascendancy over theirs is not compelling, and more than a little rude.”

In response to this I stated my agreement and pointed out that when I made that exact same statement in the other blog I was ridiculed for it. I also stated that I never held my opinion in ascendency, though I did hold the doctrine as such. To this Agelius replied

If insisting that she only believes what she does because she was taught it’s oppression, in fulfillment of a prophecy that evil would be called good and good evil, isn’t putting your view in ascendancy over hers, then nothing is.

Quite honestly, this comment confused me, as I never made any such claim. I remembered my reference to the prophecy, but the meaning that was being attached to my words was a shock. So, I went back to the other blog and reread what I wrote, as well as what I was responding to, and I came to the conclusion that Agelius was right in making the connection that he did. My words were ambiguous at best, and the timing and manner of my post was such as to easily give rise to this understanding of my words. For this I apologize.

However, this was not my intended meaning. Let me go back to the posts that lead to my comment and I will attempt to explain what I meant at the time.

First let me point out that much of this was in reaction. Thulnar had posted for no other reason than to mock what I had said, and I replied to that out of a feeling of offense. When I defended myself against that Nigel Jack started commenting on how it was well deserved, and that did make me loose my cool a little. I had previously made the statement to Arijan that much of what she was saying was a matter of perspective, or opinion. Nigel Jack claimed this was “a lame cop-out about how it’s “all a matter of perspective,” (Which of course obviously implies that those complaining have the wrong perspective… and you’re the one who’s respectful of others, right?)” and used it as a justification for insults and mockery.

Regardless of this I did try to be polite in my comments. I am never really sure as to how well I succeed in this, and if my manners were offensive I again apologize.

In reply I tried to explain the doctrine of the church, and why I do not believe that doctrine to be oppressive. As part of that I explained the doctrine that is taught in ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ concerning the roles that men and women have been called to by God. I also voiced the following opinion.

In our modern world the role of mother and wife has been degraded, and each new generation is raised to think that being a mother is an oppressive and repressive role that is to be shunned. With such a degraded view of what is likely the most divine and truly noble role a women can fill, is it any wonder that people see anyone who believes as we do as being oppressive?

To this Nigel Jack said “I hear you, your church claims to teach gender equality, but teaching that and then barring women from holding church office, relegating women to a so-called “separate but equal” status, and so on and so forth, indicates otherwise.” It seemed fairly obvious to me that his reference to relegating women to what he obviously views as a lower status was in direct reply to my statement regarding the roles of men and women. In other words, he was at least to my understanding, clearly stating that our doctrine that women are to be mothers and men fathers was inherently oppressive to women.

In response to this I made the statement that Agelius refer to. I quoted Isaiah where he prophesied a time when good would be called evil and evil good. I stated that this is what was happening today. However, I did not clarify this, and I stated it as a fact, rather than an opinion. This makes my words useless and damaging to me, the church, and anyone who reads them. For that I am also sorry. However, I am not sorry for the opinions that I stated, only for the manner in which they were expressed and what voicing them in that way and at that time caused.

But let me explain what I meant in this. If you follow the comments as I have outlined you may understand this. I made this comment concerning those who think that motherhood and the promotion of it are inherently oppressive to women, which is the concept that I say in Nigel Jack’s words. To me anyone who degrades motherhood and the work of a housewife or homemaker is calling something beautiful and divine evil, and thus is fulfilling this prophecy. That I do believe. I also believe that over the past several decades our society has experienced a mental and spiritual shift, which has resulted in a cultural degrading of motherhood and a pervasive belief that anyone who thinks a woman should be a mother is oppressive in their beliefs.

Having said this, I had no intention of implying that Arijan only felt oppressed because “she was taught it’s oppression, in fulfillment of a prophecy that evil would be called good and good evil.” In fact, in the same post that I referenced Isaiah in speaking to Nigal Jack, I specifically stated to Arijan that I would make no comment concerning her personal experience, because I lack sufficient knowledge and understanding. Regarding her situation I have no doubt she was oppressed, and her feeling of oppression are perfectly justified. I have seen enough of it in my life to know that it happens, and I would never assume that those feeling originate in cultural dogma. Now, I do believe that her claim that her oppression (or her mothers) was caused by the church is misplacing the blame, and that might be influenced by the cultural dogma that I referenced in my comments to Nigel Jack.

But in speaking to Arijan I made only to points of discussion: The doctrine is not oppressive, and I do not believe the church to be oppressive though I understand why others think it is. In speaking to her I never held my opinions as greater, or being in ascendency over hers. In my comments I tried to keep our opinions on even ground, though I did and do disagree with them. This was not the case with Nigel Jack, but it was the case with Arijan. I do understand that on blogs and internet sites it is difficult to make such separations in the discussion, and so my comments were easily misunderstood and taken to be addressed to Arijan as well, and for that I am sorry. I should not have said what I did for this reason, and I again apologize.