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Just the commandments

According to the Moses account of the creation, at the time the commandment was given to “not eat of” the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the woman had not been created.  (Moses 3: 15-17.)  It was after giving Adam this commandment that the woman was created.  (Moses 3: 21-23.)
 
Eve’s knowledge of the commandment came from Adam, not from God. 

God’s commandment to Adam was: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”  The restriction placed on Adam was to “NOT EAT” of the fruit of that tree.

 
Adam’s explanation to Eve was different.  Eve explained her understanding to the serpent when the serpent tempted her: “God hath said–Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”  (Moses 4: 9.)  Eve’s understanding of the commandment varied from what had been given to Adam by the addition of the words: “NEITHER SHALL YE TOUCH OF IT.”
 
Adam added to the Lord’s commandment.  This additional precaution was the error which set the transgression in motion.  For when Eve saw the serpent touching the fruit and not dying, it lent credibility to the assertion that “ye shall not surely die.”  (Moses 4: 10.)  Being innocent, and therefore vulnerable to deception, Eve could not know she was confronting a lie.  Instead she saw with her own eyes that the commandment “not to touch” clearly did not result in death. 
 
One of the great lessons of the Moses account is that adding to the commandments of God, no matter how well intentioned, is going to lead to error if not tragedy.  We do as He asks.  Without adding to, nor subtracting from what He has bid us to do, we should follow what we are asked by Him.
 
We cannot improve on His commandments.  We cannot build a fence around His commandments by adding other precautions, gestures, supplements, or restrictions.  When we do that we produce excess, rigidity, unintended consequences and error.  We teach for doctrines the commandments of men.  Inevitably leading to a form of godliness without any power.  It’s an historic path to failure, diminishing power in the priesthood until it is gone altogether.  Detracting from our spiritual as well as physical health.  Removing our strength.  Corrupting our posterity, as they are distracted from what they should receive as they seek for what they cannot attain by “some other way.”
 
I rather like Moses’ account.

Pollutions

The great latter day “pollutions” referred to by Mormon in Mormon 8: 31 are the behaviors of men; not environmental waste.  Mormon identifies what those “pollutions” are:  “murders, and robbing, and lying,  and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations.” 
 
Those are harsh indictments.  But it becomes even more harsh when Mormon identifies US as the culprits.  He calls us “pollutions.”  He tells us we have polluted the “holy Church of God.”  That can only mean the Restored Church.  Sobering indeed.
 
“O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God?”  (Mormon 8: 38.)  Remember that Mormon saw us.  Jesus Christ showed Mormon US. He was in a unique position to accurately tell us what ails us. (Mormon 8: 35.)
 
So why do we think ourselves in good spiritual condition?  Why are we confident we aren’t condemned by the Lord?  Why do we presume that as Latter-day Saints we are safe.  Why do we think Mormon is talking to all those other churches; churches who will never read his book, and therefore cannot be warned by it?  It defies common sense, really.
 
We are in a lot of trouble.  He’s trying to help us.  How foolish to think we can line up beside him and point the finger away from ourselves.  He won’t let us do that, you know.  He’s pointing the finger right at us.

General Conference

April General Conference is upon us.  I’m hoping to be able to see or hear some of it while at an out-of-state baseball tournament set for this weekend.  
 
We have a tradition of attending General Priesthood meeting at the BYU Marriott Center.  I’m worried that I won’t be back in time for that session.  I always like to attend with a larger group, and since you don’t need tickets to attend at BYU, I like going there.  All my sons grew up with this tradition. 
 
If you’re in Utah County or Salt Lake County, I recommend it.  Outside of the Conference Center itself, I think it is the largest single body of priesthood attending that session of conference.
 

The Lamb and the Lion

There is only one place in scripture where the Lord is identified as both the “Lamb” and the “Lion” in successive verses.  You can find it in Revelation 5: 5-6.  In verse 5 He is referred to as “the Lion of the tribe of Juda.”  In verse 6 He is called “a Lamb as it had been slain.”

The moment when the “Lamb” and the “Lion” lay down together is the time of His great return.  He is both.  A Lamb to those who are prepared at His coming.  A Lion to those who are not prepared, for whom judgment will be poured out.

When you see that painting of the Lamb and Lion lying down together (we have one in our Stake Center), you are seeing the two great symbols of the Lord’s Millennial reign.

The Lamb and the Lion

There is only one place in scripture where the Lord is identified as both the “Lamb” and the “Lion” in successive verses.  You can find it in Revelation 5: 5-6.  In verse 5 He is referred to as “the Lion of the tribe of Juda.”  In verse 6 He is called “a Lamb as it had been slain.”

The moment when the “Lamb” and the “Lion” lay down together is the time of His great return.  He is both.  A Lamb to those who are prepared at His coming.  A Lion to those who are not prepared, for whom judgment will be poured out.

When you see that painting of the Lamb and Lion lying down together (we have one in our Stake Center), you are seeing the two great symbols of the Lord’s Millennial reign.

The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl

When I was in 9th grade the teacher asked me to read a short story aloud to the class while she went to the office.  She asked that I do it because the class would likely listen if I were the reader, but if I were not then they would be out of control.  Mostly because I was not a good listener at that age.

In any event, I read the story aloud. Despite the intervening years I still recall the thing.  It was by Ray Bradbury and was titled The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl.  The character in the story killed someone, and was cleaning up fingerprints from the murder scene.  The cleaning went on as the story was narrated, and at some point it became apparent that the character had gone insane.
The story ended with the police coming and finding the person still there cleaning up fingerprints. The cleaning included the fruit at the bottom of the bowl.  Fruit that had never been touched.  The character was simply mad.
I think of that phrase whenever I see something completely mad.  Particularly when I see behavior which is inexplicable.  I’ve had a few “fruit at the bottom of the bowl” moments while on the High Council.  I try not to have them while at home.
It just isn’t necessary (or possible) to micro-manage your children’s lives.  Nor is it wise to try to micro-manage millions of other people’s lives.  Whether as a parent, as a government leader, business leader, or as a church leader, Joseph Smith’s advice is still timely.  He said the way he managed the church was to “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.”  I’d like to see a return to that.  In all parts of daily life.

“dried up with thirst”

Isaiah prophesied about the effect of losing knowledge about God.  He wrote: “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.”  (Isa. 5: 13.)
 
This is an apt description of people when they are not “fed” with truth and light. 
 
In contrast, Nephi wanted the Latter-day followers of Christ to have a “feast” to consume while toiling in this fallen, difficult time.  But Nephi notes the “feast” will come to us from hearing the words of “angels” and not from the “arm of flesh.”  Nephi taught us: “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.”  (2 Ne. 32: 3.)
 
Whether we are to “feast” or be “famished” is up to us.  Seek, ask, knock: it will be opened.  Stay content, do not ask, seek, or knock: you will remain dried up with thirst.

God of Truth

I was asked about the meaning of the statement in scripture that “God cannot lie.”  It is an important concept and it has a highly specific application.  I have dealt with it at length in the book Beloved Enos.  I would suggest reading the discussion there. If there are still questions, send me another inquiry.

Cycles

I’ve been impressed with Isaiah the last few weeks.  His words are timeless.  He describes patterns which recur whenever people seek to follow God.  It is little wonder Nephi chose to adopt many of Isaiah’s words to describe what he (Nephi) had seen in vision.

I’m struck by how often one prophet will adopt the words of another prophet as his own.  One of the great moments in scripture is when Jacob has his people come up to the temple, promising to give them a prophecy.  When they arrive, he reads them the words of Zenos, found in Jacob Chapter 5.  Then, after this long recitation of Zenos’ words by Jacob, he adds the following:
 

“As I said unto you that I would prophesy, behold, this is my prophecy– that the things which this prophet Zenos spake, concerning the house of Israel, in the which he likened them unto an unto a tame olive tree, must surely come to pass.”  (Jacob 6: 1.)  That’s it.  His great prophecy:  What Zenos said will happen!
I like that.  Succinct.  No messing around.  Just telling these folks that this prophecy he read from another prophet was from God.  
It’s a profound message.  We endlessly lose light.  Then assignments come to prophets to bring back a little (or a lot) of it, and they restore again.  We’ve been in the process of restoring truth since Adam.  This is because we have also been in the process of discarding truth since Adam.  It’s a race between the discarding and the restoring.  Mostly discarding seems to win.