2019 Study Summary 1: “We Are Responsible for Our Own Learning”How to Recognize the Truth in the Holy Lands:
The 2019 New Testament study material has numerous Christian traditions to consider. Most traditional Holy Land sites significant to Jesus’ life were established hundreds of years after his mortal mission. Let me reiterate that there are four considerations which have helped me ascertain the truth as I guide thousands through Israel. They are (1) archaeology, (2) written accounts (especially scriptures), (3) traditions (especially names of places) and (4) the spirit that God gives confirming the truth.Old and New Covenant:
The New Testament, mostly refers to the account of the thirty-three-year life of Jesus. It provides some valuable information about his life, describes a short period following his life, and explains what his followers did. In the Greek language (the language of the New Testament’s first canonized presentation), the word “testament” means “covenant.”Purpose of Metaphors and Patterns:
We can learn more by recognizing the use of a chiasmus with its center point – illuminating God’s gift of Jesus’ life and atonement. The young prophet Nephi gave us a substantial key to understanding the scriptures. Note how subtly he teaches us through a ‘chiasmas’ (an order of words listed in one direction to a center thought and then listed in the other direction in reverse order).1. learning of my father
2. highly favored of the Lord
2. knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God
1. learning of the Jews
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. (1 Nephi 1:1-2)
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The center point of his instruction is the gift he acknowledges, the knowledge of mysteries. A synonym for mysteries is the “subtle understanding” of God’s word. This understanding is available through the Gift of the Holy Ghost. “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19) The center point is sandwiched by “learning of my father” and “learning of the Jews.”What Really Counts:
As you study and ponder, look for the meanings that really count. For example, using the common Gregorian calendar, Jesus lived approximately 12,053 days (33 full years X 365 days + 8 leap-years). Yet the New Testament only documents a record of 31 days of His life.
Wayne Brickey, at an Education Week lecture at BYU, taught that in Jesus’ first thirty years, just eighteen events were reported in the New Testament. In the next year, another eighteen events were reported. In the following year, another twenty-seven events were reported. In Jesus’ last year, over one-hundred-fifty events were reported; however, seventy-five of them occurred in the last six days of his life. What really counts is the atonement, and the verses that lead to a better understanding of it.The Value of Words:
Gospel writers had different approaches to describing Jesus’ life. John’s purpose is to explain WHAT He is and begins by describing Him as the WORD. To the Jews, the scriptures, the words of God, are so special they must never touch the ground. Many use a pointer to read the words rather than touch the scrolls with their fingers. The scroll cabinet, the “Ark,” is said to contain the “presence of God,” meaning the word of God.
Connecting us to the truthful symbols of the Old Covenant, John links almost everything Jesus does to a Biblical holiday. He mentions Passover, Pentecost, Sukkoth/Yom Kippur (Feast of Tabernacles) and even a non-biblical holiday of Hanukkah (Feast of [Temple] Dedication).Valuable Quotes:
Old testament prophets are often quoted in the New Testament. Moses is mentioned more than any other Old Testament figure, although Isaiah is quoted most often. A comparison of some of the key words that both John and Isaiah use can deepen our understanding of the Savior’s mission, Light . . . Water . . . Life . . . Lamb . . . Bread . . . Darkness . . .Spirit is the Key:
The key to recognizing the Messiah and the true meaning of his life and those who testified of Him is the SPIRIT. The word for spirit in Hebrew is Ruach Elohim, the breath – the wind of God. “And Moses said unto him . . . Would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29)
Remember, there are some people who do not have that gift yet, and those that do must exercise patience and love because eventually more people will get that gift and be very happy. The gift of belief comes from God.