2020 Study Summary 43: I Speak Unto You As If Ye Were Present
“I Speak Unto You As If Ye Were Present”
Mormon invites the Lamanites of the latter days to believe in Christ, accept his gospel, and be saved—All who believe the Bible will also believe the Book of Mormon. [About A.D. 385]
The Lamanites seek out and destroy the Nephites—The Book of Mormon shall come forth by the power of God—Woes pronounced upon those who breathe out wrath and strife against the work of the Lord—The Nephite record shall come forth in a day of wickedness, degeneracy, and apostasy. [Between A.D. 400 and 421]
Moroni calls upon those who do not believe in Christ to repent—He proclaims a God of miracles, who gives revelations and pours out gifts and signs upon the faithful—Miracles cease because of unbelief—Signs follow those who believe—Men are exhorted to be wise and keep the commandments. [Between A.D. 400 and 421]
Who are we, and what restores our identity if we have lost it?
One of the first things necessary to living a good life is to have an identity. Mormon reminds us to understand our identity as a part of the House of Israel. We are a chosen family who represents God to all others on this globe. In order to do so, we must constantly turn toward him. Again, the Hebrew word “to turn” also means to repent. Repentance brings us back to the presence of the Father in Heaven. His firstborn son has provided us a spiritual atonement – providing we repent. He has also provided a physical atonement, the resurrection – even if we do not repent.
How does ‘going back’ bring us forward?
The heavenly closeness we achieve through true repentance will unlock memories of what we knew before our mortality. It brings us closer to our earthly forefathers in understanding their teachings and examples. Again, it brings us to a closer sense of identity and connection with our Heavenly Father. Moroni deposits the records of his father so that later generations can make a family connection that can inspire a closer bond with God. He also counsels us to read and search the words of the Israelite prophet, Isaiah. “It should be remembered, too, in this connection, that the Book of Isaiah’s prophecies carried by the colony of Lehi into the Western hemisphere with them became a powerful influence among the Nephite writers. His book is quoted from more extensively than any other book of the Jewish scriptures possessed by the Nephites; and that because of the plainness with which Isaiah spoke of the coming and mission of Messiah. The first Nephi, commenting upon Isaiah and the esteem in which he held his writing, said: “And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken [apply] his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother Jacob also has seen him as I have seen him, wherefore I will send their words forth unto my children, to prove unto them that my words are true.” (2 Nephi 11:2-3) “Small wonder then if a prophet held in such large esteem, as was Isaiah, and so extensively quoted, influenced prophetic Nephite literature, and led to the habit of writing prophecies referring to the Christ in the language of accomplished fact.” (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.3, p.447)
What ancient prophet is quoted more abundantly?
“Fully one-third of the writings of Isaiah are found in the Book of Mormon, making Isaiah the most frequently quoted biblical book there. Twenty-two of the sixty-six chapters of Isaiah are quoted in whole or in part in the Book of Mormon (a total of 433 of Isaiah’s 1,292 verses). Book of Mormon prophets and writers typically selected those chapters highlighting God’s covenant relationships and his promises to Israel, the role and calling of the messiah, and prophecies concerning the last days. These themes are prevalent in contemporary LDS theology as well (A of F 3, 4, 9, 10).” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, BIBLE)
How did Isaiah prophecy over the entire House of Israel?
Notice the parallels that Mormon and Moroni make about their people to what Isaiah says of his people. A summary of the first chapter of Isaiah by the venerable Hugh Nibley is added for your convenience. “The quickest way to get an overview of the immense book of Isaiah is simply to read the first chapter. Scholars have long held that this is not part of the original book but a summary by a disciple. If so, that makes it nonetheless valuable, and indeed it is remarkable that this, the most famous chapter of Isaiah, is never quoted in the Book of Mormon. Let’s take it verse by verse.”
How can we lose our identity?
In our present age of wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and pollution we see an immense thievery of time, talent and temporal goods. In this season of robbers we find that wickedness and wars are greatly motivated by money. At an eternal cost as we lose our identity, our covenants evaporate in smoke. “And he that shall breathe out wrath and strifes against the work of the Lord, and against the covenant people of the Lord who are the house of Israel, and shall say: We will destroy the work of the Lord, and the Lord will not remember his covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel–the same is in danger to be hewn down and cast into the fire;” (Mormon 8:21)
Do you believe in miracles?
Yet, Moroni foresees miracles. There will be some who rise above the world and bring the miracles of heaven in their homes and their lives. The Jewish concept of miracles connects them with God. Yet, even they begin to “apologize” for the heavenly insinuation and consider miracles a part of life. Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Defence Minister in 1967 and a self-proclaimed atheist, famously said at the time, “Yesterday I was not a religious man, and tomorrow I will not be, but today I cannot but say that we have witnessed miracles.” (https://www.thejc.com/judaism/features/the-reunification-of-jerusalem-is-a-miracle-worth-celebrating-1.437202) I’ve often heard that Dayan once was asked, “Do you believe in miracles?” He answered, “No, I just count on them!”
How can I explain a miracle?
“Extraordinary phenomena that seem to fall outside the pattern of normal, explainable occurrences are frequently referred to in English as miracles. In the Bible, such events are termed otot or moftim (‘wondrous signs’), and in the talmudic literature as nisim (‘heralds’). The terms point to the fact that both for the Bible and for the rabbis, miraculous events were caused by God and served as clear indicators of His controlling power in the universe. When the Red Sea parted to enable the Israelites to flee from the Egyptian armies that were pursuing them, and when the ‘sun stood still’ at Gibeon to enable Joshua to be victorious in his battle with the Canaanites, miracles occurred; at a critical moment in human history, God altered the normal workings of physical phenomena (the sea, the sun), and by doing so, revealed His providential relationship to the people of Israel. Later thinkers, for whom ‘the natural order’ had an existence independent of God, were troubled by the question whether biblical miracles were ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural,’ but the Bible makes no such distinction and never questions God’s ability to do anything, by any means.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How are miracles acceptable?
“The rabbis of the Talmud unquestionably accepted the biblical miracles as related, but they were troubled by the fact that they seemed to imply a lack of perfection in the very act of Creation. They solved this theological problem by postulating that miracles were, so to speak, provided for already at the time of creation. Thus, although they were ‘extraordinary’ they were still manifestations of the natural order. Many rabbis reversed this perspective and emphasized that the very regularity and harmony of the natural world were in fact ‘miraculous.’ It is this thought which is vocalized in the thanksgiving prayer which is part of the daily Amidah: ‘We thank You for Your miracles which are daily with us, and for Your wonders and benefits, which are wrought at all times, evening, morning and night.’” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What do some say about “miracles have ceased?”
“The rabbis rejected, however, the belief in ‘miracle performers’ as bearers of religious truth. Once the Torah had been revealed to man, it was no longer ‘in heaven.’ It could not be altered by extraordinary means, but only by a natural process of development which was purely in the hands of ordinary human beings. And although the rabbis emphasized the miraculous aspect of the story of Hanukkah, they generally believed that by their time the age of miracles had ceased, since only in biblical times were people ‘willing to sacrifice themselves for the sanctification of the Name of God.’” “In the Middle Ages, the biblical miracles posed a great problem for Jewish philosophers. They could not be explained in terms of contemporary science and they flew in the face of the philosophers’ strong belief in the existence of an unchanging order to the universe. As a solution, many of the medieval philosophers adopted the Talmudic position outlined above which attempted to ‘naturalize’ the miracles by seeing them as having been woven into the order of nature from the very beginning; their miraculous nature stemmed from the fact that they were expressed at the key moment in history when they were most needed.” “In modern times, some people have attempted to offer scientific explanations for several of the biblical miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea. Others have ‘relativized’ them by viewing them as natural occurrences which were recorded as if extraordinary and supernatural, because of the crucial role they played at the particular time.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
Who is my greatest miracle?
Moroni, Mormon’s son, concludes his testimony with a humble apology of his earthly limitations, yet that Man of God knows who he is, his identity is clear. He calls us to repent and accept the Miracle of the Son of God.