2020 Study Summary 7: O How Great the Plan of Our God | Israel Revealed

2020 Study Summary 7: O How Great the Plan of Our God

2 Nephi 6–10

“O How Great the Plan of Our God”

Jacob recounts Jewish history: The Babylonian captivity and return; the ministry and crucifixion of the Holy One of Israel; the help received from the Gentiles; and the Jews’ latter-day restoration when they believe in the Messiah. About 559–545 B.C.

Jacob continues reading from Isaiah: Isaiah speaks messianically—The Messiah will have the tongue of the learned—He will give His back to the smiters—He will not be confounded—Compare Isaiah 50. About 559–545 B.C.

Jacob continues reading from Isaiah: In the last days, the Lord will comfort Zion and gather Israel—The redeemed will come to Zion amid great joy—Compare Isaiah 51 and 52:1–2. About 559–545 B.C.

Jacob explains that the Jews will be gathered in all their lands of promise—The Atonement ransoms man from the Fall—The bodies of the dead will come forth from the grave, and their spirits from hell and from paradise—They will be judged—The Atonement saves from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment—The righteous are to be saved in the kingdom of God—Penalties for sins are set forth—The Holy One of Israel is the keeper of the gate. About 559–545 B.C.

Jacob explains that the Jews will crucify their God—They will be scattered until they begin to believe in Him—America will be a land of liberty where no king will rule—Reconcile yourselves to God and gain salvation through His grace. About 559–545 B.C.

How can I better understand being consecrated?
In the chapters being studied, we read that Jacob is consecrated by his brother. Jesus is our Eldest Brother, He sets us apart, consecrates us to the Father and becomes our King and Protector.

How does understanding desecration help me to protect myself?
“(The word Herem in Hebrew), means banned or set apart. The term is applied in various ways: 1) Articles consecrated to God were sacred, irrevocably, and in the highest degree. They could not be redeemed or put to any other use and were forbidden, herem, to the community. 2) An idolatrous Israelite was herem. He and all his possessions were to be destroyed. The idolatrous enemy was also to be destroyed, as they were a threat to the purity of the Israelite’s faith. The intention of herem was to protect Israel against the influence of a debased way of life. ‘. . . lest they lead you into doing all the abhorrent things they have done for their gods . . .’ (Deuteronomy 20:18). During the conquest of Canaan, Joshua always issued proclamations inviting the nations to choose peace and abandon idolatry. Jericho refused and was destroyed. The Gibeonites, fearing the same fate, chose peace, gave up idolatry and became servants, the ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ for the sanctuary (see also Gibeon 3) (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)

What can the symbolism of “scattering” and “gathering” teach me?
The scattering and gathering of Israel are models of repentance and forgiveness. The contrast of Israel and the Gentiles is another model of repentance. Nowadays, to the Jews, there is a new concept of “Righteous Gentiles.” It is a beginning of the concept of being “saved” by Gentiles. “The concept of the righteous gentile (hasidei ummot ha-olam — the pious ones of the nations of the world) is first found in the Midrash. The Tosefta teaches that they are as eligible to a place in the hereafter as any member of the House of Israel. Rabbi Isaac Arama states that ‘every true pious gentile is equal to a son of Israel.’ The Zohar states that all gentiles who do not hate Israel, and who deal justly with Jews, qualify as pious ones. According to Maimonides righteous gentiles were those who observed the Noachide laws and were motivated by belief in the divine origin and authenticity of Moses’ prophecy . . .” “Migration, wandering from place to place, has been one of the major components of Jewish history, for since the time of the Patriarchs the ‘wandering Jew’ has suffered from a lack of territory, government, and defense. Major Jewish migrations in search of favorable living conditions and in flight from harassment, persecution and expulsion, include the Exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian exile, Jewish settlement outside Erez Israel during the Second Temple period, the dispersion under the Roman and Near Eastern empires after the destruction of the Second Temple. The scattering of Jews throughout the Christian and Islamic states, culminating in the expulsion from the Iberian peninsula in 1492 and their settlement in the New World since the early stages of the European colonization, a process that greatly accelerated in the latter half of the 19th century. Throughout the period of the Diaspora, small numbers of Jews made their way back to Erez Israel, the land promised them in covenant with their God.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)

How can I sense to positive nature of repentance?
Repentance in Hebrew is known as teshuvah, which literally means “return,” and signifies a return to God. “An opportunity for salvation would be given Israel by their merciful God: ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with lamentation’ (Joel 2:12). Repentance will bring forgiveness and the Lord will turn His terrible wrath on the exilers of His people and the plunderers of His Temple:” “. . . the two confessions Ashamnu and Al-Het were introduced into the prayers for the Day of Atonement which is a special occasion for repentance and forgiveness. However, even when a sinner has done all these things, his repentance is still not final until he has been exposed to the same temptation and withstood it. Of course he should not deliberately put himself on that spot again.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)

How do names of the Lord teach me about his mission?
Some of the names of the Lord and words that represent the Savior’s mission and atonement include: Deliver; (2 Nephi 6:17, 7:2), Redeem; (2 Nephi 7:2), Comfort, Comforteth: (2 Nephi 8:3, 12), Light; (2 Nephi 8:4), Judgement, Judge; (2 Nephi 8:4-5), Salvation; (2 Nephi 8:5-6).

How does “little information” mean so much?
In the New Testament we read that Jesus’ life was about 12,053 days long. Yet, there is only an account of 31 of those days. What did the writers choose to report? Maybe, much like the Book of Mormon prophets, they wrote “a hundredth part.” “And a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates; but many of their proceedings are written upon the larger plates, and their wars, and their contentions, and the reigns of their kings.” (Jacob 3:13) “Wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi; and I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people.” (Words of Mormon 1:5) “But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.” (Helaman 3:14) “And there had many things transpired which, in the eyes of some, would be great and marvelous; nevertheless, they cannot all be written in this book; yea, this book cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done among so many people in the space of twenty and five years;” (3 Nephi 5:8)

A mathematic review of the events of Jesus’ life seems to gives us a key to understanding the purpose of the scriptures, namely, teaching us the atonement. The few events that did make the record were chosen to enhance our understanding of the atonement. In the New Testament, Jesus’ 1st 30 years have 18 events. In His 1st year ministry, there are 18 events. In the 2nd year of His ministry there are 27 events. However, in Jesus’ 3rd year of ministry, 150 events are documented, 75 of them occurred in the last few days, hours and moments of His mortal life. Ponder those events for the meaning of His atonement.

How do His names become a way of explaining the atonement?
His Names

What has happened to the concept of resurrection in Judaism?
It seems to be a fading and (sometimes forgotten) principle. “Jewish theology, as opposed to Jewish philosophy, has no clear doctrine on the relationship between body and soul. Some Talmudic rabbis did not consider views on such a purely theoretical subject important; rather, they focused their interest on the practical question of the resurrection of the body, and God’s future judgment. Other sages did speculate on the subject.” “The whole subject of afterlife is not explicitly stated in the Bible and many scholars are of the opinion that belief in afterlife was adopted by Jews during the Babylonian exile after the destruction of the First Temple when they came into contact with eastern religions such as Zoroastrianism. Traditional believers claim that there are ‘hints’ to future life in the Torah, such as the verse ‘Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song’ (Exodus 15:1). The Hebrew word for ‘sang’ is in the future tense and the sages took this to mean that Moses and the Israelites will sing in the future, that is, in the world to come.” “The unity of the Jewish nation was considered an historic and spiritual concept, in addition to being a social reality. All generations of Jews (including converts to Judaism) were viewed as having been present at Mount Sinai and sharing in the responsibilities of the covenant with God. Likewise, the righteous of all generations will be reunited at the time of the resurrection of the dead during the messianic period. This concept of and shared fate is referred to often in the Talmud with the terms kelal Yisrael and keneset Yisrael.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)

What is the “Valley of Dry Bones” really teaching?
Consider how (Ezekiel: 37), teaches the concept of death, resurrection and gathering in the same stories. A powerful metaphor in the scriptures is the word “ruah.” As mentioned in previous lessons, the word “ruah” means wind, breath and spirit. Ruah Elohim is the spirit or breath of God. “Flesh is the term used in the Bible to distinguish mortal man from God. The Hebrew word for flesh, basar, is contrasted with the Divine Spirit, ru’ah, with which man is temporarily endowed. Thus: ‘My spirit shall not abide in man forever, for that he is also flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years’ (Genesis 6:3). The Talmud and Midrash refer to man as basar va-dam (‘flesh and blood’) to indicate his mortality as against the eternity of God.”

How does prophecy enter the soul of man?
“Ruah ha-Kodesh (holy spirit) is often used as a synonym for prophecy. However, according to some rabbis, unlike prophecy, there are some types of ruah ha-kodesh which also can be attained by doing good deeds.” “The Talmudic rabbis thought the body to be separable, in a sense, from the soul. God breathed the soul into the body of Adam” (Genesis 2:7), (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) Ezekiel spoke of breath and of wind bringing life into a dead skeleton. As the sticks (ETZ-emot) of the body are clothed again with flesh and come alive, so shall the stick (ETZ) of Judah, the dead skeleton of a once true and living religion come together with the stick of Joseph, embodying the true religion and with the “breath” of the Lord, his spirit – a resurrection – a new life begins again. That new life will include a new sanctuary of the Lord.

How does Ezekiel use three stories to teach the Plan of Salvation?
“. . . and the bones came together, bone to his bone . . . the sinews and the flesh came up upon them . . . and the breath came into them, and they lived . . . Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel . . . And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. . . . Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side . . . And I will make them one nation . . . Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.” (Ezekiel 37)

How can I live, to remember?
The term “Presence of God” is used in Judaism, yet the personal reality of God and His presence have also been forgotten or at least obscured. Some time ago at a Bar Mitzvah celebration at the Western (Wailing) Wall, I observed a grandfather keeping his Bar Mitzvah grandson from retrieving the Torah Scroll out of the “Ark” until he had first knocked. The boy questioned the “knocking” procedure, the only explanation that his grandfather would give was that inside the Ark, behind the curtain, represented the “Presence of God.” The scrolls were “His Word,” and it was only polite to knock before entering. Inside the Ark were several Torah scrolls draped with beautiful cloths or enclosed in beautiful containers. Retrieving them is often accompanied by a gentle kiss and a prayer utterance. Think about the expression: “The wicked shall have a perfect knowledge of guilt . . .” (2 Nephi 9:14), uncleanness, and nakedness. The righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of enjoyment, righteousness, being clothed with purity, “the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10)

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