Friday, February 09, 2007

2 Nephi 27

Drunken with Iniquity

To me, this image of drunken with iniquity evokes a scene of people not able to control their desires. I think of a person who takes a drink of alcohol and then another and another and he has no control and he cannot stop. The world will be similar to this drunken man. The world will delve further and further into iniquity that people will not have any control over their actions.

Is there any question that the world is becoming drunk with iniquity today? All that we have to do to gauge this is to turn on the TV or read the daily headlines in the news. Sadly, in this Information Age, every act of sin gets broadcast over the Internet and unlike the daily newspaper that used to be trashed and sometimes forgotten, today's barrage of news is ever available and can be easily summoned by any search engine. Thus today's outrageous acts of sin are multiplied by tomorrow's media shocks.

Paul sums up today's list of sins:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

His Soul is Empty

I really like the analogy that Nephi borrows from Isaiah in verse 3. He is referring to the enemies of Zion in that all those who fight against Zion will think that they are victorious, but when reality hits them, they will realize that it was all a dream to them.

I think this analogy can also be applied to the world being drunk with iniquity. When we sin, we think we are seeking what will make us happy, but in reality when we "wake up," we realize that we are not truly happy and we find our "soul is empty."

It is very frustrating to see people seek happiness in sin. It is equally frustrating when people attack Christianity claiming that religion seeks to force people to live a certain way. In reality, all that Christianity seeks is true, lasting happiness for everyone. The Father of Lies is the one who deceives us into thinking we can find joy in sin. But instead of finding joy, we find nothing but emptiness when we sin.

The Sealed Book

Verses 9 and 10 concern the prophecy of Moroni giving the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith. Some parts of the gold plates were sealed. What we have today is the unsealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Some day the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon will be revealed and "shall be read upon the house tops and they shall be read by the power of Christ" (v. 11).

The sealed portion of the book contains "all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof" (v. 10). We know that Nephi saw things in his vision that he was not permitted to write about. We also know that the brother of Jared saw the same vision and was commanded to write it and seal it up (Ether 3:25-27).

Show Them unto the Learned

In verse 15 we read, "Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he ma show them unto the learned." This is in reference to Martin Harris taking a copy of some of the characters of the gold plates and showing them to Charles Anthon.

“I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyric, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.

“He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying, that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.” (History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 20)

Removed Their Hearts Far From Me

In verse 25, the Lord says, “this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men.” We need to be weary of paying lip service to God and not serving him. In other words, the Lord is saying to not be hypocritical. We sometimes get caught up in repeating the Sunday school answers at church, but fail to truly understand what we are saying. If we understood what we were saying or paid attention to what we were saying, we would act the part of a good Christian rather than just paying lip service. As Elder Maxwell put in one time, "So it is that discipleship requires all of us to translate doctrines, covenants, ordinances, and teachings into improved personal behavior. Otherwise we may be doctrinally rich but end up developmentally poor" ("Becoming a Disciple," Ensign, June 1996, 12).

A good example of this principle is the Zoramites in Alma 31. Alma and his brethren witnessed the Zoramites praying in their synagogues only once a week. And when they went to their synagogues to pray, they stood on the Rameumptom and prayed out loud so everyone could hear. The Zoramites were paying lip service to God, but their hearts were far from Him. They did not truly pray to God; they did not serve others or have charity and neither did they keep the statutes and commandments of God. They were wicked, self-righteous, and hypocritical.

We need to be careful that we do not inherit a treasure trove of rich Gospel doctrine but then fail to use what we have learned. The most important lessons we will learn will be the relevant experiences as we live our lives. However, we must always read the scriptures. I am not saying that life’s experiences replace studying the scriptures. What we need to do is study the doctrine and the prophets, pray and then do. The scriptures are our textbooks for life’s class. The prophets are our teachers. Life’s experiences are our tests. We learn from the textbooks and teachers and then we are tested to see if we truly learn the lessons.

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