Isaiah: Archetypes and Ascension

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Decades ago, a professor named William Brownlee discovered in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah a seven part division of Isaiah’s book in two parallel blocks of chapters. At that time, scholars barely determined that biblical books even had literary structures. So Brownlee’s discovery was mostly passed over. Another professor, a colleague of Brownlee by the name of Roland Harrison, a mentor of Avraham Gileadi, suggested that Gileadi explore this structure for his doctoral thesis. And so a chiasmus of history was examined that became what Gileadi describes as Seven Spiritual Categories or Isaiah’s Ladder, which looks like this:

Isaiah 1-33
1a-2a-3a-4a-5a-6a-7a

Isaiah 34-66
1b-2b-3b-4b-5b-6b-7b

It is reminiscent of Jacob’s ladder as described in the book of Genesis:

Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
16 ¶And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

Isaiah seems to codify his own ladder, which symbolizes the different ways of living that people choose, which either move them up the ladder to God or down the ladder toward destruction.

So using the code above (1a corresponding with 1b, etc), we have the following structure in categories corresponding with chapters:

-Ruin and Rebirth (1-5, 34-35)
–Rebellion and Compliance (6-8, 36-40)
—Punishment and Deliverance (9-12, 41-46)
—-Humiliation and Exaltation (13-23, 47)
—Suffering and Salvation (24-27,48-54)
–Disloyalty and Loyalty (28-31, 55-59)
-Disinheritance and Inheritance (32-33, 60-66)

There are distinctions within each level or set of choices we make that brings covenant blessings or covenant cursings. A ladder appears when we recognize these categories of people as an ascending order, from the lowest (or farthest from being like God) to the highest (most like Him). John made it clear in one of his epistles when we obtain the highest rung:

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

We find ourselves at any given time on one rung or another depending on the choices we make; or in other words, what spiritual laws we live or choose not to live. We are either ascending or descending. And if we are idle, well that isn’t good either. You gotta climb. We gain God’s presence when we enter heaven. Some people attain this state in this life.

This seven part structure presents models on each level, or on each rung. We participate in the role of each model as we ascend or descend. Isaiah’s “ladder” looks like this:

Jehovah-God of Israel
Seraphim-Angelic Emissaries
Sons/Daughters-Servants of God
Zion/Jerusalem-God’s Covenant People
Jacob/Israel-Believers in a Creator-God
Babylon-The Wicked of the World
King of Assyria/Babylon-Perdition

At the bottom is depicted the archtyrant who conquers and destroys. People on the lowest rungs resemble the archtyrant as they follow his example of despotism. The more we resemble him, the lower we descend. Conversely, the more we become like Jesus Christ, the higher we ascend. By looking at Israels’ history and its people we can compare ourselves to them and see where we are on the ladder. Isaiah provides that yardstick for us. We don’t need to wait until we die to ascend or descend. Knowing exactly where we stand NOW puts to rest any false “notions of grandeur” that we have about ourselves. I believe some of us are in the Jacob/Israel rung, some with one foot on the Babylon rung and others with one foot in the Zion/Jerusalem rung. Some of us are on the Zion/Jerusalem rung. Most of us are in the Babylon rung. A careful reading of chapter six of Isaiah indicates that he became a type of angelic emissary. God tends to call those in higher rungs to minister to those in lower rungs. For example, Jehovah ministers to Isaiah, Isaiah ministers to King Hezekiah, and King Hezekiah ministers to his servants who minister to the people of Israel. The higher one ascends, the more like angels they become.

Such archetypes can be found in many literary works and fiction. It’s kind of fun to plug in these archetypes into familiar stories, though not all types are always utilized.

The Matrix
Neo
The Oracle
Morpheus, Trinity
Zion, the last and only human city on Earth
People asleep in the Matrix
Agent Smith
The Architect

Star Wars
Luke Skywalker
Yoda
Obi-wan Kenobi, Princess Leia
The Rebellion, Biggs, Wedge, etc
The people in the Galaxy far, far away
The Empire, Darth Vader, stormtroopers, etc
Emperor Palpatine

The more a covenant people (ten tribes of Israel) resembles Zion, the less they have to do with Babylon, Mammon, and all materialism. Buying things where moth and rust corrupt is no longer part of their lives and money is used to liberate and elevate the poor and needy, the widows and fatherless. As such, idols and figures, no matter how ornate and beautiful are abandoned.

Sale

The less a covenant people resembles Zion, the more they resemble Babylon and all things worldly. Commerce and materialism abounds. Vanity is a commonplace and self indulgence becomes the doctrine.

brand

In this fallen world, it’s not difficult to tell where Israel ends and Babylon begins when money changers are exalted as mankind’s saviors.

SLC

Years ago, I watched a few videos in the series, How The Universe Works. I really enjoy watching these documentaries periodically to remind me how certain laws of physics must be obeyed. One example is gravity. While on a mission in space, an astronaut put some left-over salt and other food debris in a plastic bag filled with water for a fun experiment. Low and behold, these granules, as they randomly bumped into each other, stuck together. Before long, more and more of these granules and food stuffs began clumping. This discovery and the point of the experiment is that in the vacuum of space, matter tends to clump together due to gravity.

Because of the “Big Bang,” which sent into space unimaginable amounts of debris, gravity caused a lot of this debris to begin to attract other debris. Bits and pieces of elements begin to clump, forming larger clumps and so on. Eventually, as enough hydrogen and helium elements find each other and clump together because of gravity, they accumulate so much mass that fusion occurs. When fusion occurs there is an explosion. But because gravity is so powerful in this new mass, it holds the fusion back. So you have this constant struggle between fusion and gravity. And this tug of war creates a star just like our own sun. Meanwhile around the sun, more and more debris continues to collide and clump together, forming planets and moons. As the momentum of the Big Bang continues, all things continue moving outward into space, becoming organized into swirls of bodies. Moons settle into orbits around planets, planets settle into orbits around stars like our sun and more still, our solar system travels around what is called a singularity, which is at the center of our galaxy. All of this happens because of gravity.

It is gravity that has caused this “organization” of matter (stars, planets, moons, gases, debris) to swirl around a singularity (also known as a black hole). Vast arms of debris swirl around the center of the galaxy in a giant disc. This has all been happening for billions of years. But time is appointed only to man. Time is irrelevant to God who exists outside of time. In our Milky Way Galaxy, our tiny solar system lies a certain distance from the singularity in the center. If we were too close to this singularity, we’d suffer from the radiation of the many giant stars which orbit the singularity. We are located in just the right spot in one of the galaxy’s arm known as Orion’s Arm. Anyway, we are all still experiencing the after effects of the Big Bang, or as we like to call it, creation. It’s all slowing down, but it’s happening in terms of millions of years, even though we’re traveling through space at unimaginable speed from the momentum of creation.

Back to gravity. The closer to the center of the galaxy we look, the more we see giant stars orbiting the singularity at tremendous speeds. All these giant stars towards the center of the galaxy give off tons of radiation. The farther out the stars orbit the singularity, the slower the orbit around the singularity, like our sun. As such, there is allowance for planets and moons to do their thing, forming solar systems. And of course at the edge of our galaxy, everything is moving the slowest, but all are still held together by what is called dark matter, or else, we’d all be flung outward into space, with the galaxy dissipating into nothing.

An analogy can be made that each time we ascend, we must first descend (Jesus Christ descended below us all so that he could lift us all). We must first experience sacrifice/humility in order to grow spiritually to the next level. For example, each season a tree grows by shedding its leaves, then becomes dormant and then comes alive again the next season with new life, new leaves, etc. A cross section of a tree reveals rings, indicating how many seasons the tree has grown. The tree obeys certain laws of nature. It experiences cycles of death and cycles of rebirth just as Jesus Christ descended from His throne to be born and then die that a new creation (us) might come forth because of His own resurrection. The same analogy can be made with the universe. All matter must obey laws, too. Smaller bodies obey laws of larger bodies. Moons obey the law of gravity of planets. Planets obey the law of gravity of their suns. Suns obey the law of gravity of the singularity at the center of the galaxy. I find it fascinating that scientists have mathematically concluded that time cannot exist in a singularity. Just as with God, time does not exist. It is only appointed to us, who progress by obeying laws to those higher than us (Jesus Christ) who also obeyed laws higher than Him (the Father). We exit this temporal (time) existence when we ascend to where God is outside the confines of this massive vacuum.

In the above ladder, we also observe the descent into the Babylon level and also Perdition. Likewise in the universe there are rogue bodies such as asteroids and comets and other random debris, all of which are much smaller by comparison to planets and suns. These rogue bodies do not obey laws. They are lost without a pattern to follow. Such symbolism in creation testifies to the beauty and intelligence of a Supreme Creator who knows all things and does all things. And like the body of the sun, which we compare to the celestial glory, (in contrast with the terrestrial glory, 1 Corinthians 15:40), when fusion occurs, light and glory is manifested. The more we understand the profound writings of Isiah, the better we will understand our place in the grand scheme of creation.

You are here.

 

A New Life

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Note: In the years I have spent studying the profound words of Isaiah, two people have been instrumental in my research: W. Cleon Skousen and Avraham Gileadi. The events that brought Gileadi from New Zealand to Israel to Utah are more than coincidences and that is why I would like to share his experience in this entry. Avraham Gileadi is a Hebrew scholar and literary analyst specializing in the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible

A New Life

In 1968 I left my New Zealand home to settle in Israel. I just came, without great means and not knowing what conditions to expect in this land. The Spirit of God pressed upon me to come here, and being unmarried, I undertook the journey alone.

But before coming to Israel I searched a map of this land for a place where I might go to stay, for I had no relatives here to welcome me. The only map of Israel in my possession was an old biblical map, and on it I found a place by the name of Zerin.

After arriving in Israel I discovered that a kibbutz was built next to the ruins of Zerin and that this was the ancient town of Jezreel, which name the kibbutz had adopted anew. Upon joining this kibbutz I was questioned as to why I chose that place rather than another, but at that time I was at a loss for an adequate reply.

For a few years I worked on the kibbutz, or farming commune, milking cows and helping to build up the land. I began to observe the laws of Moses, and I studied the Bible a great deal, although until I came to Israel I had no background in Judaism.

One day, while I was looking for a book to read in the kibbutz library, the librarian, who was nonreligious, handed me the Book of Mormon and said that I should read it. It had once been left in the library by a young Mormon volunteer worker who had spent a few months on the kibbutz. I was not interested in the Book of Mormon, but this lady, knowing I was spiritually inclined, was insistent that I read it, and so out of curiosity I took it with me.

When I began to read it, I greatly wondered at its contents, as I read of things that I had never supposed existed. I prayed about whether the things contained in the Book of Mormon were true, and indeed, just as promised in the admonition in the book, the Holy Spirit witnessed very strongly in me, and I began to take these writings seriously.

I read the Book of Mormon twice and then sent a letter addressed to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, asking for further information. Back came a reply from the Missionary Department, with tracts and a letter of encouragement.

Through the tracts I learned of the existence of two books called the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, and I immediately sent for these also. Many things were pressing to be clarified to my mind, and I desired to have all the scriptural material that was available.

I began to accept the land of America as being a special land of inheritance for the tribe of Joseph since there is scriptural evidence for this in the Torah itself. But several other interesting things began to appear, which till now have been great stumbling blocks to Jews and sectarian Christians alike.

For instance, religious Jewry cannot accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah because he did not accomplish the specific tasks by which the Jewish Messiah may be identified. These tasks or missions are (1) the establishment of the kingdom of heaven, or the political rule of God on the earth, beginning in Israel, (2) the building of the holy temple in Jerusalem, and (3) the restoration of the lost tribes of Israel and the gathering of the covenant people of the Lord out of all the world—in that respective order.

But from the Book of Mormon I learned that the mission of Jesus Christ was to effect an atonement for sin and establish the law of mercy, thereby removing the “curse” (or the strict justice) of the law for all those who accept that atonement.

There exists a Midrash, or handed-down tradition, in Jewish literature that speaks of one man who would die for all mankind; but I ask, how could such an act be valid except by a covenant made with God on behalf of all men? And again, to be valid, witnesses were necessary who should testify concerning the event. The prophet Isaiah actually distinguishes three separate messianic personages when he writes: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isa. 11:1.) Doctrine and Covenants, section 113, explains that the Stem of Jesse is Jesus Christ. [D&C 113]

From a careful identification of the subject of verse 4 (D&C 113:4), I learned that the “rod spoken of, that should come out of the Stem of Jesse,” is the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that he may fit the description of “Messiah the son of Joseph,” concerning whom there is an ancient but well-known tradition in Judaism, that he will precede “Messiah the son of David” and be slain in a war against the forces of evil.

But from various Latter-day prophets I learned of a “son of Jesse” who is still to come and who in the above scripture is identified with the “root of Jesse,”—“unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign and for the gathering of the people in the last days.” (D&C 113:6.)

Again I read that “he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne.” (Zech. 6:13.) Thus, herein lies a most significant point of reconciliation between Jews and Latter-day Saints and one deserving of primary clarification in any spiritual encounter between the two peoples.

From studying these things in the light of the Mormon scriptures, I became increasingly convinced of the truth of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Within a year I earnestly sought to be baptized, but I was unable to locate any Latter-day Saints. At the government information services I was told that the Church had no presence in Israel; and when I followed up addresses of Saints forwarded to me by the Switzerland Mission, I received no answer. It was not until three years after first reading the Book of Mormon that I met any Mormons.

While studying Oral Law in a yeshiva, or Jewish Talmudic school, on Mount Zion, I came across an advertisement of Latter-day Saint services on a torn piece of newspaper. Immediately I contacted the brethren of the Jerusalem Branch, which before President Harold B. Lee’s recent visit to the Holy Land was still called the Israel Group, a non-Israeli congregation of about thirty souls, the majority being children.

For some weeks I secretly attended meetings and further studied the gospel through the favor of the presidency of this branch. Early one morning, the day I left the yeshiva, some brethren gathered at the Pool of Shiloam, and there I was baptized. The day following, at the house of the branch president, I was ordained a priest, both these ordinances having been carried out by President David B. Galbraith and his first counselor, Elder John Tvedtnes, from whom I took further instruction in the gospel.

The Laws of Moses are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In Judaism it is taught that all the law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai and that, therefore, any other law is quite unacceptable.

From the Church’s viewpoint this is correct; but even as is taught in the Kabbalah, or the handed-down, secret teachings of the Laws of Moses, there was a higher law revealed at Sinai that was rejected by the nation of Israel as a whole. It is presumed that this higher law will again be learned in a future day, in the days of Messiah.

Joseph Smith also teaches that Moses, together with Aaron and a few others, did receive the higher law of the gospel but that the rest of the people were cursed with a law or carnal ordinances. Interestingly, it is generally accepted in Judaism that even when the temple will be built again there shall be no more animal sacrifices made therein, at least not as in ancient times.

But what are we to understand from Jesus’ admonition to his fellow Jews when he said: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they observe, that observe and do”? (Matt. 23:2–3.) And has this commandment any application to Jews today?

There appears to be a link between the coming of Elijah the prophet and a renewal of the teachings of the Laws of Moses. We read in the writings of the prophet Malachi: “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Mal. 4:4–5.)

Thus we find that in the Doctrine and Covenants all of the Ten Commandments are reiterated by the Savior, some repeatedly; and again, several statutes such as tithing and the marriage laws, are also taught therein. Moreover, we know that the prophet Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, in direct fulfillment of Malachi’s prediction. Incidentally, that date was the feast of the Passover, on which day the Jewish people expect the coming of Elijah, even going so far as to leave a vacant seat for him at the Passover supper held in every religious Jewish home.

From the Book of Mormon we learn that the Nephites, after receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ, “did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God. …” (4 Ne. 1:12.) Here then we see the setting aside of the carnal rites and ordinances of the law, which, in the words of Paul, served as a schoolteacher until the higher law was accepted—the conclusion being that the carnal law consisted of sacrificial ordinances and other temporal performances, which things Paul likened to “dead works” by which one cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

On the other hand, the Ten Commandments and the statutes that were given to Moses in Horeb (or on Mount Sinai) are actually a part or the beginning of the higher law itself, for they are taught in the gospel. Malachi speaks of these statutes and judgments as given to all Israel, and it is the teaching of Judaism that all Israel were present at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, some being present in body and others in spirit. Indeed, the Ten Commandments were given to the whole nation of Israel by their Lord and their God himself in a show of power and might, whereupon the people fled, not being able to bear the presence of God for want of faith and sufficient sanctification. Instead they appointed Moses as their mediator, whereupon the Lord gave them the law of carnal performances and ordinances through him.

To an Israelite, therefore, who has not yet entered the covenant of the atonement of Jesus Christ and accepted the higher law of the gospel, these carnal laws are actually still binding, as far as he is able to perform them. Far be it from us, then, to discourage a Jew from his observance upon any other premise than his entry into the new and everlasting covenant. For to one living the law of the celestial kingdom, or the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the carnal or temporal laws become surpassed and are no longer binding, even as one may surpass and no longer be bound by the law of gravity when applying the law of space dynamics to fly to another planet.

In Christ we fly, and carnal things have an end; and inasmuch as we fulfill the celestial law, so far shall we ascend to a higher spiritual plane until we attain to the presence of God.

Great Are the Words of Isaiah

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It was about 2012 when I decided to make a serious study of the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament and for about two years, I focused on this book alone.

3 Nephi 23:And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.
And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.

Those are the very words out of the mouth of our Savior, Jesus Christ when He visited the people in the land Bountiful. I no longer wanted to skip over the Isaiah chapters in Second Nephi and because of my intensive studies of Isaiah’s words, I no longer wade through these Isaiah chapters with weariness, but rather, I relish reading them today.  There are four remarkable commentaries on Isaiah’s writings found in the Book of Mormon. They are given by Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He visited the people at Bountiful.

(Background) In a nutshell

The Assyrians occupied the upper Mesopotamia. For centuries they killed and conquered nations from Egypt to Persia and built their mighty empire on their ruins. Once conquered, the enemies were brutally tortured in order to make an example of any who would rebel. Walls and stone carvings depicted images of people being skinned alive, burned to death, children being blinded before their parents and many more violent and unthinkable barbaric brutalities.

It is no wonder that Jonah fled rather than accept his divine assignment to preach repentance to them at Niniveh. But the terror of his stay inside the belly of a whale caused him to finally humble himself sufficiently to fulfill his mission. And to his amazement, they did repent. But this only lasted about forty years before they were spilling blood again.

During the height of its power, Assyria made a continuous assault on the northern kingdoms of Israel and in 721 BC, succeeded in its conquest, carrying off of to Assyria the last major segment of the Israelites. After Assyria’s fall, however, these people migrated northward and became known as the “lost tribes of Israel.”

The fall of this empire was prophecied by Isaiah, but so strong was this empire and huge and vast, was the capital of Niniveh, that people laughed and scoffed at him. Where once, Assyria was a small northern province of Babylon, it had become a super power. By the time that Lehi would have been born, Assyria would have ascended to the height of its power. But by the time Lehi had married and raising a family, the tide of history shifted. Babylon became increasingly agitated and an uprising was soon at hand.

The fact that hordes of barbarians from the north began descending to loot the mighty Assyrians enabled Egypt to break away. Then Media began to rebel. The Babylonians to the South mobilized, demanding independence. About a decade before Lehi left Jerusalem, the great battle for Ninevah was fought. All dissident factions stormed the city, breaching its might walls.

The Assyrians regrouped, setting up a temporary capital at Haran, where Abraham formerly lived and attempted to create a counter-offensive. It was at this time that Egypt’s ruler, Necho II realized that as much as he despised Assyrian rule, he hated the thought of Babylonian conquest more. He mobilized his armies up the highway along the Mediterranean coast of Palestine and found a surprise at the narrow pass near Megiddo. They found Josiah, king of Judah, commanding an army and blocking the way. Obviously the mountain kingdom of Judah did not want the Egyptians to succeed.

Necho had nothing against them because they were among Egypt’s best customers. But Necho was not about to let them stop him. He sent ambassadors to Josiah, saying, “What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make hast: forebear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.”–2 Chronicles 35:21

To make the long story short (trying to, anyway), Josiah refused and was killed in battle. This was about 609 BC and when Lehi was well on his way to achieving status as a prosperous citizen at Jerusalem. The fact that he lived down from the city in the land of his inheritance might have contributed to his safety while it is conceivable that Laban, with his “ten thousand” fought in the battle with Josiah.

The next few years war raged between Babylon and Assyria, supported by Egypt. Babylon had gained major traction when it’s king died and Nebuchadnezzar was crowned in his father’s place. In the process of mopping up and sweeping toward Egypt, Babylon swallowed up the tiny kingdom of Judah like a tiny crumb. He ordered his ministers to take some of the promising young Jews to be trained in the language, culture and governmental procedures of Babylon. One of the young men was Daniel and three other young Jewish men accompanied him. Eventually, through miraculous events, they proved themselves to be outstanding. Daniel ended up being the king’s top adviser and the others, administrators of Babylon.

What the Jews at Jerusalem did not know was that the Lord was setting up a series of circumstances, which would be most favorable to them. But the apostate king, Jehoiakim, despised the prophets. During the siege, he had to stop paying tribute to Egypt and begin paying Babylon, which he despised. Soon, though, he stopped paying tribute to Nebuchadnezzar. Before long, he was under attack and died. Nebuchadnezzar raided and looted the temple, then rounded up and carried away captive ten thousand people, including craftsmen and smiths. (See map below).

assyrianempire

With this historical background aside, here are some verses to ponder:

Isaiah 1:3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s cribbut Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward…
10 ¶ Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats…
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away withit is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

The ox and the ass are arguably the least intelligent of domesticated animals and yet they are both described as knowing their owner or master. Isaiah is speaking to a nation of idolaters. These are His children, His “covenant people.” Yet they do not know Him. The ox is a clean/kosher animal, which could be likened to the Israelites. The ass is an unclean animal and could be likened to all the gentiles (not of the ethnic lineage of Abraham). Both dumb animals know their owners and masters. Yet the Lord’s covenant people do not know Jehovah. The Master’s own covenant people are considered with a covenant curse. To “know” the Lord is a covenant relationship, but to NOT know Him is a covenant curse. In this passage, the Lord is exasperated by the vain temple ceremonies, which were supposed to teach His people how to come to know Him. The ancient temple ceremonies were supposed to keep the people of Israel in remembrance of the Savior’s coming sacrifice. Both ancient and latter-day rituals are symbolic of something else, but as such, they become stumbling blocks to those who are asleep.

As a side note, there is no graven image that is not a product of one’s hands. Idolatry results from consumer demand. The Hebrew word Abad means both to work  and worship. People worship the work of their hands. In this world, there is no economy without an exchange of products resulting from consumer demand. You can buy anything in this world with money. Mammon is the driving force behind the world’s economy. Babylon is the archetype of this system in the book of Isaiah. On the other hand, Zion does not require money. In Zion, all things are given and received freely. The Lord gave to us this earth and all things therein to be used freely and not by extortion or excess. Extortion and excess is exactly how the world operates. They take ownership of the things God has ordained for their use freely and charge a price for them. Excess is the result of one exalting oneself above another or others, thereby creating inequality in a society driven by an economy where money is the medium of exchange. In Zion, there are no rich because there are no poor because there is no money, there being no need for money. In Babylon, however, such behavior is the iniquity of a people. Idols, idolatry and commerce (economy) are all tools of Mammon.

Jehovah compares the ruling priests to Sodom and the laymen to Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah set the precedent for a condemned people and so Isaiah uses it as an archetype to compare His covenant people to. They were abusers and ripe for destruction. And yet the Lord saved Lot and his family. Whenever the Lord is about to destroy a people, He tends to “gather” those few who have not forsaken Him, even by angels. Angels came to take Lot and his family out, even prodding him to leave before they destroyed the city. Likewise did the Lord bring out Lehi from Jerusalem and his family. Lot’s wife probably could not believe that her beautiful city could be destroyed. She was not attuned to the Spirit and couldn’t feel the warning to flee. Her heart was set upon the world in which she lived. So she turned around and was turned into a pillar of salt, good for nothing but to be trodden underfoot. Laman and Lemuel were the same as Lot’s wife. And so will all be whose hearts are set upon their riches–their idols.

And this is only the first half of chapter one. Chapter one is quite an indictment of the filthiness of Israel. She is a harlot whoring after her lusts, forsaking her bridegroom, who is quick to forgive and mighty to save. And though, as we read later in the chapter, though her sins be red like crimson, they shall become white as snow.

If we as disciples of Jesus Christ spend time in reflection and introspection, how do we compare to these ancient people of the Lord? We might be surprised to discover that we are just like they were.

Shabbat

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שַׁבָּת

“Rest” or “Cessation” 

Isaiah 58

יג  אִם־תָּשִׁ֚יב מִשַּׁבָּת֙ רַגְלֶ֔ךָ עֲשׂ֥וֹת חֲפָצֶ֖יךָ בְּי֣וֹם קָדְשִׁ֑י
וְקָרָ֨אתָ לַשַּׁבָּ֜ת עֹ֗נֶג לִקְד֚וֹשׁ יְהֹוָה֙ מְכֻבָּ֔ד וְכִבַּדְתּוֹ֙ מֵֽעֲשׂ֣וֹת
:דְּרָכֶ֔יךָ מִמְּצ֥וֹא חֶפְצְךָ֖ וְדַבֵּ֥ר דָּבָֽר

13. If you restrain your foot because of the Sabbath, from performing your affairs on My holy day, and you call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord honored, and you honor it by not doing your wonted ways, by not pursuing your affairs and speaking words.

Gileadi translation:

13. If you will keep your feet from trampling the Sabbath—from achieving your own ends on my holy day—and consider the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of Jehovah venerable, and if you will honor it by refraining from your everyday pursuits—from occupying yourselves with your own affairs and speaking of business matters—

יד  אָ֗ז תִּתְעַנַּג֙ עַל־יְהֹוָ֔ה וְהִרְכַּבְתִּ֖יךָ עַל־בָּ֣מֳתֵי
:אָ֑רֶץ וְהַֽאֲכַלְתִּ֗יךָ נַֽחֲלַת֙ יַֽעֲקֹ֣ב אָבִ֔יךָ כִּ֛י פִּ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה דִּבֵּֽר

14. Then, you shall delight with the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the land, and I will give you to eat the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Gileadi translation:

14. then shall you delight in Jehovah, and I will make you traverse the heights of the earth and nourish you with the heritage of Jacob your father. By his mouth Jehovah has spoken it.

D&C 59:And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.
15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards…
24 I, the Lord, have spoken it, and the Spirit beareth record. Amen.

Diagram of the Doctrine of Christ

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This drawing is a very basic illustration of the doctrine of Christ or as prophets who wrote their records as found in the Book of Mormon referred to as the plan of salvation and also the plan of happiness. Although it is unlike the traditional illustrations familiar to most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is consistent with the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ to the people at Bountiful and also with Nephi, Jarom, Alma, and other prophets of the Book of Mormon. I have been wanting to draw this for about a year now after many of the scriptures I cited kept floating around in my head. Lehi’s dream of the straight and narrow path that leads to the tree of life set the stage and provided the foundation upon which prophets consistently built until the last prophet, Moroni was taken and the Nephites had been swept off the face of the land, having dwindled in unbelief. I hope my writing is legible to the reader. It is also my hope that the humble seeker of Jesus Christ takes the time to prayerfully look up the supporting scriptures I included in the diagram. There are many more scriptures in the Bible and the standard canon of the church that support this, but I did not want to clutter up the drawing. What I have included more than suffices. Incidentally, the term “strait gate” is deliberate and was used by authors such as Matthew and Nephi to indicate the strait and also the straight and narrowness of the way to eternal life, which is not to be confused with the broad gate, which leads to destruction.

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

2 Nephi 9:41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.

Plan Of Salvation