2 Nephi 2

2 Nephi 2: Agency is Important

                Lehi speaks to Jacob and promises him that God; “…shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2) Jacob shall find comfort and shall dwell in safety with his brother Nephi. Lehi explains that; “…the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Nephi 2:4) Lehi goes on to explain that men are instructed to know good from evil and by the laws that are given unto mankind, we shall be justified. Lehi then explains that NO man can return to the presence of God without the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ. Even though Salvation if FREE, one has to have a broken heart and contrite spirit in order to accept this free gift.

“…redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth… he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah…” (2 Nephi 2:6-8)

Why does God permit suffering?

Lehi goes on to explain that there needs to be opposition in all things! He answers the grand old question; why does God permit suffering?

“…it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” (2 Nephi 2:11)

But why is this? For if there was no opposition in all things, there would have been no reason for our creation, for our very being! All things would; “…have been created for… naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.” (2 Nephi 2:12)

Atheists claim that there is no God, others who believe in God claim no need to follow God’s commandments, because salvation is free and no works are required for entering the Kingdom of God.

Lehi explains that this is not so;

“…if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (2 Nephi 2:13)

Science explains that every action, has an equal and opposite reaction. Here we see that there must be opposition in all things. We also see that without anything to be acted upon, all things would have vanished. Who or What acted first in the creation of all things? Science explains that everything was created from the Big Bang. We do not have to discredit science, for the universe most likely was created by something similar to what science has explained as the Big Bang. But what caused that? One could easily argue that science, as we know it, was created by a higher power. God must exist, or we would not exist.

Everything has its opposite

                From the very beginning, God has given us the ability to CHOOSE for ourselves. This choice is known as agency. We have been given the gift of agency, to ACT on our own accord, to be our own AGENTS. Go has given us this agency, and the ability to act as our own agents so that we could exist and have a reason for existence. After God had created the earth, the fowls of the air and the fields, God created our first parents [Adam and Eve] and gave the opposition; “…it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2:15)

The Fall of Mankind: The Purpose of Mankind

                After rebelling against God in the pre-mortal existence, Satan was cast out of heaven and became a fallen angel. He was there [because God permitted him to be there] when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. God did this, so that man could be their own agents. In order to choose for themselves, God needed to place opposition to the good. After being tempted by the devil to partake of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were cast out into the world so that men might be.

“And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” (2 Nephi 2:21)

God gave the children of men [all mankind] a time of probation [their lives] to repent and follow the commandments of God that they might one day return to live with their Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, we were given the ability to choose to return to our Father in Heaven.

What if Adam did not Fall?

                Some look at the Fall of Adam as the ‘Original Sin’ that prevents us from having a paradise in this life. These same people claim that if Adam and Eve would not have partaken of the fruit, that we would be living in paradise in the Garden of Eden. All of the world’s problems today, would not exist. But, we too would not exist!

“…if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end… they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:22-25)

                ADAM FELL, THAT MEN MIGHT BE! Without the fall of Adam and Eve, WE WOULD NOT EXIST! God is all knowing, the opposition in the Garden of Eden was all part of the plan, He had for His children! Because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, men were destined to be apart from God. But, God had this in mind, when he called a Savior for mankind!

“…the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” (2 Nephi 2:26)

God made it possible for Jesus Christ to come and die for all our sins! Through His Atonement and Sacrifice we ARE ALL SAVED from the Original Sin. Jesus Christ RESTORED our ability to return to God! This ability to return to God, is FREE. Salvation is FREE. But, we are all FREE to choose good from evil. Therefore it is our choice to accept Salvation.

“…men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)

Satan chose not to follow the Plan of Salvation, and because of His rebellion he was cast out of the presence of God. We, being FREE agents, have the ability to choose to follow God. If we choose to follow God, we must follow His commandments. Only then, can we accept His free gift of Salvation.

Moses 4

Moses 4: How Satan Became the Devil

 

In the pre-mortal existence, before the world was, God created a plan for His children and during this plan Satan rebelled against God. The Lord speaks to Moses and explains to him how Satan became the Devil;

“…That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1) Satan came to God in the pre-mortal existence and told God to send him as the Redeemer of Mankind. Satan promised that NO SOULS would be lost, but he demanded the entire honor for doing so. This of course would defeat the purpose of coming to the earth to obtain a body and earthly experiences; to be tried and tested.

But in that pre-mortal existence Jesus Christ came forth and said; “…Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4:2) Jesus Christ would do as commanded and would give all the glory to the Father.

The Lord goes on to explain to Moses that; “…because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” (Moses 4:3-4) Because Satan was cast out of the presence of God, this angered Him and Satan desired to make ALL miserable like unto himself.

God explains to Moses that “…the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made. And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.

And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.)

And the woman said unto the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said—Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die; For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Moses 4:5-11)

When Satan was cast out of Heaven, He brought with Him 1/3 of all the host of heaven. These were his followers. Satan knew that God had a plan for man (at this time, Adam and Eve). So Satan, knowing this plan came to Eve and tempted her to partake of the forbidden fruit.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.” (Moses 4:12-13) After Satan had tempted Eve, she partook of the fruit, because she desired to be wise. Adam, having no other choice partook of the fruit also. God had commanded them to multiple and replenish the earth. If Adam had not partaken of the fruit, Eve would have been cast out of the Garden and reproduction would not have been possible. So Adam partook, that men might be!

Because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, they now had knowledge of good and evil, and shortly after eating the fruit they were walking in the garden and heard the voice of God;  “…and Adam and his wife went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

And I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him: Where goest thou?

And he said: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked, and I hid myself.

And I, the Lord God, said unto Adam: Who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, if so thou shouldst surely die?

And the man said: The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.

And I, the Lord God, said unto the woman: What is this thing which thou hast done? And the woman said: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Moses 4:14-18)

Before partaking of the fruit, Adam and Eve did not know they were naked. They were both as little children in the garden. Partaking of the fruit was part of God’s plan, and part of our gift of Agency. Adam and Eve’s actions are known by some as the ‘Original Sin’, however, Adam and Eve did not sin, but rather used their agency to further the plan of God. As a result, we are separated from God physically and must rely on faith of His existence. Because of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, He gave us the ability to overcome this physical death and return to live with our Heavenly Father again.

Because of what had just occurred in the Garden of Eden, God punishes the Devil;

“…I, the Lord God, said unto the serpent: Because thou hast done this thou shalt be cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life; And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Moses 4:20) God gave man the ability to overcome Satan. God in fact took away much of the power of Satan from those who do not wish to follow him.

Because of Eve’s disobedience, God said; “…I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Moses 4:22) Child birth would be painful and Man would be placed as head of household.

God tells Moses that he also instructed Adam directly after their disobedience in the Garden of Eden;

“And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Moses 4:23-25) When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden they were taken care of, now because of their disobedience they would have to work for their food and endure hardships of the Earth.

Adam names Eve and calls her; “…the mother of all living…” (Moses 4:26) God makes them coats of skin to wear as clothing and God says to His Only Begotten [Jesus Christ]; “…Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil…” (Moses 4:28) Adam and Eve made one step closer to becoming like their/our Heavenly Parents. We too, being offspring of an Eternal God, have the ability to become like Him and become gods. For Jesus Christ Said; “…Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34)

God drove both Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden into the Earth, and placed a; “…cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Moses 4:31) So that no one could gain access to the tree of life.

1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15: Baptisms for the Dead

                Paul preaches to the Corinthians and tells them that the Gospel he preached to them is the word of God and that Jesus Christ did in fact die for our sins; “…that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures; “(1 Corinthians 15:4) Paul explains that the evidence of Him is all around, for many saw His great works and miracles. Paul explains that all men will be resurrected, Paul explains that if there is no resurrection then Jesus Christ also did not rise on the third day; “…if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ is be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14) Paul goes on to make a very bold statement; “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.” (1 Corinthians 15:16)

Essentially we learn that if you believe that Christ rose on the third day, then you must also believe that all men will one day be resurrected. Paul goes on to explain the purpose of Jesus Christ and the Fall/Redemption of Mankind through Him;

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him…. Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:20-29)

So, Paul is telling us that through the Fall of Adam and Eve, death was brought into the world, but through Jesus Christ we can eventually overcome that death. The Corinthians participated in Baptisms for the Dead and because of this Paul was essentially asking them; ‘if you don’t believe in resurrection, why are you participating in the baptisms of the dead?’ – From this we learn that Baptisms for the Dead were performed in ancient times and that it was for the very purpose of those who did not get a baptism in this life. This practice of Vicarious Work is done today in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Paul goes on to explain what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already know as the Plan of Salvation. Paul describes the different bodies; “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory…” (1 Corinthians 15:40-41)

2 Kings 23-25

2 Kings 23-25

Chapter 23: The Book of the Covenant

The King sent for all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem to come unto him. The King then went up into the house of the Lord and read out to them all the words of the Book of the Covenant. Then the King stood by a pillar and made a covenant there with all the elders to God that they would follow the words of the book and do well in the eyes of the Lord.

So the King commanded everyone to take anything that belonged to the worship of Baal and burn it in a field.  In the eighteenth year of King Josiah a Passover was held to the Lord in Jerusalem.

The King of Egypt decides to go up against the Assyrian Empire, but King Josiah went up against him and his servants carried him dead from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. The people then took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah and made him king in his father’s stead. Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he began to reign and he reigned for 3 months in Jerusalem and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

The King of Egypt; Pharaoh-nechoh put king Jehoahaz in band at Riblah in the land of Hamath that he might not reign in Jerusalem. Instead the king of Egypt put Eliakim the other son of Josiah king and renamed him; “Jehoiakim” and took Jeoahaz to Egypt where he would later die. Jehoiakim was 25 years old when he began to reign and he reigned for 11 years in Jerusalem and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

Chapter 24: Jerusalem Taken by Nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon comes up and makes Jehoaikim his servant for three years. But Jehoaikim rebels against him. Jehoaikim gets some help from the Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites and the children of Ammon. Jehoaikim dies and his son Jehoiachin reigns in his stead. Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to reign and he reigned in Jerusalem for 3 months and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

The King of Babylon comes and besieges the land and takes Jehoiachin and his household and also carried away all the treasures of the house of the Lord, including vessels of Gold that King Solomon had made in the Temple. The king of Babylon also took over 10,000 captive and brought them back to Babylon, he then appointed Mattaniah his father’s brother, whose name was changed to Zedekiah to reign in his stead.

Zedekiah was 21 years old when he began to reign and he reigned in Jerusalem for 11 years and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

Chapter 25: The Fall of Jerusalem

In the ninth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon he came to Jerusalem and pitched against it and build forts all around the city. Because of the surrounding armies, the city of Jerusalem started to go hungry for the lack of bread. Here is where things really get interesting, and where the Book of Mormon can help us understand more of the story from the Bible….

“And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain. And the army of the Chaldees took him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him. So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass and carried him to Babylon.” (2 Kings 2:25)

                According to this story all of the sons of Zedekiah were killed, however in the Book of Mormon it talks about how one of his sons… named Mulek fled and came to the Americas! See Helaman 6:10 and 8:21.

“…the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land of the north…” (Helaman 6:10)

“And will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?” (Helaman 8:21)

This is something that is very interesting and really helps us to understand the purpose of both the Bible (New and Old Testaments) and the Book of Mormon. The Bible is the word of God, but with the Book of Mormon we realize that God has more to say than just what is written in the Bible and had spoken with people of the Old world (middle east) and the New world (the Americas). Nebuchadnezzar with the help of his captain Nebuzar-adan burnt down the house of the Lord and the houses of Jerusalem. The remnants of the people flee to Egypt. Jechoiachin is released from prison and is favored by the new king; Evil-merodach the king of Babylon.