Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: A Brotherly Reunion

At the time Jacob and Esau parted, they weren’t on very good terms. Jacob had received the birthright blessing, and Esau felt he had been robbed of it, even though the Lord had made it clear that Jacob had been the one to live faithful enough to receive that blessing. Esau was bitter enough about the whole thing that he made plans to kill Jacob.

Talk about sibling rivalry.

Jacob’s mom, recognizing the danger he was in, succeeded in getting Jacob sent away to find a wife. That effort not only saved Jacob from his brother, but he succeeded in getting a wife – in fact, he got two wives, and had twelve kids. Kind of a cheaper-by-the-dozen deal, I suppose.

After a while, however, Jacob decides it’s time to return, with all his household and the possessions he had accumulated. Only problem is, that means he’s got to face Esau again. Not sure whether his brother was over his grudge or not, he sends messengers to Esau with gifts, effectively saying, “Here’s a gift, I’m coming to visit.”

Esau sends back word that was more or less, “I’ll meet you part way – with 400 men.”

You can imagine Jacob’s anxiety. Sure that his brother plans on killing his whole family, Jacob prays and begs for help. This is when he is given the name change from Jacob to Israel.

Finally they meet across a field, and Esau comes running at Jacob. Jacob bows down, ready to beg for mercy, but his brother gets there and hugs him. They cry and sob over each other – Esau excited to finally see his brother again, and Jacob probably out of relief.

Here’s the account:

Continue reading Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: A Brotherly Reunion

Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: Three Virgins

Shortly before Abraham’s father offered Abraham up as an offering to idol gods, there were three virtuous women offered up – killed because they refused to bow down to idols. I’d sure love to hear the rest of their story. Who were they? What was the situation that led up to their death? Martyrs like this are heroes in every sense of the word, and they are remembered through history for their faithfulness.

Here is the account, given in Abraham 1 from the Pearl of Great Price:

9 And it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh, and also unto the god of Shagreel, even after the manner of the Egyptians. Now the god of Shagreel was the sun.
10 Even the thank-offering of a child did the priest of Pharaoh offer upon the altar which stood by the hill called Potiphar’s Hill, at the head of the plain of Olishem.
11 Now, this priest had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time, who were the daughters of Onitah, one of the royal descent directly from the loins of Ham. These virgins were offered up because of their virtue; they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed upon this altar, and it was done after the manner of the Egyptians.
12 And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar;

Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: The Rainbow

After the Lord destroyed every living thing on the earth except what was preserved on the ark – and I suppose some sea life, too, the scriptures say, “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.” (Genesis 9:16-17) The rainbow was to be a sign of a covenant that God made between Himself and all flesh. But what covenant is it a token of? Part of the covenant was that God would no longer destroy the earth by flood. Genesis 9:11-15

11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

But the rainbow was also to help us look forward as well. It was to remind us that if we keep the commandments, Zion will return to the earth. Enoch’s people became so righteous that they were taken up into heaven. And when God’s people embrace the truth and look upward, Zion would look downward, and there would be great joy. The rainbow reminds us that not only is God in control, but someday the Savior will return as the rightful heir to the government of earth.

The Joseph Smith Translation of the verses (JST) gives the account:

21 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men shall keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself.

22 And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy;

23 And the general assembly of the church of the first-born shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch.

24 And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will establish my covenant unto thee, which I have made between me and thee, for every living creature of all flesh that shall be upon the earth.

25 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and thee; for all flesh that shall be upon the earth. (JST GENESIS 9: 21-25 )

Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: Adam’s Baptism

Did you know Adam was baptized? I’m not exactly clear on how it happened, but the scriptures clearly tell that he was. After the Lord explained to Adam some of the important principles behind baptism, He was carried by the Spirit into the water.

Here’s the account, given in the Pearl of Great Price:

Moses 6:64-68

64 And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.
65 And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.
66 And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever;
67 And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.
68 Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen.

Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: Adam was a Christian

Society often argues about when exactly Christianity began. I don’t know what other churches believe, but in the Lord’s true church, we know that Adam knew of Jesus Christ, and believed in Him. Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Genesis, known as the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, tells about Enoch’s ministry. Enoch became quite prominent in his time and ministry, doing great miracles, and stirring up attention wherever he went. But what is it that so riles up the people? It’s his teaching that Jesus Christ would come in the meridian (middle) of time.

Though people were deeply offended by his teachings, they were also fascinated to listen to a character who was so willing to say such “crazy” things. People are still like that today – they love a good controversy or fight. It’s kind of pathetic really, but it was very good in this instance, because it got them to listen to a prophet.

People would instruct their servants, “Tarry ye here and keep the tents, while we go yonder to behold the seer, for he prophesieth, and there is a strange thing in the land; a wild man hath come among us.” (Moses 6:38)

When Enoch was born, Adam was still alive. It’s likely that Enoch knew Adam personally as a young man (up to about age 60 – which was young in those days). But whether Adam himself told him, or the Lord revealed it to Enoch, Enoch explained to the people that Adam taught his posterity about Jesus Christ and the plan of Salvation.

Here’s the account:
Continue reading Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: Adam was a Christian

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Conclusion

marking

Scripture Marking Methods – Continued… and Concluded

Tab11. Circle the names of people as you come across them so when you hear mention of them later in the chapter, it will be easy to refer back to see who the verse is talking about.
Tab12. Mark “if” and “then” statements, and connect them.  Any time the word “if” shows up in the scriptures, there is likely a promise or warning that follows.  Mark and connect them.
Tab13. Mark the actions and connect them to the one who did it.
Tab14. Most places mentioned in scripture have multiple events of significance.  Mark places you come across in your reading and link them with anything that happens there.  Use cross-references to make a list of all the events that took place there.
Tab15. Look for scriptural lists, and number the items listed.
Tab16. Look for repetition of words, and link them.
Tab17.Look for chiasmus (Hebrew cross-pattern writing, such as “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first).
Tab18. Write a brief summary of the verses in the margins.
Tab19. Interact with the verses.  Put small comments in the margins, such as, “Nephi, you are AWESOME!” or “that’s gotta hurt!” Just be careful not to get sacreligious!

Scripture quote of the day:

Boyd K. Packer:

“My Book of Mormon also has many notes in the margins and is heavily underlined. I was in Florida once with President Hinckley. He turned from the pulpit and asked for a copy of the scriptures. I handed him my copy. He thumbed through it for a few seconds, turned and handed it back, saying, “I can’t read this. You have got everything crossed out!”

Boyd K. Packer, “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 71–74

Suggested Talk: Scripture Reading and Revelation, Dallin H. Oaks

So let’s here some of YOUR ideas!  How do you get the most out of scripture study?  What methods have helped you?

marking

Scripture Marking Methods

TabEveryone who has a strict marking method can tell you that their’s is the absolute most effective method.  You don’t have to burst their bubble by informing them of the fact, but take note of other’s methods, because they may serve you well for a while.  Here are a few that I have come across.  Don’t forget that most of these can use in other types of scripture, such as the words of living prophets and your patriarchal blessing:

Tab1. Take 4 different colors of either pen, pencil, or marker.  Have one color represent promises, one represent warnings, one represent doctrines, and one represent commandments, and underline verses in their appropriate color.  This works especially good for the doctrine and covenants and patriarchal blessings.
Tab2. Watch in your scriptures for the testimony pattern of knowing, feeling, and doing.  use 3 different colors of pen to mark which of the three is being best represented in the verse you are reading.
Tab3. Do the same with the 3 pillars of salvation – the creation, fall, and atonement.  Considering the 3 as categories of doctrines, underline every doctrine you come across in the scriptures with the appropriate category’s color.
Tab4. Mark every reference to Jesus Christ, including every use of any title He has, such as Lord, God, Father, etc.  Especially look for different and unique names referring to Him.
Tab5. Come up with a way to mark the “types” and symbols of Christ that you come across – the foreshadows or reflections of Him.  Mark the type, with a note or cross-reference to the event or scripture that references Christ in that manner. Ex. While reading about Nephi, you might mark the verse about his fleeing into the wilderness  and cross reference it with Christ’s having to flee for His life, or when His parents took Him to Egypt for safety.  The scriptures are jam-packed with such types.  Find and mark them.
Tab6. If you like to be detailed or comprehensive in your marking system, use a variety of marking styles to represent all the different things.  With a mix of both colors and styles, there is virtually no limit to how many marking representations you can have.  Use underlines for one thing, brackets for another, circles for another, etc.  Striped circles, cross-patterns, slashes, boxes, stars, asterisks – even smiley faces can be used to point out a particular thing.  Any of these styles, multiplied by the number of colors you are using, allow you use as many marking methods as you want.  With this method you’ll want to be consistent – perhaps green brackets can always represent prophetic warnings, or blue asterisks always represent when God the Father is speaking.  Make a key to help you remember what represents what.
Tab7. Have different markings to represent your different roles in life, such as mother, father, son, friend.  Include your callings and other duties.  As you come across scriptures that speak to that role, mark it accordingly.
Tab8. Go fishing.  Just get a marking tinsel, and every time you come across a verse you like, mark it.
Tab9. Mark every time Christ is speaking – whether in person, by His voice, or by gentle thoughts of comfort.
Tab10. Use colors to represent things appropriate to that color, such as red to represent the atonement, purple (royalty or power) to mark every time the priesthood is used, green for mention of life or the earth, blue to represent heavenly things, etc.  Use colors that seem most appropriate to you.

To be continued… tomorrow!

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Day

scriptures6

Internal Methods

Tab flatThe scriptures published by the church are equipped with some incredible tools to enhance your scripture study. Here are some unique ways to use them.

Tab flat1. Turn to Gospels, Harmony of in the Bible Dictionary. Read the four gospels by reading the verses in the order of the events as they happened chronologically.
Tab flat2. Start reading a chapter, looking up every footnote, and turn to every cross-referenced verse. If the reference given is informative enough, look up the footnotes in that reference.
Tab flat3. Pick a topic to study, and then turn to the Topical Guide and look up every verse given.
Tab flat4. Read an entry from the Bible Dictionary and look up the references given in it.

External Source Methods

Tab flat1. Get out a good, comprehensive Bible dictionary or one that has the Hebrew/Greek/English translations of words in the Bible. As you come across various words in your reading, look up the original meanings of the words. Search for alternate translations of the words, and draw insights from the meanings you find.
Tab flat2. Use the Sunday school, institute, and seminary manuals as a guide to your study. Most of them have a study program, and all have great commentary that is approved and authorized by the church. Read the commentary and do the assignments.
Tab flat3. Look up great quotes by general authorities. Write or print them onto a small paper and glue them into your scriptures next to an appropriate verse. They come in very handy for talks or spiritual thoughts.

Scripture quote of the day:

Thomas S. Monson:

First, study diligently. Every holder of the priesthood should participate in daily scripture study. Crash courses are not nearly so effective as the day-to-day reading and application of the scriptures in our lives. Become acquainted with the lessons the scriptures teach. Learn the background and setting of the Master’s parables and the prophets’ admonitions. Study them as though they were speaking to you, for such is the truth.

Thomas S. Monson, “Be Your Best Self,” Ensign, May 2009, 67–70

Suggested talk: A Reservoir of Living Water, David A. Bednar