Archive for June, 2011

Jewish teachings outside of the Torah refer to a Messiah Ben-Joseph (aka Messiah ben Ephraim).

“According to the Talmud, the Messiah will be a descendant of the House of David and will be preceded by a secondary Messiah, from the House of Joseph . . .”
Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.

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When the Chief Rabbi, Avraham HaKohen Kook (1865–1935) was appointed in Palestine in the 1920’s, he was asked if the Jews could now build the Temple (destroyed since year 70 A.D.). His response was that the priestly rights had gone and referred to the great 12th century rabbi Moses Maimonides. Maimonides said, in effect, “We are waiting for a Messiah Ben-Joseph, to him will be given the keys of the gathering of Israel, he will restore Temple worship.”

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Other legends state that Messiah Ben-Joseph will rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple, and bring to pass the restoration of the ten tribes.

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The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844) fulfilled some, but not all, of these roles.

Joseph Smith was an Ephraimite and thus a descendent of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

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Visions manifested to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, April 3, 1836. HC 2: 435–436. The occasion was that of a Sabbath day meeting.

The Prophet prefaces his record of the manifestations with these words: “In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day.

After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us.”

[11] After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.
[12] After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.
[13] After this vision had closed, another great and glorious avision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
[14] Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
[15] To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
[16] Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
Doctrine & Covenants 110
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Joseph Smith sent Apostle Orson Hyde to Jerusalem in 1841 to offer a dedicatory prayer.

Orson Hyde blessed the land ” . . for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy Prophets — for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long, and for rearing a Temple in honor of Thy name (the Lord’s name).”

The complete prayer is given at: http://www.vibrationdata.com/Orson_Hyde.htm

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Avraham is Abraham
Yitzchak is Isaac
Yakov is Jacob

Subject: Dvar Torah – Parshat Lech Lecha

In Parshat Lech Lecha, among the blessings that Avraham was to receive for leaving all that he had was the blessing that he himself should be a blessing (12:2). How does one become a blessing?

Furthermore, Rashi comments that G-d promised Avraham that although he would be identified with Yitzchak and Yakov, any such blessings would end with Avraham’s name at its conclusion. If the sages are correct that Yitzchak and Yakov reached higher levels than Avraham, what made him so special that any blessing would end with him?

Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that Avraham merited greater distinction because he was the first to establish faith in Hashem (G-d). Although those after him reached greater heights, Avraham’s accomplishments were more worthy.

Maybe this can explain how Avraham himself became the blessing: Taking initiative and starting something you believe is important for society is a blessing on its own, because it lays the framework for others to build on it! G-d promised Avraham, and in turn promised us, that, if we become leaders and initiators, our initial efforts will never be forgotten and we will always be remembered as a blessing!

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Adversity is a common theme in the scriptures.

Jesus taught “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

James declared “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11)

Paul proclaimed “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Romans 5:3)

Paul further described his trials.

2 Corinthians 11

[25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
[26] In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
[27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
[28] Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
[30] If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

* * *
Over the years, I have struggled with and against my own set of tribulations. I have fallen vastly short of the heroic examples set by Job and Paul in patiently enduring adversity.

I have experience prolonged rumination over my own trials, especially those resulting from negative encounters with authority figures.

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As Christians, we often pray to our Heavenly Father that He will deliver us from adversity. There is merit in these prayers.

But perhaps we should pray instead that the Lord will help us understand the purpose of our tribulation.

We should ask ourselves “What is the lesson to be learned from this vexing experience?”

When we understand and accept the purpose, then the trial may depart from us. But even if the adversity persists, we will at least have peace.

* * *
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
– William Arthur Ward

Our petitions to the Lord should be for guidance in adjusting our sails.

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My wife and I recently completed a course for depression based on a program developed by Dr. Neil Nedley.

Dr. Nedley is both an M.D. and a devout Christian.

Yes, I firmly believe we should all exercise, eat properly, study scriptures, and follow the other steps which Dr. Nedley has wisely taught.

We should all try our best to lead happy and healthy lifestyles.

But I also believe that rumination can serve a useful purpose.

My own rumination has sharpened my mind and help me to define and develop my own value system.

I am beginning to be grateful for the painful experiences that I have had.

I would never have chosen these experiences, but I must have needed them in some way.

* * *
Aristotle taught in the fourth century B.C. “that all men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics, even Socrates and Plato, had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.”

Jesus Christ himself was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

He lamented:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37).

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Lonn’s Shovel

I once knew a man named Lonn Butler, a righteous man who has since gone to be with the Lord.

Lonn was 90 or so years old when I knew him.

He had pecan trees in his backyard.  A sapling had grown near one of the trees.

My wife Jan wanted to have a pecan tree in our own yard, so she made arrangements for us to go to Lonn’s home to dig up the sapling and transplant it into our yard.

So we went to Lonn’s home on a Saturday morning.  Lonn supplied the shovel.  The shovel was old and had deep cracks along the handle.  I was able to dig up the sapling, but the shovel broke in the process.

I had not placed any excessive stress on the shovel.  It was really not my fault that the shovel broke.

So we thanked Lonn for the sapling and drove away.

But I felt uneasy.  So I drove to a hardware store, purchased a new shovel, then returned to Lonn’s home to give it to him.  Lonn was very happy to have the new shovel.

* * *

The point of this story is that people are like Lonn’s old shovel.  Many have deep cracks or wounds in their souls.

Do we want to be the stress that breaks them?

We must be very kind towards others.  And we should be willing and prepared to help those whom we have hurt.

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Galatians 5:22-23

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things.

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And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.

Doctrine & Covenants 88:15

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Mark 5

[1] And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
[2] And when he [Jesus Christ] was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
[3] Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
[4] Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
[5] And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
[6] But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
[7] And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
[8] For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
[9] And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
[10] And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
[11] Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
[12] And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
[13] And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
[14] And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
[15] And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

* * *

Many people today suffer from depression. Psychologists have developed a method called cognitive behavioral therapy to treat depressed patients. Medical doctors may prescribe SSRI medication to these same patients. Other counselors teach that exercise, healthy diet, proper sleep, and massage therapy are the answer. Each of these treatments has merit.

But certain types of depression have deep spiritual causes. In these cases, the patients must ultimately solve their spiritual problem in order to be cured from depression. The secular therapies are thus at best a means to strengthen the patients so that they can then solve their foundational spiritual problems.

* * *

What is the source of a person’s spiritual problems? There are many possibilities.

Two categories are:

1.  A person’s own sins
2.  Sins afflicted on that person by others

The consequences of one’s own sins have been dealt with repeatedly in the scriptures, as well as by modern-day clergy.

Dealing with the abuse that one has suffered due to the sins of others is a more problematic topic. Such abuse can come from family members, schoolmates, bosses, political leaders, or even trusted clergy. Bullying behavior may occur in any of these relationships.

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.  Doctrine & Covenants 121:39

The problem with abuse is that it may create an opening in the soul of the victim for a legion of demons to enter and torment the victim for many years, or even a lifetime. The victim may then in effect live among tombs, which are monuments that perpetually bring to remembrance the pain of the abuse.

The victim may feel separated from God and unloved by Him.

Yes, the victim must forgive the abuser. There are myriad scriptures which teach the necessity of forgiveness, including Matthew 6:14, Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 6:37.

But the healing process is much more comprehensive and must be holistic.

Wallowing in self-pity is counterproductive, but the victim has a right and need to seek out a supporting group of others who will acknowledge that that his or her pain is real.

Too often the victims are blamed for taking offense, with little or no responsibility directed to the abuser.  People who so judge the victims add to the pain inflicted by the abuser himself.

The victim may also need to physically separate himself from the abuser, particularly if the abuse is chronic.  The abuse may even serve as a needed catalyst in the victim’s life, so that he can move on to a better situation.

Some would recommend that the victim write a letter to the abuser and then destroy the letter without sending it.

But the author of this blog suggests that the letter should be sent.  However, the victim should not expect any contrition from the abuser.  If the abuser were compassionate and caring, then he would not have comitted the abuse in the first place.

The victim must realize that the abuser was not acting as an agent of God, even if the abuser was professing to act in God’s name.

The victim must understand that his torment is the result of the demonic spirits inflicted upon him by the abuser.

The victim must realize that the abuser is tormented by his own demonic spirits.

Understanding the process of demonic transference is a key to the moving forward through the healing steps.

Again, the victim must forgive the abuser as part of the healing process.

The victim must also embrace the healing power of Jesus Christ through prayer, meditation and scripture study.

The light of Christ casts out the darkness of Satan.

(This section is based in part on sermons given by Katie Souza, to whom the author expresses gratitude.)

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Exodus 15:26

. . . for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

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Malachi 4:2

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness (Jesus Christ) arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

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Psalm 143

[1] Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
[2] And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
[3] For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
[4] Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.
[5] I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
[6] I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
[7] Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
[8] Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
[9] Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.
[10] Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
[11] Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
[12] And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

* * *

As I search the holy scriptures,
May thy mercy be revealed.
Soothe my troubled heart and spirit;
May my unseen wounds be healed.

From LDS Hymns, As I Search the Holy Scriptures

* * *

We are not meant to stay wounded. We are supposed to move through our tragedies and challenges and to help each other move through the many painful episodes of our lives. By remaining stuck in the power of our wounds, we block our own transformation. We overlook the greater gifts inherent in our wounds — the strength to overcome them and the lessons that we are meant to receive through them. Wounds are the means through which we enter the hearts of other people. They are meant to teach us to become compassionate and wise.

~ Caroline Myss

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“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”

– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

* * *

– Tom Irvine

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This is the beginning of my scriptural teaching blog.

Scriptures will be taken from the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and other sacred texts.  The posts will include commentary.

The purpose is to give glory to Jesus Christ, who is Yeshua HaMashiach.

Thank you,
Tom Irvine

Email:  tomirvine@aol.com

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