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Archive for the ‘Joseph Smith’ Category

The patriarchs, prophets and kings of the Old Testament constructed altars unto the Lord. Early altars were built from unhewn stone.

The altars were used for burnt sacrifices and offerings. They were also used for prayer, worship, covenants and as memorials unto the Lord.

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And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Genesis 8:20

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And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

Genesis 12:7

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And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it, The LORD is my banner:

Exodus 17:15

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The Temple in Jerusalem had two altars. The first was the Altar of Burnt Offerings. The second was the Altar of Incense.

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Jesus Christ gave his own life as the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.

We can construct our own “spiritual altars” unto the Lord by taking time each day to pray, study the scriptures and ponder His grace and mercy. Upon these same altars we can lay our offerings of service to the Lord and to our fellow man.

As David wrote:

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:7)

* * *

6) Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

7) Behold, 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.

2 Nephi 2

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The Prophet Joseph Smith described offering “your whole soul” as serving God with all your “heart, might, mind and strength” (Doctrine & Covenants 4:2). It is to put on the altar of God your time, talents, gifts and blessings, your willingness to serve, to do all that He asks.

– Elaine L. Jack, “A Small Stone,” April 1997

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– Tom Irvine

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Last Sunday I gave a talk in my church at the request of my bishop. The assigned topic was “The Five Elements of Missionary Preparation,” presumably for the benefit of young men and women.

I have been concerned, however, that many of our young people who earnestly want to serve missions cannot do so for medical and other reasons beyond their control. They often feel disheartened as a result. I thus wanted to reassure them that there are plenty of other ways for them to serve the Lord and their fellow man.

From there, it was an easy step to reach out to all those in the congregation who are suffering from health problems or other afflictions.

I am including a link to my written talk. The one I actually gave had some minor variations. And I gave the talk with a depth of emotion that the written words may be unable to convey.

Yes, I strayed from the assigned topic, but several of the members were moved to tears. We are a very perfection-driven people in my church. We need to pause and admit that we are imperfect people living in a fallen world. And acknowledge that salvation comes only through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Download Link/Tom_talk2013.pdf

– Tom Irvine

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The united tribes of Israel had grown steadily in wealth, power and glory or 120 years, under the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam became the next king. Rehoboam raised the taxes, which caused the northern tribes to rebel against him.

Jeroboam became the king of the northern tribes. He was a wicked king who set up his own worship system using non-Levites as priests.

Jeroboam also built two golden calves as idols and placed them in the cities of Bethel and Dan. He instructed the people to worship the golden calves:

It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (1 Kings 12:28)

* * *

1 Kings 13

[1] And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
[2] And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
[3] And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
[4] And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
[5] The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.

The Lord then healed King Jeroboam’s hand.

King Jeroboam then invited the man of God to come to his home and to receive a reward.

But the man of God refused.

“If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.”

The man then began his journey to his home in the land of Judah.

An “older prophet” who lived in Bethel then appears in the story and invited the man of God into his own home.

The old prophet proclaimed to the man of God:

“I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.”

But the old prophet lied unto him.

The man of God then entered the old prophet’s home and ate dinner with him.

The old prophet then chastised the man of God.

“Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee. But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.”

The man of God was then killed by lion, soon after he left the old prophet’s home.

* * *

David R. Reid wrote the following.

In the tale of two prophets, most likely the older prophet was a believer in the true God, and was not directly a part of Jeroboam’s false system of worship. But rather than stir up trouble for himself by speaking out publicly against King Jeroboam I, or moving south to Judah as others had done, he remained in Bethel, retaining his local prestige as a “retired prophet.” Rather than “rock the boat,” he went along with the system for his own selfish purposes. Perhaps he was like one of the 7000 silent believers who lived in the idolatrous northern kingdom in Elijah’s day. (See 1 Kings 19:18.) But when the younger prophet from Judah boldly denounced the king and his false system of worship, the older prophet was stirred into action.

Unfortunately that action was not channelled in the right direction. Maybe the older prophet was miffed that God had left him on the sidelines–even though his passive lifestyle and lack of commitment had made him unsuitable for God’s use as a messenger. Maybe he had an exaggerated notion of his own importance as a prophet in the Bethel area. Maybe he was jealous of the youth of the prophet from Judah. Whatever the case, the older prophet lied to the younger prophet. He misdirected him–and actually persuaded him to disobey the Lord’s will!

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This is an extreme story. But it is worthy of careful consideration for application to our own lives.

I am skeptical that the people we personally meet in our religious settings would intentionally lie to us and tempt us to disobey God while simultaneously claiming authority from God. Yes, there is an occasional wolf in sheep’s clothing, but these individuals are rare.

The far greater concern is well-meaning but misguided people who would dissuade from some mission or purpose that the Lord has charged us with. These individuals might even claim some authority as they attempt to correct us.

Yes, we all have need of correction.

But we must follow the Lord first. We should prayerfully seek to develop discernment using the Holy Spirit to guide us. We must also become thoroughly grounded in the holy scriptures. We can then discern whether the words of others are truly from God.

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I came across this Biblical story as I recently sat in a dentist office waiting room. A Bible was sitting on a small table in the room. I said a prayer in my heart asking the Lord to give me a personal message from his holy book. I then opened the Bible to what otherwise seemed to be a random location. The result was the story of the man of God from Judah.

* * *

After I wrote the initial blog post, I came across Joseph Smith’s commentary.

Smith’s interpretation was that the old prophet was truthful in the sense that an angel really had commanded him to invite the man of God into his home for dinner, but that this was all a devised test of the man’s obedience.

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– Tom Irvine

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One of the first references to Zion in the Bible is:

Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. (2 Samuel 5:7).

This scripture refers to a military battle in which David captured a fortress on Mount Zion from the Jebusites.

Mount Zion is a hill outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The name Zion also became a synonym for Jerusalem itself.

Zion is used 197 times in the King James Bible. This number includes the alternate spelling Sion.

An example which foreshadowed the exile of the Jews to Babylon is:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. (Psalm 137:1)

“Return to Zion” refers the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile to the Land of Israel after the destruction of the First Temple, following the decree of Cyrus the Great. These events are recorded in the Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

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Zion is also used to refer to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.

In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. (Psalm 76:2)

The temple is understood to be God’s dwelling place.

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The phrase “daughter of Zion (or Sion)” is given 28 times in the Bible.

The apostle John wrote of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem in the days before the Last Supper.

Fear not daughter of Sion, behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. (John 12:15)

This was a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.

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Zion is used 45 times in the Book of Mormon, mostly in reference to Isaiah scriptures.

An example is Mosiah 12:

[21] How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth;

[22] Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion;

(Cross reference: Isaiah 52:7-8)

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Zion is also used several times in the Doctrine & Covenants.

An example is:

Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn. (Doctrine & Covenants 97:21)

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“The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory.”

– The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr.

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“Zion is both a place and a people. Zion was the name given to the ancient city of Enoch in the days before the Flood. ‘And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion’ (Moses 7:19). This Zion endured for some 365 years (see Moses 7:68). The scriptural record states, ‘And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is fled’ (Moses 7:69). . . .

“The Lord called Enoch’s people Zion ‘because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them’ (Moses 7:18). Elsewhere He said, ‘For this is Zion—the pure in heart’ (D&C 97:21).”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign, Nov. 2008

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– Tom Irvine

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A friend raised the question whether Job was a real person. My understanding and belief is yes, he was real.

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Ezekiel refers to Job along with Noah and Daniel.

Ezekiel 14

[14] Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

[20] Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

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James draws upon the example of Job to comfort the suffering, proving the point that God is merciful. He commends the endurance of Job.

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)

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Doctrine & Covenants Section 121 gives a prayer and prophecies written by Joseph Smith the Prophet while he was a prisoner in the jail at Liberty, Missouri, dated 20 March 1839. The Prophet and several companions had been months in prison. Their petitions and appeals directed to the executive officers and the judiciary had failed to bring them relief.

The Lord answers Joseph Smith’s prayer:

[7] My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

[8] And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.

[9] Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.

[10] Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.

* * *

The Book of Job teaches many important lessons.

Job’s suffering explains why developing character is more important in God’s eyes than the trials and pain we experience.

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Centuries ago the man Job—so long blessed with every material gift, only to find himself sorely afflicted by all that can befall a human being—sat with his companions and uttered the timeless, ageless question,

If a man die, shall he live again? (Job 14:14)

He later answered his question:

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (Job 19:25-26)

* * *

If any of us feels our challenges are beyond our capacity to meet them, let us read of Job. By so doing, there comes the feeling, “If Job could endure and overcome, so will I.”

Job was a “perfect and upright” man who “feared God, and eschewed evil.” Pious in his conduct, prosperous in his fortune, Job was to face a test which could have destroyed anyone. Shorn of his possessions, scorned by his friends, afflicted by his suffering, shattered by the loss of his family, he was urged to “curse God, and die.” He resisted this temptation and declared from the depths of his noble soul, “Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.” “I know that my redeemer liveth.”

Job became a model of unlimited patience. To this day we refer to those who are long-suffering as having the patience of Job. He provides an example for us to follow.

– President Thomas S. Monson, They Marked the Path to Follow, October 2007

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– Tom Irvine

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We quote the following verse when we celebrate Christmas:

[6] For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9

Jesus Christ is our everlasting Father.

* * *

The Bible gives us the following story.

[25] And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
[26] And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
[27] When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
[28] For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
[29] And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
[30] And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
[31] And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
[32] And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
[33] But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
[34] And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

Mark 5

What was the greatest blessing that women received? Was it the healing from her illness?

The greatest blessing was that Jesus loved her as his daughter. And his love gave her true peace.

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Jesus Christ addresses Joseph Smith as “my son.”

Joseph Smith was not satisfied with the programs of redemption taught by the religious leaders in the community where he lived. After investigating the basic beliefs of various denominations, he stated that he “cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom” he could go. While calling upon the Lord, the young man testified, “I was filld with the spirit of God and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life.”

Milton V. Backman, Jr., Joseph Smith’s Recitals of the First Vision, Ensign, January 1985

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King Benjamin taught his people:

[7] And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

Mosiah 5

* * *

Jesus taught in John 3 that a man must be born again, and born of water and of the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ is the Father of our spiritual rebirth. We become sons and daughters of Jesus through faith and rebirth in his name.

Jesus loves us so much that he gave his very life for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross at Calvary.

But the third day passed, and Christ has risen from the dead! (1 Corinthians 15:4)

Now let us love our Father Jesus as he has first loved us as his own sons and daughters. (1 John 4:19)

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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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.”

* * *
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.

* * *
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.

* * *
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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