long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How God uses families - Part 1: the scriptures

Lehi's family discovers the Liahona
The natural bond among family members is one of the most powerful tools the Lord has to teach and guide us.

This three-part series of posts is part of a larger project I'm working on. On this blog, I'll suggest that the Book of Mormon geography issue can be understood by examining how the Lord uses family relationships to teach the gospel.

Part 1 focus on the scriptures.
Part 2 focus on Joseph Smith
Part 3 focus on us

Here are some scriptural examples.

Lehi's calling was to preserve a branch of the House of Israel, along with the scriptures written on the brass plates. To help him fulfill his mission, the Lord gave Lehi a family that would motivate him to

1) think about what that calling entailed,
2) consult the scriptures (the brass plates) for guidance, and
3) seek and receive revelation that would instruct his own posterity, and through them, millions of people, including future generations of Gentiles who would read his writing.

The sons the Lord sent to Lehi exemplify the gospel message: obedience to gospel principles leads to happiness and salvation, while disobedience leads to misery and destruction. Hence, we have Nephi and Jacob in juxtaposition with Laman and Lemuel.

Lehi's fatherly concern for Laman and Lemuel led him to seek and obtain the famous dream/vision of the tree of life, the large and spacious building, etc. Later, that same fatherly concern led to him learn, by revelation, about the land of liberty, the redemption through the Holy Messiah, and the importance of agency (2 Nephi 1-2).

If all of Lehi's sons had been as faithful and valiant as Nephi, would Lehi have experienced the struggles that led him to obtain these revelations? Of course not.

Nephi's own struggles with his brothers led him to trust in the Lord more than he would have needed to otherwise.

Because of their family challenges, Lehi and Nephi searched the scriptures diligently, as is obvious from what they wrote. I think they learned from Isaiah 18 where the promised land was so they knew which direction to go and timed their departure from the Arabian peninsula accordingly.

There are many more examples from the scriptures of the Lord providing family dynamics that led to critical revelations and decisions. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each had unique family situations that led them to do what they did. Moses had an older brother, Aaron, who made a golden calf for the people to worship. David had his sons Solomon and Absalom with their respective dramas. The introductory note to Hosea says "Hosea and his family are a sign unto Israel."

What other examples can you think of?

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