The Stem, the Rod, and the Root

After prophesying that Israel would be conquered, using a metaphor of a tree being chopped down or burned, Isaiah presents an image of rebirth: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1, 2 Nephi 21:1 As he does frequently, Isaiah gives us two parallel phrases... Continue Reading →

A Solemn Assembly

Today is the Jewish holiday Shemini Atzeret, which falls the day after the seven-day festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. The word shemini (שמיני) means eighth, and atzeret (עצרת) is a "solemn assembly." The Lord commanded ancient Israel twice to observe this day: "Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto... Continue Reading →

“I Have Not Spoken in Secret”

Isaiah emphasized to his people that the Lord had communicated very clearly what they needed to know. "I have not spoken in secret," he said; "from the beginning, from the time that it was declared have I spoken; and the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me" (Isaiah 48:16, 1 Nephi 20:16). Nephi added his own... Continue Reading →

A Light Thing

Overemphasizing trivial things can create unnecessary anxiety. But trivializing things that really are important can be much more dangerous. After the First Vision, Joseph Smith was surprised when a religious leader treated his experience "not only lightly, but with great contempt" (Joseph Smith—History 1:21). Joseph knew better than to deny or deemphasize his experience. He... Continue Reading →

“My Opinion”

As Alma counseled his wayward son Corianton, he discussed the doctrine of the resurrection, a topic that had confused and troubled Corianton (Alma 40:1). In this sermon to his son, Alma explores the boundaries of his knowledge about the topic. He says, "There are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But... Continue Reading →

“There Came Prophets”

A recurring theme in the Book of Ether is the arrival of unnamed prophets, warning the people of difficult days ahead and urging them to repent. These prophets were consistently rejected by the people but were sometimes protected by righteous kings. Here are some examples: During the reign of Shule, the fourth king, "there came... Continue Reading →

“The Time Is Past” – 3 Nephi 1:6

Samuel the Lamanite preached to the Nephites in Zarahemla during the eighty-sixth year of the reign of the judges (Helaman 13:1-2, 16:1-9). During that sermon, he said, "Five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name" (Helaman 14:2). He provided an unmistakeable... Continue Reading →

On Prophets and Pride

In Samuel the Lamanite’s teachings in Helaman 13-15, he is quick to point out the pride that has overtaken the Nephite society.  Samuel the Lamanite declares: ...for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are... Continue Reading →

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