Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book of Jarom and the Plan of Salvation

My scripture study this morning was in the Book of Jarom. The following few verses really stuck out to me (emphasis mine): 
Jacob and his father, Enos. Image here.
2 And as these plates are small, and as these things are writtenfor the intent of the benefit of our brethren the Lamanites, wherefore, it must needs be that I write a little; but I shall not write the things of my prophesying, nor of my revelations. For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me. 
3 Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks; nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them, and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land. 
4 And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked. And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith. 
5 And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.

Fighting Lamanites. Image here.
The Book of Jarom and I have a really nice history. Early on in my life I was very in favor of the so-called "War on Terror" (what does that even mean, anyway?), but after a very intense study of the Book of Jarom, I changed my tune. The whole book is only one chapter, so you can also do a very intense study of the book in not a lot of time. In the chapter, we learn about the Lamanites who "loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts," and how they "came many times against us [...] to battle." Sounds like modern-day terrorists to me.

Except the "kings" and "leaders" who "were mighty men in the faith of the Lord" did not go hunting the Lamanites out of existence, and did not take the war to them, and did not invade their lands. Instead, these mighty men in God's wisdom prepared for war by "fortify[ing] [their] cities," making "weapons of war," and "diligently exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence [...] persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him."

Verse 12: "And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance."

Anyway, I read all of that and thought--gee whillickers! THAT is how to withstand modern day terrorism! Fortify your lands, prepare for war, and repent repent repent and keep the commandments. Bam.

But today, those first five verses really stood out to me. I feel like my life now--and probably many of your lives now--is characterized by a lot of revelation. I feel like almost every day I'm learning something new and amazing about something, whether it is a revelation about the nature of the universe, or about the human body, or about my specific life, or about the lives of my clients. I spend a lot of time now enjoying direct tutelage from the Spirit, and I love it.

So I really super love what Jarom teaches in verse 2. There he is, a man of revelation, having received lots of revelations, but when it comes right down to it, he opts against sharing the things that have been revealed to him, because they all pale in comparison to the importance of the Plan of Salvation.

This is so, so true. At the end of the day, all the other things we learn from the Spirit are minor in comparison.

Jesus the Christ. Image here.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so amazing in this regard. On the one hand, it is complex enough that you can receive spiritual downloads about it every day and still barely scratch the surface of its immense complexity. There is so much to learn about how it all works!
And yet, it is so simple that a child can understand.

One reading of the Book of Mormon, and every major question you ever had about life's purpose is answered.

One discussion of the Plan of Salvation can utterly change your life.

Just yesterday I was reading about a Holocaust survivor who had some serious questions about God after his experiences--can you imagine if he and his rabbi had understood the Plan of Salvation? What a huge relief and comfort it would have been. What peace it could have brought. From the interview:
Eisenhower liberated me in concentration camp. He came with his other general, and they saw the piles of bodies that they couldn’t burn. The Jews were on the bottom, and I was the only guy because the Czechs, they didn’t march me to death because of my Czech friends. They said you are a Czech. You’re not a Jew. Stay with us. So I was the only Jew the rabbi found. He was looking for a Jew. He said, “I’m a rabbi. Are you Jewish? I’m looking for a Jew.” I said I’m a Jew. I’m a Jew. Come over here, talk to me. So he came over and talked to me. 
I said you’re not a rabbi. You’re Jewish. You’re a soldier. He says no, I’m a soldier rabbi. So I’m asking you one question. Can you do me a favor, not for me, for my 4-year-old brother that I know now that he was burned? Where was God? Not for me, because I might have sinned. Maybe I deserved to be here, but my four-year-old boy had no sins whatsoever. He didn’t live long enough. He could have been a rabbi like you. Why didn’t God help him? 
He says I can’t answer you because I’m not prepared to answer your questions, so I started crying. I started crying because I said to him who am I going to ask? You’re the rabbi. You’ve got to help me, thinking because I believe in God, save me. So I’m not asking for myself. My brother could have been a rabbi like you. You don’t know what he would have become. God didn’t know yet because he didn’t sin yet. All of us maybe have a little sin. Whatever happened, God is a busy man. I understand that.
Reading that just broke my heart. For so many reasons, but especially because no one involved here understood the plainest part of the Gospel:

That we are God's children.
Image here

That He loves us.

That we lived with Him before our mortal birth.

That we all agreed in a Council in Heaven to come to earth to learn to be more like God.

That we understood we would be tested and tried and be given growth opportunities, opportunities for growth that couldn't have happened any other way.

That that we knew we would all fail.

That God promised He would send us a Savior, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins and enable us to repent  and heal and come home after our mortal probation.

That everything in life is for our ultimate benefit: even that hard stuff, even the indescribably hard stuff, even the stuff that seems unfair and that doesn't make sense.

That even when things seem unfair, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everything is fair--and merciful.

Can you imagine if that rabbi had had access to that knowledge?

Or if either of them had had access to a scripture like D&C 121? Even when I was a small child, D&C 121:7 brought me so much peace. I remember being a kid and thinking of it as I struggled with physical, spiritual, and emotional health problems. What a huge comfort it was. And is.

The Plan of Salvation is the most important thing.

So I guess in keeping with my Jubilee preparedness blogging: spend some time today with the Plan of Salvation. If you've never heard of it before, read up. If you are familiar with it, spend some time feeling grateful for it, praising God for it. This is the most important thing we can know.

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