Sweet Fruit, Bitter Fruit

After my previous musing, I thought I might share some more in depth thoughts on the subject…

…it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. (2 Nephi 2:15)

So which was sweet and which was bitter. Surely our first thought must lead us to believe that the fruit of the tree of life was sweet, but not so (despite the opinions I’ve read on other blogs and sites). It was the forbidden fruit (the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) that was sweet.

The fruit of the one which was “bitter” was the tree of life, and the forbidden fruit was the one which was “sweet to the taste” Harold B. Lee CR April 56 page 109.

Harold B. Lee also stated:

Now that is the way it ofttimes sounds, that the things that are forbidden are the things which are the most desirable, and the things that are right for us are sometimes pretty bitter pills for us to swallow, as we say. (Teachings of Harold B. Lee pg. 13-14)

It makes sense to me that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was sweet to the taste. It is a desireable thing to have knowledge of good and evil. Recognizing the sweetness of the fruit of this tree may have meant that yes, they possibly did partake of the fruit of the tree of life. God say they could surely eat of any tree in the garden except for the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

… it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet. (D&C 29:39)

So this begs the question, was the tree of life that Lehi partook of in his dream the same tree of life in the garden of eden? The surroundings sound much different and there was no cheribum and flaming sword guarding it. This one I don’t know. It may have been “just a parable.” It does represent the tree of life in the interpretation given by Nephi.

And just maybe the fruit of the tree of life is “most precious and most desirable above all other fruits” now, but was not at the time. Have any of us eaten fruit that tasted bitter, but would have been more sweet if we’d just given it a bit more time to ripen?

Waging War

As I was reading Numbers chapter 31 this morning, I was thinking about the first two verses where it was the Lord who commanded them to “Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites.”

I tried to picture this in our day. Would God ever command a people to go to war today? Certainly the Lord has made it clear that there are instances where war may be justified.

Now we all know there is a war going on today. President Bush has declared war on terrorists. Would God have us as a nation avenge ourselves of the deaths that occurred on September 11th, 2001? Would God not have us seek out and destroy those whose desire is to destroy us as a nation? Images of Captain Moroni come to mind. Images of the Lamanites seeking out the Gandianton robbers come to mind.

What are your thoughts?

Apostles and Disciples

Have you ever noticed that while Jesus called 12 apostles in the Old World, the twelve he called in the New World were not “called” “Apostles”. They were called “disciples”.

1 Ne 12: 8-9:
8 And the angel spake unto me saying: Behold the twelve disciples of the Lamb, who are chosen to minister unto thy seed.
9 And he said unto me: Thou rememberest the twelve apostles of the Lamb? Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them; for ye are of the house of Israel.

Why is that? The word “apostle” means “one sent forth” (BD Apostle). The apostles in the Old World were sent forth to the world (or the surrounding countries anyway) to preach the gospel to those who hadn’t heard it. But the disciples in the Americas were not sent to preach or minister outside of the few thousand people that were preserved after the earthquakes and destructions surrounding Christ’s death. Perhaps that is why the title “Disciple” is given to them rather than “Apostle”. I just found that interesting.

The Bands of Death and the Chains of Hell

In Alma chapter 5, Alma gives one of his most famous sermons on having a “mighty change of heart” and receiving His image in our countenances.

He also mentions in that sermon, the “Bands of Death” and the “Chains of Hell”. What do these phrases mean, and what could they symbolize? I’d like to share my thoughts on the subject.

The Bands of Death

The bands of death represent the physical death we will experience. I picture a thick rubber band in my mind, although I’m sure Alma had a different image. The point is, the band is breakable, and has been broken. Who broke it and what does it mean? Christ broke the bands of death when he was resurrected. Because the bands are broken, death is now overcome. All of us will one day rise again after our physical death and receive a resurrected body. This is a free gift to all regardless of what we do in this life. That is why the band is broken, not simply stretched or loosed. The effects are permament.

The Chains of Hell

The chains of hell, on the other hand are not as breakable. In fact, in this analogy, they are never broken at all – only loosed. These chains refer to the bondage of our sin, and the effects of the atonement. Unlike the universal gift of resurrection given regardless of our performance, the atonement is only effectual to those who have faith and repent of their sins. In this way, the chains can be loosed and we can become free of our sins, but the chains are still there to grasp us again if we fall once more into sin. (Or I suppose you could also think of loosing the chains, and stepping out of their grasp, but if you fall into sin again, you’ll get re-lassoed.) It is all up to us whether we want to sin and be in chains, or repent and have them loosed. I suppose we can consider ourselves free from them completely after the Judgment (officially broken?).

Modern Day Morianton

I was reading in Ether 10:11-12 this morning and I just couldn’t help but think of President Clinton. I was in South Africa on my mission during the whole Lewinsky escapade. It was an embarrassment to America. But I know a lot of Americans loved Clinton because our economy was so good at the time. I remember watching President Hinckley on Larry King Live state that Clinton was a very talented man, but he has some morality issues he needed to work out. Do we have modern day Morianton?

11 And he did do justice unto the people, but not unto himself because of his many whoredoms; wherefore he was cut off from the presence of the Lord.
12 And it came to pass that Morianton built up many cities, and the people became exceedingly rich under his reign, both in buildings, and in gold and silver, and in raising grain, and in flocks, and herds, and such things which had been restored unto them.

Killing those who don’t support freedom

This post may get a little political, but I’ve recently been reading in the book of Alma, chapter 62 (and other places), where dissenters of a “democratic” society who were in support of overthrowing the government and establishing a king, were about to cause the cause the downfall of the whole community. These “king-men”, as they were called were given a choice: support freedom, or be put to death. Many still chose death and fought to have a king even though it had proved destructive in the past. Pride and hopes for power are often what drove these men to support a king. They wanted to rule.

My question: What is the difference between killing one who doesn’t support freedom, and killing one who doesn’t support a dictator? Then what about killing someone who doesn’t believe as you do?

Maybe the difference is in the motive?
If your reason for killing is so you can have power and fame, that’s probably not a good reason.
If your reason for killing is so your civilization won’t be overthrown by wars and dissentions, then perhaps it’s a bit more justified.

Maybe it’s simply a matter of being based on truth?
Freedom IS God’s way. It’s the only way that really works. Although isn’t killing someone for their beliefs in a way taking away that freedom? I suppose that depends on the law.

Any other thoughts?

The Great Experiment

So what if Nephi and his brethren did not return to Jerusalem and obtain the brass plates? What if they had no scripture, or records of their ancestors?

Well, my guess is they would have become as the people in Zarahemla. The people of Zarahemla also came from Jarusalem, shortly after Lehi and his family left. They were also brought to the american continent, yet they had no scripture with them.

And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them. (Omni 1:17)

So within 300 years after leaving Jarusalem, their language became so corrupt that they could not be understood by the Nephites, and worst of all, they denied the existence of the Savior.

Wise purpose indeed that Nephi should obtain the brass plates.

Jacob 5

Oh the dreaded Jacob 5, 77 verses long! While growing up, I never quite understood this chapter. Even after a number of lessons in Sunday school and seminary. I think we spent a couple days in seminary talking about it and all I got out of it was what it meant to graft a branch into another tree, and how it was done.

Then one day in Sunday school, we had a returned missionary, Brother Woodland, that was just thrilled to give us the lesson on the aligory of the olive tree. It was very easy to tell that the class was much less excited about the subject. I don’t think anyone in the room understood it. It’s hard enough to teach a bunch of high school kids, without having such a confusing topic.

Then it happened. We read a verse that opened it all up to me. I can’t remember exactly what the verse was, but I’m guessing it was Jacob 5:25

And he said unto the servant: Look hither and behold the last. Behold, this have I planted in a good spot of ground; and I have nourished it this long time, and only a part of the tree hath brought forth tame fruit, and the other part of the tree hath brought forth wild fruit; behold, I have nourished this tree like unto the others.

After reading this verse our teacher explained that this verse talked about the Nephites and Lamanites. After that one statement the whole aligory finally opened up to me. I went home and read it and understood it all perfectly. I understood the history of the house of Israel. I shared his excitement. I love the aligory of the olive tree now!

Life Centered in Christ

I was reading in the first chapter of Alma this morning. One point that caught my eye was that because the steadiness of the people in the church, they began to prosper, and had an abundance of all things they needed. They were also able to help others who were in need, and gave much of their substance to help the poor. Yet they did not set their hearts upon their riches. I think that’s an important point today as well. The Lord does bless the righteous, but the key is to not become prideful, but remain humbly grateful and give of what you have to those around you. Keep your heart centered upon Christ, and not upon obtaining riches.

One of my favorite quotes is by President Howard W. Hunter.

“If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.”
(The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1997), 40.)