Sunday, April 13, 2008

Isaiah 32 & 33

Righteous Leadership

The time will come when the Savior will rule and reign on the earth. As a result, the people of the earth will find a refuge from lies, false understandings and all the deceptions of the devil. The Savior will be a "hiding place from the wind" and a "cover from the tempest" and water in a dry place and a shadow from elements (Isaiah 32:2).

As a result, the people of the earth will see and hear and understand things as they really are. Fools will be seen as fools, knaves as knaves, nobles as nobles and honorables as honorables (see Isaiah 32:3-8). To clarify, Satan has so thickly deceived us that in many cases our society praises liars and hypocrites while we shun and scorn good people. We call good evil and evil good (2 Nephi 15:20). But when the Lord comes again, all the shrouds of deceit will fall and we all will see people and ideas as they really are.

When Christ reigns, He will govern the earth by the power of the Priesthood. John Taylor once taught, " I shall … briefly answer that [the priesthood] is the government of God, whether on the earth or in the heavens, for it is by that power, agency, or principle that all things are [upheld and] governed on the earth and in the heavens, and [it is] by that power that all things are upheld and sustained. It governs all things—it directs all things—it sustains all things—and has to do with all things that God and truth are associated with.

“It is the power of God delegated to intelligences in the heavens and to men on the earth. … When we arrive in the celestial kingdom of God, we shall find the most perfect order and harmony existing, because there is the perfect pattern, the most perfect order of government carried out, and when or wherever those principles have been developed in the earth, in proportion as they have spread and been acted upon, just in that proportion have they produced blessings and salvation to the human family; and when the government of God shall be more extensively adopted, and when Jesus’ prayer, that He taught His disciples is answered, and God’s kingdom comes on the earth, and His will is done here as in heaven, then, and not till then, will universal love, peace, harmony, and union prevail.” (“On Priesthood,” Improvement Era, June 1935, 372.)

Righteousness is Peace

Isaiah 32:17 is another one of those gem verses. "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."

What is the "work of righteousness?" To me this means becoming a true disciple of Christ. It is not an easy work. But if strive to follow the Savior's teachings of denying ourselves (Luke 9:23) then we are on the path of discipleship.

Neal A. Maxwell wrote, "What is it that we are to deny ourselves? The ascendancy of any appetites or actions which produce not only the seven deadly sins but all the others. Happily, self-denial, when we practice it, brings great relief. It represents emancipation from all the “morning after” feelings, whether caused by adultery or gluttony. Being concerned with tomorrow, true disciples are very careful about today! Self denial also includes not letting our hearts become too set on any trivial or worldly thing. Then we can learn the great lessons about the relationship of righteousness to the powers and the joys of heaven.

"The fundamental fact is that if we do not deny ourselves, we are diverted. Even if not wholly consumed with the things of the world, we are still diverted sufficiently to make serious discipleship impossible. As a consequence, all the gifts and talents God has given us are not put meekly on the altar to serve others and to please God. Instead, we withhold to please ourselves. Diversion, therefore, is not necessarily gross transgression, but it is a genuine deprivation, especially if we consider what we might have become and what more we might have done to bless and to help others.

"Ironically, the natural man, who is so very selfish in so many ordinary ways, is strangely unselfish in that he reaches for too few of the things that bring real joy. He settles for a mess of pottage instead of eternal joy.

"By denying the desires of the natural man to the degree that they exist in each of us, we avoid this diversion, making it easier for us to take up the cross of discipleship. Of course, when it occurs in our lives, emancipation from various forms of bondage brings no celebrating parades, nor does it make the evening news. But it is big news because we “come off conqueror” (D&C 10:5).

"So it is that discipleship, far from being ascetic, is to choose joy over pleasure. It is to opt for the things of eternity over the trendy and appealing things of the moment. Eventually, we become readied for the final moment of consecration, when, gladly and completely, we let our wills be swallowed up in the will of the Father. Jesus did this in Gethsemane, where he said, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What was God’s will? That Jesus complete the Atonement. Even so, Jesus prayed, “Take away this cup from me” (Mark 14:36); and still later he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Yet Jesus yielded. (Neal A. Maxwell, “Becoming a Disciple,” Ensign, Jun 1996, 12)

I believe that in denying ourselves and truly seeking the will of God, we then are able to "work righteousness" and in turn we find peace, quietness and assurance for ever.

Fear of the Lord

Isaiah 33:6 says, "And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the Lord is his treasure."

Ludlow cross references four scriptures to this verse. Each note the association of wisdom and fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:7 - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Proverbs 3:7 - "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil."

Job 28:28 - "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."

Psalms 111:10 - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments."

Marion G. Romney gave a good explanation of the word "fear" in this context.

He said, "Now, I have done a little homework on the meaning of the word fear as here used. And I assure you that the Psalmist did not intend it to mean dread, fright, terror, or dismay. What he did intend to express by whatever word he actually used was “profound reverence.” Webster uses this phrase, “profound reverence,” as one of the definitions of fear. A more meaningful version of the Psalmist’s statement would be, “Profound reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

"Let us consider now for a moment the significance of profound reverence. One definition of profound is “arising from the depth of one’s nature.” Reverence is the soul of true religion. Its seedbed is sincerity. Its quality is determined by the esteem in which one holds the object of his reverence. And this esteem is evidenced by his behavior toward that which he reverences. When one reverences God, the profoundly reverent person has a worshipful adoration coupled with a respectful behavior toward him and all that pertains to him. One who has a profound reverence for the Lord loves him, trusts in him, prays to him, relies upon him, and is inspired by him. Inspiration from the Lord has always been, and now is, available to all mankind who have a profound reverence for him. (Marion G. Romney, “Converting Knowledge into Wisdom,” Ensign, Jul 1983, 2)

Eternal Life

Isaiah teaches what we must do to inherit eternal life or "everlasting burnings" (Isaiah 33:14, see also Joseph Smith Jr., “The King Follett Sermon,” Ensign, Apr 1971, 13–14)

We must walk righteously, speak uprightly, despise the gain of oppressions, shake our hands (fingers) at bribes and corruption, stop our hearing of violence and close our eyes to all evil.

If we do these things, we "shall dwell on high" with our Lord.

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