And I’m Tyler.
This is the Book of Mormon central’s. Come, follow me. Insights today the prophets Nehem, Abakook and Zephaniah.
So as we as we prepare to get into this set of three books today, you’re probably noticing at this phase of our study, the Old Testament, that it’s probably become a little more difficult for you to inherently feel motivated to jump in and read because some of these minor prophets that we’ve been reading, they’re kind of hard to understand, and it feels so removed from our day. And some of the themes get repeated so often that you’re saying to yourself, if I’ve read one of these books, I’ve read all of them. At this point, it’s God getting angry and promising destruction for these people because they’ve turned their back on Him. Before we dive into Nahum, for starters, and then go through these other two books, we wanted to take a moment at the beginning of this particular lesson and break down some skills that might be useful to some of you in how you approach Scripture. Now, there’s no one right way to read or interpret Scripture. The interpretation and the declaring of doctrine, that is the role rather, of prophets seers and revelators. And for us as members of the church, as we engage with these kinds of books, it can get pretty discouraging.
You can feel kind of lost and not know how to make it a more meaningful experience. So we wanted to share with you one of many approaches you can take to your study of Scriptures. And this is actually a technique that was taught for many years in the seminary institute program. As far as how to teach Scriptures maybe a little more effectively, I would compare it to a coach going into a practice with his or her team and saying to the team, all right, now you didn’t do so well in the last game. You have got to play better. You’ve got to score more points. You’ve got to prevent the other team from scoring as many points in this upcoming game. You have to do better or you won’t win. And the team sitting there saying, okay, we knew we need needed to do better. The thing we’re struggling with is how.
If people understand the why and even the what, we’re pretty good with the why of Scriptures, right? It leads us to God. And the what of Scriptures is the words that are here. You’re right. Sometimes it’d be helpful to see additional strategies for how to get to the heart of the why. The scriptures matter to us.
Yeah, so let’s jump in. And again, this isn’t the only or the end all be all technique for studying Scriptures and teaching from the Scriptures. It’s just one approach you can take that would give you some techniques, some tools as a student of the Scriptures or as a teacher of the Scriptures to perhaps find a little more meaning in them. And it’s an acronym. U-I-A. What it stands for is understand, identify and understand. Goes with this one as well. And I’ll explain this in a minute and apply actually to follow the pattern here we’ll take off that A since it’s there. So there you go. UI. So the first thing I want to do, step one is I want to understand the context of the Scripture. Who’s writing? Who is their audience? How has it been transmitted over time? How have other prophets referred to those writings? How does it fit into the bigger picture? So we begin first with context and then we try to understand the content, the actual words on the page. What are they saying, what do they mean? The language that we’re reading is English, but they weren’t originally written in English.
So what underlies those English words or whatever language you might read in, in their original Hebrew or Greek. So we understand the setting, the context. We’ve started to understand what the actual words on the page say. And now we need to identify and understand the principles and doctrines that are contained within those Scripture words, the content and context that we’ve just wrestled with. It’s worth great effort, Elder Richard G. Scott said on one occasion, it’s worth great effort to basically boil down all the things that you’re reading into simple statements of truth, statements of principle or truth or doctrine, things that are more universally applicable to us. And then once we identify those principles and doctrines, then we can understand and dig in more deeply on those principles and doctrines until we get to the point where now we can apply those principles and doctrines to our own situations today, our own life, our own setting today. So if you look at it from an object lesson perspective, picture building a home for a minute. You come to a plot of land that you’ve purchased. Well, the first thing you do is you dig out if the water table isn’t too high where you live.
You dig out a basement and you create a foundation. You pour in a firm foundation on which to build that house. You notice the shape being in the shape of a U. We start with a foundation of understanding. Rather than going into the Scriptures, skipping this and saying, I’m just looking for principles and doctrines, or skipping both of these and saying, I’m just looking to apply the Scriptures. If you do that, you’re far less likely to be able to get much out of them because you might be applying incorrect principles or incorrect doctrines because it’s not rooted in the words of the prophets and the words from modern prophets who help us interpret these. So you start with understand and then you build different layers in this house of the principles and doctrines, and I’m going to erase this to make room. And then once you take those principles and doctrines and understand them after you’ve identified them, then you build your roof structure. So this UIA the application puts a roof over our head and it’s very relevant, it’s very timely and urgent. To protect us from the storms, we build a house. We often use the phrase in English to put a roof over our head.
So it culminates with the application of correct principles and doctrines that we have found in the Scriptures. Now, can you see the power of beginning with the Scriptures and the words of the living prophets that we don’t just go around building lessons of application? It would be like just putting roof structures on the ground that you don’t live in, that it doesn’t last very long. If you have a house that is fitly framed together, you will have this beautiful foundation of the words of God given to us from the prophets that we’ve now identified and understood more clearly the principles and doctrines contained in those stories. And then it’s those principles and doctrines that are being applied. It’s not the story. Because if you go into most lessons and ask the students after reading a passage from something like Nehem Habakkuk or Z and I and say, now, how does this story apply to you? I’m guessing most of the students are going to sit there and think. It doesn’t. The story doesn’t apply. That’s why it’s worth great effort to identify and then build on understanding those principles and doctrines that are contained in those stories.
Because it’s those principles that then get applied and actually make sense and back to that statement that was given by President Boyd K. Packer many years ago. True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behaviors. A study of the doctrines of the gospel will change behavior quicker than a study of behavior will change behavior. So rather than going in and having just a lesson on behaviors and outward applications, we start with the foundation. And we don’t spend all of our time just on the context or the content of Scripture. You put all of these pieces together to get this house fit we framed together. So this is one tool that you can put in your possible learning and teaching tool belt, a pattern that you can kind of follow. It shouldn’t be terribly formulaic and you don’t have to follow it perfectly every single time to be an effective teacher, but it’s just another approach you can take to making more sense of the Scriptures in a way that will help history become our story. Sorry for the play on words, but that’s in essence, what we’re doing is we’re going back into a foreign land thousands of years ago, thousands of miles away from most of us.
We’re reading about these events that have very little to do with our world today. And we’re taking those things from his story and we’re figuring out how to bridge the gap using these principles and doctrines to make it become our story to the point where you will be able to find yourself and the Lord on basically every page of Scripture when you use these kinds of techniques. This kind of how I really love.
This approach because it helps us to see the center part of this house is the principles and doctrines where we heard from the apostle we should spend time studying these principles and doctrines so we can apply them. I remember as a missionary I spent a lot of time trying to teach people how to apply scriptures. I came over from my mission wanting more. I wanted to understand what’s the context that’s going on in these scriptures. And I went off to graduate School of Biblical Studies and spent eight years and all I did was just excavate here. And I found myself pretty frustrated because we spent all this time excavating and I can’t recall any real and serious conversations where we talked about principles and doctrines or applications. That really wasn’t the point of my schooling in the secular graduate schools. So our hope here is that you take all this together. As a missionary, I was right way up here. As a Bible scholar, I was only down here. And I think what we’re learning here that it’s important to get the context, make sure you see those principles and doctrines so we can apply them.
The Scriptures were not revealed to look good on the bookshelf or to make you look awesome as a teacher or as a learner in Sunday school because you have cool insights. It’s supposed to be a repository for principles that help you draw closer to God by living them. Ultimately, Scripture study is meant to lead to Gospel study, to lead to gospel living. That’s what matters most.
This becomes a handbook for children of God, children of the covenant and disciples of Christ. As President Nelson has talked about, for us to actually move forward, this is the playbook. So when the coach, or in this case the prophet comes in and says we need to be better, we need to play better and be better disciples, when we ask, okay, so how do we do it? We turn to the Scriptures and the words of living prophets. That’s where we get our instruction, our how.
So should we map out some things that are going on in history?
Absolutely. So now let’s follow this pattern.
So we should give a bit of an overview. The last couple of decades of the Kingdom of Judah are very important to understand so that you can see what’s going on contextually with Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah and of course even the Book of Mormon passages in Second Kings. And you don’t need to remember every detail, but we can give you just some highlights so you can see geographically and chronologically what’s going on in the ancient Middle East that would evoke these kinds of experiences where God would need to speak through his prophets. Yeah.
So let’s start with nahom. His name is significant. And remember, we’ve mentioned this before in the Hebrew texts, the oldest texts that we have of the Old Testament. Remember that they didn’t use any vowel markings. They would only give you the consonants. And so you would have to decide, based on context, which vowel markings to put in there.
So you would see these letters in the original Hebrew, just NH and M. And is it Naha? Nahum Nuhum.
Nahom. So the NHM actually appears in the Book of Mormon, you’ll remember, ishmael he dies in first Nephi, and they bury him at a place called Nahom nayhome, and it means consolation and this sorrowing. So the way that the English translators have put it into our King James Version follows the text where in about what is it, the 10th, 11th century Ad. A group, the Maserates, got together a.
Group of Jewish faithful Jews who are trying to improve the reading experience of the Bible. And they realize, hey, if we don’t know what the vows are here, they actually knew what they were, but if we don’t write them down, people will be confused, and it’ll make it hard for people to read accurately. So they had passed down over centuries how this was supposed to be read, and they just invented a system to actually identify the vowels for the Bible.
Yeah, so they shifted from an oral tradition of how to pronounce all these things to actually a Scribble tradition where they can now make these vowel markings. And so they’re making certain decisions, but keep in mind, they could have just as easily marked those vowels as Nah home. So just know, when we’re in the Old Testament, which is Hebrew based, all of these vowel markings, they are influenced very heavily by those Masoretic texts that come to us very late in the game as far as the development of the Bible is concerned. And it’s the best we have, and we run with it.
Now, this is a very interesting biblical book because it’s focused primarily on the city of Nineveh. Now, the city of Nineveh happened to be the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrian Empire was the largest empire in the world at that time. The city of Nineveh itself may have been 20 times the size of Jerusalem at the same time. And you can see here on this map that the area of Nineveh today is now surrounded by the modern day city of Mosul, Iraq. And the Assyrians, as you’ve heard over past lessons, were ruthless people. They wanted resources, and so they ruled by blood and horror. They would go conquer and kill. They would do so many things to extract the resources from other places. And I don’t think they had a lot of friends out there. And it turns out groups of people got together and decided to rebel and fight against them for example, the Babylonians and the Medes. And Nahum seems to be living at this time, and God is speaking to him and speaking through him to the people of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, essentially saying, here is what’s going to happen to you?
You guys caused death and destruction for many people over many years. You will now reap the very seeds that you sown, and eventually the capital city gets destroyed around 612 BC. Now, many of the Assyrians fled into northern Iraq in what is now southern Turkey. And then the Egyptians really worried about the Babylonians coalesced with the Assyrians, and they decided to fight against the Babylonians. There was a massive battle place called Karkamsh in 605 BC. And the Babylonians defeated both the Egyptians and the Assyrians. And that made the Babylonians kind of like the sole major superpower in the Middle East. And the people in Judah were kind of stuck in the middle and also had some difficult situations because they had had a king named Josiah who had come to the throne very righteous, was doing this religious reformation, getting people more involved with God. And then he died trying to stop the Egyptians going to join with the Assyrians. And so it just put a lot of despair into the hearts and minds of people and Judah and then people turn away from God. And as you know, Judah got destroyed by the Babylonians.
That’s just kind of a high level overview.
Yeah. And so another thing to remember here is you’ll notice two books before Nahum was Jonah. And remember what happened with Jonah? He went to the same city and he said very few words, and the king and all of the people fasted and pled with God to forgive them, and he did, and they were spared. So this is a generation later. This is when Nahum comes onto the scene. This is after the rise. Now we’re getting ready for dropping off this cliff that Taylor has been talking about as far as their power in the fertile crescent of that region, anciently. So Nahum, you’ll notice he opens it up in verse one, the Burden of Nineveh. Have you seen how often prophetic books begin with the burden? It’s this weight to be carried and delivered to a people, whether it’s Israel, whether it’s the kingdom of Judah or Babylon, or in this case, Nineveh Assyria. It’s a burden. And I just have to say again how much I hope that we collectively, as disciples of Christ, can do more than just raise our hand in a general or a stake or award conference to sustain, prophet, seers and revelators the things that they’re given to do and the messages they’re given to share.
It’s heavy. And they need more than just our hand being raised. They need our hearts and our prayers. They need us to trust them more that they actually have our salvation and our best interest in mind as representatives of the Lord. They can’t just make up things and say whatever is going to tickle our ears. They can’t tell us what we want to hear all the time. And so it is a burden, and we can help lighten that burden, not just for profit surgeon elevators, but for your release society presidency, for your primary presidency, for your bishopric. Heavy burdens.
It reminds me of, I don’t think, Abeda, I was super happy to have to come into King Noah’s court in the Book of Mormon and say, here’s my glad. Hiding it’s, actually. I have to tell you, you’re going to be destroyed or taking a captivity if you don’t repent. And this is essentially the message that Nahum gets about nineveh, and that there’s a sorrow that’s going on about the destruction these people have brought upon themselves, but ultimately consolation that all the people who have suffered under the hands of Assyrians will eventually be liberated, at least briefly.
Yeah, it’s beautiful. So to be very transparent here, you’ll notice what we have, what we’ve been doing, trying to model exactly what we started with here, giving some context, giving some background, so that it maybe makes a little more sense. Now we’re jumping into the scriptures to read the content itself. We took the word burden. You look for some principles that are attached to that in its historical context, and then you find ways that it actually applies to us today. And now we do the same thing again with verse two. God is jealous and the Lord revengeeth. The Lord revengeeth and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries and he reserved with wrath for his enemies. So you finish a verse like that as far as the content, the words on the page, and you walk away going, wow, god’s mean. He’s filled with wrath. I need to be afraid of him because he’s just up there like a Zeus or a Jupiter character with a lightning rod in his hand waiting to smite us down. That could be a conclusion somebody could draw. If they isolate what they’re reading, you’ll notice the very next word or the very next verse.
Verse three. The Lord is slow to anger and greet in power, and will not at all equit the wicked. The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and the storm and the clouds, or the dust of his feet. So you’ll notice Nahum here is trying to teach us a principle or a truth, an eternal truth in this case. It’s about the nature and the character of God. The being that we’re trying to become like, the being that we worship, the being who gave us life and who gives us breath to sustain that life. We’ve got to know what kind of a being he is and what he’s like, what are his attributes like. And what we find out is if you look more closely at the bottom of verse two, you see all of those attributes that seem angry and wrathful and vengeful, who are they reserved for? The last line of verse two says reserved for his enemies, people who don’t want Him to be their God.
I’m going to unpack that word enemy in English comes from two Latin words not loved. So we’ve talked about being in covenantal relationship with God means he always loves us. Always, always, always. There’s nothing you can do to stop God from loving you. It’s just what the scriptures make clear. But if you choose to not love God, that in Latin means ename, not loves. So he’s basically saying, you will have to suffer the consequences of purposely and insistently and in a long term situation, choosing to turn away from me, you will not get my blessings of protection. And so people might see that the bad things happen in their lives. Is God being furious? It Mary be. If Nathan had said it differently, say God is in distress and sorrows. Remember Naom’s name. He’s sorrows that people will suffer the fury of justice and the wrath of consequences of bad choices. And God feels sorrow about that. But in this case, you can see Nahum is actually speaking to the people of Nineveh. But the people of Judah listening and probably feeling a bit comforted and consoled that their worst enemies are now suffering the consequences of what they had done, disastrously to so many nations for so many decades, that they no longer will oppress God’s people.
That’s right. And so if you look at verse three in that context, those words, the content might mean a little bit more and we might be able to find some principles, these truths that we could apply more readily to us today in our situation. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power. The implication here is for the opposite of his enemies, for those who love the Lord, those who seek Him, those who say to Him, I want you to be my God and I want to be thy people. He’s slow to anger. He’s very longsuffering and merciful. And then you get all of his power portrayed in verse four, five and six. Rebuking the seas, making it dry. Verse five. The mountains quaking at Him, the hills melting. The earth burned at his presence. The earth itself can’t even abide his coming unless it’s quickened by the Holy Ghost. It’s burned up, it’s consumed. And then notice the conclusion in verse seven. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? So if you’re reading this in a 21st century context, again, instead of getting this, oh, no, I should be really scared of God, keep it in its Nineveh context of this, people who have totally rejected Him and refused his counsel and anything that’s come from his prophets.
And here’s Nahum asking them that question. Who’s going to stand before his indignation when he can do all of that to the mountains, the hills, the rivers, the very earth. Do you think you’re going to have a chance when you’ve completely rejected Him? And then he finishes in verse seven, the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he enos them that trust in Him. Now, God knows everybody’s name, God knows everybody. But in this context, the Hebrew context of that word, he knoweth them that trust in Him. This is that much more intimate personal usage of what we would call knowing where he knows them because they’re in this relationship together. And more importantly, we know Him. We come to know his attributes, his power, his knowledge, his justice, his judgment, his mercy, his unchangeableness, his no respector of persons. All of these attributes that keep coming up over and over in Scriptures that are more than just a list of God’s attributes. There are a list of what you and I should be striving to emulate, because I’m trying to be like Jesus in all that I do and say.
I want his attributes to become my attributes as I grow grace to grace, line upon line, precept upon precept, to the point where I don’t anymore have to beat myself up when I struggle and when I fell short. As long as I can trust in Him, rely on Him in great faith and repent of my sins, and learn from those experiences to become more like Him in those attributes, then it’s a success. And I’m moving forward on the covenant path, and I don’t have to hold my present self hostage to my past self. There’s hope. There’s actually hope for me and for you, and a very bright, glorious future. When you put it in this context and you apply these principles in this.
Way, I love the consolation that he concludes with two Judah who had been oppressed by the Assyrians. And this is what he says in verse 15 behold upon the mountains the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth, peace, Oji Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows, for the wicked shall no more pass through thee. He is utterly cut off. So you can sense the relief that Judah is now experiencing, knowing that the oppressors, the Assyrians, have now received the justice that they had. So one timely spread around the world of destruction and death. The Assyrians are now having themselves, and they no longer can impact Judah. Fortunately, Judah didn’t use this consolation to fully turn to God. And we’ll see later that the Babylonians came in and took over the role of the Assyrians and conquered Judah.
And we’ll get that in the next book backhack, but for now, isn’t that motivating? It gives us a sense of hope when we take that verse that Taylor just read and we actually identify some of those principles. That the implication here of those words on the page with verse 15. It implies so again, I should make this point here more clearly. When we’re talking about principles and doctrines, truths in the Scriptures, I believe that there are really two kinds. There are the stated principles and then there are the implied principles. The stated principles are written in black ink on our white page or on our electronic devices. You can see them written there. It’s a stated principle. So there are many stated principles in Scriptures. They’re just sitting there on a silver platter. A statement such as, wickedness never was happiness. It’s a stated principle. Scripture study becomes really fun when you pause for a minute and dig down between those words on the page and try to find the implied principles. So an implied principle in verse 15. Well, let’s actually start with the stated principles that he says, the wicked shall no more pass through thee.
He has utterly cut off it’s, saying to Judah, yeah, Nineveh or Assyria has done all this damage, but you know what? He’s going to be cut off. And we saw that happen back in Second Kings and in the book of Isaiah where Sanakarib is destroyed and his army is decimated. And hezekiah didn’t have to fight the battle because God did it for him. So that’s the stated part. The implied part is that Judah had to go through many months of a very difficult trial, a very trying time. And that wasn’t a sign that God wasn’t with them. It was a sign that God was going to deliver them from their bondage and from that siege. Well, now, as we pull that principle, that implied principle off the page and think about it for a minute and then try to apply it to us today, the idea being that just because you’re trying to be a good disciple of Christ, a child of the covenant and a child of God doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not ever going to have a quote unquote Assyrian army come and siege your city and make life very difficult for you and very miserable.
Some of you are going to pass through and some of you are currently passing through terrible difficulties that you may or may not have deserved. And the point here is that if we rely on God, if we turn to Him, he will deliver us. He doesn’t always tell us when, he doesn’t always tell us how. It’s not going to be probably in the exact same way as Hezekiah and Isaiah. And the Kingdom of Judah was delivered from Sanakharib back in the 8th century BC. But he will deliver us. And we can put faith in Him and exercise our faith in Him in our trials today, just like they exercise faith in Him and were delivered in their trials in antiquity.
So as we turn to Habakkuk, we often talk about the name as a lesson. Here’s one. We’re not exactly sure what the name means. Scholars have tried to look into this for. Years, the closest we can come to is embrace. If that’s the case, it’s a beautiful name of how God embraces us in our challenges and our laments. And you’ll see a structure I found somewhere, I can’t remember exactly where, but Habakkut begins with a prayer of a lament of just there’s suffering that he’s dealing with. And God responds. And then Habakkuk prays again and says, there’s more challenges I’m facing. And God responds. And this is now chapter two. In chapter three, Habakkuk gives an additional prayer. So if you’re looking at these three chapters, this structure might be one way of helping you make sense of what the messages in the book of how to cook.
So for context, historically this fits in later than Nahum, because what’s happening here is his whole lament is focused on wait a minute, you’re letting Babylon the Chalvans come and wipe out the kingdom of Judah because the Kingdom of Judah is wicked? Well, guess what, Lord? Babylon is way more wicked than Judah. So why are you letting these very bad people wipe out your mostly bad kingdom of Judah? Look at verse one, the burden there you go again. Which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O Lord, how long shall I cry? And thou wilt not hear, even cry out unto thee of violence and thou wilt not save. Are any of you noticing echoes? A variation on the theme from Liberty Jail in Doctrine Covenant, section 121, when Joseph opens that incredible lament prayer. O God, where art thou and where is the pavilion that coverth thy hiding place? Why are you hiding from me? It’s the same prayer here, verse three. Why does thou show me iniquity and cause me to behold? Grievance for spoiling and violence are before me, and there are that raise up strife and contention, therefore the law is slacked and judgment death never go forth.
For the wickedness compass about the righteous, therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. So he’s asking this difficult question why are you letting the Babylonians, the Chalvians, circle about the righteous? Now we know from Lehigh, from Jeremiah and from other prophets at that time, ezekiel and Daniel, things were not exactly righteous in Jerusalem at this time. And so the Lord responds. And as it says here in verse five through eleven, notice verse six. We’re going to summarize his response in verse six. For low I raise up the chaldians.
Which is another word for Babylon.
Babylonians, that bitter and hasty nation. So he’s basically saying to have a cook. You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know perfectly well about the Chaliens. I know they’re bitter, I know they’re a hasty nation and they shall march through the breadth of the land to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. They’re going to be this conquering, destroying army. They are terrible and dreadful. Their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. It’s that idea of their own making I haven’t inspired this. I’m not making them do this. Their violence, their wickedness, it’s of their own making, but I’m allowing it. And now that brings in the question, so God, why would you allow this more wicked nation to do this to your nation? Yeah, they’ve had struggles, they’re not great.
That is essentially what Havoc could ask. In his second prayer, he’s like, okay, God, you told me what the Babylonians are going to do. But that doesn’t answer the question of why you would allow this. And it’s all the way into chapter two where God responds. It’s a little bit like Job here, where Job is in some ways prayer lamenting, lord, why am I suffering? And God does not give an immediate answer that completely sues him. He gives them lots of reasons and it eventually says, look, you’ve got to trust me on this. There’s a larger plan in place and the wheels of justice and mercy, they do turn, and I am in charge here. Things will work out and we see some of that turning out in chapter two.
Yeah. So right before we get to chapter two, I think it’s worth pointing out one verse in his second prayer of lament. Look at verse 13. Actually verse twelve as well. Art thou not from everlasting? O Lord, my God, my Holy one, we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment, and Almighty God, thou hast established them for correction. Thou art of pure eyes then to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. Therefore look at thou upon them that deal treacherously and holdst thy tongue when the wicked devours the man that is more righteous than he. Why are you letting this happen? And now the response in chapter two.
It is a good question that he asks, lord, why do the righteous suffer? I think all of us at some point in our life have asked that question, and God begins to answer. Verse two. Write the vision and make it plan upon tables that he may run that reads it, for the vision is yet for the point of time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie, though it terry wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tear. God is basically saying, I have declared these things will happen. I’m essentially allowing this to happen. Write it down, because when it does happen, it is proof that I, the Lord God, know the end from the beginning. But the end is very interesting. In fact, this may be one of the most important verses of Scriptures, and it’s usually overlooked. It says, but the just shall live by his faith. It really means the righteous or the faithful will live because of faith. Now let’s fast forward into the New Testament. Paul, who is one of the greatest New Testament writers and missionaries, uses this verse right here as his core foundational thesis statement in the Epistle to the Romans.
If you look at Romans, chapter one, verse 17, paul quotes right here and his entire epistle. Well, much of his epistle is founded on this idea that we are saved by faith, which has been a big topic of conversation among Christians for centuries. What’s interesting here is when Paul uses the phrase, he says, we are saved by faith. What does this one say?
That just shall live by his faith.
His faith. Now, we’re not exactly sure who the his is. It could be the faithfulness of the righteous person themselves. It also could mean the faithfulness and righteousness of God. I kind of like the latter one because it points us back to, yes, have a cook. A bunch of tough, difficult things will happen. But ultimately, real life is centered in God’s faithfulness to his covenant to his people. He has not forgotten his covenant to his people. Even though certain bad things are going to happen, god will eventually redeem his people and invite them back in. That’s how I read this.
Beautiful. And if you look at beyond Romans one into Romans three in that same epistle, verse 27, actually verse 26 and 27 of Romans three says to declare, I say at this time, his righteousness, he might be just in the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded by what law of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. And then in verse 28, it says, therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Now, ironically, this is the verse right here. Chapter one in chapter three of Romans is really the seed bed for the Reformation. This is really where Martin Luther begins to make some major shifts in his perception of doctrine and principles. And in his 1522 Bible, he penciled in a word in verse 28, which is considered heresy in that day. You don’t add to or take away from the Scriptures. But he did. He added the word align in German, which means alone in English. So his Bible said, therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith alone without the deeds of the law. Now, as members of the Church, we may listen to that and go, well, yeah, he took it too far.
News flash, Joseph Smith, when he was making his revisions of the Bible, he also added one word to verse 28, and the word he added was alone. He just put it two words earlier. So the inspired version of the Joseph translation says, therefore, we conclude that a man is justified alone by faith without the Jesus law. Ties in beautifully back. And all of that discussion from Paul’s epistle, as Taylor said, is rooted back here in verse four because Paul’s quoting it. He says, as it is written, the Josh shall live by faith. But the quote leaves out the Joshua Oliver by his faith.
So you’re going to remember God is in charge. And habit cook is like, how can you allow these bad things to happen? Could habit cook on his own with his works stop God from doing what God’s allowing to happen? No. But ultimately, if you trust God, he will save you. Now, there are things you have to do. We have talked about the covenantal relationship. Ultimately, it is God that saves us. And that is correct from Martin Luther and Joseph Smith that it is God’s faithfulness, it is his faithfulness that ultimately saves us. But for us to get God’s faithfulness, we have to choose to be in that covenantal relationship. So we have to show loyalty. And I see part of what’s going on here in Habakkuk is God is essentially asking Habakkuk to believe God or to trust God. How often in your life has God asked you to trust Him on something when it didn’t make sense, if you didn’t like the way it turned out or that it was going to turn out, possibly turn out. That is all wrapped up in the idea of faith. Faith is a very complex word, and in the Scriptures it’s tied up into covenantal language about loyalty and faithfulness and belief in God.
And that’s what we’re seeing with have a cook. God wants have a cook to believe in God and to trust. God has a plan. And if you are loyal and faithful to Him and stay in that relationship, things will work out and you will live.
It’s so simple and yet so powerful and true, that idea. Now, as you jump into chapter two, verse 14, further on in the Lord’s response, notice this promise for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. It’s pretty all encompassing. Brothers and sisters, we worship a God who is not up in the heavens, wringing his hands in frustration or feeling like he’s trying to play keep up or catch up with the devil’s efforts to thwart goodness on the earth. God’s made a promise here. There will be a day when the earth is going to be filled with the knowledge of his glory. Not just a little bit, but completely covering the earth with this knowledge. And don’t you love the fact that our prophet series and revelators have reminded us that? For instance, something President Nelson has taught fairly recently within the last few years is that if you spend more time on social media than you do in scriptures and the words of the Prophets and Good Books books of wisdom, then you’re far more likely to be deceived and to start believing things and therefore behaving in certain ways that run contrary to the principles of the gospel that are contained in the scriptures.
And so really the issue for me here is one of not just checking a box to say, yeah, I read my scriptures today, but it’s much deeper than that. It’s who am I trying to become? I actually want to be more like the Savior. I want to become more like my Heavenly Father. And we know what his attributes are. We know what their perfections are based on the Scriptures. And so as we strive to I love President Oakes talk years ago. It’s one of my favorites, this talk on to become, it’s not just to do the right thing, it’s to become, to grow into this identity, this eternal capacity that God has given us to grow from grace to grace. I can’t do that by sitting there waiting for it to happen to me. I have to proactively, choose to use my agency to study and hunger, hunger and thirst after righteousness, and then do my best to apply those principles that I’ve gained from the Scriptures in ways that will lead to deeper conversion and deeper commitment and deeper love for and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as I move forward. And that’s what I get out of the book of Habakkuk, is this reminder that, no, it might not make perfect sense to you.
And yes, bad things do sometimes happen to people who are deserving of better, and you sometimes see wicked people prospering and having lots of benefits. But this book teaches that doesn’t last, that’s only earthly. And God does have a bigger view.
As you were talking, I thought we call ourselves an English human beings. And maybe if we call ourselves human doing or children of God doing, it might help us remember what we’re all about here. It’s about not just being, but it’s about doing the works of God. And as we do what God has asked us, we become like Him. The way to become anything is to do what you want to become.
So to finish offaki in chapter three, I love in his final prayer how Habakkuk ends on this positive trusting in the Lord faithful. Note look at verse 17. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat. The flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will join in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hind’s feet, and he will make me walk upon mine high places to the chief singer on my strength instruments. It’s like he’s giving the lyrics to a song to the singer. Sing it. This is my message. Verse 17 though all of these bad things can be happening all around me, lost jobs, lost lives, lost health, lost opportunities, missed out on all kinds of blessings, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. It’s not rejoicing in my own successes, the things that I’ve done, which is what Assyria did. And what Babylon tried to do, and that doesn’t end well for them.
My rejoicing is in the Lord. Makes me wonder if you and I couldn’t apply that principle more fully today. And it also reminds me of Ammon in the Performance Alma 26 when he’s rejoicing and Aaron, his brother, says, I think you’re boasting. He David. No, I’m boasting in my God because in his strength I can do all things. I can overcome all this opposition that I’m facing.
I think about a really exciting sports match where your favorite team has just scored. And could you imagine if you shout enos and excitement? I mean, so we’re on the team of God and he’s scoring and we should be excited about it. Could you imagine somebody like leaning oliver, can you please be a little more reverent when your team scores? And I think God is okay, that we take great joy that in the long run his team wins and guess what? You’re on the team. So Zephaniah interesting name means Jehovah is hidden. And we talked about in Habakkuk. There’s a sense that God himself has hidden Himself from the righteous people. And Zephaniah lives kind of in the same time period with a lot of death and destruction going on, a lot of struggles among the people of Judah and Zephaniah, his name seems to represent, oh, God. We’re art, though, in the sense of, Lord, why are you letting bad things happen to good people?
Or maybe not even good people, but why are you letting more wicked people do this to people who are less wicked than them? So this book is rooted heavily in symbolism that gets used by living prophets and latter day prophets, as well as many biblical scholars to look at end times. Zeph and I is one of those books that often gets quoted as a kind of a blueprint where we can see what God is allowing to happen in some cases and what he’s causing to happen in other cases in antiquity. That then is going to be a pattern that will repeat sometime in the future. And in our days as we Oliver through these events, sometimes you hear the.
Word apocalypse or apocalyptic, which is a Greek term that literally means an unveiling God, unveils his word, his revelation, his truth. And sometimes we hear the word apocalyptic or apocalypse, we freak out in fear. And really God is simply saying, I’m actually laying out the playbook and the movie script of how the narrative, the plant salvation, is going to play out. And we shouldn’t have fear because if we only fixate on a couple of chapters where bad things are happening and miss that, there’s restoration, there’s hope, there’s resurrection, there’s the atonement, we miss things. So apocalyptic is the literary genre that we might put Zeph and I into, but it’s not intended simply to scare us. It’s God wants to be clear about what is going on. So we are not shocked when things turn out that way. Like, oh, I worship a God who knew in advance, and he told me.
So that I wouldn’t need to fear. So I see these bad things actually happening around me. It doesn’t cause my blood pressure to raise. It causes my heart to turn heavyweight and say, how great thou art. You warned us, you told us all of this would happen as part of the steps leading up to your coming. So now for the context, the setting, the historical aspects of this book. You’ll notice in verse one, the Zephaniah is given the word of the Lord as a prophet. And that the bottom of verse one. In the days of Josiah, the son of Ammon, King of Judah. So this is Josiah is right before Lehi begins his preaching in 600 BC. So keep in mind, Josiah is killed in 609 BC in Magido in that battle between the Egyptians and Judah involving both Assyria and Babylon. In that whole, it’s all coming to boiling point there. So you can see Zephaniah as a contemporary with Lehi. Basically, it’s in the same time period, roughly just right before notice verse two, I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. So it’s not as if the Babylonian destruction happens in 586, 586 BC.
And the people are like, wow, I didn’t see that coming. They have been told and told and told and told by multiple prophets over multiple years that this is going to happen. So it shouldn’t be a shock to them when it actually does happen. Verse four, I will also stretch out my hand upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He’s going to cut off all these idols of Baal and all of these false priests. They’re all going to be cut off. They’re all done so similar themes that you’ve seen over and over again that now instead of saying, why do I care, maybe we could look for some principles in here that would then be applicable to us today and say, what are some things that the prophets that God has blessed us with in our day and age? What are some of the warnings they’ve given us? You can see some warnings, for instance, in the proclamation to the World on the family, where the prophets were pretty clear with some warnings. And we can either say, yeah, but they didn’t really know what they were talking about, or we can say, wait, I know how this story enos and I know how the people treated these prophets.
Maybe one of the principles is, I don’t want to have that negative outcome like these people in the kingdom of Judah had back then. So maybe this story is a little more applicable to us today than maybe you thought before. If you look at some of those warnings that God has given us through his prophets, it doesn’t do us any good to have prophets if we don’t listen to them and then go to the Lord ourselves and seek personal revelation of how to apply that revelation that has been given for the church.
This is jumping ahead a bit but tying into what Tyler’s teaching here is chapter two, verse three. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth. It takes meekness to listen to other people, particularly prophets, and to follow their counsel which have wrought his judgment. Seek righteousness, seek meekness it may be. Ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. And you see the tie in to Zephaniah’s name. Zephaniah’s name means Jehovah’s hidden. And now he’s playing on the media’s. Name that if you want to be hid from the wickedness of the world and the death and destruction, one way to do that is to be meek enough to seek after the knowledge that only comes from God. And essentially, you will be protected in his loving embrace.
It all culminates now in chapter three with these prophecies that point very directly not just to their day but to the latter day signs of the times you’ll notice the Scripture committee. I love the heading here in chapter three of the Second Coming. All nations shall assemble the battle. Men shall have a pure language and the Lord shall reign in their midst. Sounds very millennial, very paradiseycle in its flow. And it is. It’s this promise that this earth, though we are in the latter days and though many of the signs of the times are not pleasant the destruction, the famines, the pestilence, the disease, the earthquakes and the wars and the rumors of wars, though it’s not pleasant, notice some of the pleasant things that are promised here. Verse nine. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent. I love that, that God is going to teach a new language to all people so that they can all worship purely. It’s a pure language. Sounds like what we sometimes refer to as the Adam language or the pure language originally taught to Adam and Eve.
I like the idea. It connects to the idea of Zion. One heart, one mind. And when people speak in common in a way that they all understand one another you can be of one heart and one mind. So there’s all these tie ins to other scriptures we see throughout.
And then jump down to verse eleven again, noticing the pattern. We’re trying to understand the context and the content of Scripture, trying to identify and understand some principles and doctrines and then find ways to apply those principles and doctrines before we move on and just read more content in the Scriptures. Look at verse eleven. In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings wherein thou hast transgressed against me. I don’t know about you. But I was raised in an era where when I went to primary, when I went to Sunday school and seminary, I had this image of a heavenly video camera recording everything I did, everything I thought, everything I said. And not all of that has been perfect. I am not proud of everything I’ve ever done or said or felt or desired. And I had this image in my mind of this fearful day down the road when everybody would come into the heavenly theater and see on the screen the full movie of the life of Tyler Griffin. And it scared me. I love verse eleven, if you look in that context. For in that day thou shalt not be ashamed for all thy doings.
What percentage of thy doings?
Wherein thou hast transgressed against me. For them I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. It’s that idea of there’s hope that there can be some editing. You don’t need to be ashamed. He’s going to take some of those things out. Notice verse twelve. I will also leave in the midst of thee and afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. Now we conclude with verse with this last segment here starting in verse 14. Sing o Daughter of Zion Shout, O Israel, be glad and rejoice with all thy heart. O daughter of Jerusalem. Keeping in mind your identity and who you’re striving to become, what you’re trying to become, there is great reason to sing. Shout, be glad and rejoice. I love the words in hymn number two in the English hymn book. We’ll sing and we’ll shout with the armies of heaven. The Spirit of God is causing us to rejoice in a glorious future rather than causing us to look on a sinful past and feel debilitated and feel unmotivated and feel hopeless.
Notice verse 19 or sorry, verse 18. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the psalm assembly who are of thee to whom the reproach of it was a burden. There are some of you watching who are carrying very, very heavy burdens today. Some of them spiritual in nature, some of them physical, some of them emotional, some of them relational. Heavy burdens are being born today. And notice the promise that he’s going to gather you in verse 19. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee, all that afflict thee. Brothers and sisters, we’re going through the tests and the trials of mortality. But tests don’t last forever. But God’s goodness and God’s grace and God’s love does last forever if we’ll just embrace it, if we’ll come to Him, if we’ll hunger and thirst after his righteousness, rather than spending so much time looking at and paying heed to and seeking the glories and the things that the world has to offer. And look at verse 20 at that time will I bring you again even in the time that I gather you. For I will make you a name and a praise among all people in the earth when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.
This connects right to the Abrahamic promises in Genesis, chapter twelve, where God calls Abraham and says, I will make your name great. And as children of Abraham, they all get access to that promise as you do, and those promises endure forever. Here is God acting within covenant. Sure, a bunch of things are going to happen, and that is the justice that is due because people broke the covenant. But that does not break the Abrahamic promises, which God will fulfill very powerful. And it ends with this enormous hope that we can remember that God is a God of promises and he will fulfill what he has claimed he will do.
So as we conclude today, we hope that something we’ve david or something we’ve read or some concept that has been taught, some principle or doctrine or truth has been able to sink beyond just your eardrums or your retina. On your eyes and hopefully sink into your heart to the point where you see that these stories from Nahum Habakkuk, the Zephaniah, it’s not just random. Three guys from thousands of years ago far removed from our situation, they’re actually living on this same earth that you and I are walking on today, breathing the same air we’re breathing. And though the situations may be very different than theirs, the God in heaven who spoke with them and who performed these works back then, he’s the same God in heaven today, and his promises are sure. And he will forgive us, he will work with us, he will empower us and strengthen us to do his work according to his will if we’ll just trust Him and do our best to understand the principles and the doctrines and the scriptures and apply them appropriately. And when we mess up, learn from it and repent and have greater faith in Christ to move forward and listen to the words of living prophets and apply them to the best of our ability, the future is glorious, and we know which team is going to win.
And we leave that with you. In the sacred name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Know that you’re loved and spread light and goodness.