Friday, May 30, 2014

Jarom 1:10-12 -- On Avoiding Destruction

"And it came to pass that the prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed from off the face of the land.
Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.
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."
Jarom 1:10-12

This is interesting.  Things like this, and some of the extreme punishment or "hellfire and brimstone" speeches can make God appear cruel or tyrannical.  We can start to think of God as power-hungry or abusive as a father-figure.  I don't think that it is actually the case in any of the scriptures.  Although we don't always see the reasons behind it, there are reasons.  For instance, having Nephi kill Laban.  Seems bad, right?  Murder is wrong.  In Nephi's case, God explains himself by saying that it is better for one person to die, than for an entire nation to dwindle and perish in unbelief... which is apparently what would have happened if they had been unable to acquire the brass plates.  There are similar things in the Old Testament that it is hard to understand as well.  And I am definitely not an advocate of "kill everyone who doesn't believe the way that you do" or "kill to get what you want" or anything similar.  But in those things, as in this passage, I think maybe we should remember that it is God we're talking about.  He can see everything, and although I don't think that he wants to use threats or floods to change things or get people to listen... sometimes we really are that stubborn, and we won't listen any other way.  I know that there have been times in my life where the kind, gentle approach wouldn't work.  To get back on track, I needed a real wake-up call.  I needed to see that I was endangering my soul or harming others.  And I am *thankful* that God shows me the stark reality when I need it.  Maybe we all need it sometimes.  Threats and having our hearts pricked with the word. :)  But at the same time, even when we need the wake-up call, God is still persuading us in gentler ways, to look to Christ, and to learn the principles and follow them diligently... we just need to get a little more in tune so we can pick up the gentler lessons, which is the way that God teaches most of the time.  It's kind of like being in a classroom and we just tune out completely, lost in whatever else it is... sometimes the teacher has to drop a book on the desk and startle us before we can hear even the most important lesson that we want to learn.
Today, let's listen and stay aware of God, so we can learn in gentler ways... but when God has to give us a harsher wake-up call, let's be grateful rather than resistant.  He's trying to save us, and we are very stubborn and slow to listen.  Let's remember what we risk, each day, and not blow off God's persistent protectiveness, and the extreme measures he sometimes uses to try to get our attention.  Like the Nephites, maybe listening will help us avoid destruction. :)

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