What are local and ethnic traditions spoken of in Elder Lynn G. Robbin’s talk in General Conference?

What are local and ethnic traditions spoken of in Elder Lynn G. Robbin’s talk in General Conference?

Question

 

Gramps,

What is meant by statement in Lynn G. Robbin’s  Nov. 2014 Conference talk: “Some members don’t realize they are falling into the same snare when they lobby for acceptance of local or ethnic traditions of their fathers .  D&C 93: 39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.”  Do you know what are the local or ethnic traditions referred to in his talk?

Karen

 

Answer

 

Karen,

The full answer is that it could be almost anything. In short, any local or ethnic traditions that conflict with the Gospel of Jesus Christ would serve to prevent someone from receiving light and truth from Heavenly Father. One example from the scriptures that comes to mind would be the hatred of the Nephites by the Lamanites. Sure, Laman and Lemuel had their sibling rivalries with their younger brother, but why was that attitude continued?

One reason it happened is that we tend to look up to our parents as examples of how ‘grownups’ must behave. Thus as Laman and Lemuel had children, those children sought to exemplify what they saw in their parents. As each generation came into its own, the pattern repeats itself.  So a sibling rivalry becomes a family tradition. As the two groups of families grew even further apart, this tradition became an ethnic tradition as Lamanites vs. Nephites throughout much of the Book of Mormon. Indeed, that lone tradition was a key element in the destruction of the Nephites and a loss of blessings to both sides over the centuries.

What is interesting in this example is that on more than one occasion, both the Nephites and the Lamanites were able to ignore that tradition of hatred for a period of time. As they did so, the blessings immediately began to come into their lives. Indeed, after Christ visited them, there was over 200 years of peace among all the people. It was so successful, they didn’t even identify themselves as Nephites or Lamanites during that time.

That brings up an interesting point that needs to be considered, and that point is the use of labels. Christ would have us all be one in unity together. Any time we label ourselves, we are immediately dividing ourselves up. Now, differences exist to be sure, however using labels on ourselves and each other creates an opportunity for contention. Contention is, by its very nature, harmful to the Holy Ghost and its ability to remain with us. When the Holy Ghost cannot remain with us, the light and truth that he testifies of cannot be given to us, or remain with us for long.

Take a look at the world as it stands today. Many of the wars and other events going on have a basis in local and ethnic traditions. Imagine if they went away tomorrow, and what measure of peace would come to the world as a result.  Now, the key to this scripture is not found on the world stage. Rather it is given to us on an individual level. The reason is because the best place and time to prevent situations like the Lamanites vs. Nephites and similar problems is at the individual and family level. Thus the problem is prevented before it can gain momentum.

Speaking individually, ‘traditions of their fathers’ could range from drinking alcohol, thus conflicting with the Word of Wisdom, to any other aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, such as modesty, body piercings, tattoos, and so on.

Having said that, at no time has the Lord said that we are to abandon our familial and cultural heritage. There is a vast and rich diversity of culture in this world that is beautiful and good, wherever it may come from. We are only cautioned against those elements that would put our salvation and exaltation at risk. We cannot look at how the world is and imagine that this is how Heavenly Father wants us to live in the eternities. There is so much more in store for us that we don’t even know about, let alone the blessings to come that we have been given. It would be foolish to let anything stand in the way of our goal as found in the Celestial Kingdom. Only then will we be able to become all that Heavenly Father has wanted us to be.

Our coming here in the first place has been to take all the steps necessary to obtain that goal. We need to be careful in our examination of what traditions are good and what traditions are bad. A prayerful examination is always the best process to use in any effort to improve our lives in the manner Christ has given us. As we do so, we will have a better view of what treasures our ethnic fathers have given us, and what traditions we can safely let go of for the sake of our eternal progress after this life is done. May God be with you and guide you always

 

Gramps

 

 

Does being from the House of Jacob have precedence over Ephraim?

Does being from the House of Jacob have precedence over Ephraim?

Question

 

Gramps,

Hi. I want to know what the distinguishable factors, blessings and responsibilities are between being from the house of Ephraim and Joseph regarding patriarchal blessing Lineage?  Mainly Joseph I don’t understand. If Joseph was split into 2 tribes, being Ephraim and Manasseh, how is it that someone can be in a tribe that was split into 2? That already makes an aparant 13 tribes and with Joseph added that’s 14 tribes. Does being in the house of Joseph have precedence over Ephraim?

Aubrey

 

Answer

 

Dear Aubrey,

I sincerely thank you for giving me the opportunity to study this topic more fully. For those that are unaware, sometimes a person’s patriarchal blessing declares that person to be of the tribe of Joseph without specifying either Ephraim or Manasseh. Joseph is indeed a tribe separate from that of the others (including his prominent children).

When it comes to the blessings and duties of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh, I can find little difference between the three. They are all heirs to the Abrahamic covenant through Joseph. I have previously compared the blessings of Ephraim and Manasseh, which I quote again here:

 “Like Ephraim’s descendants, the tribe of Manasseh is heir to all the blessings and obligations given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. A study of those patriarchs will show that regardless of which tribe you fall in, your blessing is bounteous. Studying Manasseh specifically, you will find that he is often mentioned in company with his brother Ephraim. Even centuries later, he is still mentioned alongside his sibling. The latter-day duty of Manasseh is probably best described by Moses as he blessed the tribe of Joseph: ‘[Joseph’s] glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.’ (Deuteronomy 33:17, see 13-17).

Along with Ephraim, Manasseh is responsible to gather the other tribes. Ephraim is to head up this great work, but Manasseh is to roll up his sleeves and be there at his side. As Manasseh does this, he will reap the blessing of the patriarchs with visible results. This grand outpouring of bounty is a sign of the times. The children of Lehi (a famous Manassehite) will prosper as proof that the Lord is speeding His coming. ‘But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose’ (D&C 49:24).”

 

Joseph is well-known as one of the 12 sons of Israel. This number became a symbol of God’s power, government, or priesthood, and so we find biblical authors going to great lengths to preserve it. We start with Israel himself blessing Joseph’s sons: “And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Genesis 48:5). Simeon and Reuben were cut out of the original 12 on account of their transgressions (see Gen. 35:22 and Gen. 34:25-26) and Joseph’s sons took their place. Generations later, when Moses gave his great farewell blessing to the tribes, he lists the original 12, complete with Reuben and Simeon. Even Joseph is there, but Ephraim and Manasseh are absent (Deuteronomy 27:11-13). When blessing the tribes individually, Moses plays a funny grouping game. He once again includes Reuben. He also includes Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh, but he groups all three together in a single blessing. He does the same with Zebulun and Issachar. Simeon is again dropped, yielding an even 10 blessings (Deut 33). When it came to land inheritance, Reuben and Simeon are restored as tribes, with Ephraim and Manasseh standing in for Joseph. The nice, round number 12 is preserved because Levi is set apart for a special ministry, so they were excluded from the 12 for a holy purpose (see Joshua 13-14). Finally, the list of 12 reemerges in the book of Revelation. In this case, we again have Reuben and Simeon. Manasseh is even present, as is Joseph, although Ephraim is absent (he is either represented through Joseph as the birthright son, or is missing for an undisclosed reason). Also absent is Dan, bring our number to a nice, even 12 (Revelation 7:4-8).

The moral of these stories, from my point of view, is best illustrated in an exchange the Savior had with the Jewish leadership. “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. … Ye do the deeds of your father. … Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:39-44). A person may be an heir to the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by birth or by patriarchal blessing, but the divine probate does not perform DNA tests. If an heir wishes to claim the blessings, that person must live the lives of the patriarchs. Failure to do so may leave that person cut off, as sometimes was Reuben, Simeon, or Dan. But thank God for repentance and His mercy! For walking uprightly in his or her covenants, regardless of unrighteous parents, will draw down on a person the full blessings promised by this lineage, as in the cases of Reuben and Simeon.

 

Gramps

 

 

What does it mean to have access to the blessings given to Father Abraham?

What does it mean to have access to the blessings given to Father Abraham?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

My Patriarchal Blessing says I will receive my inherited blessings through Israel directly. And that I now have access to the blessings that Heavenly Father gave to father Abraham. I don’t understand.  Also what are the blessings from Abraham and Jacob?

Marion

 

 

Answer

 

Dear Marion,

The blessing you received under the hands of a modern patriarch links you directly to the ancient Patriarchs of the Old Testament. These old “fathers”, from Adam down to Israel, renewed the old cycle of passing down priesthood and blessings to a new generation. Even Israel’s 12 sons are sometimes lumped in with the Patriarchs (you may know them better as the twelve tribes). When it comes to the cast of Patriarchs, the big three that you find grouped together (and are probably mentioned in your patriarchal blessing) are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob set the pattern for passing on blessings and renewing covenants. The Abrahamic covenant is named for the father of nations, but it was explicitly renewed with his son and grandson. Your patriarch has revealed that you are an heir of these blessings and this covenant because you are a descendant of Israel. President Faust shared:

“The house of Israel, in the original sense, meant the literal blood descendants of the house of Jacob. The Lord said to Abraham, ‘I give unto thee a promise that this right [meaning the right to receive the gospel and the priesthood] shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee’ (Abr. 2:11). By seed we mean the heirs of the body. In our time the Lord has said, ‘Thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers

 

“’For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, …

 

“’Therefore, your life and priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage’ (D&C 86:8–10).” (“Your Patriarchal Blessing“, Nov. 2005, The New Era).

The reason why your direct descent from Israel is called out (and I must admit to some guesswork here since I haven’t read your blessing), is because there are some who are adopted into the promised covenant. And now I would admonish you to read the specific blessing of your tribe as revealed in the scriptures. All of Israel’s children has a great mission tasked to him, whether he is JudahBenjaminEphraim,Manasseh, or one of the others. Read his blessings, as well as those given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as though they were your own – for you are an heir.

 

Gramps

 

 

Will You be my Gramps?

Will You be my Gramps?

Question

Gramps,

I am not married. All my relatives are dead. I am alone. I have no roots nor branches. Will you be my grandpa?

Anonymous

 

Answer

 

Dear Friend,

I am honored and humbled that you would have me as your grandpa. I have been an online surrogate “gramps” for many, many youth and adults, but that relationship is still not the same as the one that my literal grandchildren have enjoyed with me. Try as I might, it is simply not the same.

I think you are also doing a great disservice to yourself and your own grandfather in this request. In God’s kingdom, there are no orphans. There are not rootless or branchless stumps. We are connected in a chain all the way back to Adam.

Wilford Woodruff was contemplating doing something similar to what you’ve  proposed. In his day members of the Church would get sealed to a prophet or apostle under the “law of adoption”. These were men that were well respected in the community and seen as excellent persons to be associated with. Brigham Young and John Taylor had an inkling that it wasn’t the proper order for sealings, and President Woodruff received the revelation that changed this practice to the system we have today. I quote from his April 1894 conference address.

“When I went before the Lord to know who I should be adopted to … the Spirit of God said to me, ‘Have you not a father, who begot you?’ ‘Yes, I have.’ ‘Then why not honor him? Why not be adopted to him?’ ‘Yes,’ says I, ‘that is right.’ I was adopted to my father… When a man receives the endowment, adopt him to his father; no to Wilford Woodruff, nor to any other man outside the lineage of his fathers. That is the will of God to this people” (“The Holy Temple” by Boyd K. Packer, page 201).

You should look to your own grandfathers as your grandpas. Honor them as your own father’s father and mother’s mother. First and foremost recognize the eternal personhood of you and each member of your family. Just because your parents are not on this earth does not mean you are an orphan in God’s eyes. He knows your parents and your grandparents. You can probably get to know them better too (and in so doing, learn more about yourself). If you did not have the opportunity to know them well in this life, find your ward and stake family history specialists and tell them you want to learn more about your grandparents. They can help you find information about them.

You also need to recognize the divine within yourself and your own ancestry. The stories you hear will remind you just how human they were (especially when told by siblings). The grandpa you will have in the eternities will be celestialized. The flaws will be chiseled away to reveal a sanctified being. If they haven’t already received the ordinances, you should provide it for them. Again, from President Woodruff’s address:

“Go and be adopted to your fathers, and save your fathers, and stand at the head of your father’s house, as saviors upon Mount Zion and God will bless you in this” (Ibid. page 204).

Do not deny your parents or your grandparents of this wonderful blessing. Do not deny yourself this great blessing. If the ordinances have already been performed, recognize the blessings that you are an heir to through your sealing to your parents. My own grandparents left this mortal plane years ago, but I am comforted in knowing that when my work here is finished, they will be there in the spirit world to greet me as they have with other family members who have since slipped through the veil.

 

Gramps

 

Tribe of Manasseh

Tribe of Manasseh

Gramps,

We really love your site and have been a subscriber for years. Thank you for the kind service you render to those of us seeking answers. My question…My husband, (I am his second wife) has several children in the tribe of Ephraim. He has one daughter who is of the tribe of Manasseh. He is wondering why that would happen and what the responsibilities, blessings, and patriarchal blessing are of the tribe of Manasseh. Also, when someone is adopted into a tribe does it always or sometimes state that the person is being adopted into the tribe. Thanks for your help.

Shirley & CL (more…)

Can a member be from the Tribe of Judah?

Can a member be from the Tribe of Judah?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I was wondering a few things specifically about the tribe of Judah and its decendants. Could a church member be of the tribe of Judah? What are the responsibilities and blessings of the tribe of Judah? Are all Jews of the tribe of Judah? What will happen to the tribe of Judah in the last days?

McKenna

 

Answer

McKenna,

I will seek to address your questions in the order asked. First, yes a church member can be of any tribe of Israel, Judah included. I have a friend whose cousin is a member of the church and is from the tribe of Judah. Remember, all the tribes of Israel will one day be discovered, and a member of the church will easily be from one of the twelve tribes.

Second, if you read Genesis 49:8-12, we are provided the blessing given by Jacob to Judah. This blessing reveals that Judah will have blessing and responsibility within government and also that the Messiah will be born in his lineage. We know they are the covenant people of the Lord.

In most of my reading Judah is known to have been given the scepter, a symbol of power. The scepter is also a symbol regarding the branching of a tribe, which they have become and are.

If you would like more information regarding the responsibilities of Judah and what is to happen in Jerusalem, I would begin reading this Ensign from 1972. This Ensign is dedicated to what needs to be fulfilled before our Lord returns in glory.

Third, all Jews are not from the tribe of Judah. Some Jews were of the tribe of Benjamin and we have record of Anna in the New Testament who was of the tribe of Asher. The term “Jew” is a religion, and anybody that follows this religion can be defined as a Jew despite their lineage. It is similar to say, that Mormons are not from one tribe either. Mormon is a religion, by which many tribes, all of them at one point will belong to.

 

Gramps

Patriarchal blessings lineage

Patriarchal blessings lineage

Gramps I have a grandson and it stated in his blessing he was of the Tribe of Juda. None from our family has ever been from that tribe? I was told by a Patriarch that the lineage not a blood line issue but the area of governmental responsibility during the millennium?

Phil (more…)

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