Is there a promise in Isaiah 54 to those women unable to have children?

Question

 

Gramps,

As a woman who was not blessed with children I was comforted by reading Isaiah 54 and that I would have so many children I would need to enlarge the tent. Also that being refused by the Lord as  a young wife would be for a short time and in time I would forget this. I was told that this is symbolic–having something to do with Israel. Is there anything in this to actual barren and childless women?

Shasta

 

Answer

 

Dear Shasta,

It is indeed symbolic. Isaiah uses the image of a childless woman suddenly surrounded by so great a posterity that she needs a larger tent to hold them before they overflow into the neighboring ghost towns and make them thrive.

Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

 

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

 

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:1-3).

 

Victor Ludlow explains the symbols:

“The desolate woman and her relationship to the wife can be understood in two ways: (1) The desolate woman represents the gentiles, and the wife Israel; thus the gentiles will bring forth greater spiritual fruits than Israel has delivered; (2) the desolate woman is Israel in her scattered condition, while the wife is those people remaining in the Holy Land. Thus Israel will bring forth more children (both physically and spiritually) outside the land of her original inheritance than in it. (See Gal. 4:22-31; Rev. 12:1-6.) In either case, Isaiah uses these images to symbolize the relationship of the Lord to Israel; those who join with covenant Israel are the children of that relationship.” (Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, pg. 459).

In modern times, the Lord extended the metaphor, but has Zion portrayed as both the tent whose “stakes must be strengthened” and the woman who “must arise and put on her beautiful garments” (D&C 82:14). This explains then why a very consistent Jesus quotes Isaiah 54 when preaching to the Nephites on the establishment of the New Jerusalem (3 Nephi 21-22). Donald Parry, Jay Parry, and Tina Peterson took the Nephite lectures into account for their interpretation of the symbols. They see the barren woman as “Israel, who … has never travailed with child but will rejoice to have children (meaning the blessings of the covenant) as a result of another’s travail, that of Christ ([Isa.] 53:11)”. They identify the married wife as “both the Church and the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 9; D&C 109:73-74). … [T]he children of the married wife appear to be those who first build up New Jerusalem, and the children of the desolate are those who are gathered later ([Isa.] 62:4). It seems clear that the children of the desolate are greater in number” (Understanding Isaiah, pg. 480).

So we are dealing with a passage that the Lord has consistently used for symbolism. But is it also literal? Latter-day Saints are fond of using the highly-symbolic Revelation as a proof-text that Moroni was destined to restore the gospel (Rev. 14:6). Ezekiel describes the process of resurrection as a symbol of Israel’s eventual restoration (Ezek. 37:1-14). Jesus may have intended for us to learn general principles when teaching about the Good Samaritan but that doesn’t mean that men weren’t really beaten on the way to Jericho, nor does that absolve his disciples of doing their Christian duty should they come across someone in that exact predicament. In the case of this illustration in Isaiah I think it is a symbol, but I wouldn’t limit it to that. I’ve used these verses in the past to comfort the childless and think it falls in line with the teachings of our modern Apostles:

“We know that many worthy and wonderful Latter-day Saints currently lack the ideal opportunities and essential requirements for their progress. Singleness, childlessness, death, and divorce frustrate ideals and postpone the fulfillment of promised blessings. In addition, some women who desire to be full-time mothers and homemakers have been literally compelled to enter the full-time work force. But these frustrations are only temporary. The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right” (Oaks. The Great Plan of Happiness, General Conference Oct. 1993).

 

Gramps

 

 

 

Was the flood a form of baptism for the earth?

Question

 

Dear Gramps

I’ve had this question for a long time. Was the flood a form of baptism for the earth?  And if so, is there any scriptural and/or modern day revelation that suggests so?

John

 

Answer

 

Dear John,

 

Yes, you are correct, John, the flood was a baptism for the earth.  The Lord has provided us with both a scripture reference and modern day revelation to testify of this.

First, it is mentioned in 1 Peter 3:20-21:

20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

 

 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

 

This doctrine was also taught by Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

 

“Latter-day Saints look upon the earth as a living organism, one which is gloriously filling ‘the measure of its creation.’ They look upon the flood as a baptism of the earth, symbolizing a cleansing of the impurities of the past, and the beginning of a new life. This has been repeatedly taught by the leaders of the Church. The deluge was an immersion of the earth in water.” He writes that the removal of earth’s wicked inhabitants in the Flood represents that which occurs in our own baptism for the remission of sins.   Evidences and Reconciliations (1960), 127–28; see also Doctrines of Salvation, 2:320–21.

 

This brings up the question:  If the earth needed a baptism of water, does it also require a baptism of fire?  The answer to that is also yes.

“The destruction of the disobedient at Noah’s time anticipates the devastation of the wicked at the time of Christ’s coming in glory, when the earth will receive its baptism by fire. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “In the days of Noah, God destroyed the world by a flood, and He has promised to destroy it by fire in the last days.”  The prophet Enoch saw in vision Noah’s ark, seeing “that the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked the floods came and swallowed them up” (Moses 7:43).”  The Flood and the Tower of Babel

 

 

Further, in Doctrines of Salvation, (pages 320-322 emphasis in original), Joseph Fielding Smith taught this principle and shared quotes from other leaders to support it as well:

FLOOD WAS BAPTISM OF EARTH. Now a word as to the reason for the flood. It was the baptism of the earth, and that had to be by immersion. If the water did not cover the entire earth, then it was not baptized, for the baptism of the Lord is not pouring or sprinkling. These forms are strictly man made and not part of the gospel ordinances.

 

BRIGHAM YOUNG’S TEACHINGS ABOUT FLOOD. I will give a few quotations from the teachings of the leading brethren of the Church. President Brigham Young said of the earth: “It has already been baptized. You who have read the Bible must know that that is Bible doctrine. What does it matter if it is not in the same words that I use, it is not the less true that it was baptized for the remission of sins. The Lord said: ‘I will deluge (or immerse) the earth in water for the remission of the sins of the people'; or if you will allow me to express myself in a familiar style, to kill all the vermin that were nitting, and breeding, and polluting its body; it was cleansed of its filthiness; and soaked in the water, as long as some of our people ought to soak. The Lord baptized the earth for the remission of sins, and it has been once cleansed from the filthiness that has gone out of it, which was in the inhabitants who dwelt upon its face.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 274)

 

“Brothers and sisters, I wish you to continue in your ways of well doing; I desire that your minds may be opened more and more to see and understand things as they are. This earth, in its present condition and situation is not a fit habitation for the sanctified; but it abides the law of its creation, has been baptized by water, will be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, and by and by will be prepared for the faithful to dwell upon.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 83)

 

“The earth, the Lord says, abides its creation; it has been baptized with water, and will, in the future, be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost, to be prepared to go into the celestial presence of God, with all things that dwell upon it which have, like the earth, abided the law of their creation.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 252)

 

ORSON PRATT’S TEACHINGS ABOUT FLOOD. Elder Orson Pratt taught: “Another great change happened nearly 2,000 years after the earth was made. It was baptized by water. A great flow of water came, the great deep was broken up, the windows of heaven were opened from on high, and the waters prevailed upon the face of the earth, sweeping away all wickedness and transgression–a similitude of baptism for the remission of sins. God requires the children of men to be baptized. What for? for the remission of sins. So he required our globe to be baptized by a flow of water, and all of its sins were washed away, not one sin remaining.”(Journal of Discourses, vol. 21, p. 323)

 

“The heavens and the earth were thus polluted, that is, the material heavens, and everything connected with our globe all fell when man fell, and became subject to death when man became subject to it. Both man and the earth are redeemed from the original sin without ordinances; but soon we find new sins committed by the fallen sons of Ada, and the earth became corrupted before the Lord by their transgressions. It needs redeeming ordinances for these second transgressions. The Lord ordained baptism or immersion of the earth in water as a justifying ordinance.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 291)

 

TEACHINGS OF PRESIDENTS TAYLOR AND PENROSE ABOUT FLOOD. President John Taylor said: “The earth, as a part of the creation of God, has fulfilled and will fulfil the measure of its creation. It has been baptized by water, it will be baptized by fire; it will be purified and become celestial, and be a fit place for celestial bodies to inhabit.” (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp. 408-409)

 

 

President Charles W. Penrose has left us this: “Thus the inhabitants of the earth with the few exceptions that are beyond the power of redemption will eventually be saved. And the globe on which they passed their probation, having kept the law of its being, will come into remembrance before its Maker. It will die like its products. But it will be quickened again and resurrected in the celestial glory. It has been born of the water, it will also be born of the Spirit purified by fire from all the corruptions that once defiled it, developed into its perfections as one of the family of worlds fitted for the Creator’s presence, all its latent light awakened into scintillating action, it will move up into its place among the orbs governed by celestial time, and shining ‘like a sea of glass mingled with fire,’ every tint and color of the heavenly bow radiating from its surface, the ransomed of the Lord will dwell upon it.” (Journal of The Contributor, vol. 2, p. 364)

 

Gramps

 

 

In Luke, why was the Unjust Steward commended?

Question

Gramps,

Why is the unjust steward commended for his behavior in Luke 16?

Lou

 

Answer

The parable of the Unjust Steward is among the most difficult parables to understand. For those in need of a refresher, it’s about an employee (i.e., the steward), who’s responsible for managing the assets of a wealthy man. Once the Steward learned he was going to be fired for “wasting his goods”, he called everyone who owed his master money and settled their debt for a fraction of what they owed. He did this to gain favor with these men so he could get a job once he was fired. The account in Luke reads:

5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors [unto him], and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil (this equals around 868 Gallons, about an annual yield of an orchard of 146 olive trees). And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat (this equals around a thousand bushels, equates to the harvest of 100 acres). And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

8 “..the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

(Clarifications added)

The last verse is what trips people up because it appears the Lord is condoning unethical and dishonest behavior. Which we know is not true in keeping with the Savior’s character. So why would He commend the Steward? Simply put, He didn’t.

If you look at the language in the verse, the person referred to as “the lord” is the steward’s employer and not God.  It’s clear that the Savior was not praising the steward. Rather, he was “likening” the diligence and foresight of the steward to his disciples (Children of light). Elder McConkie explained this in his book, The Mortal Messiah:

“Our Lord’s purpose was to show the contrast between the care, thoughtfulness, and devotion of men engaged in the money-making affairs of earth, and the half-hearted ways of many who are professedly striving after spiritual riches. Worldly-minded men do not neglect provision for their future years, and often are sinfully eager to amass plenty; while the ‘children of light,’ or those who believe spiritual wealth to be above all earthly possessions, are less energetic, prudent, or wise. . . .

“If the wicked steward, when cast out from his master’s house because of unworthiness, might hope to be received into the homes of those whom he had favored, how much more confidently may they who are genuinely devoted to the right hope to be received into the everlasting mansions of God!”(Bruce McConkie, Chapter 79, Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Vol. 3)

I often think to myself when I read about the FBI bringing down an organized crime ring, “why didn’t these guys put their talents to good use in the private sector?” In many respects, I think this is what the Savior is saying. He’s not endorsing the dishonest behavior of the Steward. Rather, he was encouraging his disciples to show the same kind of prudence and foresight at securing their eternal welfare, as this steward did in securing his temporal welfare.

Although there are many ways to apply this parable in our life, I thought it would beneficial to share an insight from John Widstoe, which is relevant to this parable. In regards to the blessing of temple work, Brother Widstoe said:

“Those who give themselves with all their might and main to this work…receive help from the other side, and not merely in gathering genealogies. Whosoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in return in all the affairs of life.” John A. Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1931, p. 104

and

“Whoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in turn in all the affairs of life…Help comes to us from the other side as we give help to those who have passed beyond the veil.” John A. Widtsoe, Ensign, May 1980, 40)

 

Gramps

Why was the purchase of slaves allowed during Biblical times?

Question

Gramps,

I have been discussing matters of misinterpretation with Bible versus with friends and was wondering, why are there parts of the Bible that allow the purchase of slaves?

Bryce

 

Answer

Bryce,

Interesting question.  To begin, I would say remember that the distance or gulf between where God wants us to be, and where we really are is quite vast.  In spite of this huge distance, God will meet us where we are and work to get us going in the right direction.  The whole point of Christ’s atonement is that we are not going to meet God’s standards all at once but that we can get there if we keep trying.

This gulf is clearly an individual one, and since societies are made up of individuals, it is also reflected in our societies.  Historically speaking, our thoughts on the morality of slavery is an aberration, and frankly in some locations around the globe we still struggle with it.  I feel God has been working with us a very long time to get to this point, and I am very grateful for it.

Now when we read the Bible it becomes very clear that slavery was the norm of the societies of the time.  When God had Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he tried to lift them up, but they were only ready to go so far.  So God met them where they were at.  The Law of Moses was given to provide direction and guidance in hopes of preparing them to move even closer to God.

A small part of that law outlined the purchase, selling, and proper treatment of slaves.  Like the rest of the law it met them were they were at and tried to push them to be better then they were before.

 

  Gramps

Who are the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation?

Question

Gramps,

Who are the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation ? Thank you.

Donna

 

 

Answer

Dear Donna,

Joseph Smith was asked the same question (along with a whole slew of questions on the meaning of Revelation). He replied (and it is canonized in scripture):

We are to understand that those [144,000] who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn” (D&C 77:11).

 

Gramps

What lesson did God want to teach Jonah in the story of the gourd and the worm?

Question

Kia Ora Gramps.

Could you please help to understand what lesson the Lord wanted to teach Jonah about the Gourd and the Worm? I’m having trouble understanding the story. I’ve read that the Lord wanted to show Jonah that He loves all His people. How does that show through the story? What did the Lord mean in Jonah 4:10-11?  Many thanks.

Tetoki

 

Answer

Tetoki,

Jonah is an interesting story.  Jonah was a prophet who supported Israel at a time when Israel was threatened by Nineveh.  So when the Lord told Jonah that Nineveh was wicked and ripe for destruction, it would be easy to see why Jonah would be pleased by this; and why he would be less pleased to be called by the Lord to call the city of Nineveh to repentance.

Jonah would know that if Nineveh repented, the Lord would not destroy it, and it would remain a threat to Israel.  Whereas if they did not repent, then the Lord would destroy them, and they would no longer be a danger to Israel.  He would also know that if he disobeyed the commands of the Lord, he would bring down the wrath of God on himself.

With this understanding, Jonah’s choice to flee makes sense (in a very short-sighted kind of way) .  He gets on the boat and flees Jerusalem.  When the ship is threatened, he tells them to throw him over, willing to give his life to do what he thinks is best for Israel.

The Bible states that the Lord had Jonah caught by a ‘giant fish’ for three days and then vomit him up (presumably near Nineveh).  During this time Jonah humbled himself to do what the Lord wanted.  So he goes to Nineveh and calls them to repent or be destroyed.

Now there is potential for a bit of Irony here.   Had Jonah gone to Nineveh just as an enemy Israelite, he would have most likely been ignored, maybe even killed.  His failure would have resulted in the destruction of Nineveh by the Lord due to their wickedness.  Yet he rebelled, and Nineveh accepted him as a messenger and quickly repented when he got there.  Why would they do that?  It seems that at this time Nineveh had a sea-oriented religious system and sea-themed Gods.  Image what some of the Nineveh locals would think and say if they saw Jonah get vomited up out of a fish onto the beach.  Image what they would be thinking when he started telling them that God had a message for them, and they needed to repent or be destroyed.  Clearly the Lord knew what Jonah would do, and it seems the Lord was prepared to use that to further His own ends.

But the Lord is also working with Jonah trying to get him to see the value of every soul, not just the Israelites.  That is where the Gourd and the Worm come in.  Jonah is depressed and miserable due the the fact that the city would not be destroyed.  He had prophesied doom and destruction in the name of the Lord, but due to repentance it wasn’t going to happen.

Jonah is mad at the Lord, so the Lord tried to teach him. The Lord provided a gourd or plant that protected Jonah.  The next day he sent in a worm which destroyed the gourd leaving Jonah open to the elements.  When Jonah adds that to his list of complaints the Lord uses it as a teaching moment.

The Lords states that Jonah mourns the loss of the Gourd which came up in a day and was lost in a day–a nothing and trivial thing.  Yet the city of Nineveh had sixscore thousand people (Jonah 4:11) who didn’t know any better and Jonah thinks their preservation is a bad thing?  By so doing, the Lord is showing Jonah that his priorities are more then a bit messed up.

The record of Jonah ends there, so we don’t know what happened to Jonah after that, but we can hope that he learned what the Lord wanted him to learn and that he repented of his attitude and actions.  This is something we all need to be careful of, not to let our own wants and desires blind us to what is truly important.

Gramps

How did the lineage of Cain come through the flood?

Question

Gramps,

How did the lineage of  Cain come through the flood?

Lynn

 

Answer

Hi Lynn,

We find that information in Abraham 1:23-24:

“The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;

“When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.”

A few thoughts on that however: First, we know that Noah cursed Ham, (Genesis 9:25 “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”) and it is possible that the above preservation of the curse in the land means that curse rather than Cain’s curse. However, as this curse from Noah occurred after the flood, it makes more sense to me that “preserved” is referring to having been preserved from before the flood, and therefore more likely to refer to the curse of Cain.

The Guide to the Scriptures entry on Ham on lds.org also draws the conclusion that, “Ham’s wife, Egyptus, was a descendant of Cain.”

Also, just so we are clear, the Church has disavowed the notion that this cursing of Cain and/or Ham has any relation to the modern Church’s priesthood ban (see Race and the Priesthood).

Gramps

 

How can the Book of Mormon have identical quotes from the Bible?

Question

Dear Gramps,

We enjoy your website. Really sorry to hear that you are no longer physically with us, but I guess we can assume you are still here in spirit. My question: There are over 120 verses in the Book of Mormon that appear to exactly copy quotations from Isaiah in the King James version of the Bible. How can this be considering that this version of the Bible was written a long time after the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, were inscribed. Best regards.

Yvonne

 

Answer

Yvonne,

Thank you for your question and I’m glad that you are enjoying the website.

Now to answer your question.  I hope you don’t mind if I refer you to an answer that was given in 2007. I believe it holds the answers to your question.

Why is some of the Book of Mormon identical to the Bible?

 

Gramps

Why did the serpent choose Eve first?

Question

Gramps,

Why did the serpent choose Eve first?

Veronica

Answer

Veronica,

The Institute Old Testament student manual explains that Eve was not tempted first:

“The accounts in both Moses and Genesis state only that Satan approached Eve, but latter-day revelation records that he first approached Adam and was refused” (Section 3-6).

What I find most interesting is that Satan’s attack on the first family was performed separately rather than on a united couple. That wily serpent seeks to divide couples – the foundation of families both mortal and eternal. Fortunately Eve’s seed (and that includes you) has been promised the power through Christ to crush his head (Strong’s concordance says this word for “bruise” can also be rendered “crush”, so grind your heel in).

Gramps

Why is the myth of the Tower of Babel presented as factual?

Question

Gramps,

Why does the Book of Mormon present the biblical myth of the Tower of Babel as a real historical event?

Raul

Answer

Dear Raul,

The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel as history, because Jared and his brother really lived through it. The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel as history, because Jared’s brother wrote it down on a physical record. The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel as history, because Ether read this record and wrote about it again on 24 gold plates (Ether 15:33). The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel as history, because these tangible plates were found and hefted by Limhi, who took them to Mosiah to be translated (Mosiah 28:11-13).

The Book of Mormon almost did NOT present the myth of the Tower of Babel as history because Alma didn’t want the story published (Alma 37:21-22).

The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel as history, because these real plates were passed down to Moroni, who translated them (Ether 1:2) and wrote the translation on some gold plates of his own. The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel as history, because a resurrected flesh and bone Moroni told Joseph Smith where his own translation of the story was kept. The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel as history, because Joseph Smith dug up an actual record and translated Moroni’s words by the gift and power of God.

The Book of Mormon presents the myth of the Tower of Babel, because it really happened. If you would doubt this event, you need to call into question the transmitters of the story. Joseph translated it from plates handled by 11 others. Are they lying? Moroni translated it from plates handed down through centuries. Is he lying? Ether recorded a story that was over a millennia old. I suppose if there’s a place for faithful skepticism it would be here. Did Ether just record an old legend passed down to him?

I see in this a fulfillment of one of the purposes of this modern scripture. In a day when many biblical events are called into question – the exodus (1Nephi 17:23-32, 40-42), the virgin birth (1 Nephi 11:18-20Alma 7:10), and the Tower of Babel – The Book of Mormon sets out to “convinc[e] … the Gentiles”, the Lehites, and the “the Jews … that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true” (1 Nephi 13:39).

I find it unfortunate that we look to scholars to explain God’s dealings with man. How much better it is to trust God’s own word!

Gramps

Could you explain the dream that Pilate’s wife had regarding Christ?

Question

Dear Gramps,

In Matthew 27:19 we read where Pilate’s wife seemed to have had a prophetic or an inspired dream, causing her to advise her husband not to have anything to do with the judgment or conviction of Christ. My question is what was the Lord trying to accomplish by giving such a dream to Pilate’s wife? Surely it could not have been an attempt to prevent the crucifixion. Any input would be sincerely appreciated. 

Robert

 

Answer

Dear Robert,

You’ve discovered yet another variation on the old theme vying God’s omniscience and omnipotence against our agency (or free will). God’s plan requires opposition, but He’s not going to be the first tempter to get the ball rolling. God’s plan requires a sacrificed Redeemer, but He is not going to command individuals to betray the Lord or put Him to open shame. “It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom offences cometh” (Matt. 18:7).

Most biblical commentators (including our own apostles) paint Pilate as someone who has painted himself into a corner. He came in rough and forceful and offended the local populace on a number of occassions. Any political capital that he came in with has long been spent. Now, when he sees such a gross injustice requested, he is powerless to stop it without yet another riot on his hands – and this one will certainly cost him his job!

For a man of conscience, he should “do what is right let the consequence follow”, but his conscience is in a stupor. He struggles to find Truth when it is standing before him. His choices are shackled by the past, and he cannot see that his own freedom is bound before him. What fools we proud sinners be.

At last, in shines a light he recognizes. His wife speaks what his conscience could only whisper. “Have thou nothing to do with that just man” (Matt. 27:19). Do the right thing Pilate! It may be too late for your job and your home here, but it is not too late for you! The leaders may stone Him anyway, they may get the new leadership to crucify Him, but you will be clean!

Pilate compromises himself. He gives in to the Jews’ request. He crucifies Grace Himself; but if he will destroy himself, he will at least satirize the Jews as well. Instead of the allegation “he said, I am King of the Jews”, Pilate has written the definitive “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:21). And like so many spiteful actions, observers may chuckle at the good ribbing, but it does nothing to cure the diseased soul.

As for Pilate’s wife, her vision falls in line with a history of women saving the men in their lives. Rebekah, not Isaac, was given the revelation that Jacob was the birthright son. Her husband (as far as our records state) did not openly accept the revelation, but he let his wife work to see its fulfillment. When the day of blessing came, he tacitly agreed with her by giving Jacob the double portion, even though he himself preferred Esau (Gen. 25, 27).

Deborah called Balak to defend Israel. He recognized the value of having a prophetess in his camp and refused to leave unless she went with him. She was for him, along with Rebekah, Pilate’s wife, and all such women-counsellors, as the personified Wisdom of Proverbs:

“Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them…. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength” (8:6-8, 14).

Had he hearkened to his wife, Pilate could “reign, … decree justice, … [and] rule” (Proverbs 8:15-16). Instead, even his Prisoner recognized his impotence (John 19:10-11).

Gramps

Who is the woman and the dragon spoken of in Revelation?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I am a little confused as to what the woman giving birth to the man child and the draqon waiting to devour the child once born.  Can you help me with this please? Thanks.

 

Answer

T,

Thanks for your question.  It’s an interesting one indeed.

The first thing that we need to know is who is the woman and who is the dragon spoken of in Revelation 12:1-5.

So let’s break it down a bit verse by verse.

A great wonderful woman

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

Who is the woman spoken of here?

The Joseph Smith Translation helps us to understand that the woman is “the church of God” and that the representation of the woman seen by John was a representation “in the likeness of things on the earth.” (JST Rev. 12:1, 7)

Now that we know who the woman is let’s move on.

A mystery child

2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

We know that Joseph Smith taught that the child of the woman is “the kingdom of God and his Christ.  So what about the imagery of birth and pained to be delivered?

Part of the consequences of the fall would be the pain a woman experiences with childbirth.   The fall brought to the world the consequences of mortality and the temptations of Satan.  Therefore bringing forth the kingdom of God is likened to childbirth.  There will be much pain and difficulty as we endeavor to bring the work forth.  But with that pain comes many miracles.  Such as with childbirth.  It is certainly a miracle that we see.

A great dragon

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

The imagery of this is disturbing.  The dragon is Satan.  In a book by Richard Draper entitled “Opening the Seven Seals, The Visions of John the Revelator” he describes the dragon as this:

“John sets this symbol against that of the woman, who represents poise, harmony, beauty, and life-giving creation…

The dragon has seven crown-wearing heads and ten horns. Note the inconsistency. There are either too many or too few horns for the heads. But God is not creating an image to be pictured but is rather communicating through symbols the nature of the thing he describes. Both numbers are significant. The seven crowns are not the laurels of victory (stephanos), which the woman wears, but diadems (diadma), symbols of political domination. The scriptures never depict Satan wearing laurels because he wins no permanent victories. The seven crowned heads suggest the universality of his rule as the king of chaos. They represent Satan’s pseudoclaim to royalty set against that of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, whom John describes as wearing ‘many diadems’ (“Rev. 19:12Rev. 19:12-‘crowns’ in KJV).

“The horns seem to denote the dragon’s all-pervasive false sovereignty. Horns symbolize power. As discussed previously, ten represents the whole of a part but not the whole itself. Thus, the dragon has great power, but John shows that he does not have all power; some portion is lacking. This is not true of the Lamb whom John depicts with seven horns, the symbol of fullness (see 5:6). Thus, John’s metaphors subtly show that the Lamb has all power and can overmaster the dragon.

“In this episode, John depicts Satan as a tremendous and frightening spiritual force working against the Church of God. But he does not work alone. John states that his mighty tail ‘draws a third part of the stars of heaven’ (AT), symbolic of his fallen minions. The tense John chooses, contrary to that shown in the KJV, is present. By this means John shows that the dragon draws his lackeys with him by clutching them in the coils of his tail. John has the dragon rise against God’s earthly authority by attempting to destroy God’s agent the moment he is born into the world. This hostile act symbolizes Satan’s attempt to become king of the earth. Once again, the Seer emphasizes the issue of sovereignty and authority. The Church during the meridian of time briefly challenged Lucifer’s domain by bringing forth the kingdom of God. The old dragon had to act with all his fury, bringing the entire legion of demons with him, to stop this threat to his kingdom.” (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 132)

Falling Stars

4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

“Joseph Smith said, ‘At the first organization in heaven, we were all present and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it.’

We know that many present at the first organization used their agency to follow Lucifer in rebellion. Lucifer’s proposals that not one soul be lost would make things much simpler but would cause us to lose all agency.

President James E. Faust had this to say:

Satan became the devil by seeking glory, power, and dominion by force (see Moses 4:3-4). But Jesus, chosen “from the beginning” (Moses 4:2), said unto God, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2). What a contrast in approaches! Wrong as his plan was, Satan was persuasive enough to entice one-third of the hosts of heaven to follow him (see D&C 29:36; Rev. 12:4). He practiced a great deception by saying, “I am also a son of God” (Moses 5:13).

Free agency, given us through the plan of our Father, is the great alternative to Satan’s plan of force. With this sublime gift, we can grow, improve, progress, and seek perfection. Without agency, none of us could grow and develop by learning from our mistakes and errors and those of others. (“The Great Imitator,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 35)

Ascending Heir

5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Now this is where it gets a bit tricky.  Who is the child spoken of here?  Is it the Savior?

Gerald N. Lund attempt to clarify this:

If that is the correct interpretation, there is a problem with the imagery. The woman is pregnant with, or in other words gives birth to, the man child. But if the woman is the Church and the man child the Savior, this is contrary to what we know to be true. The Church does not bring forth Christ. Just the opposite is true.

Others have suggested, since it is specified the child is male, that the baby represents the priesthood. But again we have the same problem. The Church does not give birth to the priesthood, but just the opposite.

One simple phrase added by the Prophet in this chapter brings the whole matter into perfect clearness. In fact, it becomes a key to our understanding of this whole section on the kingdoms of the world and of Christ. He changed verse 8 in the KJV to read, “And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the Church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ” (JST v. 7; emphasis added).

Sometimes in the Church we use the phrase “the kingdom of God” to refer to the Church itself, but technically it has a more specific meaning. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“After Christ comes, all the peoples of the earth will be subject to him, but there will be multitudes of people on the face of the earth who will not be members of the Church; yet all will have to be obedient to the laws of the kingdom of God, for it will have dominion upon the whole face of the earth. These people will be subject to the political government, even though they are not members of the ecclesiastical kingdom which is the Church.

“This government which embraces all the peoples of the earth, both in and out of the Church, is also sometimes spoken of as the kingdom of God, because the people are subject to the kingdom of God which Christ will set up.”

Now the imagery is consistent and logical. Eventually there will be a political kingdom led by Jesus Christ which will rule all nations with the word of God. That political kingdom will grow out of, and is made possible by (that is, is given birth by) the Church of Jesus Christ. And since the creation of the political kingdom of Christ signals the end to the kingdoms of the world, it is little wonder that Satan seeks to destroy the man child. During the meridian of time, the Church was not able to bring forth that political kingdom, but itself was taken into the wilderness, or went into apostasy (see JST Revelation 12:14; D&C 86:3). The man child, or the political kingdom was thus taken to heaven to await the day of the Restoration.

Such a clear and reasonable explanation of this chapter is made possible only through the JST and the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith. (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 94.)

Gramps