Wresting the Scriptures

While studying the scriptures we should be asking lots of questions. Why are we getting this sermon? What have the Nephites done or what are they being warned not to do? Why have they fallen into error? What are the consequences of their errors? How does this apply to me?

The main reason the Nephites have gotten into this situation is by misunderstanding the scriptures, which we will see leads to destruction.

“But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

 

Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.”1

They would have had the record of these two Kings etched on the plates of brass and they would have been justifying their actions based on wresting the scriptures from these plates.2

“For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.”3

“Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.”4

And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing. And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing. But behold, I will explain it unto thee.5

And this I do that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.6

The concept of not understanding the scriptures, or wresting them, is tied to going astray and being destroyed. We will explore this topic in further detail as we go through Jacob.7

We can’t claim ignorance, we have to get this right. “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.”8 Joseph Smith’s restoration seems to emphasize the idea of moving from ignorance, or darkness, into knowledge9 or light and truth,10 or in other words, intelligence.11 We are invited to talk to the Lord and seek further light & knowledge.12 If we’ve misunderstood this verse have we condemned ourselves?

34 And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.13

We should already understand that we’ve been under condemnation for treating The Book of Mormon lightly. Could our neglect of the most correct book contribute to wresting Jacob 2:30 and justifying a religious practice that God calls an abomination?14

“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.15

President Ezra Taft Benson spoke on this condemnation six times from 1984-1988. I’m sure many of the current generation has never considered this as we haven’t heard the general authorities speak about our condemnation for 30 years. Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke on this at BYU in 1993,16 and current president, Russel M. Nelson briefly mentions it in a talk from 1999,17 but nothing has been mentioned in this millennia.

 

Ezra Taft Benson

I recommend listening to all of these talks by President Benson. Listen to them as if you were hearing them today in general conference. Do modern talks sound like this? If not, what has changed?

I have to add a note about President Benson. He was the first President of the church that I remember as a child. Later in 2007 I was troubled by the direction of our country and felt the desire to be part of those who would rise up and save the Constitution. This of course led me back to President Benson and his message to take the Book of Mormon seriously. I have so much gratitude for the words he delivers in these talks. They have changed my life forever for the better. Thank you President Benson, God bless you and your posterity.

A New Witness for Christ – October 1984

The Power of the Word – April 1986

Cleansing the Inner Vessel – April 1986

A Sacred Responsibility – April 1986

The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion – October 1986

Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon – October 1988

Now that we know that we’re treading on an important topic, let’s move forward exploring the origins of our common interpretation of Jacob 2:30.

>>> Part 1.2 | One Interpretation, Officially
 

Notes & Sources

  1. Jacob 2:23, 26
  2. WREST, verb transitive | 3. To distort; to turn from truth or twist from its natural meaning by violence; to pervert.

    wrest | Online Etymology Dictionary

    Wrest | A Glossary of Gospel Terms

    see also, Topical Guide: Wrest

  3. Jacob 2:33
  4. Alma 13:20
  5. Alma 41:1
  6. D&C 10:57–63
  7. It should be pondered why the word of God is associated with focusing on Christ and not perishing or avoiding destruction. “And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” 1 Nephi 15:24
  8. D&C 131:6
  9. “Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge.” – Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 357

    “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 217

    “I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 364

    “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” – D&C 93:24

  10. “For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” – D&C 84:45
  11. “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” – D&C 93:36
  12. Nephi seems to understand this concept and he’s encouraging us to talk to the Lord, “Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.”2 Nephi 32:4
  13. Jacob 2:34
  14. “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” Jacob 2:24

    Abomination: “The use of religion to suppress truth or impose a false form of truth. It involves the religious justification of wrongdoing. That is, something becomes abominable when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance or is justified because of religious error.”

  15. D&C 84:54–57
  16. “Along with other General Authorities, I have a clear recollection of the General Authority temple meeting on March 5, 1987. For a year President Benson had been stressing the reading of the Book of Mormon. Repeatedly he had quoted these verses from the Doctrine and Covenants, including the Lord’s statement that the Saints’ conduct had “brought the whole church under condemnation” (D&C 84:55).

    In that temple meeting, President Benson reread those statements and declared, “This condemnation has not been lifted, nor will it be until we repent” – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Dallin H. Oaks, June 6, 1993

  17. “Not long after my call to serve as one of the Twelve Apostles, I was summoned to the office of the President of our Quorum, President Ezra Taft Benson. He expressed deep concern that members of the Church did not fully appreciate the value of the Book of Mormon. With emotion in his voice, he read to me from the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants” – A Testimony of the Book of Mormon, Russell M. Nelson, October 1999