Wednesday, January 27, 2021

 Seven Rechabite Migrations
Recorded in The Book of Mormon

Two of the main themes of The Book of Mormon are (1) that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Redeemer of all mankind, and (2) the scattered House of Israel will be gathered in the latter days. But how did the House of Israel become scattered? Much of the scattering occurred as people whose inclination was to live righteously had their prayers answered and were led to new lands of safety. As I stated in my last two articles, Hugh Nibley called this the Rechabite principle.

The Book of Mormon recounts some of the migrations that caused Israel to become scattered. At least seven migrations are recorded in this volume of scripture.

1. The Jaredites flee Babylonian society. Sometime after the flood, the supremely ambitious and conniving Nimrod strove to establish a new world order—one that wasn’t based humankind achieving salvation by willingly living the principles of salvation, but rather one that was built the idea of “salvation through legislation” by a ruling class. Nimrod believed that he was wise and powerful enough to establish laws that would force all creation to behave in ways that would ultimately achieve the perfect society. He believed he could control even the elements and thereby prevent future calamaties including any future flood—if only people could be forced to obey his dictates. His Tower of Babel was to form the administrative capitol of the world. His quest drove him mad. Achieving his goals required him to come out in open defiance of God. Apocryphal accounts say that at the end he ascended to the very top of his tower and, having usurped the title of “mighty hunter”, even shot arrows into the sky in an attempt to kill God.

But the Jaredites would have not of that. In faith and humility they gathered like-minded family and friends and fled into the unknown wilderness. In Ether 1:38 we read, “And it came to pass that Jared spake again unto his brother, saying: Go and inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land, and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go. And who knoweth but the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth? And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance.”

The Book of Ether, contained within The Book of Mormon, recounts their history.

2. Lehi and his family take Ishmael and his family and flee Jerusalem into the wilderness. This account starts on page 1 of The Book of Mormon (around 600 BC) and ends in the final pages amidst great destruction (about 421 AD). See 1 Nephi chapter 1 through 2 Nephi chapter 4.

3. After arriving in the promised land, Nephi and those who followed him flee his corrupt brothers, Laman and Lemuel and their followers. These “Nephites” flee northward into a land they call “the land of Nephi”. See 2 Nephi chapter 5.

4. The Nephite King Mosiah flees the land of Nephi with his people to the land of Zarahemla. See Omni verse 12.

5. The people of Mulek, the only son of Jerusalem’s King Zedekiah to have survived the great Babylonian onslaught, flee Jerusalem and are led to the promised land. They settle in an area further north than where Lehi and his people landed. Eventually these two major groups intermingle. See Helaman chapters 6 and 8.

6. Alma the elder and his followers flee the reign of wicked King Noah and the land of Lehi-Nephi. See Mosiah chapters 17, 18, 23, and 24.

7. The converted Lamanites (who become known as the “People of Ammon” or the “Anti-Nephi-Lehies”) flee Lamanite society and settle in the land Jershon. See Alma chapters 21 through 27.

Clearly the Rechabite principle, though not mentioned by that name, is evident throughout the entire Book of Mormon.

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Orem, Utah—January 27, 2021—©2021 Daniel Kemper Lubben

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

 Who Were the Rechabites?

We can read of the Rechabites in Jeremiah chapter 35. They lived as a people apart even when living in the city Jerusalem.

1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,

2 Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.

3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites;

4 And I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door:

5 And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.

6 But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:

7 Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.

8 Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;

9 Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed:

10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.

But when the Rechabites couldn't live according to their own manner while dwelling in Jerusalem they fled to the wilderness. This is a pattern we see among more pious groups of people from the days of Adam right up to our own time. When you can't stand the heat, you get out of the kitchen. 

The great Latter-day Saint scholar, Hugh Nibley, says, "This is the Rechabite doctrine. When Israel or Jerusalem becomes wicked, the pious go off and live by themselves in the desert and wait for God to give them more revelation."

Nibley further explains, "We are told in Jeremiah 35 that Jonadab ben Rechab and his son were righteous, and they were so blessed. They were the only people that were not corrupt in Jerusalem. They were blessed by having special offices in the temple forever after that. They went out to live in the desert by themselves. They would not live in houses of stone, and they would not even cultivate the ground. They would live as John the Baptist lived." ~See Nibley’s Commentary On The Book of Mormon, Lecture 58—A Review of Book of Mormon Themes, pages 25, 26.

Who were some of the contemporaries the Jeremiah and Jonadab and the rest of the Rechabites in Jerusalem about 600 B.C.? Besides Daniel and Ezekiel there were Lehi & Sariah, and their first four sons, and Ishmael & his wife and their offspring, and let's not forget Laban and Zoram.

What are the chances that Lehi was well acquainted with the Rechabites?

The Rechabites lived aloof from society whether living in the city of Jerusalem or alone out in the wilderness—as did Lehi and his family. They chose to live the commandments of God and to be guided by divine revelation—as did Lehi and his family. As a group they fled into the desert and lived in remote areas east of the Jordan and south of Jerusalem—the same areas that Lehi and his followers passed through on an epic journey to their promised land. The Rechabites were experts in metal working—as at least Nephi seemed to be. They lived in tents—as did Lehi and his party. They were a temple-oriented society—as the Nephites also proved to be. And when they could no longer live peaceably amongst a wicked society, they fled.

Nibley goes on to say, "So the ancestor of Ephraim is Egyptus. Don't worry about that. But that gives a terrific mixture because the Eqyptians were already a mixture of at least seven different lines. Asenath had at least seven. Remember they [Lehi's family] were half Manasseh. They were on the other side of the Jordan. They were desert Arabs. They all had Arab names, as you find in the Book of Mormon. [Lehi's family] marries up with Ishmael. A Jew isn't going to be called Ishmael because Ishmael was the enemy of Jacob. Ishmael was the father and hero of the Arabs. He [the Ishmael in the Book of Mormon] had his daughters marry the sons of Lehi. You can be sure they were Ishmaelites because Lehi himself was a desert man. He was a merchant who traveled in the desert. [Ishmael] would be his cousin and an Ishmaelite."

The Book of Mormon reads like a string of Rechabite events with the more pious continually fleeing out into one new wilderness after another as the societies around them inevitably grew corrupt. It isn't difficult to understand that the propensity for wandering was in their blood.

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Orem, Utah—January 26, 2021—©2021 Daniel Kemper Lubben

Monday, January 25, 2021

 The Rechabite Principle
in a Nutshell 

When I lived in Houston in the early 1980s I had a good friend named June ("JU-nee"). June had immigrated to Texas from Korea in his early 20s.

One day the topic of Tae Kwon Do came up. June said that he had learned Tae Kwon Do when serving in the Korean military—as all military recruits must. I asked him, "Do you remember it?" 

"No, I forget just about everything. But I remember the most important thing."

"What's the most important thing?"

"If you can't beat your adversary, run away."

I laughed.

"It's not funny. It's the real truth. If you can't beat your adversary, what is smarter than running away? It's better than the American philosophy."

"What is the American philosophy?"

"Don't Americans say, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?"

I think I probably laughed again. "That's certainly an expression but I don't think we usually mean it as a philosophy of life," I told June. "I wonder if any other nationalities have a different philosophy."

"Oh, yes." said June. "The Japanese."

"What's the Japanese idea?"

"If you can't beat your enemy, kill yourself."

Knowing of the age-old rivalry between the Koreans and the Japanese, I took June's words with a grain of salt. June, was, in fact what you call a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. 

He named another philosophy: fight to the death even if your chances of winning seem to be zero.

Though June wasn't the sort to be prejudicial against individuals because of their ethnicity, religion, or philosophies, there was a grain of truth in the ideas he was expressing—namely that there are different ideas that people may subscribe to, consciously or subconsciously, as individuals, as part of a society, or as a society taken as a whole. 

And so, to recap, there are different philosophies on how to deal with an unconquerable adversary. Four key philosophies are:

1. Run away. "Get out of Dodge" another American expression goes.

2. Adapt to the adversary's terms. "Go with the flow." Or, "Go along to get along" as a couple more American expressions go.

3. Refuse to let your enemy gain the upper hand by sacrificing your own life. "Saving face," perhaps?

4. Fight to the death, even though your own death is the surest outcome. "Remember the Alamo," anyone?

It seems to me that whether we're talking about Americans, or the rest of human societies on planet Earth, that the most popular ideas are to adapt to the adversary's terms or to fight to the death. 

The "Rechabite" philosophy is based on the idea that if you can't conquer your adversaries—or convert them to your views—then you should distance yourself from them. In such a situation, what is smarter than divorcing yourself from that society and fleeing so far away that that society has no influence over you?

And yet, how infrequently do people choose that wisest course? Hardly ever. When they do those people are following what scholar Hugh Nibley calls the Rechabite principle.

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Orem, Utah—January 25, 2021—©2021 Daniel Kemper Lubben



Friday, January 22, 2021


Are There Dogs in Heaven?

Years ago, Kristin and her husband made the decision to have their 15-year-old German Shepherd put to sleep.

Their two boys were aged three and five at the time. The younger boy kept telling everyone, “Our dog died and now he’s up in Heaven with Jesus.”

After several days Kristin’s five year old grew exasperated. He asked Kristin, “Mommy, why can’t Jesus just get his own dog and send ours back?”

Are there dogs in Heaven? Of course, there are. And Jesus makes sure they're all taken good care of. Just ask any child. 

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Orem, Utah—January 22, 2021—©2021 Daniel Kemper Lubben

Thursday, January 21, 2021

 Did William the Conqueror Kill
Any of Your Ancestors?

In the fall of 2000 when I was living in Houston my mother came to town for a visit. On a Saturday morning I had a sudden thought, “I ought to take Mom to the Clayton Library today.” When I asked her she said, "Sure, I’d love to go." Three hours later we were doing family history research in Houston’s Clayton Library, one of the best genealogy libraries in the country.

Clayton Library has a collection of over 15,000 family histories from throughout the entire USA—all placed on shelves in alphabetic order by last names. We went our separate ways down different aisles. Just a few minutes later Mom broke the silence saying, “Francis Marion Woodruff. Francis Marion Woodruff. I’ve been looking for you for 20 years.”

With the addition of Francis Marion Woodruff (1837-1912) to our family tree I was eventually able to trace our Woodruff line back to Matthew Woodruff (1616-1682). I had hit a jackpot. Matthew Woodruff is a common ancestor of Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) and of my great-grandmother, Nettie Lee Woodruff. Wilford Woodruff’s family has been avidly doing family history research for nearly 200 years. By adding Wilford Woodruff’s ancestry to our Woodruff line, we can trace our ancestry back to Roman times prior to the birth of Christ.

I am, for example, a 27th great-grandson of William the Conqueror (1028-1087) and his wife, Matilda of Flanders (1031-1083). I am also a direct descendant of most of the Plantagenets.

Looking back through these names you get the idea that European royalty were truly the jet-setters of medieval times. One generation would be born in England, the previous generation in Italy, the one before that in Russia, the one before that in Egypt, and the one before that in Paris.

One Saturday I sent a copy of my updated genealogy file to my cousin, Lynnie. I pointed out that both she and I were 27th great-grandchildren of William the Conqueror.

The following Monday evening Lynnie called me. She had told three of her fellow teachers in the teachers’ lounge that morning that she is a 27th great-granddaughter of William the Conqueror.

“Who’s that?” two of them asked.

Lynnie was practically speechless. Her immediate thought was, “Helloooo! You’re educators! You should know who William the Conqueror was.”

In typical Lynnie fashion she related, “I just told them, ‘Well, he probably killed half your ancestors’…and then I thought, ‘Thank goodness...fewer idiots in the world!’”

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Orem, Utah—January 21, 2021—©2021 Daniel Kemper Lubben

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

 When Government Thugs Come to Your Door, Remember This...

Imagine you an armed guard, a real tough guy. Your job is personal body guard for a prominent political figure. You know your employer is highly corrupt—but he pays you well.  

You are sent with a small legion of men—including your superiors—to arrest a controversial figure by night, out of the public eye. You have your misgivings but your personal code of ethics is to just do your job. The work you do helps establish order in a turbulent society, after all. And besides, you're proud of your prowess, your skills, your dedication. You're never afraid to be front and center when coming face to face with lawbreakers and troublemakers.

Your name is Malchus. The year is 33 A.D. The place of the arrest is an olive orchard on a steep hillside facing Jerusalem's eastern wall from across the Kidron Valley.

An unexpected turn of events causes your name to be memorialized in scripture for thousands of years into the future:

And being in an agony he [Jesus] prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 

And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.

But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?

When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?

And one of them [Peter, the chief apostle] smote the servant of the high priest [Malchus], and cut off his right ear.

And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.

Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?

When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.

Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house.

If you were Malchus, how would you feel? What would be your thoughts? How might your life be changed?

We can't point a finger of blame at Peter whose bold instinct is to defend his best friend from armed thugs. Against all odds Peter flashed his sword in defiance of the contemptible cowardice displayed by low-lifes in high positions in the cover of night. 

Jesus has just suffered excruciating emotional pain. His clothes are stained red with his own blood. One of his chosen insiders has just betrayed him to his worst enemies—less than one minute ago. The full weight of massive power is about to crush down upon Jesus. And you are an integral party to his suffering.

But in response to Peter cutting of your ear, Jesus (this man you have come to arrest) isn't thinking about himself. Instead, he picks up your ear and miraculously rejoins it to your head. His actions and words show pure love and utter compassion for your own pain and suffering—just as much as if you're an innocent babe. But you know you're not.

We know from the scriptures what happens during the next 24 hours and during the next three or four days. 

But how are you changed, Malchus? And what would you want to say to all the rest of us?

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Orem, Utah—January 20, 2021—©2021 Daniel Kemper Lubben

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