1 Could This Be the Church?

Proverbs 31:1-9
Proverbs 31:1-2
31:1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
31:2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

The first verse of Chapter 31 either introduces us to a mystery king or symbolically identifies a choice that is very pertinent to our covenant labor. The identity of this king Lemuel has apparently been lost to the ages or is it a metaphor being used to bring guidance to our covenant labor. I choose to believe that God's teachings are complete and free of mystery. In that mindset let us ponder the name Lemuel and discover that which might apply to our labor with the Father. 

From Strong's Exhaustive Concordance we derive this:
Lemuel {lem-oo-ale'} from H3926 (lᵊmô) and H410 ('ēl); (belonging) to God; a symbolic name of Solomon

If we chose to allow the name Lemuel to be a symbolic name for Solomon, we can study the scriptures offered and garner much wisdom that we can apply to our temporal lives. That is good, but what if it is more? What if the name Lemuel describes a man, a city, or a Kingdom that is of and belongs to God? Consider these words from Revelations 12

Revelation 12:1-3 
12:1 And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
12:2 And the woman being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
12:3 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 his throne.

Proverbs 31:1-2
31:1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
31:2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

If we allow king Lemuel to take on the visage of one belonging to God as per the definition of his name we find a striking similarity between the son of Proverbs and the "man/child" of Revelations. 

In Revelations the boy (man/child) is identified as a future ruler and not just any ruler. He is to be the ruler of many nations and he has at his disposal, a rod of iron. 

1 Nephi 4:38-40 
4:38 And they said unto me, What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?
4:39 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;
4:40 Neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary, overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.

In Proverbs/Revelations the son/man-child belongs to God (According to accepted belief, that as creator God fathered all of creation) and is connected to the woman by vows or covenant. God expressed to His children Israel just what that covenant connection meant to them as a people.

Leviticus 26:9-12 
26:9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
26:10 And ye shall eat old store and bring forth the old because of the new.
26:11 And I will set my tabernacle among you; and my soul shall not abhor you;
26:12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Understand what we are trying to accomplish. Using the symbols of prophecy is a process of finding a thread that ties together people, concepts, doctrines, or ideals and following that thread to the point at which it breaks. Realize that if this process is to declare and affirm the truth we seek, Chapter 31 will offer us a better understanding of our fellowship with God through His Spirit and our labor within that fellowship. Already we have discovered that the son/man-child might very well be Christ or that concept of the righteous people of God who stand opposed to the organized evil of this world. This then will be the effort I offer, to discover and grasp the fullness of our labor to bring the Zion of God to the world of man.

Luke 17:20-21 
17: 20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them, and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation;
17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, Lo, there! For, behold, the kingdom of God has already come unto you.

Genesis 7:23 And the Lord called his people, Zion, because they were of one heart and of one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them.

Proverbs 31:3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

For the thread of prophecy to be unbroken and pertinent, the words of Lemuel's mother must lead her son/man-child to the righteousness of God. The first piece of advice given by Lemuel's mother, seeks to direct her son on a path of moral purity and loyalty within covenant. Notice, his strength is not to be given to women, not woman. This implies females in the plural sense. Sexual congress is a physical act that allows two people a unique and unequaled intimacy. Emotionally that same level of intimacy is available but is not required. The intimacy of this act is acceptable and is considered chaste and righteous if it is carried on within the bounds of covenant marriage. Outside of covenant marriage, sexual congress becomes corrupted and is known as the sin of fornication.  
Jacob 2: 32-33 
2:32 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.
2:33 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives, and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord,

Jacob 2:36-37 
2:36 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none: For I, the Lord God, delighteth in the chastity of women.
2:37 And whoredoms are an abomination before me: thus saith the Lord of hosts.

DC 111:4b Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.

Lemuel's mother is warning him that sexual lust in the temporal world challenges one's ability to effectively direct his own life or guide the lives of others. Christ echoes that warning for those who would join Him in His labor. The testimony of a life lived in moral purity gives credence to the words of the Gospel we seek to bring. 

Matthew 16:25-26
16:25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
16:26 And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.

Moral purity in covenant marriage reflects our need to be morally pure and chaste both temporally and spiritually. As we hold one woman above all others temporally, we hold one God above all others spiritually. To do less is to commit the spiritual adultery of idol worship or lifting up the temporal and giving it spiritual qualities.

Hosea 4:12-13
4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them; for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
4:13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good; therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

If we are to offer the world a testimony of purity it must express itself spiritually as well as temporally. Only then will the words we offer have a strong foundation on which to grow. 

Exodus 20:3-6 
20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
20:6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments

Mark 12:35 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.

Devotion to moral purity both temporally and spiritually, is important for the proper growth of righteousness within our lives. So important that it is a major concern voiced by one parent and echoed by the other. Early on in his teachings of Solomon, the student is admonished to follow the teachings of both parents. This emphasizes the notion of oneness within covenant.  

Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother;

Notice if you will how the teachings of one parent is a type and shadow of the other. The guidance of the mother in Proverbs 31:3 reflects the wisdom given to us by the Father though Solomon in Proverbs 6:23-25. 

Proverbs 6:23-25 
6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life;
6:24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange women.
6:25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Proverbs 31:3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

Moral purity is second to none as a mindset that will ensure the success of our covenant labor. This being said, I would have us focus on a newly gained concept of the need for oneness within covenant. It is pertinent for us to realize that the admonishments of the mother echo those of the father, and that those of the father are a type and shadow of the mother. Grasping fully this oneness of ideals and concepts within covenant offers us a greater understanding of the wisdom offered by Proverbs 31. 

DC 6:13b and in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word be established.

Proverbs 31:4-5
31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink;
31:5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

The moral purity of a King must be evident in every aspect of their lives. If a King is to lead a people to moral purity, they must be morally pure. They must lead a life that testifies openly of their own moral purity. In essence: To be an effective leader, one must first lead by example. If a leader demands that their subjects be pure in thought and sober in actions, they must establish those virtues as a testimony of their lifestyle. They must be the shining example of all they seek from their subjects and all they demand their lives to be. Our perfect example is Christ, and even He was led by example. 

John 5:19-21 
5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, Verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
5:20 For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth; and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

Proper leadership creates oneness of purpose and ideals between the teacher and the student. The righteous teacher/leader will recognize the growth of the student and will allow them recognized responsibilities within their unified effort. Soon the teacher and the student become one voice reaching out to all who would become one with them in their effort. 

John 5:22-24
5:22 For the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;
5:23 That all should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father who hath sent him.
5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He who heareth my word, and believeth on him who sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life.

Remember the concept of leading by example as we reach out to the world with the message of redemption. We must be in possession of the seeds of righteousness if we are to plant them. This is the foundation of, and the reason for the City of God we call Zion. The people of Zion are to be a living proof to the words of the Gospel. 

Note: See again how both the Father and the Mother share the same wisdom. In love for the child they are one. In sharing direction with the child they are one. In their oneness the wisdom they offer becomes truth to the child they love.

Proverbs 31:4-5
31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink;
31:5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Proverbs 31:6-9
31:6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
31:7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
31:8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Consider what is being said here. Throughout the ages the use of alcohol (strong drink) has been devastating to people, families, and in some instances a major cause for the downfall of societies, and nations. Yet, God is telling us here that by His design, it has a very valuable use. Is this wrong or are we to believe that alcohol was an integral part of God's perfect creation? Do we now have to accept the idea that the good or the bad in any part of God's creation is determined by the decisions we make and the actions we take? Paul opened our eyes to a difficult concept.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive a reward of the deeds done in the body; things according to what he hath done, whether good or bad.

Paul is bringing to us the concept that our decisions determine the value and the very nature of situations we are faced with. He seems to be saying that the difference between a virtuous act and a corrupt outcome can be determined by our choice. Are we in truth at the center of a creation that challenges us with possibilities we must choose between and decisions we must make? Nephi the son of Lehi offered this concept in his dissertation on the nature of opposition in the world and how it is used by God to redeem man. (2 Nephi 1:80-128) Opposition is the natural conflict between right and wrong, and begins for humanity with the rebellion of Adam and Eve and their decision to uphold and honor the ways of Satan. By God's design the conflict of opposition is resolved in the sacrifice of Christ.

 2 Nephi 1:115-120 
1:115 Adam fell, that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
1:116 And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.
1:117 And because that they are redeemed from the fall, they have become free for ever, knowing good from evil;
1:118 To act for themselves, and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the Lord, at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
1:119 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.
1:120 And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediation of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil:

Understand the importance of all that is written and what it means to us as God's children. Experience truly is the best teacher, because it gives us an intimate knowledge of what we are trying to learn. Though I might not understand starving to death, the pain of hunger is something we have all experienced. In that knowledge we begin to see the true nature of opposition in the world. As we experience fear we gain knowledge of the concept of security. Joy helps me understand sorrow. Like it or not our mistakes very often lead us to the choice we should have made. Remember, God created us with the ability to decide and a decision to make. That is man's designed nature and the very reason God brought us into a world featuring an opposition in all things. We seek to know the truth within the wisdom of God. It is opposition that allows us to recognize and appreciate truths we might not otherwise understand. We must learn how to choose the truth of God over the lust of the world. Then to those seeking God we must offer the proper use of this talent and we must offer it by both word and deed.

2 Nephi 1:122-125 
1:122 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments;
1:123 And be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit,
1:124 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein,
1:125 Which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

There is no doubt that opposition to all things exists in this world. We must understand that to grow in the wisdom of God and righteousness we must learn how to recognize truth and virtue. Does the presence of opposition make our labor hopeless, or did God create this challenge that it might be used as a testimony of God and His Kingdom. Is opposition a necessary tool for our covenant labor, and if so how are we to use it? Is it necessary that we experience all the oppositions of life to gain understanding, or has God given us another way? 

As the natural man we seem to have little choice in the way we learn. Experience seems to be the most effective teaching method.

Genesis 6: 57 And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying, Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so, when they begin to grow up sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
I am convinced that deciding to covenant with God through Jesus Christ gives us another way to grow in God and learn of His ways. In covenant we receive the Holy Spirit and gain the ability to learn and grow as Christ did.

Isaiah 7: 14-15 
7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.

The opposition in all things still exists, but our faith in God and our trust in His promises give us both God's Holy Spirit to guide us and another path to walk. This concept gained a solid foundation with this promise God made to His disciples as they reached out with the message of the Gospel. 

Matthew 5:3-4
5:3 Blessed are they who shall believe on me; and again, more blessed are they who shall believe on your words, when ye shall testify that ye have seen me and that I am.
5:4 Yea, blessed are they who shall believe on your words, and come down into the depth of humility, and be baptized in my name; for they shall be visited with fire and the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.          

Properly utilized this opposition in all things opens the eyes of both believers and unbelievers to God's authority, the authority of choice God created within man, and the faith He has in humanity's ability to use the authority of choice correctly. In covenant with God we become a living testimony of God's power to oppose the lies of the adversary and the corruption they foster in the world around us. Each time we choose God's way we bring the light of truth to a world blinded by the darkness of fear and doubt. Our choice to allow the compassion within us to become acts of charity shows the world the true strength of the Spirit within us to overcome all that the adversary seeks to accomplish. Each time we allow the Spirit of God to lead us and work within our lives we testify before the world of a way by which man's understanding can become equal to the demands of God's perfect creation. In fact, opposition creates hope for the restoration of all things. Understand the fullness we seek; opposition in all things creates hope for a world lost to sin. 

2 Nephi 1:114 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

We must realize that in our covenant labor we are to be the temporal hand of God. We are to speak His words that temporal man might hear them, and minister to the masses that they might be freed from their bondage to doubt and fear, and we must do it together. We must act in concert with others of like mind that through the Spirit of God, that we might undo what man has corrupted and open the door for God to reestablish His perfect creation. 

Philippians 2:2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

If our labor is to be effective we must offer the world an organized people of one heart, one mind, one purpose, and one God. We must lay aside the confusion of this world, and accept into our hearts the concept of one truth that is given to all by the Spirit of God; for He is but one Spirit seeking to reside in the hearts of all who believe. In covenant with the Father, that same Spirit resides in the heart of all His children and brings to them a singular purpose that serves to create unity. The Spirit that resides in me is the same that resides in you, and is the same that resides in all who covenant with the Father. We must fast from our own self-reliance and allow the Spirit within to nourish us and sustain us in our efforts together. That in truth is our only path to the oneness God seeks for His children. As we fast from our own independence we must reach-out to the Spirit of God and humble ourselves to that which will lead us to the His Kingdom.  

Isaiah 58:6-12 
58:6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
58:10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday;
58:11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

The righteous people of this world have hungered for the presence of God since the times of Adam and Eve. It seems to be a never ending fast, but God has a plan. Not only does He have a plan, He has a purpose and a design to gather and organize His people that they might labor with Him to restore the earth to a perfect righteousness that is His creation. We have found that in these first nine verses, the prophecy of King Lemuel's mother do contain guidance that is applicable and valuable to the concept of righteousness of God we call Zion. As of yet the thread of prophecy that connects Lemuel with Revelations man/child is strong and viable. Add to that the nature of opposition in the world and we see a pattern developing that might identify Lemuel's mother as the very entity designed by God to oppose the chaotic lust within the world of man. 

Matthew 16:16-19 
16:16 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16:17 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
16:18 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
16:19 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Christ and His sacrifice represent the most important first step in the design of His Church and the ability it has to bring the authority of God to this earth and His children. I pray to God that He allows me the words to bring clarity that I don't stand between His people and understanding. I am convinced the words of Proverbs 31 bring to light the needs of God's Church in a way that humanity can understand and choose to follow. I am further convinced that by applying these words to our life we will fulfill the needs of God's Church and make it a viable entity that will lead us forward in our covenant labor with God.

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