Last week we had Dave Butler on as a guest webinar speaker. At the beginning of the webinar as I was introducing him, I shared that I had purchased his book “Plain and Precious Things” and that I barely got 10 pages into the book and it took me 2-3 hours. On page 9 he references Deuteronomy 29:24-29, and after reading that, I started reading at the top of the chapter. When I hit verse 4 I had one of those spiritual nudge experiences.
Deut. 29:4. Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
What? This verse makes it sound like we aren’t given these things by God. One could read this as Moses chastising the Israelites for being so hardened that they couldn’t do those things, but that’s not the way it reads.
To get an understanding of why this might be, you can listen to the beginning of Dave’s webinar, or get his book.
In short, there’s some pretty good evidence that Deuteronomy, at least in its present state, has been altered from the original, most likely during the reign of Josiah in ancient Israel. This is super interesting stuff and I really recommend digging into this a bit to see where Deuteronomy contradicts other Biblical teachings and the writings of the Book of Mormon. For example, the idea that anyone can access the mysteries of God which Deuteronomy 29:29 says they cannot, is directly contradicted by Nephi in the first verse of the Book of Mormon where he states he has had a great knowledge of the mysteries of God.
The Book of Mormon appears to be what Dave calls a “loser’s history” of a minority group of righteous people that left Jerusalem with true doctrinal teachings at the time the Deuteronomists reformed other teachings.
So this appears to be another example. You can find a chart with several examples on this post.
Deuteronomy 29:4 triggered me to search for:
“eyes to see”
There are only a few exact match results in the library and only one other in the Bible. There are many other references to eyes being opened, but I always start off with narrow searches and gradually expand them as needed.
Ezekiel 12:2. Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.
This makes more sense. God endowed us with these senses, but we don’t use them.
Now what’s fun is as I scrolled down the short list of verses, the last result was in the apocryphal writings of Enoch.
2 Enoch 65:2. And as much time as there was and went past, understand that after all that he created man in the likeness of his own form, and put into him eyes to see, and ears to hear, and heart to reflect, and intellect wherewith to deliberate.
Here we have further evidence that the faculties of man were put into him by our creator in the beginning. We were designed to hear God, to see his works, to reflect upon his majesty, and to ponder his creations.
Finding so few verses in that search, I then expanded my search to see what came up with this phrase:
“ears to hear”
While reviewing these results for insights, I looked at the verses in 3 Nephi 11 when Christ descends upon the Nephites after his resurrection. They fail to hear the voice of God the first two times he speaks, and then finally:
3 Nephi 11:5 “…the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard;…”
It took a couple times for the people to still themselves enough to hear the voice of God. Then that third time it came through clear for them.
I probably then expanded my search to:
Eye* and ear* (which picks up variations but only verses where they are both present)
This is where I discovered the answer to the key question.
D&C 136:32. Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear;
Bingo! It’s not from eating the fruit of a tree that we get our eyes opened (the right way), it’s in humbly seeking and calling on the Lord to open them that our spiritual vision can be expanded.
I can’t remember how I made this connection, but all of these things are collectively called your faculties. Do this search:
In the current Scripture Notes library, this yields 31 results. You will find notables like Nephi, King Benjamin, and Mosiah, laboring with all the energy and faculties their souls possessed to try to reclaim their people. This means they used every effort possible, humbling themselves and calling upon God that their eyes would be opened to opportunities and their ears opened to revelation, that they might perform the works of God among their people.
One of the verses you’ll be well familiar with is this verse in Alma.
Alma 32:27. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
We are commanded here to awake and arouse our faculties. Why do we need to awaken them? Because they are currently in the slumber of death.
Jacob 3:11. O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.
Only when we awaken our spiritual faculties can we be ready to receive all the blessings God has in store for us, which Elder Neal A. Maxwell so amazingly promised.
“To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!“— Neal A. Maxwell, “Meek and Lowly” (Brigham Young University devotional, Oct. 21, 1986).
There are some other great quotes from Parley P. Pratt in that last search like this favorite.
Key to the Science of Theology 10:26. “The gift of the Holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, developes, cultivates and matures all the fine toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It developes beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigour, animation and social feeling. It developes and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.”
Something to ponder and seek for…
(Featured image by kuprevich @ 123rf.com)
Heather Linchenko – How to Fight Right to Build Zion
Kerry Muhlestein – A Primer on Egyptian Religion, how it Parallels LDS Beliefs and Temples
How to be Encircled in God’s Love
Nephite Glasses: Learn to See the Book of Mormon Text as Nephi Intended
Leading Saints Interview on Preparing Sacrament Meeting Talks
New Lexicon Feature Added