Good evening everyone! This may prove to be a challenging week for blogging! This week I have chosen to use the scripture study skill “clustering.” While I am looking forward to learning the new skill and sharing it with you, the reading this week is for 2 Nephi 9 through 2 Nephi 16. There are only seven days in a week and there are eight chapters to get through.
Clustering, in a nut shell, is finding a topic or theme and making a list of scriptures that are all about the chosen subject matter. I had the opportunity to listen to a brief explanation of how clustering works and learned that using scripture mastery to cluster scriptures is a great way to go. I am going to try that as we go about the chapters this week, but as I type this, I haven’t looked at the mastery list in detail, and somehow I do not believe that there will be a mastery scripture for each and every chapter this week. So let’s go!
Starting out, 2 Nephi 9 is a lengthy chapter, there are 54 verses. I just grabbed the mastery list and got totally luck and found that there is a scripture mastery for chapter 9, so I am going to read through the chapter and then share with you some information and touch on the clustering at the end of this post! So excited.
Oh my goodness! What a great chapter! For real…. this chapter is full of goodness and heart warming eternal joy. Obviously, I have read this before, but I love this information. Chapter 9 starts with Jacob telling the people of Nephi covenants of the Lord. He tells them that he knows that they have been searching for knowledge of “things to come.” This chapter is full of the power of the atonement and explains as plainly as possible what is to come after the death of the body here in our mortal world.
Today, I sing praises of God and His son Jesus Christ; verse 13 reads in part: “O how great the plan of our God!” I believe with all of my heart that this is true. I am a child of God and I am part of his plan, as are you and every other human that has or will ever live. I know that this plan will allow each and every one of us a face to face conversation with Jesus Christ for the opportunity to return and live in the heavens with God in all his glory. After every body and spirit are restored each of us will have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, uncleanness,nakedness and those that are righteous will have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment. Each one of us will then come to Christ who will judge us according to our works, whether those works be good or evil. God will execute all of his works and all of his laws will be fulfilled. Those that have been righteous saints will have joy forever. Jesus Christ walked this earth to fulfill the laws of God and to fulfill the atonement so that each person can have the opportunity to repent of their sins. This allows each of us to take upon the name of Jesus Christ through baptism and live worthily by the laws and commandments of God. We learn that those of us that learn, accept and do not keep the commandments without repentance, wasting our days of this human experience, will be in an awful state come judgement day.
Verses 28 and 29 are listed as Book of Mormon Scripture Mastery, and they read: “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. ” This is where the remainder of this post (or most of, anyway) will focus on the study skill “clustering.”
Starting with the word “plan” in the first sentence of verse 28, in the footnotes, we are directed to reference Alma 28:13, which reads: “And this we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.”
Next reference is for “vainness” in the second sentence. We will reference Job 11:11-12 and Isaiah 9:9-10. Job 11: 11-10 reads: “For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it? For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.” And Isaiah 9:9-10 reads: “And all the people shall know even Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.” And lastly for vainness, we are sent to the topical guide for the word vanity which gives us another 52 verses that we could read about vanity. That’s a lot of scriptures to tell us that we should not be vain, perhaps it’s something to pay attention to!
“Foolishness” after vainness is our next reference. We’ll start by heading to Ecclesiastes 4:5 “The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.” To be followed by Ecclesiastes 10:12 “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.” We will then jump forward to 2 Nephi 19:17 and we learn “Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows; for every one of them is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” The last scripture is then Doctrine and Covenants 35: 7 “And it shall come to pass that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest in the eyes of all people.” Finally we turn to the topical guide for foolishness which tells us to also look at “folly, fool, and foolish” in the topical guide. With all of this combined, there are a grand total of 78 references. Perhaps also worthy of taking note.
Our next word for reference is a little lighter in topic and is “learned.” I like this word, it is definitely more positive than being vain or foolish. We’ll cluster this with the following verses: Luke 16:15, 2 Nephi 26;20, 2 Nephi 28:4, 2 Nephi 28: 15 and two topical guide words: education and worldliness.
Fifth on the list is the word “wise.” The clustering for the word hearken send us to Proverbs 14:6, Jeremiah 8:8-9, Romans 1:22 and to the topical guide for pride and wisdom. I think that it’s important here to remember that these verses can be positive and negative. Sometimes being wise is a good thing, but remember where to focus wisdom.
Sixth on the list is “hearken.” I wrote some on this word last week, at least I think I did. If I didn’t, please forgive me, I must have spoken of it in gathering. Sometimes, my days are blurry. The references for hearken is short and sweet, we are sent to the topical guide to learn about walking in darkness, and then directed to also read about spiritual darkness and walking with God. I found this a bit interesting, but please remember that this particular verse is speaking of the foolish and how they “hearken not.”
Next we will read about “counsel of God.” Off to Proverbs 15:22, Jacob 4:10. Alma 37:12 and the topical guide for “counsel.” I think my favorite from these is Jacob 4:10 which reads: “Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” I find great comfort in this. He is the Counselor, at least he is mine, I pray that he is yours as well.
Last reference to cluster for verse 28 is the word “wisdom.” I imagine this is a big one, but let’s take a look. Proverbs 23:4, Ecclesiastes 8:16-17, Ezekiel 28:4-5, Doctrine and Covenants 76:9 and the topical guide for knowledge. I love Doctrine and Covenants 76:9 which reads: “And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.” I know that when we leave this life, we will be able to take our knowledge with us, but having wisdom and knowledge are indeed different. Prefacing this verse in particular, we read that God is telling us of blessings in store. I like this little tid bit and it makes my heart happy to know that if I follow God and Jesus Christ, that the blessings of heaven will be mine.
There are three words/scriptures to cluster from verse 29. They are “learned,” “hearken,” and “counsels.” Good news! We already clustered them from verse 28! Yeah. Downfall… they have a different meanings here. So for learned, we are directed to Doctrine and Covenants 67:6 and the topical guide for “learning.” Wow, learning refers us to topical guide words “Education; Holy Ghost, mission of; knowledge; mysteries of Godliness; scriptures, value of; study; teaching; understanding and wisdom.” I am refusing to count all of the references that these may lead me to, as I may end up being awake for a couple of weeks reading the entire set of the scriptures from cover to cover. Education, knowledge and being learned are important to Heavenly Father. Understood.
And for “hearken,” we are sent to 2 Nephi 28:26 which reads: “Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God and the gift of the Holy Ghost!” Have you ever ignored a prompting? I know that I have, it took me a few times to get it… He kept telling me and I finally listened (I’ll share the story sometime.) But I guess I didn’t know that it would be wo unto me for ignoring!
Lastly, and wrapping up this very lengthy post is the word “counsels.” Thankfully for my patient husband that this is exactly as is before. Go and read Jacob 4:10 and find yourself engulfed in reading from the topical guide. Turn to Heavenly Father for guidance and he will counsel on your needs.
Thank you for reading to the end. I do look forward to finding more clustering this next week and hope that you find this a bit helpful in your studies and endeavors of becoming more like our Savior. I write this in His holy name, Jesus Christ, Amen.