This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)
October 31-November 6, 2022
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Daniel 1; 3; 6
I can trust in the Lord when my faith is tried.
In a sense, we all live in Babylon. The world around us is filled with many temptations to compromise our standards and question our faith in Jesus Christ. As you read Daniel 1, 3, and 6, note the ways in which Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were pressured to do things they knew were wrong. Have you ever felt pressure to compromise your beliefs? What do you learn from these men that can help you trust in the Lord when you face opposition?
James 1 states:
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Dealing with trials and temptation is a battle for every Christian. Yet 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
When we face these tough times, James 1:5-8 explains the best tactic for a Chrsitian:
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Believers have been provided a valuable tool when they are going through trials and the testing of their faith: the ability to directly communicate requests to God through Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). They are encouraged to bring their concerns and requests to the One who sits on the throne and who will help them through the difficult times. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t utilize their ability to combat fleshly desires. I like what Paul says in Romans 7:
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Mormonism puts a stress on the individual member’s ability to somehow conquer sin. Twelfth LDS President Spencer W. Kimball claimed he had the recipe for conquering sin. He claimed that the desire to sin must be eliminated. Seriously. He wrote,
This passage indicates an attitude which is basic to the sanctification we should all be seeking, and thus to the repentance which merits forgiveness. It is that the former transgressor must have reached a “point of no return” to sin wherein there is not merely a renunciation but also a deep abhorrence of the sin where the sin becomes most distasteful to him and where the desire or urge to sin is cleared out of his life (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 354. Referring to Alma 13:11-12. See also Book of Mormon Student Manual Religion 121 and 122, 1989, 78).
This is an impossible endeavor! It’s no wonder so many Latter-day Saints struggle, as they do not have the power and ability to cease the sin on their own even though they try their hardest to win the battle. It must be understood that sanctification is a lifelong process through the work of the Holy Spirit. Like Paul, we struggle daily while fully realizing that it is “God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth.
Well, I’m not quite sure Daniel 2 warrants the title given above for this section, but somehow that’s what the writers of this series get from it!
Through revelation, Daniel saw that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream foretold future worldly kingdoms, as well as the future kingdom of God, which “shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). “The Church is that prophesied latter-day kingdom,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, “not created by man but set up by the God of heaven and rolling forth as a stone ‘cut out of the mountain without hands’ to fill the earth” (“Why the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 111). Think about God’s latter-day kingdom as you read the descriptions of the stone in Daniel 2:34–35, 44–45. What similarities do you see between the stone and the kingdom? How do you see God’s kingdom filling the earth today?
I’ve read Daniel chapter 2 twice now and I cannot see how the LDS Church writers can argue how their religious organization is the fulfillment to this chapter. This is the main problem with this series as the authors continue to make gigantic leaps in their interpretation rather than focus on exegeting the passage for what the original author intended. If the LDS Church is supposed to be the cornerstone of God’s kingdom, then its leaders would not teach so many false doctrines that contradict biblical doctrine.
The Savior will support me in my trials.
What insights come to you as you read about the fourth figure appearing in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? How can this account help you in the trials you face?
Many Christian commentators believe this fourth figure was the preincarnate Jesus. I agree.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
As you read Daniel 1 and 2 together, you could look for the blessings that Daniel and his friends received by abstaining from eating the king’s meat and wine. (See the video “God Gave Them Knowledge,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org.) You could compare those blessings to the Lord’s promises to us as we keep His commandments, such as the Word of Wisdom (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:18–21). How has the Lord blessed us for living the Word of Wisdom?
Oh my goodness. Did someone in the LDS curriculum department really write this paragraph? This is nothing less than a non sequitur logical fallacy. Of course, there is truth in saying that the way we eat and drink affects us in many ways.
Eating a high fat diet and gorging on sweets is a sure ticket to a coronary if the pounds pile on. In addition, a regular practice of making fast food restaurant appearances is not beneficial to the body. It’s important to eat a well-rounded diet to stay healthy.
Still, the Word of Wisdom is not something consistently practiced by Latter-day Saints today. After all, D&C 89:12-13 says:
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; 13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
According to this, meat should be “used sparingly” and only eaten “in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” I can attest, however, that Latter-day Saints in Utah (where I live) love to eat burgers, ribs, and chicken in the hot summer months, and certainly not sparingly. (I know because I smell bar-b-q all the time coming from my LDS neighbors!).
But does such a teaching have biblical support? The answer is no for several reasons.
First, we must understand that what is mentioned in the Book of Daniel described a 10-day event in Daniel’s life where he rejected food and drink from the king’s table. This event was never meant to be turned into a forever rule.
Second, we see that the Bible allows for the eating of meat.
- God said animals could be eaten: Genesis 9:3
- The Levitical priests were allowed to eat the meat of sacrificial animals: Lev. 6:18, 29; 7:6; 10:14; 24:9; 1 Cor. 9:13
- Jesus said food does not make someone unclean: Mark 7:19
- Jesus served fish and ate fish (that’s a meat): Matthew 14:13-21; John 21:13
- Peter was told to take “unclean” meat and eat it: Acts 10
- Paul said eating meat was allowed as eating the right food does not bring us closer to God: 1 Cor. 8:8; Romans 14; 1 Cor. 8, 10
Other examples could be provided.
Meanwhile, alcohol usage (in moderation) is also permitted in the Bible. Here are some examples:
- Ecclesiastes 9:7: Drink wine with a merry heart
- Psalm 104:14-15: God gives wine for enjoyment
- Amos 9:14: Drinking wine from your own vineyard is a sign of God’s blessing
- John 2:1-11: Jesus changed water into wine
- 1 Timothy 5:23: Paul recommended that Timothy drink wine to help with his stomach issues
The Bible does warn against drunkenness (Prov. 23:29-35; 1 Cor. 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19). But, for the Christian, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, and 1 Corinthians 11 allows the individual Christian freedom as long as the practice does not cause a brother to stumble. That is a topic for another article.
The “commandment” in the Word of Wisdom as described in D&C 89 was supposedly not meant to be a rule or regulation. Verse 2 reads, “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint.” For many years in the LDS Church, the Word of Wisdom was merely good advice. It was not until sixth President Joseph F. Smith decided to make this observation more of a commandment in the early 20th century.
For the past century, the Word of Wisdom has been a requirement for a faithful Latter-day Saint to enter the temple. In other words, what was not given “by commandment or constraint” is now necessary for the person who hopes to be able to enter the celestial kingdom with one’s spouse. It seems like quite a turnabout.
Even more confusing is how Latter-day Saints have applied their own interpretation to D&C 89. For example, for many years faithful members went out of their way to avoid all caffeine, including caffeinated soda. I remember times when it was difficult in some Utah towns to purchase Mountain Dew, for instance. Later, the church said caffeine was never the reason for the prohibition, despite the fact that many Mormons lived their lives believing this was certainly a rule. SOURCE
The prohibition of “hot drinks” as described in verse 9 is also not very clear. It says these drinks are not “for the body or belly.” While coffee and tea is shunned by most Mormons–usually the caffeine is referenced as the reason for the prohibition–many Latter-day Saints love their hot chocolate. It seems that the majority of those who enjoy walking around Temple Square at Christmas to view the lights have a Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate in their hands.
I also wonder how many Latter-day Saints have read D&C 89 in its original form to see if there is any consistency in abiding by a no alcohol/no coffee or tea diet. Oh, and don’t forget not eating meat except in times of winter or famine.
I have to laugh when I think about how the apostle Paul counseled Timothy to take some wine for his stomach ailment (1 Tim. 5:23). Can you imagine that advice being given by a Mormon bishop today? Yet Paul was ahead of his time as science shows the prohibited substances banned by the LDS Church are actually good for you.
For instance, the Mayo Clinic says red wine helps prevent heart attacks, even though the reasons are not fully understood. SOURCE
Tea also can have health benefits. SOURCE
Of course, moderation is important in everything, as too much of any of these products is not healthy. That’s obvious. Unfortunately, many Mormons think they are living healthier lives because of their abstinence to these products, which certainly is not true.
For more on the Word of Wisdom, visit Crash Course Mormonism.
While the authors of this series want to continually show how they believe that their church fulfills Old Testament prophecy, it is an inaccurate assumption. The way that LDS doctrines and practices are lifted up is also disconcerting. For instance, to somehow imply that the diet Daniel and his friends had is similar to the Word of Wisdom “revelation” supposedly given by God to Joseph Smith does not consider all the facts. Using the Old Testament to try to show support for LDS teaching backfires each week.