Friday, December 23, 2011

Mary Did You Know?

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.
Have you heard this song? It is a beautiful and introspective song. Has anyone ever asked a new mother if she “knew” that her new baby girl or boy would turn out a certain way? How did they know?
How did Mary know? Of course the obvious answer could be that the Angel of the Lord, Gabriel told her. Did Mary listen to the records of Isaiah in the synagogue? Do you think that she would ever speculate that she would be chosen to be the mother of the Savior? Whenever I have read the account in Luke 1 concerning the “Annunciation”, or the visitation of Gabriel to Mary, I would always wonder, where was she when Gabriel appeared to her? In paintings she is seen kneeling near a small desk or table; most movies place her just casually walking in her neighborhood. She could be daydreaming, or just thinking and then “poof” “Hail Mary”. All of a sudden this glorious and awesome being is standing in front of you. He is speaking to you and telling you some amazing stuff and it concerns you Mary!! What would anyone in that situation do? Would you pass out from fear, would you run away?
According to Jewish tradition Mary was between 12-14 years old, betrothed to a man whose age is not given. She is engaged to be “taken in marriage” within 6months to a year according to the laws of matrimony at the time. During that time she must prepare herself to become a virtuous wife and mother, and keep herself chaste and out of trouble until the big day. She has moved out of her own family home into that of her husband’s family.
“In keeping with Jewish custom, the betrothal would have taken place when she was around 12 and the birth of Jesus about a year later” Wikipedia: Mary Mother of Jesus
“The most typical marriageable age for a girl was just after puberty. At twelve or thirteen, she would still most likely do exactly what her father told her to do. So, if the marriage was something the father wanted, his daughter generally consented. Once married, the young woman typically moved from her father's house to her husband's. As for the wedding, the ancient Israelites surely had them, but the Bible sheds little light on the ceremony. Most likely, families followed whatever local customs in the couple's village or region dictated.”
So I have been “searching” for Mary in the scriptures and I can tell you that she is “mentioned” in the most subtle and humble of circumstances. In ancient times, a person was known or recognized not only by their name and family ties, but also by their purpose in life. A woman’s entire purpose in that time was to be a good wife and a good mother.
Proverbs 31:10-11
10 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.
I found a reference to Mary in Psalm 116:16
16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and {of} the son {Jesus} of thine handmaid {Mary}: thou hast loosed my bonds. (Atonement)
(In scripture children are most often identified with their father’s name, not often with the mother).
I searched through a few translations; it seems that the more “archaic” the translation, the closer to the original intent and meaning of the verse it is.

Psalm 116 is a psalm of David, his testimony in this verse is that he is not only a servant of Heavenly Father, but also of the Son, who is Jesus Christ, who is the son of the handmaid (Mary) of God. Awesome, there she is David spoke of her in her “calling” or station of purpose” for her life.

Mary is here also in Genesis 3:15
15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.
The “her” referenced here is Mary, a daughter of Eve, and her seed is Jesus the Christ.
In the book of Mormon, Nephi has a vision or revelation of Mary and of the infant Jesus. Nephi describes her in this manner:
1 Nephi 1:13-15
13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth. I beheld a virgin and she was exceedingly fair and white.
14: And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open and an angel came down and stood before me and he said unto me: Nephi what beholdest thou?
15: And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
Nephi describes Mary as a virgin who was exceedingly fair and white. I have heard some explain that fair and white meant that she was beautiful and white symbolizes her spiritual purity. So I checked out the definitions of fair and white in Miriam Webster and here is what I found:
Fair: unblemished and White is pure and innocent. These words have been used to describe the requirements for a lamb for sacrifice. The sacrificial lamb must be unspotted, free from blemish. I am not sure if the color “white” is a requirement because sheep come in a variety of breeds and colors, but possibly within those coloration's, there is a perfect blend of color and skin tone.

So Mary is ascribed the attributes of a perfect lamb for sacrifice, or in her case offering. She would represent a ewe lamb, which is female.
The account in Luke 1:26-28 validates what Nephi saw. What a gift Nephi was given, to have actually seen a foreshadowing of those events
Luke 1:26-28
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women
Where was Mary during this encounter? In my search for information concerning ancient Hebrew traditions, she would have probably been praying, possibly in the Temple since Hebrews prayed 3 times a day. Now compare this to the young Joseph Smith, who went into a secluded grove and fell on his knees to seek out the Lord with the desires of his heart.
What was Mary’s prayer? Did she know? Had she pondered the prophecies of the coming Messiah? Mary’s linage was also of the house of David. Do you think that all of the young women of that “House” considered that they could be the mother of the Messiah?

In 1 Samuel 1, I found Hannah, who is called “handmaiden” of the Lord, for she is a type and a shadow of Mary.Hannah was barren, but her heart’s desire was to be a good wife and a mother of children.
1 Samuel 1:9-11
9 So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD.
10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.
11 Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your handmaiden and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your handmaiden a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”
It is an honor to be called the handmaiden of the Lord. It is not random, because this calling is one that requires great faith, worthiness and it calls for at times extreme sacrifice. For Hannah, she “vowed a vow” that if the Lord would grant her a “male child” she would “give him to the Lord all the days of his life”. Her son was the prophet Samuel, who by no coincidence anointed David as King of Israel.
Another “handmaiden” in the scriptures was Emma Smith. Do you see how these women’s lives intersected? Emma was married to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
President John Taylor, the third President of the Church, wrote, "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it" (D&C 135:3).
Her sacrifice was great, right from the start. Her family opposed her marriage to Joseph and eventually she would leave them and never see them again. Many of her children died a birth or at a young age. The threat of death or peril was always on her husband’s head. I am sure that this was hard on her and Joseph and probably put a strain on their marriage. She asked in a prayer,” How much can one heart take? “The Lord spoke to her in D&C 25. Imagine the honor it is, as a woman to have a record of the Lords words to you.

Doctrine and Covenants 25
1 Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.
2 A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion.
3 Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.
4 Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.
5 And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.
This revelation was given to Emma, at the very beginning, when Joseph started translating the Book of Mormon. Can you feel the love of the Lord in those verses? The Lord is asking Emma, as with Mary,and Hannah and yes even you and I, for faith in Him and obedience, even complete obedience.

Again in D&C 132:54, the Lord remembers Emma Smith and her state of mind during a time of great trial; the Lord calls her “handmaid”.
54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law
Mary’s calling:
Luke 1:30-33
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
I can see a pattern with the lives of these women, from Mother Eve whose calling was to be the mother of all the living, and to love her husband. Hannah voluntarily vowed to "lend" her son Samuel for the Lords great purpose,it was not accident. And Mary, who history has portrayed as a simple peasant girl, but when you search out the scriptures, she was anything but simple. Mary knew that she knew.

Mary’s Testimony:
Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, how shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
God Assurance: Luke 1:35-37
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Mary’s obedience: Luke 1:38
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her
So what did Mary know?
Joel 2:27-29
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God, and there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.
28 “ And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on my menservants and on my handmaids, I will pour out My Spirit in those days
I would ask, can we know what Mary knew? Can we obtain favor with our Heavenly Father? Yes we can.
"Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than mere belief. Faith is a “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” “Faith always moves its possessor to … physical and mental action.”“To have faith in Jesus Christ means to have such trust in him that we obey whatever he commands. There is no faith where there is no obedience.”
Faith comes from hearing the word of God and is a spiritual gift. Faith increases when we not only hear, but act on the word of God as well; in obedience to the truths we have been taught.
Mary’s reply to the angel’s announcement provides an excellent example. Mary was told by the angel Gabriel: “Thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.” Mary then obediently said to Gabriel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Help Thou Mine Unbelief” Elder Whitney Clayton of the seventy
Merry Christmas everyone, celebrate love.
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