Tuesday, August 27, 2013

At Ease In Zion

Today as I was doing my daily scripture study.  I read 2 Ne. 28.  In verse 24-25 it says:  "Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!  Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!"  The previous verses spoke of the devil and the various ways he deceives men.  In verse 21 it reads: "And others will he pacify , and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell."

I have always believed the verse "wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion" to mean those who are complacent.  Verse 21 goes along with what I imagine is the danger of complacency, in that we are here to grow and to be challenged and through those challenges we progress and come closer to God.  Certainly the devil would cheat us of our growth and stop our progress by leading us away into complacency.  I do believe the warning for those who are at ease in Zion does include complacency.

But I also believe there is more to it.  As I thought about it this morning, I thought it was interesting that we aren't to be at ease in Zion.  Yet Zion is the home of the Lord's people, it is supposed to be made up of those who are following Him.  The Lord frequently says that He will prosper Zion and comfort them.  That they should not fear, for He will be with them.  I thought, certainly with these promises and comfort, it would not be hard to feel at ease in Zion and despite adversity be able to say that "All is well!" much as the pioneers sang as they crossed the plains.  Being at ease and proclaiming all is well could be both a blessing from the Lord and a danger that removes one from Him.  What makes the difference?

Verses 26-30 in 2 Nephi give a little more insight to what the difference may be between those for whom it is a blessing and those for whom it is a curse.  It warns of those who deny the power of God, specifically in proclaiming that they have already received enough and need no more.  Those who are built upon His rock "receiveth it with gladness."  The Lord explains that He gives to us little by little and those who listen and receive it are blessed--"for unto him that receiveth I will give more, and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."  Certainly one's ability to accept more instruction from the Lord with a heart open to receiving His counsel will aid in one's progression and bring comfort.

I also gained some additional insight from a cross reference given for verse 24.  It points to Amos 6:1, which reads:  "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria..."  I like the reference to an additional warning, which is also stated in 2 Ne. 28:31.  Both warn of trusting in the arm of flesh, or as in Amos 6:1, trusting in one's own strength, not in God.  Certainly being at ease because one assumes they are powerful enough to deliver themselves from danger, rather than trusting in God, would lead to their destruction, as it has throughout history, both literally and spiritually.

But there was an additional insight I found further in verses 4-6 about the people for whom being at ease has become a danger.  It describes them thus:  "That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."

To me these verses describe those with a life of comfort.  They have the finest things and seem to have what they need without much hardship.  Is that in and of itself a sin or a danger?  No.  The last line describes what makes it so:  "...but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."  In other words, they have no concern for the afflictions of others.  They concern themselves only with their own comfort and do not seek to alleviate the suffering of others.  Certainly this can be easy to succumb to.  Even those in Zion who seek to be obedient and are thus prospered and comforted by the Lord, can easily fall prey to being "at ease" and forgetting others. 

With so much suffering in the world, this charge can be at times overwhelming.  I believe when we seek to be in tune with the spirit, to deny not the power of God but receive His counsel, we can be led to know how to fulfill this mandate, whether in the lives of a neighbor or family member, or in the world abroad.  He will guide us if we let Him. 

As we observe the various warnings to avoid the dangers of complacency, receive additional instruction from the Lord, trust not in the arm of flesh, and to have concern for those around us, we may thus be able to enjoy the prosperity and comfort promised by the Lord to His people and still progress and become like Him.