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When I was in college, my great desire was to develop an unshakeable faith, and so I tried many things. I went up the canyon hoping to be alone with God and pray for an hour, but I ran out of things to say in ten minutes. Then, a speaker came to my college ward who struck me as a woman with wonderful faith, and so I asked if I could go visit with her at her home and if she could teach me what she knew. But things began to open up for me when I read what Paul wrote in the magnificent Hebrews 11 about faith. Let’s explore today.

You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.

Maurine and Scot Proctor have spent extensive time in the Holy Land, researching the life of Christ. They have taught the New Testament in the Institute program for many years and have written books and numerous articles on the life of the Savior.

Join our study group and let’s delve into the scriptures in a way that is inspiring, expanding and joyful.

Maurine

When I was in college, my great desire was to develop an unshakeable faith, and so I tried many things. I went up the canyon hoping to be alone with God and pray for an hour, but I ran out of things to say in ten minutes. Then, a speaker came to my college ward who struck me as a woman with wonderful faith, and so I asked if I could go visit with her at her home and if she could teach me what she knew. But things began to open up for me when I read what Paul wrote in the magnificent Hebrews 11 about faith. Let’s explore today.

Scot

Hello. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and welcome to the Come Follow Me podcast on Hebrews 7-13 titled “An High Priest of Good Things to Come.” Transcripts to this podcast are at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. We were impressed with the story President Spencer W. Kimball told years ago about the woman whose husband was a sailor, and she hoped her sons would not grow up and do the same. Yet, the walls of her house were decorated with seascapes, and the boys seeing those pictures every day grew up to be sailors too. The sea was imprinted in their hearts. With that in mind, we created a calendar with a beautiful new photo every month of the Sacred Grove and the Smith farm, to remind ourselves of the First Vision in 2020 which marks 200 years since this event that opened the restoration. We hope you and your families will think of this every time you see this calendar.

At $15 apiece, this is a meaningful gift to give to friends, ministering brothers and sisters, neighbors and relatives. It is an easy way to get your Christmas shopping done for that group in one click. It can be found at latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar.  

Maurine

Before we jump into Hebrews 11, let’s talk about Melchizedek. So much has happened on this earth that we know nothing about.  Generations of kings and kingdoms and peoples and priests have played upon this stage and then disappeared with little trace. That’s the case with Melchizedek, whom we would know only a little about without modern scripture. Here is a man who was so righteous and holy that even Abraham paid tithes to him. We learn in Alma 13 something mind-blowing, “Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater, therefore of him they have more particularly made mention” (Alma 13:19). Think of the many before him, lost in time to us, who were righteous leaders and many after. Most of all who is this Melchizedek of whom there were none greater?  He was so great, in fact, that the priesthood after the Order of the Son of God was named after him, so we would not use too much repetition of Deity. Wouldn’t you love to know more and hear the stories of one who lived so righteously?

Scot

We know that Melchizedek was a high priest, prophet and leader who lived after the Flood and that he was called the king of Salem, which is Jerusalem. His name in Hebrew malki-zedek literally means king of righteousness. As the king of Salem, which is another word for peace, like shalom, he was also the king of peace. These are two titles that belong to the Lord, Himself, so you get a sense of just how great Melchizedek was.

We know from the Bible that Abraham paid tithes to him. We also know from Doctrine and Covenants 84:14, that Melchizedek conferred the priesthood upon Abraham. The JST Genesis 14:25-40 also explains that Melchizedek, through priesthood power “stopped the mouths of lions and quenched the violence of fire” and that those who are ordained to this priesthood would have power “to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations to this holy priesthood put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God.” I’ve always been fascinated by this ancient priesthood power!

Maurine

So holy was Melchizedek that he was able to lead his people to “wrought righteousness” and obtain heaven and they “sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth.” In other words, he and his people were all translated.

It is also fascinating that the first time we hear the word Moriah used in Genesis is when Abraham is commanded to sacrifice Isaac there. Kelly Ogden and Andrew Skinner note, “Numerous and long-standing Jewish and Christian traditions, as well as the historian Josephus, all support the thesis that Moriah is the same place as Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.”

They then make an intriguing assertion. “It is possible that a Temple or sanctuary existed on Moriah during Abraham’s lifetime.” Josephus wrote that Melchizedek “first built a temple [there] and called the city Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem.”

Think about it. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem sits on Mount Moriah. This mount is so holy. It is the place where Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice him. It is the place where Solomon built what is called the First Temple. It is the place where Herod built the temple where Jesus taught, often called the Second Temple.  It was on Mount Moriah—though not the Temple mount where Jesus was crucified. 

Scot

But now we add another intriguing possibility, which is that before all of this Melchizedek may have had a temple there.

Of course, that makes sense. How could a people have a high priest and be so righteous that they are taken to heaven unless they have the temple ordinances, and where would that temple be but on Mount Moriah, the same place as the Temple Mount is located today in Jerusalem? There is the sense that when Abraham went to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice Isaac, it already was a sacred place. That extends our thinking back into time to places we have not been before.

Since Paul is talking to Jews who have long clung to what Moses was able to give them which was the Aaronic priesthood and the law of carnal commandments, he had to convince them that now, through Christ there was something better, a higher priesthood which was called Melchizedek, though it was the priesthood after the Order of the Son of God.

Maurine

Paul tells us in Hebrews 8:

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the amediator of a better bcovenant, which was established upon better cpromises. 8:6

 In that he saith, A anew covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth bold is ready to cvanish away.

Scot

It strained their minds and traditions to think there was something more, that anything could fulfill and replace that law they had known.

Maurine

I got a clear sense of this idea, this year standing at the Western Wall of the temple platform in Jerusalem on a Shabbat eve. A Jewish man began talking to me who was a diligent scholar at the yeshiva every week. I loved his enthusiasm for religion. He told me there had been one last and important prophet. Did I know who it was? I answered, “Moses?” Yes, he said. It is the only time in history that God spoke to an entire nation, and nothing like that has happened ever since.” In Israel, Latter-day Saints cannot talk about their faith because of an agreement that was made when the BYU Jerusalem Center was built, but even if I had been able to talk, it was clear, there was no room for Jesus in his thinking. He was so unwaveringly assertive about what he thought, that he could not invite another point of view. I listened to him for a long time, but he was quite unwilling to listen to me.

Scot

I remember that. It is a human tendency to be so cemented into a viewpoint that nothing else can be taught. Paul also explains that the temple contained a place of sacrifice where the blood of goats and calves was shed as an atonement for the people’s sins. We know, of course, that the blood of these animals did not bring forgiveness for the people’s sins but was only a symbol that Christ would finally come. 

In Hebrews 9 we read:

11 Christ being come an ahigh priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect btabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 

12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own ablood he entered in once into the bholy place, having obtained eternal credemption for us. 9:12

After Jesus came, he was the high priest who made the only necessary sacrifice of blood, which was Himself, given freely.

Maurine

Paul was saying that the Melchizedek priesthood was greater than the Aaronic. It is the key to eternal lives and entrance into the presence of God.

We also learn in Hebrews 7 that the Melchizedek priesthood was “without father, without mother, without descent.” Whereas the Aaronic priesthood as it had been administered in ancient Israel was passed down among the Levites by birth, righteousness was an absolute requisite for the conferral of the higher priesthood. This ‘order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother neither by beginning or days nor end of years; but of God; and on as many as believed on his name.” JST Gen. 14:28-29; Heb. 7:1-3). 

Scot

Unlike the Aaronic priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood is conferred and received with an oath and a covenant. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie notes, “The covenant is to this effect: 1. Man on his part solemnly agrees to magnify his calling in the priesthood, to keep the commandments of God, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of Deity, and to walk in paths of righteousness and virtue; and 2. God on his part agrees to give such persons an inheritance of exaltation and godhood in his everlasting presence. The oath is the solemn attestation of Deity, his sworn promise, that those who keep their part of the covenant shall come forth and inherit all things according to the promise.”

Maurine

There is a phrase in these scriptures that leaps out at me. In Hebrews 9:11 the Savior is called “A high priest of good things to come.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us at least part of what this means when he says, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.” That may be something we need to be reminded of right now. One thing that is certain about life, we face real struggle. 

I’ll never forget the day in Relief Society when we were talking about how to bless and strengthen our adult children. Many of us in that room had adult children and many of them were experiencing pain on their behalf. As we talked together, we could sense the deep concern on the part of each other for our families, and a sisterhood bound us in deep connection. We all acutely and desperately needed the Savior. 

Scot

Elder Holland said, “On those days when we have special need of heaven’s help, we would do well to remember one of the titles given to the Savior in the epistle to the Hebrews. Speaking of Jesus’ ‘more excellent ministry’ and why He is ‘the mediator of a better covenant’ filled with ‘better promises,’ this author—presumably the Apostle Paul—tells us that through His mediation and Atonement, Christ became “an high priest of good things to come.”1

“Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as ‘hope for a better world.’ For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of ‘good things to come.’

Maurine

“My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the ‘light that is endless, that can never be darkened.’ It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo’s reach, we say, ‘What light through yonder window breaks?’ It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun.  To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His ‘more excellent ministry with a future of ‘better promises.’ He is your ‘high priest of good things to come.’

Scot

Which brings us to Hebrews 11, the great chapter where we learn about faith. The first verse defines faith:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In the JST, the word ”evidence” is changed to “assurance,” so it reads “now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen.”

Moroni gives us this additional insight in Ether 12: 6: “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen.”

Maurine

So let’s unpack this a bit. God is our Father, a real being, and Jesus is our Savior, a real being, whom in this sphere of mortality we can’t see except in very rare instances. Are they real? Yes they are. Are they actual? Yes they are. Is all of our hope wrapped around them? Yes it is. Can you see them as you can other material things in your environment? No you can’t. As both of these scriptures note, they are “not seen.”

This is not because of their limitations, but ours. It is our veil, our blindness, our limited vision. We cannot see what is real and tangible and the Father and Savior of all of creation, the center of all things because of us. Think of all the things that are real that we can’t see—things that are too small but exist like microbes, things in the air like radio waves, things too far away like distant suns. Our limited perception does not make these things less real. Our bodies and senses are not, in fact, the measure of all things.

Scot

Then there are the more important things like abstract ideas and virtues, which are invisible to us. They are “not seen” but we count on love, honor, justice, courage all the time. 

How do we know these invisible things are actually there? We have all kinds of evidence.

We can see evidence of love or courage at work, but not the idea itself. It is invisible to us. 

In the material world, we know about the things we cannot see because of evidence. Microscopes show us microbes and telescopes distant suns. We can turn on the radio and hear what radio waves are bringing us. 

We have evidence that all these invisible things are there, and we act on faith assuming we can trust that evidence.

Maurine

In fact, Scot, there is really no such thing as a person without faith—at least believing in things and acting on things they cannot see. Every day of my life, I act as if the sun will rise the next day. I have not yet seen that sunrise, but I have plenty of evidence that the sun will rise. It has always risen every day of my life. I have seen photos of that sun and its planets. Scientists and teachers have taught me details about the sun. My experience, authority of scientists, other witnesses have all convinced me that the sun will rise tomorrow and knowing that I act on that knowledge all the time.

Scot

The point is we act on things that are “not seen” or invisible to us all the time in the material world.  It is “the evidence of things not seen.” Yet in the spiritual world we do the same thing. Most have not seen God the Father or Jesus Christ in this life, but we act in faith because we have evidence that they exist. 

Faith isn’t blind or foolish or superstitious. It is based on evidence. What is some of that evidence that God exists? The authority of scriptures that share the experiences of prophets and peoples who have seen God and describe those for us. Thousands in the Americas, for example, saw the risen Lord. Then is the evidence of Creation itself. 

Maurine

Scientist Paul Davies notes, “For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient “coincidences” and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal. Fred Hoyle, the distinguished cosmologist, once said it was as if “a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics”. https://latterdaysaintmag.com/scientists-are-slowly-waking-up-to-an-inconvenient-truth/

So many things have to be exactly as they are for us to exist in a world that supports life and for the universe to work, the universe bears its own testimony.

Scot

Beyond that there are the testimonies of so many around us who attest to their experiences with the Savior. And then add to that our own witnesses. I have had thousands of witnesses from God in my life that He lives and that He loves me and that He is there. These are all evidences, a cascade of witnesses.

In fact, Paul has an even better name for it.  

Maurine

That’s right.  In Hebrews 12:1 he writes:

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the asin which doth so easily besest us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Those who haven’t learned how to feel the witness of the Spirit in their own lives about God’s existence and attributes can begin by leaning on the testimony of others until they can stand on their own.

Scot

We can develop faith by watching for the Lord’s hand in our lives, writing these experiences down, and remembering them. We have to hold on to these experiences and let them ground and fortify us for those times in life when we can’t so easily feel His nearness or when we feel far away. 

Maurine 

Or for those times when we are struggling to get an answer to prayer. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can become a sturdy thing in our lives as it is built brick by brick, stone by stone, line upon line, evidence by evidence. It becomes this solid, sure foundation. We stop always taking our temperature to test to see if God is there today. We stop laying our testimony on the line if a prayer seems unanswered or if things don’t work out for us. 

Those who have faith will always be called foolish by detractors. That is the number one word of scorn. “You are foolish to believe in something you can’t see. You are following the foolish traditions of your fathers,” they say to shame you into disbelief.

Scot

Our lives will absolutely demand a sturdy faith to withstand the jibes which come from others, or the times when we can’t find the Lord today in our lives because things are so hard. Remember. Remember all your evidences. In our relationship with God, nothing is more critical than faith.

In Hebrews 11 we read:

But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

I truly love that approach to God—coming to Him with that kind of faith. 

Maurine

To develop faith means a diligent seeking. In that seeking, something grows in you, the faith you must have. This faith is not something flimsy and easily broken, but real, tried, and purifiedWe have to be able to function when we can’t see. That’s what faith demands.

We learn in Lectures on Faith, in fact, why faith is so important. Faith “is the moving cause of all action.” If you were “to go back and reflect upon the history of your lives from the period of [your] first recollection, and ask [yourselves], what principles excited [you] to action, or what gave you energy and activity, in all [your] lawful vocations, callings and pursuits, what would be the answer? Would it not be that it was the assurance which we had of the existence of things which we had not seen as yet?…Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence?…Would you have ever sown if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have asked if you had not believed that you would receive?” 

Scot

Would you have ever sought unless you had believed that you would have found? Or would you have ever knocked unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there anything that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions, of every kind, dependent on your faith? http://lecturesonfaith.com/1/

The importance of faith just cannot be overstated. 

Then in Hebrews 11, Paul mentions some of the scriptural figures we know best. Each demonstrates a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that survived and flourished despite what appeared as delayed promises.

Maurine

Consider the faith of Noah who was “warned of God of things not seen yet” [vs. 7]—that is the flood. He didn’t have a weather app to check the 10-day or 10 year or multi-decade forecast to see if rain was expected any time soon. No meteorologist could let him know for sure that rain was coming in the next decade or two decades. He just hammered and sawed away on dry ground, much to the scoff and scorn of others, I’m sure. He wasn’t told build this ark and everyone will love you. He worked by faith based on all the witnesses that God had already given him.

Scot

Faith means that you don’t always know the end from the beginning, knowing that God does. Consider the faith of Abraham. 

By faith aAbraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an binheritancecobeyed; and he went out, not dknowing whither he went.

Abraham didn’t say, “I’ll leave Haran, my home and all I know, if you will just give me a pin on my GPS telling me exactly where I am headed.” He left with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to guide him.

Maurine

It is noteworthy that is just how Lehi and his family left the land of Bountiful. Though they were not ship builders, they got on a ship that they had built themselves and headed to a destination they weren’t told. That’s faith. They trusted God based on all of their experience with Him. He had led them so far and He would lead them again.

And just in case we think that God was giving Nephi every little detail about how to do this, we learn from Nephi a somewhat different story in 1 Nephi 18: 1  “And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the cship.” That’s “from time to time” not every minute. Nephi was building and then sailing by faith.

The Latter-day Saint pioneers did the same when they left Nauvoo. They left for an unspecified wilderness in the West.

Scot

Faith also means that we can stand strong when the Lord’s promises to us are delayed. God made a covenant with Abraham, promising him posterity, but at age 90, well-past the child bearing age and after a life time of hoping, Sarah was still barren. And Abraham was about 100!  Here we see this faith when promises are delayed.

“11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

“12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in amultitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable (Hebrews 11).”

Maurine

Why did she stand faithful? “because she knew him faithful who had promised.” She knew the Lord. Her faith was based on experience with him.

Abraham is likewise faithful as we see in Romans 4:

“18 Who against hope believed in ahope, that he might become the father of many bnations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy cseed be.

“19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years aold, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:

“20 He astaggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith.”

That is just moving to stand so faithful when nothing except your faith tells you something will happen. It would be easy to stagger.

Scot

That’s one of my favorite phrases in the scriptures:  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.  Oh, that I can be that way—that is always my goal! You know, Maurine, God had also covenanted with Abraham that he would be given a promised land, and yet when Sarah died Abraham described himself as” a sojourner and a stranger” in the land, and bought land from the Hittites for her burial place.

Faith takes a long view and can wait for promises to be fulfilled. It doesn’t demand instant gratification. In fact, speaking of these great covenant fathers, we are told:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the apromises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were bstrangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11).

Maurine

God is impeccably good on His word and cannot lie. We are told in the Psalms that He remembers his covenant to a thousand generations-which means forever, therefore we know that He will deliver what He has promised. Faith gives us the strength to trust His timing and to wait for the promises that are “afar off.”

So faith makes you strong for this journey of mortality, unfaltering in the harsher times allowing you to take a long view. Faith allows you to stand with the Lord when others tremble and turn away.

You and I have often marveled at the purified and unyielding faith of those Latter-day Saints in Church history who lived in Missouri. They had been driven from Independence where they had planned to build Zion, leaving a trail of blood across the stubble of wheat in frozen November fields. They had built again in Far West only to have the governor issue an extermination order on them, which meant it was as legal to kill a Latter-day Saint, any Latter-day Saint, as it was a rabid dog.

A state militia, 3000 strong, had descended upon Far West with intention of turning the town into a slaughter pen and not leave one old woman or lisping child behind. 

Scot 

All of them were new converts and they had been starved out, burned out, seen their crops destroyed and their fat cattle shot. Here’s the very different response of two to what had happened to them. 

For the less steady, Missouri had been a time of sifting. John Corrill was one who had thrown himself wholeheartedly into the cause. He had not whimpered at the expulsion from Jackson County; he had offered to be whipped or die for the gospel; he had wandered homeless into Clay County; he had stood by the Prophet in all things—and now it was enough. He had lost his faith in Joseph Smith. He wrote, “Calculation after calculation has failed, plan after plan has been overthrown, and our prophet seemed not to know the event till too late. If he said, ‘Go up and prosper,’ still we did not prosper, but have labored and toiled, and waded through trials, difficulties, and temptations, of various kinds, in hope of deliverance. But no deliverance came.” 

Maurine

Others, however, did not give up. In the face of great adversity, they grew in faith and courage. Eliza R. Snow, struggling out of Adam-ondi-Ahman in the dead of winter, was taunted by a militiaman, “Well, I think this will cure you of your faith.” Looking him square in the eye, she replied, “No, sir, it will take more than this to cure me of my faith.” Then she, with twelve thousand others who felt the same way, trudged eastward to the Mississippi River.

They built Nauvoo where they lived only 7 years. Here they raised a magnificent temple to our God as they crafted wagons because they would be driven out again.

That’s faith and super faith, but it wasn’t blind faith.

Scot

We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. For the transcripts turn to latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. That’s mag like magazine. Again latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. A new podcast is released every Friday on the Come Follow Me curriculum that will start the next Monday.

Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music that begins and ends this podcast, and if you aren’t reading Meridian Magazine every day, don’t miss it. We have some of the best writers in the Church bringing something that will inspire and help you every single day.

Maurine

Next week our podcast will be on the book of James, “Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only.” See you then.