Learning From the Scriptures

13. most Latter-day Saints do just that. and he said in the sight of Israel. However. and hasted not to go down about a whole day. We search for spiritual truths and counsel that might strengthen our testimonies and help us live better. stand thou still upon Gibeon. for example. that holds a vital truth of its own and can prove most useful in shaping our view of science in general and astronomy in particular. “And the sun stood still.” said the Savior. there is much more to the scriptures that we often overlook – things that we were meant to learn as well as the spiritual truths. the notion of the the earth pausing in its rotation is corroborated by the Book of Mormon and Plato. But while those spiritual truths are vital. Most importantly. and the moon stayed … So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven. (Joshua 10:12. “ S earch the scriptures. things that. in the valley of Ajalon. This is the primary message of the story. can immensely enhance and correct our worldview. when internalized. Remarkably. Take the story of Joshua’s long day. WERE � ARE TO COME Learning From the Scriptures Copyright © 2002 Anthony E. It is a secondary message. as in a parable. an astounding example of the use of priesthood power. Moon. Larson The Old Testament story of Joshua commanding the sun to stay above the horizon for an extra day is surey one of the most miraculous or one of the most fanciful accounts in scripture. So. more righteous lives. “Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel.THINGS AS THEY ARE. there is another side to the story – one generally overlooked. it . Sun. and thou.) Joshua’s story is a powerful example of the influence a prophet can wield when acting in the name of God.

they fail to grasp its more practical implications. declared it an impossibility. Mormon’s statement erases it. we must focus on the implied physical nature of the event: the stopping and starting of Earth’s rotation. .Learning From the Scriptures 3 should teach us something about our Creator and the way he does things. Carl Sagan. for example. The eminent astronomer. According to all we have been taught. and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still. since Joseph Smith declared the Book of Mormon to be “the most correct book. Mormon is no geocentrist. there is no equivocation. extra-scriptural witness. what do we make of it? Is this account’s accuracy flawed? Are the scientists right. such an implication is unthinkable to most of us. “And thus.) If there was any doubt about Joshua’s account. Of course. there is another. or are the scriptures right? Happily for Latter-day Saints. Speaking of the power of God. “Thus we see that … if he say unto the earth – Thou shalt go back. for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun. (Helaman 12:11-15. But there is a third. Since most readers overlook the historical accuracy of such extravagant scriptural accounts. In order to see this facet of the Joshua account clearly. That witness is the Book of Mormon. Latter-day Saints cannot question the validity of such a statement. unimpeachable witness in the scriptures that answers these questions definitively. He makes it crystal clear. The will of the Lord concerning extra-scriptural books is found in the Doctrine and Covenants. according to his word the earth goeth back. and behold. as Joshua reported.” So we have two scriptural witnesses that the earth can and has stopped turning. all that we have experienced. what are we to make of the natural side of Joshua’s account? If the Earth really did not stop turning. Mormon editorialized. yea. no hedging. that it lengthen out the day for many hours – it is done. So. this is so. He even goes so far as to clearly define the proper relationship between the movement of the sun and the earth. He cannot be accused of ignorance in things astronomical. the Earth’s rotation cannot be stopped.

“There is a story … that once upon a time Phaeton. even though it flies in the face of accepted scientific laws and assumptions? So. so that we “may be instructed more perfectly. in principle. whose works surely qualify as among “the best books. 79. but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth. now we have come full circle in this assessment. the Lord makes clear that studying theory that supports scriptural principle and doctrine is a worthy pursuit.” An excellent example of such extra-scriptural text in support of Joshua’s observations is found in Plato’s Timaeus wherein Plato reveals that a Greek myth about the sun’s movement through the heavens is actually fact rather than fiction.” makes clear that the Phaeton myth is actually about a time when the sun went out of its normal course. yea. and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt.” according to another. we are completely prepared to accept any spiritual truth .) Thus. and under the earth. Now this has the form of a myth. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118. in doctrine … Of things both in heaven and in the earth. Do Latter-day Saints continue to believe mainstream scientists who assert that it would be impossible to halt the earth’s rotation and then restart it again. things which are. things which must shortly come to pass …. having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot. seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom. the son of Helios. even by study and also by faith. do we have enough faith to place our confidence in the scriptures by rejecting the view of mainstream science. Here is where “the rubber meets the road. Time to “fish or cut bait. one from profane or secular history. and a great conflagration of things upon the earth ….” (Timaeus) Plato. that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory. even though the scriptures plainly affirm that it has happened? Or. because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father. Now we have three witnesses: two from the scriptures. burnt up all that was upon the earth. “… Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you. things which have been.78. When we read our scriptures. seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom.” as one adage puts it. seek learning.Learning From the Scriptures 4 “And as all have not faith.

One cannot say that he or she believes or holds sacred the scriptures if a decision is made to accept only a part of what the scriptures offer while rejecting another part.mormonprophecy. newsletters and published books exploring this material in depth: http://www. in reality. the language of the Prophets. videos. rejecting the fullness of the prophets’ message closes the door on untold learning and growing possibilities – both scientific and spiritual. prophecy and the symbolism of the scriptures. to the words of the Prophets? This is vital to a thoroughgoing study of the gospel. But. how much faith do we really have? How committed are we. because the two are really not in opposition once a few simple truths are established that are typically denied by modern science. More importantly.com/ For online classes.” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24. Mormon’s explanation as corroborating and supporting documentation and Plato’s explanation as substantiation from another culture.mormonprophecy. So. For more essays from this series: http://mormonprophecy. ancient history._ancient_history_and_ http://www. we stand poised to learn much about the true nature of God’s wondrous creation.com/ the_restored_gospel_002. when the words of the prophets attempt to teach us concepts that belong in the realm of natural law or science. we find it difficult to accept. eyewitness account.) In this context. Seeing Joshua’s story as an accurate. and as they were.com/prophecy.Learning From the Scriptures 5 they offer.blogspot.com . We cannot embrace the spiritual message of Joshua’s story and be ambivalent about the rest. Joshua’s account is truly a key to the scriptures and a test of our faith.htm Your questions or comments are welcome: anthonyelarson@gmail. “And truth is knowledge of things as they are. and as they are to come.

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