Sunday, February 5, 2017

The meaning of the phrase “changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq]”

“Changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq]” means “violated the statute”


“The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq], broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

The Hebrew choq is more commonly translated to “statute(s)” in the KJV. In addition, other Bible translations translate the phrase “changed the ordinance” (KJV, WEB) as “violated his laws” (NLT), “violated [the] statutes” (ASV, ESV, HNV, NASB, NIV, RSV), “changed [a/the] statute” (DBY, YLT), “overstepped decrees” (HCSB), or “disregarded the regulation” (NET).

Therefore, in the above scripture, the word “ordinance” is used the way we would use it when we refer to a “city ordinance.” The verse is not referring to revising the wording of a ritual, but to violating some decree.

“Changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq]” does not mean “modified the wording of the ordinance”


In the Standard Works there are different wordings of baptisms, which we assume were approved.

“And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world” (Mosiah 18:13).

“And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” (3 Nephi 11:24-5).

“The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” (D&C 20:73).

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary states that “commissioned” means “furnished with a commission; empowered; authorized.” So the 3 Nephi wording and the D&C wording are virtually the same.

All 3 baptism wordings acknowledge that the ultimate authority comes from God.

If the person performing an ordinance is unworthy (and therefore lacking spiritual authority), but the person receiving the ordinance is worthy, then God will ultimately authorize the ordinance.

God cares about the spirit of the law, and has the power to validate an ordinance, even if it did not comply exactly to the letter of the law in all aspects.

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

No one can be kept out of heaven on a mere technicality.