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Melchizedek

I received the following email inquiry:

I can’t seem to reconcile your repeated statements that Melchizedek was not a king. You use Joseph Smith (From the James Burgess Notebook) as your source.

Although called a “prince of peace” and the “king of Salem,” Joseph Smith explained these terms were not because he had kingly rule over any group. but it “signifies king of peace or righteousness and not any country or nation.” (WJS, p. 246)

The footnote 4 on page 302 (for the 27 August 1843 discourse) of the Words of Joseph Smith talks about his use of the Hebrew word for Salem.

The Greek letters didn’t copy correctly, so I have just replaced them with —-
4. Since the King James Version of the New Testament comes from Greek manuscripts, the transliteration of ——, (given as Salem) in Hebrews 7:1-2 is correct. However, Greek does not have a sh equivalent, thus when Shalem (pronounced shaw-lame’) was transliterated from the Hebrew manuscript to the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the h was lost. Nevertheless, while authorities say Shalem means peaceful, they also say that it may stand for “an early name for Jerusalem.” It is this latter point which Joseph Smith disputed.

It seems to me that Joseph might have got carried away with his study of Hebrew. At least I can’t see how you can ignore the scripture in Alma that seems to completely contradict Joseph’s position.

Now I can understand if you have further light and knowledge and you are simply using these statements from Joseph as a source without revealing why you know he was right. In such a case I will just shut up and accept what you offer.

Alma 13:18
. . . And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.
_____________________________________________

I responded to the inquiry as shown below:

He inherited from his father the right of “dominion” originally given by God to Adam. He was the “father” over all mankind, and in that capacity was a “king” or a “ruler” though he exercised that right given to him as did Adam: only as a father-figure and not as a tyrant. Abraham came to him to obtain this same right belonging to the first fathers or the right which descended from Adam. This is “the rights belonging to the fathers” which Abraham was so overjoyed to have obtained, because he was then the rightful father of “many nations” by reason of his position in the family of God. This, however, did not confer authority that was respected or acknowledged by men in that day, but it was respected by God.

Joseph’s explanation related to the status of man’s governments at the time of Melchizedek. Alma’s explanation related to the status of the authority conferred by God.

New Paper

I have prepared a new paper based on the talk I gave in St. George. The paper is on this site under the “downloads” section under the title:

Things to Keep us Awake at Night

It can be accessed by clicking on the title above.

In addition the scripture committee has posted another update document that can be linked by clicking on the title below:

Scripture Project UPDATES

Work on recovering a more accurate version of the scriptures restored through Joseph Smith is far more challenging that it may seem. Despite our best efforts to restore what came through Joseph, some of it will have been lost because of the indifference and neglect of our predecessors. But that is no excuse to leave the work undone.

The work is challenging, but rewarding. I am hopeful that the result will please the Lord.

The Lord’s People Israel

When the people with Moses continually balked at receiving the gifts offered to them by the Lord, the Lord tired of their murmuring and considered rejecting them and making of Moses alone His covenant people:

And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. (Numbers 14:11-32, emphasis added.)

The first offering to the gentiles in Joseph’s day was hardly offered before the Lord sadly reflected:

For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me. And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now. And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay. (D&C 84:51-59, emphasis added.)

These early gentiles did not repent. The people Joseph taught, like those Moses taught, their carcasses also fell in the wilderness. They were even told by the Lord of what had happened in the time of Moses, to help them avoid the same fate:

And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; (D&C 84:21-25, emphasis added.)

How oft might a people have been the Lord’s and they simply would not.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (D&C 88:33, emphasis added.)

Can you not feel the Lord’s exasperation with us today when we murmur and dispute among ourselves? Can you not feel greater light whenever you accept and seek to understand His words rather than when you fear and complain against them?

Those who have ears will hear this, and those who do not cannot.

Covenant

The Book of Mormon IS a covenant. In it we have examples of covenant making provided to us so we can understand the process. The covenant offered through the Book of Mormon has never been received by any people. When the 1835 conference adopted scriptures, they adopted only the D&C and not the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon as an offered covenant to the gentiles is an essential step required for the gentiles to become numbered with the remnant and obtain the right to inherit the promised land. If it is not received as a covenant by the gentiles, they have no right to be here on this land, or on any other land of promise.
Individuals can and do obtain hope in Christ. Individuals have been “saved” by the Lord on an individual basis from the time of Adam until the present. That will continue till the end of time.
But there is a profound difference between saved individuals and a covenant people. The covenant promises to restore Israel and its remnants contained in the Book of Mormon is not fulfilled merely by individuals, but requires a covenant people who have united to receive the covenant people status.
Zion and the New Jerusalem are a place, occupied by covenant people, and not something an individual can be or become. People who gather there will all need to be individually redeemed, individually penitent, individually connected to God, but will only belong to the community if they belong to the covenant and are of one heart and one mind and have all things in common between and among them.
If you think becoming one with God, whom you have not seen, is challenging, then how much more difficult will it be to become one with your fellow man whom you have seen. (To paraphrase James.)
The failures of the past are examples to learn from so we can do better. They can also inform our fears and blind us to what the Lord has spelled out in the Book of Mormon. The book gives a blueprint of the necessary steps for the gentiles to take for them to become numbered with the remnant and entitled to possession of the promised land as their inheritance.
The Book of Mormon has likewise assured the gentiles that the covenant will include “other books” which are required for the gentiles to receive that will testify of Christ and restore lost knowledge. They will confirm the truth of the earlier testimonies of Christ. These are required for the gentiles to be restored as His people. If we reject anything offered to us by the Lord then we fail, again, to obtain what might have been offered.
We face the same test as the ancients. In Moses’ day they accepted the lesser law after they rejected the higher law. The higher law would have been received by covenant had they not rejected it first. Had they been worthy, ancient Israel would have been required to receive the higher law by covenant as well.
Everyone is entirely free to reject anything offered by the Lord. There is no compulsion. If you are unpersuaded to take the step, then don’t take it. Any reservation will only lead to difficulties later. Everyone should come to peace about the matter before individually deciding to accept the covenant. We are all allowed to pursue a relationship with God apart from others. There will be those who are willing to accept a covenant and become numbered with the remnant. In the end, it is better if only a very few receive covenant status who are united in mind and heart than to have a larger body that includes the fearful, the doubtful and the skeptical.
The Lord asked the saints, Of what value is it for God to offer a gift if men refuse to receive the gift? On the other hand, if this is not from God, then there is nothing to trouble. If it is of man, by all means, refuse it.
Taking this offered step will not immediately change anything other than the identity of those gentiles who receive it. It will be years before the process of sweeping away those who are not entitled to the land will begin in earnest.
For those who receive the covenant, the Lord will expect them to keep it. WE are free throughout this process to reject, or to break the covenant after receiving it. Eventually a few faithful people will be gathered. The Lord knows whose heart is right before Him and whose is not; who can be of one heart and mind with others, and those who cannot. Zion will be His work, not man’s.

Full Time Job

If I were to try and deny every false rumor spread about me, it would quickly turn into a full time job. A stake president’s summary description has been posted on Mormonleaks. It contains a number of bizarre things that are going on in his stake, and my name is mentioned in the letter. (Stake President Reports Apostasy.)

This got picked up by John Dehlin on his Facebook page where he assumes it is a peak into the “Denver Snuffer movement” –whatever he may think that is.

I state clearly and publicly what I think, believe and teach. I have repeatedly stated that no one speaks for me or acts as my representative. If someone is representing something comes from me, but it cannot be found in  anything I have publicly published, then it is unreliable and untrue.

It is easier, clearer and takes far less time to state publicly and affirmatively what I think or believe than to always deny all the foolish nonsense that gets attributed to me by weak-minded and overwrought people in their secretive gatherings. I have no hidden message. It is transparent and public.

I know nothing about this poor stake president’s members who are apparently doing odd things. I have not and do not encourage what he describes in his now public letter.

Given the ease with which this stuff becomes public, leadership should be careful about how information is discussed. This “private” correspondence is perilously close to slander.

Inquiry and Response

An email asked about where the covenant will be read (which I have previously answered because it has been provided in writing beforehand to be viewed for six months). I was also asked who would mediate the covenant and what the governing law of the covenant would be. I responded with an email answer which I cut and paste below:

_________________________________

You are anticipating things that are beyond where we find ourselves at present.

We are obligated to repent and return. We may not have created the problem, but we cannot expect God to accomplish the work of what He commanded for man to be do before. Others may have neglected it, but we cannot.
The first step in repenting is to gather the original covenant we were offered in the precise terms in which they were offered. That is a very difficult task that many people have been working to accomplish for over a year. There are lively efforts underway to research and find the right language.
Repentance requires us to first learn the actual language in the terms God provided when His restoration began. Our condemnation in 1832 was provoked by the failure to both “say” and to “do” what was expected of us when He spoke again and commenced the restoration.
You want the language the Lord will provide when we have successfully repented and recovered the covenant language. What if we fail? What if we present nothing He will confirm is His covenant offered to us to restore us and remove the condemnation? Do you want the language to use it for something He will not approve?
I have no intention to ask Him to provide anything further until we (and I) have shown the respect and penitence of laboring to recover what was lost. I fear if I should ask Him without having the best recovered covenant language to present to Him that it would be an offense. It is tantamount to asking God to do work that we, in humility and contrition, ought to accomplish on our own. The hallmark of repentance is the labor to return. That is underway, but not completed.
I have a different point of view than most, including even those who are taking the restoration process seriously. I want to be clear about this, and therefore I may post this email response on my website.
Although dispensations have been differently organized throughout time, I believe there is only one pattern that will bring Zion.
Adam organized the faithful into a family, because it was the natural law of his day, reflected the order of heaven itself, and he was the father, grandfather, or great-grandfather (etc.) of all his posterity. Therefore there was in fact a family as the natural state of man in his dispensation.
I bypass Enoch, until later in this discussion.
Noah likewise had a patriarchal position and his dispensation was naturally a reflection of what went before. But his descendants fell into apostasy and only one generation survived the transfer of faith.
Melchizedek labored among people who were apostate, and I will discuss him with Enoch later.
When Abraham recovered the covenant, the world was apostate and the faithful of his day were of his loins or his household. Therefore in Abraham’s dispensation he established anew a patriarchy with himself as the head. Following him the son, Isaac, and grandson, Jacob in turn were the patriarchal heads just as at the beginning.
Moses inherited a disorganized people, and after liberating them from slavery he established one tribe, Levi, to bear the priesthood and receive tithes and offerings. The Levites were deprived of land, and received priesthood as their sole inheritance. All other tribes received land inheritances.
When Christ established His dispensation He mirrored, or imitated the family of Abraham. The people He ministered to were primarily descendants of Abraham, and so imitating Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Peter, James and John) and the twelve sons of Jacob (twelve apostles) and seventy descendants of Jacob who entered Egypt (Exo. 1:5) with the seventy he ordained and sent out, was a familiar pattern to His audience.
When Joseph Smith mimicked or imitated the pattern of the Lord in establishing a New Testament organization, it was intended to show respect to the Lord. We see that Joseph imitated Christ, who in turn had imitated Abraham’s day.
But always remember: Adam did not bring Zion. Noah did not bring Zion. Moses did not, nor did Christ, nor Joseph Smith. Of these I think no one would doubt that Christ possessed the power and authority, the light and truth, and the capacity to bring Zion. But He did not. As yourself why that would be the case?
The only examples we have of Zion are the two I have by-passed. Those two, Enoch and Melchizedek, did not follow the pattern of the others. They did one thing which escapes most people’s notice. They took disorganized people and assembled them into a unified body that was equal, of one mind, of one heart, and without any poor among them. There is no mention anywhere in scripture of a structure or hierarchy among either of these people. It is clear these two were both ranked among history’s most towering spiritual figures. But they led two communities of equals. They assumed no authority other than that of a teacher and preacher of repentance.
When Enoch and Melchizedek’s successes are considered, the pattern of their dispensations stands in contrast to what all others did. Perhaps the Lord’s organization of the church in Palestine and the Nephites was done wittingly to prevent prematurely the third Zion foretold in the promises given from the time of Adam. Meaning the institution of a community of equals who are possessing one heart and one mind was not the objective Christ intended for those of His day.  An hierarchy always presents inequality.
If you want me to claim the right to mediate as judge I decline. I have rebuffed two serious attempts to have myself “sustained” as a leader. I will not regard myself as above my fellow man, nor will I assume I am any less in need of repenting and returning to the Lord. Even if the Lord has required some things of me, I do not claim that distinguishes me above my fellow man. I confine myself to teaching and trying to persuade others.  I hope to always allow them to govern themselves. I believe I have the same obligation as any other man: preach, teach, persuade, use longsuffering and love, exhibit pure knowledge and allow others to determine for themselves, free of constraint, if what is offered is light and truth, or darkness and error.
I am content to be the least in Zion, but would very much hope to be permitted to be there, if the Lord will permit it.
-Denver

Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant

There is a new download titled “Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant” available in the downloads section. It is a brief exposition on accepting scripture as covenant.

The quotes are taken from the Restoration Edition of the scriptures.

Vitality of Ideas

As I have explained, there is no need to organize a formal church. We can believe without compulsion, and regard one another as brother and sister, father and mother, people of one heart, without a Pope or president. Below is a quote from Preserving the Restoration, based on a talk I gave years ago:

 

If Mormonism is to achieve its prophesied success, that future must come through a return to pure ideals. Holy people must practice the religion. To practice within a hostile legal, cultural and social environment requires the religion to assume a non-corporate form. It must become only a shared idea, privately practiced. Ideas cannot be taxed, controlled, organized or compromised by changing leadership. Ideas can stand apart from all commerce and law. The only thing an idea requires for vitality is for someone to give it a voice. Governments and business interests are powerless to seize an idea and corrupt it. Ideas can be opposed, denounced and argued, but ideas remain free from all control. All that is needed for an idea to live is for it to be remembered.

Teaching

While I claim no right to control, manage or command any other person, I do claim the right to teach. Like any other person who believes in something greater than themselves, we all have the right to teach what is important to us and have others consider.

In the history of mankind, there are only two documented successes of establishing a city of peace that was visited by God. In the first, Enoch preached and taught. He assumed only the role of a teacher. People listened, repented, and were able to live in peace with one another. They had one heart and one mind. There were no poor among them. (Moses 7:18-19.)

Melchizedek also preached and taught. His message was for the people to repent. (Alma 13:17-18.) Although called a “prince of peace” and the “king of Salem,” Joseph Smith explained these terms were not because he had kingly rule over any group. But it “signifies king of peace or righteousness and not any country or nation.” (WJS, p. 246.)

When God reveals His mind to me, I have every right to teach and preach repentance and urge people to return to God. There are no active covenant people who can fulfill the prophecies on earth today. There is nothing special about any people yet. But the potential to lay claim on blessings and establish a covenant exists.

In 1832, the incipient restoration movement Joseph Smith was laboring to establish was condemned by the Lord. The nascent Mormonite movement (as it was then called) was rebuked by the Lord. He told them their minds were darkened because they treated lightly what had been given to them. They were plagued with unbelief. He condemned them and warned they would remain under His condemnation until they repented, and not only said but did what the Book of Mormon and other commandments directed them to do. (D&C 84:54-57.) Among other things, they were required to “bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom.” (Id. v. 58.)

By 1841, the earlier condemnation had not been cured. The Lord threatened them again, warning they would be “rejected as a church, with your dead.” (D&C 124:32.) He gave a sign to them: If they repented, He would come to their planned but unbuilt temple and restore the fulness which they had lost. (Id. v. 28.) He would not let anyone move them out of that place. (Id. v. 45.) But if they would not obey Him, then they would, “by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation and judgments” upon themselves. (Id. v. 48.) They failed to do as He commanded. They were moved out of their place. They failed to receive the fulness from Him. They suffered wintertime expulsion, hunger, famine, pestilence and the judgments of God upon them.

They did not receive the covenant because they were unwilling to accept what was offered by the Lord. He was willing to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings for protection, but they were not interested.

When the Lord determined to renew His work and allow another people the opportunity to receive a covenant from Him, He spoke to me from heaven and provided instruction. Faithful to those instructions, I have labored for years to prepare the minds and hearts any who wish to receive what is offered by a kind and loving God.

The Book of Mormon is intended to be received as a covenant. The covenant MUST first be delivered to and accepted by the gentiles in order for the gentiles to be numbered among the remnant of God’s people. (3 Ne. 21:22.) The gentiles must have a covenant, or they cannot assist in any way to establish the New Jerusalem. (Id. v. 23.) It will be former gentiles who are called “Ephriam” once restored, to whom all other tribes must come to receive their part in the covenant. (D&C 133:30-34.) This will happen once the gentiles have been given the land as their land of promise, an inheritance from God given only to covenant people. (3 Ne. 21:22.) At present, the gentiles have been condemned and rejected by the Lord. Therefore, some few must repent and return.

In making an offer to establish a covenant, no one is obligated to accept His offer. The presumption is that gentiles will refuse, as they have done for many generations. Any gentile who does not want to obtain the covenant merely needs to refrain from accepting the offer, and they remain exactly as they are now. They do not need to rejoice in the offered gift, nor to even receive it. (D&C 88:33.)

But if even a tiny few gentiles are willing to accept the covenant, God will receive them and accomplish His work through them. It was always the Lord’s expectation that “few” would receive it and walk in a straight and narrow path. Almost all others will reject it and walk in a broad enough path to accommodate every other false religious idea, false promise, incomplete and damning path that competes with the Lord’s invitation to come to Him.

The work of getting an accurate restatement of what the Lord once offered, and what He now offers and instructs, has been underway for more than a year and a half. It has resulted in a preliminary draft of new scriptures now available for anyone to review and comment on as a draft. When the wise input has been gathered, and the text completed to the best of our present ability, it will be prayerfully submitted to the Lord for His approval. He has taken an active role in the project already, providing several additions of importance to Him. They have been added. Whatever man may think of the project, before it is proposed for acceptance as a covenant it will need to be approved and accepted by the Lord. I expect He will do so, because He has already accompanied the work thus far undertaken.

When a conference in Boise takes place this coming September, the completed project will be offered for acceptance. There will be many who will not want it. They needn’t do anything. But if even a few will accept it, those who do will become at that time part of the covenant people of God, numbered with the remnant, and entitled to inherit this as their land. In turn, God will protect them. If they abide the covenant, He will establish a New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge. His glory and terror will be there, and the wicked will not come unto it. To it will be gathered from every one of the tribes of Israel, and they will be the only people who are not at war with one another as the final chapter of the world unfolds. (D&C 45:65-71.) The Spirit of God will watch over His covenant people while it withdraws from the rest of the world. In the coming darkness, they will become progressively more warlike and violent, until the earth is filled with bloodshed.

If there are any others who are willing to do so, I intend to join them in accepting the covenant in September. That will allow me to address Christian audiences in California, Texas and Atlanta as a covenant holder offering to them the benefit of accepting what the Lord offers to everyone freely.  Any others who accept the covenant can do likewise.

No one is required to accept the Lord’s invitation. But if accepted, the covenant needs to be kept. No one other than the Lord will enforce the covenant. But He has at His disposal lightning, pestilence, famine and earthquakes. (D&C 43:25.) He has warned of a coming time when there is burning, desolation and lamentation. (D&C 112:24.) He has always planned to have covenant people survive that with His protection.

Anyone who objects to this is free to continue on without accepting God’s offer. They are free to attempt to persuade others to also reject the covenant and remain alone without God’s protection in the coming difficulties. But their opposition cannot prevent it from happening for others who choose to accept the Lord’s offer to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks.