Category: covenant

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.

All or Nothing, 6

Zion consists of people living in harmony with God. It is defined in revelation as “the pure in heart.” (D&C 97:21.) But prophecy also confirms it will be an actual location, and a place of gathering. The events of the last days have been known since the time of Enoch. The Lord explained to him:

great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; (Moses 7:61-63, emphasis added.)

It is a mistake to think of Zion as ONLY the “pure in heart.” It is more. All God’s covenants with the patriarchal fathers will be fulfilled.

Zion will begin with a single seed, but it will eventually fill the whole of North and South America. (See Words of Joseph Smith, p. 362-363; “The Whole of North and South American is Zion”; Wilford Woodruff Journal, April 8, 1844; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 362.)

The kingdom of God will “grind to dust” through persuasion, example and overcoming the world. If there is no need for financial, legal, administrative, or social assistance from the governments of men then the New Jerusalem can break free of man’s corrupt governments.

The way Zion will “grind to dust” the kingdoms of man will not be by force. The “kingdom of God” will progress “by faith & revolutionize the world, not by power, nor by might, but by pure intelligence.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 157.)

Not all the wicked will be persuaded, and there will be violence because of corruption in the coming days. In the future, it will be with the gentiles as it was with the Nephites: the wicked will destroy the wicked:

But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed. (Emphasis added.)

Modern revelation speaks of the coming distress among the wicked:

I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man; (D&C 63:33, emphasis added.)

Zion must exist independent of Babylon:

 Behold, this is the preparation wherewith I prepare you, and the foundation, and the ensample which I give unto you, whereby you may accomplish the commandments which are given you; That through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world; That you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion, who hath established the foundations of Adam-ondi-Ahman; Who hath appointed Michael your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life. (D&C 78:13-16, emphasis added.)

Buying and selling is how men are controlled by Babylon. In the New Jerusalem, exchange will be without money, without price. (Isaiah 55:1–quoted in 2 Ne. 9:50; 26:25.) There will be no commerce to tax, no business to license or regulate in Zion. Because it is independent of everything else under heaven, it will not matter to Zion if Babylon the great falls. (Rev. 18:2.) Zion will not miss her abundant delicacies. (Rev. 18:3.) Zion will not weep over her fall. (Rev. 18:9-11, 15-17.) Zion will not cast dirt on their heads and bewail the loss of riches. (Rev. 18:19.)

The strength of Zion will come from men who are taught correct principles and are able to govern themselves according to the plan of happiness. God will be their protection:

And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy. (D&C 45:66-71.)

Covenants established with Adam by God will be returned and offered again to bind men and make them accountable only to Him. Those in Zion will live in peace with one another because of their relationship to God.

Like the Nephites after the visit by the resurrected Christ, the people of Zion will live without contentions and disputations, dealing “justly with one another. (4 Nephi 1:2.) They will live according to a higher law which will remove all contention. (4 Nephi 1:13.) This defeat of contention will eventually spread to “all the land.” (4 Nephi 1:15.) When there has been “no contention” for a generation, God will “bless mankind in all their doings.” (4 Nephi 1:18.)

The kingdoms of men, ancient and modern, have and do control how men think, engage in commerce, regulate property, tax, govern, make war and interact. Zion will make a complete overthrow of these systems. Other societies will be “ground to dust” because the way of life in Zion will appeal to all peaceful men. Men of peace will abandon the other false systems and join Zion.

It would do little good to teach the religion of Adam to men if they are not willing to live like Adam. Adam did not question, doubt or rebel against God. He intended to live by every word of the Lord, even when he did not understand “why” something was commanded by the Lord. Adam suspended judgment, and obeyed. Few men are like father Adam. It is doubtful many living today will find it appealing to suspend judgment about a commandment if the Lord does not explain “why” something is to be done.

Adam followed direction for years, not knowing why he was given the direction. He trusted God:

And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord. And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. (Moses 5:5-8, emphasis added.)

When the Lord establishes the foundation of the New Jerusalem, it will require the sacrifice and obedience of the residents. Even if the foundation for that city is laid, if mankind is unwilling to be governed by God, learn from Him and trust His guidance, it is doubtful it will become Zion.

Lehi’s God

When Lehi first saw the Father sitting upon His throne, the description is as follows: “he thought he saw God, sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God.” (1 Ne. 1: 8.)

After being ministered to by Christ, (1 Ne. 1: 11) the description changes as Lehi reacts to his endowment of knowledge from the Lord. The record says: “And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God.” (1 Ne. 1: 15.) God the Father has ceased to be the impersonal “God” of verse 8, and has become Lehi’s God by verse 15.

It is in this sense that God becomes “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Matt. 22: 32.) God established His covenant with Abraham. Then He renewed and established His covenant again with Isaac. Then He renewed it again with Jacob. He was each of their God, by covenanting with each of them. None relied on a covenant given to their father, or grandfather, but each received directly from God a covenant in their own name.

Lehi also covenanted with God. He also knew the Father as “his God.” If you read what happened between verses 8 and 15, you will see how Christ ministers to a man and brings them into a relationship with the Father.

Compare 1 Ne. 1: 11-14 with Revelation 5: 1-8. In both there is a book, and it is Christ who is able to access the book. In both, a prophet, (Lehi and John) are able to then get access to the information which would be otherwise hidden from the world.

Lehi, as a recipient of the covenant directly from God, joined those who could call God “his God.”
It is the God of Lehi in the same way it is the God of Abraham; and the God of Isaac; and the God of Jacob; and the God of Nephi; and the God of Joseph.

Look at 2 Kings 2: 14 and you will see Elisha acknowledging that Elijah also knew God; and Elisha wanted to likewise come to know Him.

Is He also your God? If not, why will you not have Him to be your God? (1Ne. 17: 40.)

Jacob 5: 53-56

The Lord is quite realistic about salvaging something from the vineyard. He does not state He can produce fruit again, only that “perhaps, I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof.” (5: 53.) The vineyard must respond. He respects our agency. He can encourage, invite and entice us, but we are always free to choose. (Moroni 7: 13.) It is that freedom to choose that results in the vineyard being condemned. They could have responded to the Lord’s invitation, but decided not to. (D&C 101: 78.)

So this final dispensation is not a guaranteed success. Notwithstanding the optimism of many of our revelations, the Lord of the vineyard knows success (fruit reappearing) will only “perhaps” occur.

The bloodlines are still here. Though they are separated, mixed and disbursed throughout the nethermost parts of the vineyard, they are “yet still alive.” (5: 54.) The Lord has determined, and is now taking the steps, to graft back together the branches to the root in hopes of producing “fruit” again. (Id.) Notice it is not the restoration of the link, the regrafting of the branches, or the successful return of the Lord’s husbandry to the vineyard that matters. Despite all the coaxing and work, and even the regrafting of branch to root, the purpose is not fulfillled until there is “fruit” produced. The organizational structure of the reassembled tree is nothing. It is the “fruit” and the “fruit” alone which is the object of the effort. A Divine reconnection of branch and root is not and never has been the object of the Lord of the vineyard. Bragging about how you are part of a “restored branch” distracts you from the fact you are still unworthy to be laid up against the season. Lacking fruit, you are only worthy to be gathered in bundles and burned.

This restoration of branch to root does not bear and was never expected to bear any fruit at first. It was the preliminary step, intended to lead to a time when the restored branch takes its opportunity seriously and repents, finally returning to Him. “[T]hat when they shall be sufficiently strong perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me.” (5: 54.) It was always expected to take time. Generations, in fact, before there would be “fruit” in the vineyard.” No matter how millennial the first generation of the saints expected their faith to prove, no matter what prophecies and patriarchial blessings the first generation of latter-day saints shared with one another, and no matter what promises Joseph Smith obtained – everything was contingent on producing “fruit” which the Lord of the vineyard could lay up against the season. I’ve written the last book about the obvious conclusions we ought to reach regarding the beginning of the restoration. It is my effort to explain where we are and how we got here. It is also intended to help us now produce “fruit” in the vineyard.

The Lord began the process. (5: 55-56.) He and His servants took the wild branches and regrafted them. The potential covenant was restored. He returned again the pattern of covenant-making, the ordinances which testify to us of Christ’s Atonement, the ritual return through the veil to the Lord’s presence, and the ideas of a priesthood which is inseparably connected with heaven. He gave us the warning that when we undertake to assert the right to compel others to follow the priesthood, then we forfeit it. No power and no influence can or does exist by “virtue” or by reason of the priesthood. It exists because someone has humbled themselves, repented, come into the presence of Christ, and thereby been redeemed from the fall. (See, e.g., Ether 3: 13; D&C 84: 35.)

The Lord of the vineyard and His servants did the work. The graft was begun. Now it remains to see if it will bear fruit.

The Lord knows the end from the beginning. (Abr. 2: 8.) Everything He revealed to Zenos about the past has happened. We ought to respect that enough to allow the prophecy to inform our present and future.

Jacob 5: 42-47

There was no fruit being produced anywhere in the vineyard. The Lord recognized that. The separated branches that He had visited were able to produce covenant sons and daughters of God, only to fail to keep the covenant alive. “[N]ow all the trees of [the] vineyard are good for nothing save it be to be hewn down and cast into the fire.” (5: 42.) That does not mean they aren’t going to be preserved. They will, but they will suffer the wrath of God. Then they will come forth at the end of the season, and be placed in a position of Telestial Glory to dwell in the same condition as this fallen world. (D&C 76: 81-85.) From the Lord’s perspective, that is undesireable. It is failure. It is tragic. This is the native condition this vineyard repeatedly lapses into, even with the Lord and His servant’s continuing care. What more could He do, indeed! How often would He have gathered us, but we refuse. (3 Ne. 10: 5.)

Even when the Lord bestows peculiar advantages on the branches of His vineyard, the results are not dissimilar to what goes on elsewhere. Highly favored and greatly blessed people seem as indifferent to their salvation as those who inherit challenges and difficulties. (5: 43.) The Lord “cut down that which cumbered this spot of ground, that I might plant this tree in the stead thereof.” (5: 44; see also, Ether 13: 1.) He provided the best spot in the vineyard by destroying the people inhabiting it. Then, as we shall see, He destroys the branches brought there once they also fail to produce suitable fruit.

The good spot was cleansed of the bad branches, yet the bad still overcame the good. (5: 45.) The Nephite civilization was, in the end, entirely overcome and destroyed because it failed to produce any more sons and daughters of God.

As the Lord surveyed the entire vineyard, He saw nothing but universal failure. There was no fruit able to be preserved against the coming season of judgment. The whole earth was worthy of destruction, because there were none whose hearts were sealed to the fathers in heaven, members of the Family of God, who could endure His presence at His return. In other words, there was no righteous branch living on the earth. All manner of fruit claimed to be good. All kinds of pretenders were claiming they were of God. They clammored “lo here!” and “lo, there!” and claimed they could deliver souls from hell. Yet no one was able to bring the living into contact with God, which was required in order for them to receive the “testimony of Jesus” promising them eternal life. (D&C 76: 51-55.) The Lord needed to begin over again. The vineyard was void of fruit-bearing trees. Despite this, the Lord reflected “it grieveth me that I should lose them.” (5: 46.) The Lord takes the salvation of mankind seriously. It is His work. And when they fail, He grieves.

The Lord lists all He does to try to provoke His “tree” to bear fruit. He does not “slacken his hand” nor does he fail to “nourish” it. (5: 47.) He “digged,” and He “pruned,” and He “dunged” the tree. These efforts include sending the Light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, scriptures, prophets, angels, visions, dreams and signs in the heavens above and the earth beneath. He has done this continually for His vineyard. But these many gifts from God, and the great work He has done have failed to produce fruit. At last He poses the question to His servant: “Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?” (Id.) A worthy question, indeed. The answer is surprising, because it does not require a devil to be involved.

Jacob 5: 38-41

The Lord’s inspection of the vineyard was global. Even the “nethermost parts of the vineyard” were examined for fruit. (5: 38.) Despite the opportunities given to the vineyard, “the fruit of the natural branches” which belonged to the original root and should have been able to bear fruit “had become corrupt also.” (5: 39.) No matter where you looked, “the first and the second and also the last; …they had all become corrupt.” (Id.) The apostasy was now universal. It was not possible for the Lord to find fruit worth preserving anywhere in His vineyard. The ordinances were changed. The covenant was broken. (Isa. 24: 5.)

Apostasy is always marked by a change of ordinances and breaking of the covenant. Then everything can continue to mimic the truth, but there can be no fruit. The apostates can keep the vocabulary, claim to have the truth and worship the God of Israel, use the same scriptures as were written by those who were in and kept the covenant, and assume they are either in or headed toward Zion and that “all is well” even as they are covered in chains and bound for hell. (2 Ne. 28: 23-25.) Then the apostasy can rule from the rivers to the ends of the earth, but no-one is capable of telling them to be afraid. While in Satan’s power, they think themselves blessed.

The “fruit” to be “laid up against the season” is highly specific. It is God’s own family. Those who are bound to Him directly, in an unbroken covenant of adoption, where He recognizes them as His “sons and daughters” and has told them so in an unbreakable bond. (Mosiah 27: 25.) Those who receive Him receive this oath from Him. And through it, He covenants with them, in a bond which He cannot break, that they are His sons and His daughters and heirs to all the Father has. (D&C 84: 35-40.) It will not be an imitation, which does not create “fruit” but it will be Him and His covenant. For “all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord.” (D&C 88: 35.) He will come to and “comfort” those with this covenant. (John 14: 18.) This is not by proxy, or through an appearance “in the heart” through some feeling, but is an actual appearance leading to an actual bond that cannot be broken, and therefore comforts the sojourner in this lone and dreary world. (John 14: 23; D&C 130: 3.)

Because there were no longer any who remained in the vineyard with this covenant, or who were adopted into the Family of God, or who were suitable to be preserved through the burning of the vineyard, the entire vineyard, from the first to the last, “had all become corrupt.” (5: 39.) Even in the best spot in the vineyard, “the wild fruit of the last had overcome that part of the tree which brought forth good fruit, even that the branch had withered away and died.” (5: 40.) The Nephite fall was complete. Nothing remained. All was wild and unsuitable, entirely corrupt.

At this terrible state of man “the Lord of the vineyard wept.” (5: 41.) The Lord’s work and glory is to produce fruit from His vineyard. (Moses 1: 39.) The Lord of the vineyard is not able to withhold His tears at our dreadful plight. He is moved with compassion for us. (Heb. 4: 15, see also Matt. 14: 14.)

As the Lord looked at the complete failure of the entire vineyard, He reflected with sorrow: “What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (5: 41.) The Lord does not fault us. He examines Himself. He begins His inventory of what went wrong with His own actions, not ours. We who rebel against Him are not faulted by Him. But He wonders how He might have been the better Lord. It ought to cause us to weep to realize who He really is, and what He really thinks.

3 Nephi 20: 23

“Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.”
If there were any doubt about who was meant in Deuteronomy 18: 15-19, Christ clarifies it here. He, Christ, was always meant to be the ultimate Law-Giver. He is the one who must be followed. He may send prophets, but it is Christ alone who is to be followed. Those who draw attention away from Him and turn attention to themselves will always lead astray. For the Lord alone can save. No man can.
We’ve been trying to make the matter clear for some time. Not merely in this blog, but by my writing and your reading the six books I’ve written before beginning this effort. The Lord alone is the one to whom each of us must look for hope and salvation. He is the one with whom you can covenant to receive salvation.

In the middle of this prophecy of remnant return and gentile holocaust, comes the reminder again of the Lord’s primacy. Look to Him. Him alone. He is the one raised up to save mankind. He is the gentile hope.

The judgments the gentiles have merited by their refusal to accept the fullness of Christ’s Gospel is not an impediment to you, if you will come to Him. It was always meant to be a singular event anyway. There is no collective salvation. Each person comes to Him one at a time. Even when He redeems a group, He  visits with them individually. (3 Nephi 11: 13-17.)
Those who will not “hear Him” will be “cut off from among the people.” What does it mean to “hear Him?” How do you go about accomplishing that?
What does it mean to be “cut off from among the people?” What “people?” Why is being cut off from those people a curse? Where are you sent if you are not among the Lord’s people? How do you go about rectifying that – joining in to be among those who “hear Him” and are part of His people?
Can you do it now? Do you have to wait till some distant future time or place? Why aren’t you doing more about it now, then?

3 Nephi 20: 14-15

3 Nephi 20: 14-15: 
 “And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance. And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—” 

Christ is speaking to a group of people and their descendants when making these remarks. The Father has commanded Christ to confirm to the Nephites they are given this land. “This land.” So now the question of where Christ was while making these comments becomes important.

Where were they at the moment Christ spoke to them? That affects things, doesn’t it? Was it Guatamala? Or the United States?

There are two ways of trying to determine the answer to this question.  One would be to study the internal content of the Book of Mormon and try to reconstruct a location based on the clues there. This has been done with varying results. The two leading works on the two leading theories have been referred to in this post. There is another theory that the area was in the Gulf of Mexico. The land was completely reformed, broken up, and altered as a result of the upheavals of the 3 Nephi destruction, and the land no longer appears as it did once. It is now underwater. You can work and justify a number of locations based on the content of the Book of Mormon.

The other way is to take other sources that presumably knew, and accept what they said about the location. I’ve already quoted from both Moroni and Joseph Smith about the location. Both have placed the events in the area now known as the United States. Moroni’s description of the Book of Mormon, and its people, was as follows: “He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.”  (JS-H 1: 34.) I presume Moroni knew, and that Joseph had no reason to misstate what he said. It would appear that the continent referred to by Christ using the words, “this land” was North America. And the promise from the Father, made by covenant, was with “the former inhabitants of this continent.”

So the remnant was (at the moment Christ was speaking to this audience, and confirmed this covenant of the Father) located in North America. This does not mean they weren’t mobile and subsequently moved about. This does not mean they did not disburse and occupy other portions of the North and South American landmasses. This does not mean that other migrations of these people which scattered them elsewhere into the world have not occurred. Even if you confine everything to a North American venue for the entirety of the Book of Mormon account, there is still a gap between 400 a.d. when the narrative draws to a conclusion and the 1820’s when the record comes to light again. Nothing closes that gap.
So if Moroni’s comments to Joseph Smith can be trusted, then originally the people from whom the remnant came were people who lived on “this continent” at some time in history. 
The gentiles are mentioned again here. They are reminded of the blessings they have received. They are reminded they were given the responsibility of scattering the remnant and disciplining them for the remnant’s failings. But, once the gentiles are blessed, once they have scattered the remnant and destroyed most of them (leaving only a remnant of what was here before), then the gentiles are warned. They must repent. Without repentance the fate of the gentiles will be a similar holocaust of destruction, scattering and treading down; leaving only a remnant of the gentiles still upon the land.
So the roles will reverse. At first, the gentiles dominate and the remnant recedes, at last the remnant will dominate and the gentiles recede.
The remnant’s role and the gentiles’ pride are interconnected with one another. It is for this reason, if no other, the subject of the remnant is important to know something about.
So, we continue.

3 Nephi 20: 12

3 Nephi 20: 12:

And verily, verily, I say unto you, that when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel.”

 
Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the Israelite covenant will happen at the same time as the fulfillment of the covenants for the Nephite remnant. So things will develop simultaneously for all the chosen people. Not just locally, but globally.
 
Notice the reference to the “Father” and to “His people.” Why is it the “Father’s people” in this scripture? What significance is there to the covenant being fulfilled for the Father’s people? Are they different from others? Can others have a covenant with Christ? Why is it the Father’s people who will see the fulfillment of their covenants in this final, winding up of history?
 
How are “O house of Israel” and the “Father’s people” related? Are they the same? Why or why not?
 
Why would all covenants come to a fulfillment at the same time? What is there of general historical development which requires all of these to be fulfilled simultaneously?
 
How would you prepare for the time when the fulfillment of all the covenants are to occur? Is there some kind of storage you should be assembling? What about things that put “oil” in a “lamp?” How would you go about getting that put together?
 
If the judgments of God will begin on His own house (D&C 112: 24-26), then how do you prepare to avoid that judgment?

There is an upside to every prophecy, even in those predicting calamity. The upside consists in two things: First, avoiding the judgment by being prepared for it. (D&C 38: 30.) Second, recognizing it so as to not be alarmed or lose faith because of it. (D&C 1: 3.)

When you see the distresses which are to come, recognize them as signs given by the Lord and take comfort. (Luke 21: 8-13.)
 
Christ uses Isaiah as His source because Isaiah was inspired in what he wrote. We also have a record of his prophecy. Therefore, the Lord could speak in the first person and have us quote Him. However, He pays tribute to His own prophet by quoting the words of Isaiah. This is meekness indeed. Our Lord is not and never has been prideful. He is meek, and willing to let others have credit, share in triumph, and be treated as equals. How unlike Him are the gentile leaders who love to lord it over one another, holding each other as subservients. Christ, however, made Himself a servant of all. (Mark 10: 42-44.) He puts that same meekness on display again here, as he quotes from Isaiah. This shows the Lord’s respect for Isaiah.
 
Interesting the things which become apparent the closer you look at our Lord. Interesting how much the Book of Mormon adds to the picture of our Lord. What a great volume of scripture we have been given.
 
Well, back then to our main topic…

2 Nephi 33: 15

 
“For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.”
 
Another reminder of Nephi’s status. Not only does he preach the words of Christ, but he also has the authority and power to “seal on earth” his message.  He obtained this directly from the Lord. He is a trusted servant, acting in the similitude of the Savior Himself. Holding the power to seal, he proceeds to do so. Those with eyes to see will realize this is an important punctuation mark on the the final statement he leaves for us in his message.
 
The power to seal and “the Lord commanded me, and I must obey” go hand in hand. One simply does not receive this kind of authority if they will begin to freelance. They are to use it only in the manner the Lord would use it. Although the power is theirs to use, they are governed by their character to use it only according to the Lord’s command. Nephi, for example, received this acknowledgment when given the power to seal: “that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.” (Helaman 10: 5; see 10: 4-5 for the more complete explanation.)
 
When Joseph Smith received this power it was given in connection with his calling and election made sure. It happened between 1829 and 1832, the exact date is unknown. It was reduced to writing in 1843 in D&C 132. It is my view that the revelation making mention of it was not a single event, but rather as many as five different revelations related to the same subject, all of which were dictated at the same time and included in Section 132. I’ve explained this earlier in a series of posts about Section 132. Go back and look here, here, here, here, here, and here  if you don’t remember it.
 
Joseph received this power, and this fullness between 1829 and 1832. However, by 1841 Joseph was no longer able to use it because it had been “taken from [the church].” (D&C 124: 28.) It would not affect Joseph individually, for his calling and election was made sure. (D&C 132: 49.) But if “taken,” it would affect the church.
 
Nephi’s power to “seal” his writings at the command of the Lord, and his own obedience, now make his words binding on all of us. They become covenantal. Hence the reference to remembering “the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon.” (D&C 84: 57.) It is not merely interesting doctrine, nor even prophecy, but has reached covenantal status by virtue of the priestly seal placed upon it by Nephi. We ignore it at our peril. We define it as just a volume of scripture at our loss. It was intended to be studied and followed as the means to reassert a covenant between ourselves and God. By following its precepts we can return to God’s presence where we are endowed with light and truth, receive intelligence and understanding. Each of us is invited to make that return. Nephi lived it, and as a result was able to teach it. We should do the same. That is, live it to be able to understand and then teach it. It is the doing that leads to the understanding.
 
There is a great deal of what Nephi taught that we have not considered. 
 
Now let’s talk bout the remnant.

2 Nephi 30: 2

2 Nephi 30: 2:

“For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.

To the extent that gentiles “will repent” they may become part of the Lord’s “covenant people.” They are not the remnant, but they may join in the covenant. If they do, then by virtue of the covenant they become “covenant people.”

What is required for the gentiles to repent?

What covenant must they enter into or receive so they may be numbered among the “covenant people?” Is membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the only thing needed to “repent” and become a “covenant people?” If not, then what else would be required?

To the extent that “the Jews will not repent” then they will be “cast off.” Although history has shown how the Jews have been treated (as Nephi put it), “ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” (2 Ne. 29: 5.) These difficulties suffered by the Jews are preliminary. The Lord always watched over and preserved them from complete destruction. However, when the Gospel is offered to them in the last days, in the final offering to the last (who had once been first–see 1 Ne.13: 42), they will reject the offered renewal of the covenant at their peril. If they reject it, they “shall be cast off” because that will sever the covenant.  “The Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.”

Although we know the Lord will extend every opportunity to the descendants for the sake of a covenant with those who have become the friends of God, there are limits. God will do all He has promised to do. He will forbear, entreat, beseech, send messengers, labor alongside with His messengers, and do all He can to reclaim the heirs for the covenant’s sake. In the end, however, the heirs must either accept what He offers, or be cast off.

It is extraordinary how long the Lord will extend His hand to reclaim His people. But everyone must choose to follow Him. We have our agency. We cannot be forced to follow Him. Even though He may be longsuffering and patient, He cannot compel any to be saved.  (Moses 4: 1-3.) Unless a person is free to choose for themselves, there is no existence.  (D&C 93: 30.) 

If you remove the right to choose, it is not only agency that is obliterated, but it is existence itself. Though we are utterly dependent on God for our very existence, sustained from moment to moment by Him loaning us the ability to move, breathe and act (Mosiah 2: 21), because we are free to make choices we exist. If you destroy the right to choose you have ended the personality of the person. [I have explained this in the beginning of Beloved Enos.]

Well, all of this is of no import if the gentiles do not “repent.” Whenever we brush up against that subject we wind up engaged in discussions about justice, mercy, vengeance and restitution. I’ve written about this process in both The Second Comforter and Come, Let Us Adore Him. Briefly, here are some of the most important points:  To be forgiven we must forgive. Not just forgive, but plead for mercy for those who have offended us. The role of accusing is left to “the accuser of the brethren” or Satan. (Rev. 12: 10.) When we accuse others we interfere with their salvation. If we are the one who was offended, and we make no accusation against them, then we become their savior. Satan’s right to accuse is inferior to ours as victims of the offense. We suffer in the flesh the wrongs of others. If we make no claim for justice, surrender those and seek instead for mercy on behalf of others, then Satan’s accusations can have no claim upon them. We mimic Christ, follow His example, and in our own limited way also atone for the sins of others. Joseph Smith was trying to get us to understand this concept when he taught: “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth a multitude of sins.” (DHC. 4:445)

I have explained this at length in what I’ve written in Come, Let Us Adore Him. Christ said this in His ministry repeatedly. He lived it.  He showed by His own example the way to obtain forgiveness for every wrong you have ever done. It is in the same way He went about atoning for sins. It is by suffering offenses and returning good. It is by forgiving those who despitefully use and abuse you. It is through loving those who are your enemies. It is by becoming sons and daughters of God. And it can be done in no other way. (Matt. 5: 38-48.) If you do not forgive others, you cannot be forgiven. (Matt. 6: 14-15.) This is why Christ, in teaching us to pray, told us we are only forgiven as we forgive others.  (Matt. 6: 12.) It is as we forgive that we obtain forgiveness.

The way is strait and narrow, and cannot permit you to pass through while carrying any burden of accusation, desire for revenge or even just complaint about others. When you lay down what you might justly claim against others and seek nothing for their offenses, then you are able to enter in. To be blessed, we must seek peace with those who would make war against us. (Matt. 5: 9.) When we judge all others with mercy, it is with mercy alone we will be judged. (Matt. 7: 2.)

For the most part, the gentiles will not repent. They will hold courts, use their time judging, exact conditions, set limits, and annotate their permanent records with notes showing what discipline a person has undergone. And happily employ control, compulsion and dominion over one another (D&C 121: 37) right up to the time when the trumpet sounds and it is everlastingly too late.  Others will justify this failure to forgive, shout praises to the abuse, and claim all compulsion and dominion is necessary to protect us from the evil. Even though our Master told us not to resist the evil, but forgive it. (Matt. 5: 39.)

For the most part, the gentiles will demand they be judged by a law they cannot satisfy.  Some few, however, will forgive and plead for the weaknesses and failings of others. They will forgive, and thereby be forgiven. They will obtain for themselves a judgment based only on mercy, for they have shown mercy to others. This atoning act of love and intercession will be the hallmark by which the children of God are identified in the Day of Judgment. (Matt. 5: 9.) Only the peacemakers can be trusted to live in peace with one another. All others are unfit for the presence of God.

Discussion of the Gentiles and the Remnant


We’re still in a discussion which began June 7th to try and make sense of the present and future of Zion.


We have seen how priestly authority is more complex than a list of names on a page showing some connection to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We have examined how necessary it is to reconnect with heaven itself to have not just authority, but also power in the priesthood. That connection of power in the priesthood comes from the hand of God, not from another man. The powers of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven and the hand of God.  (D&C 121: 36.)
 
Men do not make priests, God does. For those who have eyes to see, God’s hand in priestly authority has been seen by endowed Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo onward. Men do not make prophets. God has reserved that right for Himself.  (Numbers 12: 6.) God will call them whether or not men accept or recognize them.
 
We think we have a hope in membership in the church, but the scriptures offer us no reason for that hope. Hope lies in Christ.

We have seen how carefully the Book of Mormon distinguishes between the “remnant” to inherit great promises, and “gentiles” who must align themselves with Christ to become inheritors of those promises. We have seen how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are always identified with the gentiles (D&C 109: 60), and not the remnant.

 
We have seen how the gentiles will be given authority over the remnant, and will be permitted to abuse and tread upon them for a season. We have seen that the promises once given the remnant will be given conditionally and for a season to the gentiles, who will receive the book written by the remnant’s forebearers. The gentiles will become a great nation, and will be protected and powerful. They will be greater than any other nation on the earth. We have read how that will result in pride and foolishness.
 
We have seen that the gentiles will be swept away, just as the remnant was swept away. But those gentiles who will repent and receive Christ will receive a covenant entitling them to also belong to and possess this land as a place of inheritance.
 
Those gentiles who enter into this covenant, repent, come to Christ and receive Christ’s presence will be preserved as the remainder of the gentiles’ probation ends. When the time of the gentile dominance ends, they will be swept away.
 
We have seen that the gentiles who do not possess the covenant will become trodden under foot just as the remnant.  The world will descend into darkness, as the Spirit and the Light of Christ withdraws from all but those who are chosen heirs. The wicked will destroy the wicked. The gathered faithful will have the Lord’s Spirit as a protection and shield. The wicked will fear and not go near them, for they will be “terrible” to the wicked.
 
The covenant people will be gathered in the “tops of the mountains” where there will be a refuge and the Lord will be among them. When the destruction ends and the wicked have been swept away, the Father will return these gathered covenant people to their lands of promise. When He does, His hand will be over them, and will be their rear guard. Nothing and no-one will hurt or make them afraid.

This orients us to begin to consider more carefully what the gentiles have done and will do with their opportunity. So we return to Nephi’s writings to look more carefully at ourselves and the perils we face.

 
All of this is an experiment to see if it is possible to have this kind of discussion take place on a blog. I used to teach a weekly Book of Mormon class where we examined the text carefully. In those ten years we were able to go from 1 Nephi 1:1 to Jarom 1: 4. I know the material could be taught in that setting because the people were in front of me and I could take in what they were receiving as I taught. This is an alien way to teach, where disembodied words are put into a blog to be read by those who may or may not be attentive, diligent, prayerful and prepared. I cannot gage the effectiveness of this as well except from how the Lord assists me at my end.  At the reader’s end I am divided by circuitry, time and space and cannot measure as I could if you were in front of me.
 
I will continue the experiment, but remain doubtful that this will work as well as a book or a meeting would. In the end, the reader (or listener) must have the Spirit to be able to take in any light taught. So you will determine for yourself if you will receive what is offered. So, we will see…

3 Nephi 21: 27-28

 
“Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.  Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.”
When it begins in earnest and for the last time, it will be universal. There won’t be an effort among one part of the vineyard which isn’t mirrored by similar efforts in other parts of the vineyard. All the natural branches will be returned and reunited with the natural roots, as all are gathered again into one.
The Father will determine the timing. The Son will implement the plan. The process will require everyone, in every scattered part of the vineyard, to “come unto Christ.” Unless they “come unto Christ,” they will not be gathered and cannot be saved.
 
When they are brought again into their original state and begin to bear fruit, “they may call on the Father in [Christ’s] name”  with His approval and blessing. Without that, the “gathering home” cannot become a reality.
 
The Father’s work will be “among all nations” because it will involve the judgment and destruction of all nations. (D&C 87: 6.)
 
This will “prepare the way.” Why does the work need to happen “among all nations” for the way to be prepared?

What does it mean to now call all those who are to be included in this final gathering “his people” meaning the Father’s people? Why would they end their long sojourn by becoming the “Father’s people?” Christ has spoken of them being “His people” (meaning Christ’s) but now the culmination will result in them becoming the “Father’s people” as well. (D&C 76: 92-95.)

 
Notice that part of the final covenant being fulfilled involves re-gathering into the lands promised as their inheritance. This does not mean a single step. It means that the great work of the Father in destroying the nations, eliminating the wicked, and returning knowledge and a connection to Him through His Son, will prepare the way for the final step of gathering the chosen people into the lands of their inheritance.
There will be gatherings, and a great gathering, and at last a distribution of the survivors into their respective promised lands. Between the time of the great upheavals, and the time of the final distribution, there will be a season in which there will a great gathering in the “Mountains” (2 Ne. 12: 2) where it will be a fearsome, even terrible thing for the wicked to contemplate. (D&C 45: 68-70.) This will be in “the tops of the mountains.” (Micah 4: 1; 2 Ne. 12: 2; Isa. 2: 2.) This will be where the New Jerusalem will exist. This will be before the final distribution into the various places of inheritance of the Lord’s people.
 
Before the return to the lands of inheritance, however, there will be terrible days, the likes of which have only been seen in the final pages of the Nephite record. (Mormon 6: 6-22.)

The choice is between the Lord, His offered redemption and protection, and destruction. The gentiles are now offered a choice while reenacting the same poor judgment that led to their own loss of opportunity. That needn’t be true of individuals. It seems apparent that the prophetic message of the Book of Mormon foretells gentile arrogance and pride, collectively claiming they are on the road to Zion, while they are instead doomed to repeating the errors of prior civilizations of this continent. We will get to that in the coming days, but for now we remain interested in the definition and destiny of the “remnant” of the prior occupants.

(What an interesting text this Book of Mormon proves to be. It makes one wonder why it would ever suffer from neglect.)