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.

Scriptures, 2

“[T]hey are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves; That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.” (D&C 76: 116-117.)

“And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks.” (1 Ne. 14: 1.)

Received of His Fullness, Part 3

The often quoted verses in Section 84 have an objective event that is consistently ignored. It is not merely “the ordinances” of the priesthood which are of value. The “power of godliness” (D&C 84: 20) is inseperably connected with these ordinances. (D&C 121: 36.) Without the “power of godliness” our rites are much like the apostate world Christ condemned in His initial visit with Joseph. (JS-H 1: 19.)

D&C 84: 20-22 tells us about:
-Power of Godliness
-Authority of the Priesthood
-Seeing the face of God the Father

These verses do not vindicate ordinances as an end in themselves. Far from it. Instead, they commend us to reach upward. If the ordinances alone were enough, there would be no mention of “power of godliness” and “authority of the priesthood” and “seeing the face of God, even the Father.” Therefore, how ought you to view the ordinances? If they have value, what value do they have? Why do we want or need them? What should they inspire within us?

Where and how did Joseph and Sidney “receive of His fullness?” (D&C 76: 20.)

Why, in speaking of “the power of godliness” and “the authority of the priesthood,” does it then connect with “seeing the face of God, even the Father?” (D&C 84: 22.)

Why, in the “oath and covenant of the priesthood” (as we have taken to identifying it), does it mention “receiving Christ?” (D&C 84: 36.) Is this to be taken as descriptive of receiving the priesthood, or as merely some future vague promise for the afterlife? If you read it as the afterlife, where do you find support for that reading in the revelation? Is that reading consistent with mortals having priesthood? If the priesthood is gained in mortality, why then is “receiving Christ” only post-mortality? Or, does the priesthood then become post-mortal as well?

Why does the Lord say if we “receive Him” we will also “receive His Father?” (D&C 84: 37-38.) How is coming into Christ’s presence related to coming into the Father’s presence? Are these connected? How? And how does this connect with “priesthood” since that is the topic of the revelation? Is the priesthood proprietary, meaning that it belongs like a franchise to some group, institution or individuals? Or is the priesthood instead best viewed as a relationship between God and man? If a relationship between God and man, then is it based on trust? Personal trust between God and the specific man? If that is the case, what is required to receive priesthood?

Who are His “servants” He requires you to “receive?” (D&C 84: 36.) How would such a servant aid you in coming to God and receiving priesthood? What is the relationship between receiving a servant, then receiving Christ, then receiving the Father? How is Joseph Smith an example of this?

Does the statement given in 1835 in D&C 107: 1 describe the condition of the church at that time? Or, does it describe a continuing presence of priesthood forever thereafter? Can priesthood be lost? (D&C 121: 37.)

Do you have His fullness? Why not? How do the scriptures say you receive it?

Is this what Nephi said he did in his record? Why does he walk us through his own experience? Is he bragging, or is he instructing and inviting us to do likewise?

Are ordinances enough? Do they testify to an underlying truth? Why receive the testimony of the ordinances and ignore the underlying truth?

No matter what we have received, retained or discarded from Joseph Smith, doesn’t his entire ministry come down to affirming James 1: 5? Can you ask of God also? Will He not “give liberally” to you? Then it is not lack of faith in Joseph’s ministry or your personal lack of keys held by those in higher priesthood offices that keeps you apart from God. Instead it is your unwillingness to do as James instructs, and your failure to ask God in faith.

Moroni told Joseph that Joel had not yet been fulfilled, but would be soon. He linked this to the “fulness of the Gentiles” which signals their end. (JS-H 1: 41; see also Joel 2: 28-32.) Is that time upon us?

Is the reason so few are “chosen” even though many are “called” related to this very subject? (D&C 121: 34.) Would you be better off trying to please God rather than getting noticed by other men?

Does it occur to you that this process in these revelations is the fullness of the Gospel in action? That the fullness of the Father, as well as the fullness of the priesthood, are part of the relationship which you are required to develop with God? Directly between you and Him, and not between you and someone else? If this is so, then what light is shed when the open vision given to Joseph and Sidney where the past rebellion of an angel in a position of authority is revealed, and the future final destiny of man is shown to them? Why is a man saved no faster than he gains knowledge? (TPJS, p. 217.)

Why did Joseph comment on the vision (in Section 76) by stating: “I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.” (TPJS, p. 304.)

Jacob 5: 52

We reach our day. In it the Lord of the vineyard has a highly specific intention. He will take the various scattered branches, the far-flung and long lost descendants of Jacob who are in “the nethermost parts of [His] vineyard” and will “graft them into the tree from whence they came.” (5: 52.) This is the work Joseph Smith identified as the most critical work of the restoration of the Gospel. This is the only thing that will prevent the earth from being “utterly wasted” at the Lord’s coming. (D&C 2: 3; JS-H 1: 39.)

The manner of this gathering involves connecting the “children” who are disassociated with the House of Israel – and have altogether lost their status in that family back through an adoption by God into His House. In other words, to make them members of the Family of God again. The “fathers” to whom they are to connect are not their ancestors. Their ancestors will require vicarious work to be saved. Connecting to them in their fallen, disconnected condition will not save “the children.”

Joseph taught the way this connection is to be accomplished. I would refer you again to the Elijah Talk which is available for download here. I won’t repeat it again. You can read it for yourself.

This leads to several side issues, including: Who are the gentiles and how do they fit into the plan of regrafting? Who are the remnant, and how do they fit into the regrafting? Who are the Jews and how do they fit into the latter-day scheme? What about the latter-day saint practice of identifying a Tribe of Israel in the patriarchial blessings and the effect that has on regrafting?

These questions require a specific reference point from which to answer. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants provide answers. In the vocabulary of both, the “gentiles” are the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the unconverted European residents of “this land.” You should be able to see that for yourself just by reading the material. As a quick example, Nephi explains who the “gentiles” are in 1 Ne. 13: 14. Moroni explains who they are in the Title Page of the Book of Mormon written by him. Joseph Smith identifies the church as “gentiles” by identity. (D&C 109: 60.) We, the latter-day saints to whom the Book of Mormon was given, and who are among the very few readers of the text, are the “gentiles” of prophecy. Notwithstanding that status, there are many among the “gentiles” who have blood of Jacob in them. They are potentially candidates for restoration to the House of Israel. They are the intended targets of the restoration, but their restoration will not be completed until they are adopted back to the line of “the fathers” who are able to save them from the coming harvest.

The “remnant” are those who are descended from Lehi. They are still identifiable (to the Lord) as Nephites,  Jacobites, Josephites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and so forth. (D&C 3: 16-20.) They are known to Him, and are still here, but are without knowledge to save themselves. For that, they also must come to the knowledge of the truth and be restored. (D&C 3: 20; 3 Ne. 5: 23, among many other places.)

The Jews are those from Jacob who have retained their original identification with Jacob, but who are also lost as members of the House of Israel, or members of the Family of God. Remember, the vineyard is utterly corrupt no matter which group the Lord considers. (Jacob 5: 39.) The status alone will not restore good fruit to the vine. There must be a direct connection, through “the fathers” by adoption into the Family of God, restoring them to “the living vine.” (John 15: 4-5.)

The identification of a Tribe of Israel in the latter-day saint patriarchial blessings does not restore the covenant, nor does it connect you to the “living vine,” nor does it alter the status of being “gentile” by identification. There is another group who are not identified as “gentile,” nor as “Jew,” nor as the “remnant” who are considered “heathen.” These people are “remembered” by the Lord. (2 Ne. 26: 33.) Their inheritance is to come forth in the “first resurrection” where “it shall be tolerble for them.” (D&C 45: 54.) But these other people are not the target of the regrafting. The intended audience and the covenant people to be restored are the “scattered branches” who are unable to bear fruit because they have lost their identification with the original “root” or the “fathers in heaven” as Joseph explained it. (See Elijah Paper.)

The Lord of the vineyard has a plan. It is His. He knows all of us and cares more about each of us than we can even understand. However, His ways are His and are reckoned from the vantage point of the one who owns the vineyard, and who has every intention of providing the highest and most exalted outcome for His vineyard. We would be much better off if we took counsel from Him instead of resisting and rejecting it. As Jacob, whose book we are now considering, put it: “Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” (Jacob 4: 10.)

We are the Gentiles

I had an interesting question asked about the “remnant” I thought worth addressing here.
There should be no confusion about the identity of the “remnant” spoken of in the Book of Mormon. It refers to the descendants of Lehi (at times further divided into those descended from Nephi, Jacob and Joseph– all Lehi’s sons). The European stock who migrated to North America and dispossessed the indigenous people are invariably referred to as “gentiles” in the Book of Mormon. Throughout it is the case that the European descendants are “gentiles” and never anything else.
You can start in 1st Nephi and go through the end. The “gentiles” are us– the Latter-day Saints (to the extent we are primarily European-descended and not Native American).
Joseph Smith received the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple by revelation. In the prayer he refers to the church as being “identified with the gentiles.” (D&C 109: 60)
It does not matter if we descend from Israel. Nor if we have actual genetic markers which would make us Ephraimites, or Levites, or of the tribe of Judah, or any of the other tribes of Israel. Unless we are Native American, we are not the “remnant” discussed in the Book of Mormon.

There are many references to early church leaders being descended from Israelite bloodlines. Even if that is the case, however, the Book of Mormon usage refers to us as “gentiles” unless descended from Lehi.

3 Nephi 20: 27-28

3 Nephi 20: 27-28:

“…unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.  And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land.  Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fullness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.”

The reason the gentiles received access to the Holy Ghost was to fulfill the purposes of the Father. The remnant would reject the Gospel, and as a result merit judgment. Judgment would come through the gentiles. For that to occur, the Holy Ghost needed to inspire gentile successes.

The Spirit would be responsible for such great gentile success that they will be made “mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people.” That is, no other people will be able to prevail against the gentiles of North America while the Holy Ghost was with the gentiles. They will be a “scourge” upon the remnant as a result of the Father’s judgments implemented by Christ, using the Holy Ghost.

The Spirit will entitle the gentiles to be offered the fullness. They will qualify by their acts and obedience. When you receive light and stay true to it, you are offered more light. The gentiles will accept and pursue more light, and will merit an opportunity to receive the fullness of the Gospel.

Gentiles did have the fullness of the Gospel, which requires the fullness of the priesthood that was offered while Joseph Smith was here. It was given sometime between 1829 and 1832, and removed before 1841. (See prior post and 132: 45 and D&C 124: 28.)

When the gentiles were offered the fullness, they displayed little interest in it. Joseph remarked: ““I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.”  (DHC 6: 184-185; see also D&C 121: 40.)

When the Saints were given a final opportunity to receive the offered fullness extended to all, they needed to show their willingness to accept it by completing the Nauvoo Temple within a short time. They were given long enough to complete it, and if it was not completed in that appointed time, they would be rejected. (D&C 124: 32.) We have seen how the Saints proceeded to build Nauvoo and their own homes rather than the Nauvoo Temple from 1841 to June, 1844 when Joseph and Hyrum were killed.  (See The Remnant Part VII.) When Joseph was taken, the Temple walls had not yet been completed to the second floor.

When the Twelve prayed in the Temple on February 8, 1846 that the Lord would bless the Saints to be able to complete the Temple, the Temple caught fire the next day. 

Repairs and further work allowed a dedication to finally take place at the end of April, 1846, nearly two years after Joseph’s death. The dedicatory prayer petitioned the Lord to “take guardianship into Thy hands,” but by September the keys to the Temple doors were handed to a mob which had overrun Nauvoo. It was the position of Elder Hyde that the Saints performed as they were required “by the skin of our teeth,” thereby escaping rejection by the Lord.  (This was discussed in The Remnant Part VII.)

The prophecy of Christ, as commanded by the Father, foretells that if the gentiles do reject the fullness, then the Father will “return their iniquities upon their own heads.” Meaning that the gentiles will, by reason of their rejection of what was offered them, merit condemnation for ingratitude. (D&C 88: 33-35.)  They remain “filthy still” because that which would have cleansed them was not received in gratitude. It was rejected. When a people reject the Lord, the Lord, being governed by law, must reject them.

This is the reason the coming judgments are necessary. Where much is given (and we were offered everything) then much is expected. (Luke 12: 47-48.) When everything is rejected, then the punishment merited reflects complete rejection of the Lord. You must keep this in mind as you read the judgments Christ prophesies upon the gentiles.

And remember also that no matter what the collective gentile conduct may be (or fail to be), the Lord approaches each of us individually. The Book of Mormon is intended as the final opportunity for gentile salvation. The church is under condemnation for failing to remember its contents and take them seriously. (D&C 84: 54-58.) That scourge needn’t be applied to you, if you will “repent and remember the new covenant” offered to you. There is, for any gentile who will repent and take the covenants offered in the Book of Mormon, an opportunity to yet become associated with the remnant and an heir of the preservation and salvation offered to them.

As we survey the condition of the gentile church today, there seems to be less and less made of the Book of Mormon’s contents. The Correlation Department’s teachings are insubstantial and becoming even less so. However, you have the Book of Mormon in front of you. You don’t need anyone to prepare a manual for you. You have the text itself.

I am hoping what I’ve written, particularly in The Second Comforter, will show you how the Book of Mormon teaches you the return to the fullness.  Nephi’s Isaiah informs you of the Book of Mormon’s prophecies of our days and our failures.  Eighteen Verses shows how Book of Mormon doctrinal teachings address every major dilemma of our day.  Beloved Enos shows what the fullness will confer upon you. I believe whatever merit the Lord has conferred upon me arises out of my serious study of the Book of Mormon. Though everyone may treat this covenant lightly, I have not. I would encourage you, therefore, to do the same, and prayerfully study the most correct volume of scripture we possess. It is a lifeline extended by the Lord to us. However, it cannot do you any good if you fail to act on its contents. Do the works, and you will know the doctrine. I suspect our universal failure to know doctrine today is because we do not live as we should. Understanding doctrine is tied to living it.  The more you live it, the more you will comprehend it. (John 7: 16-17.) The less you live it, the more elusive it becomes to you. Until at last, you become like Deseret Book, incapable of offering anything other than romance novels, “inspirational” mush, and historical fiction, all with a veneer of Mormon vocabulary. Kitsch and superficiality, more distracting to the reader than edifying to their soul. Making one think there is some good being accomplished by participating, all the while forfeiting the days which might have been better spent.

3 Nephi 20: 21-22:
 

“And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel.  And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” 

The Lord will establish His people, including all of the “house of Israel.” The plan is global. But when it comes to the Americas, His people are those in the audience at the moment He was speaking to “this people.” And the land of promise for them is “this land.” Meaning that wherever it was that Christ was  speaking involved two things: The ancestors of the remnant, and the land of promise.

Now the statement gets interesting because Christ refers to a covenant He made personally with “your father Jacob.” Which “Jacob” is this referring to? And, if the Old Testament father whose name was changed to Israel, then why refer to him by his earlier name (“Jacob”) rather than by his new name (“Israel”)?  I’ve described the reasons for distinguishing between these two names for a single man in Nephi’s Isaiah.  It is relevant here and I’d remind you of that discussion.
In Jacob’s final blessing to his sons, he blessed Joseph as one “separate from his brethren” to inherit a land “unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.” (Gen. 49: 26.) The covenant between Christ and Jacob affected this blessing given Joseph. It is in the “utmost bound of the everlasting hills” that Zion or the New Jerusalem is to be built. And it will be Jacob’s posterity, the remnant visited by Christ, who will build it. Christ’s visit to these people reaffirms the prior covenant, and reconfirms the Lord’s intent to fulfill His covenant with Jacob. It is for Jacob’s sake this is done. Covenants between the Lord and His sons are always fulfilled; for the Lord takes His word very seriously. His word cannot be broken. (D&C 1: 38.) But, as I have explained in Beloved Enos, these are the words of His covenants. It is not merely vain words spoken using His name as authority by those whom He did not authorize to speak such words. (Matt. 7: 22-23.)
Since the statement involves global gathering of all the “house of Israel,” it would appear this reference to “Jacob” is a reference to the global, overall covenant for the entire collection of remnants (plural) throughout the world, wherever they are scattered. However, the crowning portion of the covenant, the capstone which Jacob was given for his posterity in his covenant, was the promise of the New Jerusalem. When that New Jerusalem has come again, it will be “unto the fulfilling of the covenant which [Christ] made with your father Jacob.”
Implicit in the return of a New Jerusalem is the redemption of a worthy assembly of Jacob’s posterity. It is the culmination of history. It is the final redemption of a people among whom the Lord may take up His residency.
This New Jerusalem will involve “the powers of heaven” being “in the midst of this people.” Also, the Lord “will be in the midst of you.” For the Lord to take up His residence with people requires them to be saved, clean every whit, and to receive at last the “fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” These are not pretenders who claim, but do not do. Even penitent harlots and publicans are preferred to the self-righteous who claim to be something they are not. (Matt. 21: 28-32.)
Why are “the powers of heaven” mentioned first?  Must the “powers of heaven” precede the Lord’s presence? Is that why they are mentioned by the Lord first, and His dwelling among them is mentioned second? What does that suggest about the manner in which we proceed into the presence of the Lord?  How do we experience the “powers of heaven?” What is that power? Is a “form of godliness without any power” a sufficient substitute for the “powers of heaven?” (JS-H 1: 19.)
Do the “powers of heaven” invariably precede and in turn lead to the Lord’s presence? Why?
Reading these words you begin to see how our Lord is consistent and determined. His covenants matter.  For the sake of those who have obtained a covenant with Him, He will always deliver what He promises.  For those who break their covenants with Him, there is no promise. He has always been the same. (Lev. 26: 15-17.)
Read again the words of condemnation given against us, which remain in effect still today:
“49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

 50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.

 51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.

 52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

 53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.

 54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

 55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

 56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

 57 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—
 58 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.” (D&C 84: 49-58.)
It is not that we haven’t been warned. It is that we just will not allow the warnings to inform us. We prefer to pretend rather than to do. We certainly have a form of godliness, but we lament even in General Conference about the lack of power in that form.

3 Nephi 20: 20

3 Nephi 20: 20:

“And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.”
Again the reminder is made to the gentiles. We who are associated with the gentiles (D&C 109: 60) are numbered among “all the nations of the gentiles.”
So this is Divine judgment, aimed at the gentiles who were offered, and then rejected the fullness of His Gospel. These are those who will be receiving the “sword of [His] justice.” Even now, the “sword of [His] justice …hangs over us.” For we are “at that day” now. So the sword “shall fall upon them, saith the Father” unless we “repent.”

How does one repent when they have rejected the fullness? Would it have been easier to have accepted it when first offered? When did we neglect receiving it? If taken, how was it taken? How do we obtain it anew?

These seem to be important issues. They seem to involve the very subject of life and death, both mortally and eternally. Why, if so important, do we go about telling one another “odds are you’re going to be exalted” when such alarms as these exist in Christ’s own words in the Book of Mormon? What foolishness have we been given in place of the “plain words” of truth which Nephi and Christ Himself taught?

Do we get angry at the truth like Laman and Lemuel? (2 Nephi 1: 26.) Do we take the truth to be a hard thing? Why do we get angry at the truth? Do we accept truth and welcome it, or think it is a terrible thing when we hear it? (2 Nephi 28: 28.) Do those who are offended at the truth really have the spirit of the devil? (2 Nephi 33: 5.)

The key for gentile survival is repentance. Time and time again the words “repent” or “repentance” are  used to let the gentiles know there is an escape. But that escape does not come from receiving a hollow form of godliness without any power. (JS-H 1: 19.) What is “priesthood” if there is no power in it?
Well the Book of Mormon continues to invite listening gentiles to repent. Over the heads of all responsible for failure, the Book of Mormon preaches repentance and truth. It preaches against priestcraft which teaches gentiles to worship man and rely upon the arm of flesh, the Book of Mormon invites gentiles to come and receive pure religion and knowledge of their Redeemer.

The Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of our religion; the cornerstone of the religion of Jesus Christ. It is the most correct book. A man can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than any other book. We have had it warning and inviting us for 180 years and we still have not actually either learned its precepts nor begun to abide by them.

The times of the gentiles are drawing to a close. If there is to be any significant gentile repentance, it must happen soon or the sword of the Lord’s justice, which hangs over us, will surely fall on us.
So this topic of remnant destiny and gentile destiny are intertwined. It is little wonder why Joseph found reason to send the first missionaries to find them; and sought to flee to the Rocky Mountains himself to find them the last week of his life. Our current proximity does not matter, however, if our hearts are far from the Lord’s invitation to repent.

Remnant, part VIII

We’ve seen some of what the remnant is defined to mean. We’ve seen the definition in the Book of Mormon excludes gentiles. We’ve seen the converted gentiles comprising the Latter-day Saints are still defined as gentiles after conversion.

We’ve seen that the first formal mission called after the establishment of the church was sent to the Lamanites to find the remnant. We’ve seen how the mission went no further than the boundary where the Indian Nations were relocated by the US Government in 1830. What we haven’t discussed is the interest Joseph Smith had in locating the remnant throughout his life. 

When he was fleeing Nauvoo in late June, he intended to go to the Rocky Mountains. That was the location chosen precisely because it was where he hoped to find the remnant. He was talked into returning by those who claimed it was cowardly for him to flee. They used the Lord’s analogy about the false shepherd who would flee when the flock was in danger. (John 10: 11-13.)  He reportedly said “if my life is of no value to my friends, it is of no value to myself.” He returned. With that, Joseph’s attempt to locate and identify the remnant came to an end. However, before his final surrender, his intention was to go to the Rocky Mountains to locate the remnant.

The following entry appears on June 22, 1844 in Vol. 6, page 547 of the DHC: “About 9 p.m. Hyrum came out of the Mansion and gave his hand to Reynolds Cahoon, at the same time saying, ‘A company of men are seeking to kill my brother Joseph, and the Lord has warned him to flee to the Rocky Mountains to save his life. Good-bye, Brother Cahoon, we shall see you again.’ In a few minutes afterwards Joseph came from his family. His tears were flowing fast.  He held a handkerchief to his face, and followed after Brother Hyrum without uttering a word.”

In his final public address Joseph said, among other things: “You will gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a center for the gathering of the people …you will yet be called upon to go forth and call upon the free men from Main to gather themselves together to the Rocky Mountains; and the Redmen from the West and all people from the North and from the South and from the East, and go to the West, to establish themselves in the strongholds of their gathering places, and there you will gather with the Redmen to their center from their scattered and dispersed situation, to become the strong arm of Jehovah, who will be a strong bulwark of protection from your foes.” (“A Prophecy of Joseph the Seer”, found in The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 154, 156.)

There is a well known quote that speaks volumes when considered as a whole: “I want to say to you before the Lord that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and Kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it. It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America–it will fill the world. It will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains, and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites. …This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High. They will raise up a posterity there, and the Latter-day Saints who dwell in these mountains will stand in the flesh until the coming of the Son of Man. The Son of Man will come to them while in the Rocky Mountains.”  (Millennial Star, Vol. 54 (1852), p. 605.)

We’ve seen how the primary effort to build the city of Zion will be the remnant’s, and the gentiles will merely “assist” in the construction.

To see the remnant’s role is more important than to understand their identity. Their identity will come. But their role is distinct and important. We are not them, and they have a destiny appointed them by covenant and promise. We cannot substitute ourselves for them. Nor can we fulfill the prophetic promises without them.

Christ had some specific teachings about the remnant we have not yet examined. We’ll turn to that to add to our understanding of the remnant role:

3 Nephi 20: 11:

“Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled—behold they are written, ye have them before you, therefore search them—

Christ is speaking and will turn to the future destiny of the Nephites. By the time this statement was made, however, the Nephites were mingled with all other bloodlines. There were shortly to be no more “ites” but only one people. (4 Nephi 1: 17.)

The destiny of the future remnant will unfold in conformity with words spoken by Isaiah. They are adequate to foretell the future of the events involving the people on this, the American land. But we are supposed to “search them” to be able to get an understanding of what will unfold.

There is a plan. It was all foreseen. It will happen as the prophecies describe. However we need to trust the language and not impose other ideas upon the words.

Remnant, part III

To understand our own history and prophecies, we have to look at the events taking place during the time of the revelations. The composition of people and geography were dynamic, and changing. They were anything but static. So when you look at events at a specific moment in time, you have to look at the composition of the land and people to understand what was occurring.  If you miss it by a decade, you miss what was revealed.

From the beginning of the United States the Indians were a political problem in need of a solution for both State and Federal government. Various conflicts and battles resulted in temporary solutions. By the time we reach the end of the 1820’s, a more general solution was needed. Andrew Jackson came to office with a plan to deal with the problem.

Andrew Jackson wanted the Indians removed from the eastern portion of the United States, from Maine to Florida and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi.  He wanted them all relocated. Congress responded and passed the Indian Relocation Act of 1830, forcibly removing all Native Americans to the area owned by the United States and acquired from France in the Louisiana Purchase. The land used for the relocation was just beyond the western border of Missouri. In fact, the border town of Independence was located immediately adjacent to, and in the center of the relocated Indian tribes. You couldn’t get any closer, and you couldn’t be any more in the center than in Independence, Missouri.
Joseph Smith, expressing that “one of the most important points in the faith of the Church of the Latter-day Saints . . . is the gathering of Israel (of whom the Lamanites constitute a part)” seemed pleased that the American government was assisting in a gathering of the Lamanites, anticipating that it would facilitate their reception of the gospel. He even included in his history a positive statement expressing President Jackson’s views on the Native Americans (History of the Church 2:357–60).

By 1831, after the relocation was well underway, the closest a white man could get to the Indians was Independence, Missouri. When you left Independence heading west, you would encounter the line dividing the land and establishing the territory the Federal Government exercised control over for the benefit of the tribes located there. It was for this reason the revelation given in 1831 refers to the “line running directly between Jew and Gentile.” (D&C 57: 4.)  The “Jew” being the American Indian tribes located across the border, and the “gentile” being the Americans, including the LDS missionaries at the time. 

In 1830 the first missionary to the “Lamanites” was called. Oliver Cowdery was told, among other things, the following: “And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment. And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.” (D&C 28: 8-9.)

Later the same month, Peter Whitmer was told to join Oliver in this first mission to the Lamanites. That revelation states: “Behold, I say unto you, Peter, that you shall take your journey with your brother Oliver; for the time has come that it is expedient in me that you shall open your mouth to declare my gospel; therefore, fear not, but give heed unto the words and advice of your brother, which he shall give you.  And be you afflicted in all his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer and faith, for his and your deliverance; for I have given unto him power to build up my church among the Lamanites;” (D&C 30: 5-6).  Both Oliver and Peter Whitmer were assigned to find these Lamanites, preach the Gospel, and at some point a place where the city of Zion would be built would be revealed. So the Lamanite conversion and revealing of the city of Zion were to happen together. The remnant being required for Zion to be built.
You will recall we discussed earlier how the gentiles will only “assist” in building the city. The remnant will do most of the work. (3 Nephi 21: 23, discussed already.) So this mission was to locate the relevant group, and also locate the relevant spot where the remnant would construct the city of Zion.
In addition to Oliver and Peter, Parley Pratt and Ziba Peterson were called to serve this same mission. They went to Indians in New York, passed through Kirtland, and wound up in Independence at the end of the journey some time later. The Kirtland detour resulted in a large conversion, including Sidney Rigdon. Kirtland was the largest LDS congregation.
Well, the asides are interesting, but the point is that the search for Lamanites began in New York, and moved along until its end in a location center of the relocated tribes. It is immediately next to the boundary separating the Indians and whites, or in the language of revelation, “the Jews and gentiles.”
By the following year, Joseph came to visit the area. With the large relocated group of Lamanite nations across the border, and Independence the site from which all of them could be reached, Joseph received this revelation in July, 1831: “Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.  Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.  And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.  Wherefore, it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints, and also every tract lying westward, even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile;  And also every tract bordering by the prairies, inasmuch as my disciples are enabled to buy lands. Behold, this is wisdom, that they may obtain it for an everlasting inheritance.” (D&C 57: 1-5.)
At that moment in time we had everything in one convenient place. A land to build Zion, the remnant next door, central location, approval from God, and the permission to proceed with establishing a temple.

People, places, opportunities and events would all change between the early 1830’s and the mid 1840’s.  Dramatically. And so we will follow a few of those events and the accompanying revelations which reflect the dynamic changes among both the Saints and the Lamanites.

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