A God of Order

There is something underway. It began with the Latter-day Saints. It will move on to address other gentiles, then the Lehi remnant, and finally the Jews. It will unfold as the Lord directs, at the time and in the manner He wants.

The wild enthusiasm and foolish excesses of those invited first is nothing to be concerned about. An invitation is nothing more than that: an offer. What people do in response determines if they will be gathered. Most will never be gathered.

Anyone who will wait patiently for the Lord, do what He asks, as He asks it, and remain faithful will be remembered by Him. His angels will watch over and ultimately gather them to safety.

The hardness and blindness of the Latter-day Saints was anticipated, and prophesied by the Lord. He has shown them the courtesy of inviting them to repent.

The invitation will be given to others, and some few of them will respond. There will be only a few saved out of every group. It will not be many but it does not require many.

The systematic approach to the final invitation will roll out under the direction of the Lord, in the way He directs, and with results based on whether they “hear His voice”–the same criteria as when He was here during the New Testament era.

The Trick to Apostasy

The trick to successfully pulling off an apostasy is to distract people into thinking there hasn’t been one. The “believers” need to think everything remains intact.

So the issue of “apostasy” becomes a discussion about individuals and individual conformity to the expectations of the group. The subject can then be a topic that polite, fellow-believers can discuss without ever searching into the overall condition of a fallen people.

The Jews mocked efforts to tell them they were apostate. They thought it was humorous when Lehi preached the idea. (1 Ne. 1: 19.) Because they were so very religious, so devout, so unassailably active in following God, the idea was absolutely laughable that they were apostate.

The Apostle Paul said the problem would begin at the top with the shepherds, who would teach them falsehoods as truth. (Acts 20: 29-30.) These new leaders would have only a form of godliness, without any real power to save. (2 Tim. 3: 5.)

The Christian world adopted another, false replacement of the original church. It became so universal it was hailed as the Universal, or Catholic Church. It ruled from the rivers to the ends of the earth as the only official form of the faith established by Christ.

To pull this off Satan must be concerned with the “macro” institutional failure, not just individuals falling away. It is the small, minor spirits who follow Lucifer who engage in petty tempting of individuals to sin. Success for the Adversary is not accomplished in petty enterprises. He wants failure for the whole, so none can be saved. For that, apostasy must be universal.

He has never succeeded by admitting there has been a failure. The trick is always to have the apostasy come unnoticed, unacknowledged and from within. (See 3 Ne. 16: 10.)

The topic is worth studying. When apostasy is noticed, acknowledged and exposed, then it is possible to repent and return. Until then, it progresses apace, discarding and rejecting what might have been given. All the while being happily ignored by “believers” whose devotion will not save.

Since Christ predicted that at some point the latter-day gentiles would reject the fullness (Id.), we probably should consider what the Book of Mormon has to say about the subject.

To finish the thought about the “trick to apostasy” the D&C has a remarkable statement. Lucifer succeeds when he manages to get us NOT to reject ordinances, but to change them. As soon as they are changed, they are broken. (D&C 1: 15.) That is an important step. Because then religious people can continue to claim they follow a true religion, while practicing one that has been broken. These practitioners become like the ancient Jews, who mocked Lehi because they knew they were still righteous. They knew Lehi was foolish, even fraudulent. They still had the truth, the ordinances, the temple, and the priesthood. Lehi was just a mistaken crank.

2 Nephi 33: 13

“And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.”

When Nephi paraphrased Isaiah 29 in the 2 Nephi 27, he appropriated Isaiah’s words to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. He adapted them making a paraphrase rather than a quote. (I explain the reasons for this in Nephi’s Isaiah.) Here he uses the Isaiah materials again to identify who he (Nephi) is: “the voice of one crying from the dust.” The primary audience for his writings will be those who come to read the book in the last days; when mankind will be in possession of the record which has been printed and distributed to the masses.

Nephi’s primary audience for his teachings are those who, like us, live in the last days after the Book of Mormon has come to light. Although Nephi’s descendants would have access to these same records, their greatest work and worth would be in the last days. Hence Nephi identifying himself as a “voice of one crying from the dust.”

There is also a secondary meaning. Because Nephi was mortal, he was made of the “dust of the ground.” (Moses 3: 7.) He was a man testifying to the truthfulness, as a witness in mortality, of the great things which exist beyond the veil. He is one of us, and yet able to tell us of things to come. Therefore, his witness is given in mortal weakness, but with the power of God behind it. His own strength is dust. The power of Christ to redeem, however, is without limit.

Three distinct groups are addressed in the message: Nephi’s descendants, called his “beloved brethren.” They are “brethren” rather than “children” because they would descend primarily from his brother’s seed who would overcome his. But there would be a mixture of his among them. So they were his “brethren.”

The second are called “those who are of the house of Israel.” These are the Jews, or others who keep their identity with Israel. Not the gentiles, who have been lost and must gain covenant status one by one, and thereafter live true to the covenant in order to be redeemed. “Those who are of the house of Israel” have been previously identified and discussed by Nephi in the Nephi 28.

The final group is “all ye ends of the earth.” That is, the gentiles, heathen, and those who are not otherwise included even in prophetic mention. All mankind. All the ends of the earth may receive what is offered and attain to covenant status, if they repent, acting no deception, without hypocrisy, following Christ. And all are included in the broad sweep of Nephi’s invitation to come to Christ.

His “farewell” is “until that great day shall come.” That day is when you see the Lord in judgment with Nephi there beside Him. At that time you will be “face to face” with Nephi, accounting for your heed or neglect of his message. He just mentioned that in the prior verses. He now bids you good-by until that moment. So you should look forward to meeting Nephi at this point. Although you need to take his message seriously if you intend to enjoy the moment.

What other prophets have warned us that their message will confront us in the presence of Christ while he, the prophet-messenger, is there with us at the moment of judgment? Nephi is in a very small group of qualified messengers whose words should be taken with soberness and respect. He is a towering figure when measured by the correct standard. We seldom encounter such a man. When we do, we would be well advised to take counsel from him.

What more can he have said to alert us to the importance of his message?

2 Nephi 33: 7-9

2 Nephi 33: 7-9:

“I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat. I have charity for the Jew– I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.  I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.”
It is necessary to read all three verses to see what Nephi is saying. What distinctions does he make? Is his charity to his people unequivocal? Is his charity to the Jews unequivocal? Is his charity to the gentiles equivocal? Why?
Does the condition that appears in the final verse apply to the preceding group (gentiles) or to all three groups? How do the remarks made by Nephi in the prior verses we have looked at modify or explain which group the final limitation should be applied?
What has Nephi foreseen or said to suggest he has hope for his own people? What has he done to seek charity by his consecrated petitions for his own people? What has he said about the future inheritance of the covenant blessings for both his people and the Jews?
On the other hand, how little promise has he shown for the gentiles?  How conditional are their latter-day rights? How much failure has been prophesied regarding the gentiles? 
Since we’ve been discussing this for months, I am not going to repeat it. You can look to see the scope of Nephi’s declarations for his people, for the Jews and for the gentiles. After you’ve done that, it becomes plain that Nephi has:
Charity for his people.
Charity for the Jews, from whence he came.
Charity for the Gentiles, but he cannot hope for the gentiles except they shall be reconciled to Christ, enter into the narrow gate, walk in the strait path, and continue to do so until the end of the day of probation.
We are reminded again of the Savior’s own prophecy of the failure of the gentiles. (3 Nephi 16: 10.) We are reminded of the Lord’s promise to take the fullness from us in 1841 if we did not complete the construction of the Nauvoo Temple within the allotted time given. (D&C 124: 32.) If we failed, we would be rejected. We did not complete the Nauvoo Temple in the three and a half years allotted after that revelation while Joseph was alive. Then Joseph was taken, much like Moses was taken.  (D&C 84:25.) What the Lord threatened we would lose permanently at the end of our appointment was the fullness of the priesthood, which He had already removed from us in 1841. (D&C 124: 28.) So the gentiles sit in a precarious position indeed.
You must answer for yourself the questions posed by Nephi’s teaching:
-Have we been reconciled to Christ?
-Have we entered into the narrow gate?
-Do we walk in the strait path?
-If so, have we done so as a people until the end of our days of probation?
To be able to restore again that which we lost before 1841 would require someone truly mighty in Spirit. Fortunately, we have been promised that lifeline will be extended to us again at some point. (D&C 85: 7.) However even he will not be able to help a gentile who has not been diligent having their name written in the book of the law of God.
The mothers who minister to their children in patience and love will undoubtedly be among those whom the Lord will remember in that day.  The first parable, The Busy Young Man, is about those little acts through which we find our Lord. The Weathered Tree is about the enduring power of a mother’s love, and how like the Lord’s own sacrifice, this often under appreciated calling has been and continues to be.
Mothers oftentimes do not take time to study because they are too busy engaged in the actual work of charity, love and service. Some may not be able to construct a scripture-based explanation or exposition, but they recognize truth by the light acquired within by their fidelity to the Lord’s system of conferring light and truth.
I have been far more impressed with mothers in Zion than with the tattered remains of what is now called Zion by the gentiles. The pride and foolish traditions which claim authority while lamenting the lack of power are the expected results of the latter-day gentile stewardship according to Nephi.

The good news, and the thing we should rejoice over, is that Nephi does
extend to us gentiles an opportunity to be saved. All we must do to join in the blessings is to:

-Be reconciled to Christ.
-Enter into the narrow gate.
-Walk in the strait path.
-Endure to the end of our days of probation.
So we do have a choice. No matter what failings have occurred or things we lack.
It was Lifehouse who sang an anthem to yearning:
Desperate for changing,
starving for truth,

Letting go of all I’ve held onto,
I’m standing here until you make me move
I’m hanging by a moment here with you

Forgetting all I’m lacking
Completely incomplete
I’ll take your invitation
You take all of me..
I like that song. It is strangely applicable to the condition we find ourselves. But our yearning of course ought to be for the Redeemer who alone can save us.

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.

2 Nephi 29: 13

“And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.”
Well, happily the Jews “shall” get the Nephite words. Some day. Currently for the most part they don’t want them. And, even if they did, the “words of the Nephites” will include the sealed portion, because they are certainly part of the “words” the Nephites recorded. So this will be future, even if there were Jews interested in taking the offer today.
The Nephites also “shall” have the words of the Jews. However, once again as we have seen, the words include a great volume of material spoken by Christ, recorded by the Jews, and not in anyone’s current possession. So this, too, must be in the future. For now we aren’t even sure of who these “Nephites” are.
The Nephites and the Jews “shall” get the words of the lost tribes of Israel. This is a category, not a number. Remember that.  So once again, future event. Don’t know when.  Don’t know how many records. Don’t even know how many groups will be included.

But all these records are inevitably to come forth. Just not yet.

Why?
Read Mormon’s explanation: “But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people. And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken. And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.  And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.  Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.  Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord. And now I, Mormon, make an end of my sayings, and proceed to write the things which have been commanded me.” (3 Nephi 26: 7-12.)

What if I do believe these things? What if I will accept the things which He offers? What if my faith has been tried and I am found to be deserving of more information? Can a person come out from under the condemnation referred to above, even if the rest of mankind fails to acquit themselves? Alma comes with the reply:  “Yes.” (Alma 12: 9-11.) So, as it turns out, ignorance is voluntary.

Well, shut my mouth! (That’s a pun, you see.)
[Can you do puns in a religious blog? Or will the long faced and dour be offended? Well, they don’t get it anyway. Hey! Why are you reading this if it offends you? Stop it!]
What do you suppose it would take for the Lord to respond to us removing the condemnation that we labor under? How should we go about trying to make that happen? I don’t see it happening, do you? I’m sort of persuaded by Nephi’s pessimism of the gentiles of our day.  Even this mild blog discussion I am attempting has provoked ire in many readers. How we fix our collective disinterest seems a monumental enterprise beyond human ability. I fear it would take some great calamity to unfold before we would change. Then again, I think the Lord has already told us that. (D&C 1: 17; 45: 50.)

2 Nephi 29: 12

“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.” 

This is more than interesting. The Lord speaks, various people write what He speaks to them. These groups include:

1.  Jews– we get that and it’s the Bible, right?
2.  Nephites– we get that too, the Book of Mormon, right?

3.  Other tribes– how many? Who? When?  Where? What?
4.  All the nations of the earth–Now it’s just too broad. What does “all the nations” mean, exactly?

So, let’s take this a bit by bit, going through each one:

1. Jews: We have a Bible. But we DON’T have all the writings of the Jews, do we? We already referred to missing prophets Zenos and Zenok, and there are others. Look in your Bible Dictionary for “Missing Scripture” and you’ll tree a list. (I’m pulling your leg.  If you look that up it’ll refer you to “Lost Books” so go there.)

[That reminds me of a joke I tell: If I get a tattoo it’ll say “Leviticus 19: 28.” But you probably won’t think that’s funny.]

Anyway, the Jews recorded more both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament than we have currently. So don’t get all certain the Bible is the final word from the ancient Jews. It isn’t. Never was. There’s more coming.

2. Nephites: Clearly more coming. Sealed material has not been revealed, and will be some day. Providing, of course, we were to actually merit the disclosure. So, I suppose that means don’t hold your breath.

3. Other Tribes: We got nothing. Not even a number. The one chance we had to get a number was blown by both the disciples in Jerusalem and the Nephites. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. So the only way to triangulate is to either take the allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5 and try to estimate– a risky proposition since it was intended to convey an overall meaning not a number– or we can work backwards from the crucifixion to the approximate 11 1/2 months later when Jesus appeared to the Nephites. Take the time spent with the Nephites, then estimate He’s been busy doing that same ministry elsewhere. Divide the time taken to minister into the available time and you get something between 10 and 18 other potential groups out there depending on your estimate of the time used. The record attempts to prevent us from being too accurate because it identifies three days specifically, then resorts to just “many times” to cover what may have been days or weeks. (3 Nephi 26: 13.)  However, when you read of the Nephite disciples “journeying and preaching” but coming together in “mighty prayer and fasting” and the Lord’s appearance again there, it seems closer to the 10 number than the 18. (3 Nephi 27: 1.) Well, you work it out. It’s just an unknown plural number which might be greater than just a couple. And for these we have no record at all.

4.  All nations: Nothing here, either. And no basis from which to compile an estimate.

So, from the foregoing we can see that we have some tiny fragment of the whole, and cannot even begin to construct an outline of what we are missing. But despite our ignorance, the Lord spoke to them, they wrote it, and it is available for some group to eventually read.  Apparently not us. We do not even get the rest of the record written on parchment and hidden by John, (referred to in the headnote to Section 7 of the D&C). We only get a part of the information from it. (D&C 7: 1-8.)

So, there’s a lot to be had.  We don’t have it…But what we do have we won’t study. Well,  maybe there is a cause and effect…

Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it. Seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away. (Joe Walsh, from the James Gang era, before the heaviest toll was taken.)  

So the Lord wants us to know there’s ever so much out there. That we have a tiny fraction of what was once available. And we just don’t seem to care. We’d rather reduce the volume of topics we study and eliminate the “mysteries” from our diet of Gospel study, so as to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for what we already possess. We are beyond dumbing down the Gospel. We’re discarding it by the week. Tighter and tighter, until you are left alone, without God in the world. There’s a brilliant phrase. It comes from the Book of Mormon. It is found at Mosiah 27: 31; Alma 41: 11 and Mormon 5: 16. Of all the phrases turned in the Book of Mormon this is the most solitary, profound and descriptive of the fall from grace mankind experiences. It is perfect, even if what it describes is perfectly horrid.

Well, enough of this…

2 Nephi 29: 4-5

 
“But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
If you wonder at the Lord’s patience and willingness to forgive you have an answer here.  The Lord’s respect for and defense of the “Jews” as His “ancient covenant people” is unmitigated by any criticism of them. Instead He points to their “travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews” experienced in bringing forth this Biblical record.
 
The Jews deserve our thanks, our gratitude and our respect for this great work of preserving the record.

Twice the Lord calls the Jews His “ancient covenant people.” The Bible is a record of rebellion, persecution of the righteous, and slaying of prophets. It is a record of a fallen people who were often in apostasy, resisting true prophets calling for repentance, and suffering the judgment and condemnation of God.  When the New Testament record (also a product of Jewish writers–even in the case of Luke who, though born to gentile parents, was converted to Judaism) came into existence it was the Jews who resisted and persecuted the Lord. Yet He still calls them His “ancient covenant people.” He insists we have been ungrateful to the Jews for their work on the Bible.
 
This is the Lord speaking in the first person.  Nephi is quoting Him. These are the same people Lehi taught would be the only ones “who would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10: 3.) Yet despite that, Christ refers to them as His “ancient covenant people” to whom we owe a debt of gratitude! How merciful is our Lord?
 
Now, those who produced the Bible text are not merely the believers, true prophets, and victims of Jewish hostility and persecution.  The text may have originated with the prophets, but it passed quickly into the hands of the priests and Levites, scholars and Rabbis.  These others may not have had the same divine inspiration and association with angels, but they nevertheless attended with strict discipline to preserving the record of the prophets. Even those who directly challenged the Lord included the scribes who worked to preserve the records of the prophets. These “labors” and “pains” and “diligence” have produced gratitude from the Lord!
 
If He is willing to thank them, how generous is our Lord in His thanks to mankind! How ungrateful are we?
 
We tend to see those with whom we differ as enemies. But the Lord does not want us to approach religious disagreement in this way.  Instead he would have us “recover” them. He says: “ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” As Joseph Smith’s History recounts, his persecutors ought “to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) That is the only way to obtain agreement – persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned. (D&C 121: 41-42.) Instead of “holding a court” against someone, we ought to preach the Gospel to them and teach them the truth with love and meekness. It is clear the Lord is showing by example how our attitudes ought to be displayed with those who persecute and reject us. But, then again, He taught the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 67) and in how He lived (John 8: 10-11) and died (Luke 23: 34). Oddly we would convict and excommunicate the adulterer, but our Lord would not. Nor does He who holds the greatest claim to condemn the Jews condemn them. Instead He says we ought to have gratitude for their pains, labors and diligence.
 
What does our ingratitude merit us? It merits us judgment. For the same judgment we apply to them will in turn be applied to us. We will see it used as the basis for His rejection of us:  “I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
Being a religious people is fine; but being a self-righteous people has always been perilous.  It is no different today. We should use the scriptures to inform our inner life. It is meant for internal use only. External application is likely to cause burning.

1 Nephi 13: 42

1 Nephi 13: 42:

“And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”



Christ showed Himself to the Jews during His mortal ministry.


He showed Himself to the Nephites after His resurrection.


He visited others, who have also kept records of His appearances to them. The full extent of the records that have been kept has not become apparent to us yet.  Nephi would report in the final summation of his lifelong ministry the following about the many records to come forth:


“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in  one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Nephi 29: 10-14.)


The “lost tribes of Israel” are plural. However many the number may be, each kept records and they are to come into our possession at some point in fulfillment of this prophetic promise.


All of this was foreseen by Zenos even before Isaiah. Zenos tells us the lost tribes of Israel will be spread all about, into the “nethermost” parts of the earth: “And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive-tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure.”  (Jacob 5: 13-14.)


Where is “nethermost?” How many were there?


When Christ informed the Nephites of His post-resurrection ministry, He informed them He would be visiting the various Israelite people:  “But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.”  (3 Nephi 17: 4.) He visited the Nephites. They were an organized body, led by prophets, expecting His birth and death. There were other organized believers who also looked for His coming. What their prophets told them, and how they understood His ministry will be in their records. What He taught them when He visited with them after His resurrection will also be in their records. It is likely to mirror the Nephite experience and record. However, it is undoubtedly true that we will again learn how involved a Redeemer He has been. Should we already realize that from what we’ve been given?  We ought to welcome His direct ministry among us. Somehow we find His intimate involvement hard to comprehend. We think, if someone should acknowledge they have seen Him, that such a person is somehow special, different, or unique. It ought to be commonplace.


In the unfolding ministry of the Lord, the Jews were the first, but will be the last, to receive again His ministry. The gentiles have been given the Gospel. The remnant will be receiving it from them – soon.

1 Nephi 13: 38

1 Nephi 13: 38:

“And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, that it came forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren.”
 
Roles and definitions continue to be established here.  Nephi’s seed has been “destroyed” and only a “mixture” of his blood remains at the time of these events. Nephi has taken to calling them “the seed of my brethren” rather than a “mixture” of his (Nephi’s) seed.
 
The “book of the Lamb of God” is later identified as the record we know as the New Testament. Altered, limited, with plain and precious materials removed, nevertheless called the “book of the Lamb of God.” Acceptance of this New Testament book, notwithstanding its limitations and omissions, is akin to Christ referring to the Temple of Herod as His “Father’s house” despite the fact that it had been profaned.
 
Although Christ called Herod’s Temple His Father’s house, He did not commune with His Father there. Christ visited with angelic ministers on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17: 1-3), in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22: 43), in the wilderness (Matt. 4: 11), and alone while apart from others.  But there is no record of Him entertaining angels while in Herod’s Temple. Though the Temple had been profaned and was unworthy to receive such visitors, Christ still honored the site and referred to it in sacred terms. This is a great key to understanding Christ’s language here.
 
The “book of the Lamb of God” is revered and held in extraordinary esteem, as is evidenced by the terminology used in this revelation to Nephi. Nevertheless the book is corrupted, changed, with many plain and precious things removed.
 
Can the book that has come to the “seed of Nephi’s brethren” be said to be less than a fullness? Can the book be called “the book of the Lamb of God?” If it can be called “the book of the Lamb of God” can it also be said to contain a fullness?
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[Here’s a modern detour in question-asking: Do you focus on the book’s value and worth by calling it the “book of the Lamb of God” or do you focus on the book’s failings by saying many plain and precious things have been removed?  If you do the one are you “positive” and “hopeful” and “Christ-like?” And if you focus on the other are you “negative” and “judgmental” and “un-Christ-like?” Is Nephi being fair and accurate by including the book’s limitations? Or is he just another crank, tearing down the good works and valuable intent of others?  Should he repent of his negativity? Ought we be offended?
 
These kinds of questions are more a reflection of our own insecurities and foolishness than they are helpful to understanding Christ’s “strange act” unfolding before our disbelieving eyes.  (D&C 101: 93-95.)]
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This “book of the Lamb of God” will originate from the Jews, be brought by gentiles, and provided to the “remnant” who are identified with the “seed of Nephi’s brethren.” Since we can recall the history of these events, and know it is talking of the New Testament, we can see the various identities. New Testament converts from Judaism to Christianity, including the Apostles, Seventy, and Paul, are called “Jews.” The descendants of the Puritans, English Colonies, American States and United States who dispossessed the native peoples are all referred to as “gentiles” in the prophecy. (I’m ignoring Central and South American for the moment.) The natives will include among them some faction which is the “seed of my brethren” that is the “remnant” about whom these promises are being made.
 
The question remains as to the identity of the “remnant” about whom these prophecies are speaking.
 
I know side-issues are arising throughout this discussion.  But I’ve been focusing only on the “remnant” for weeks now.  I won’t depart from that single subject, despite the temptations that arise from questions flooding in on tangents. Bear with me. We’ll eventually get to other issues.
 
I’ve debated whether it is even possible to cover this subject on a blog. This is an experiment. I’m trying to cover a topic that should rightly be put into a book. Whether it will work or not is still an open question. I think it is helpful even if the ultimate objective can’t be met. We’ll press forward and see how it turns out.

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