Category: remnant

Predicting the Unpredictable

The Lord keeps His counsel close to Himself. Although prophets have given us His promises about the last days, the promises will be fulfilled by God in His own way, His own time, and according to His determination. (Isa. 55:8-9.) Even when He discloses what He is doing to a prophet, the words spoken by His messengers are not frequently accepted, much less understood.

Men may ruminate, speculate and pontificate about what God WILL do, or what God CANNOT do, but they will only know what God did after it has been done. The topic of the “remnant” occupies the attention of Latter-day Saints, and their offshoots. I don’t think the reservation wards of the US Government will one day break free from that ingrained social arrangement to build a self-sustaining, independent Zion which can exist independent of every other creature under heaven. (See D&C 78:14-it is improbable people content to remain dependent on government support will abruptly decide to “stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world” and build Zion.)

In a recent study of racial composition in the US by the Pew Institute, they made this interesting observation:

The number of people who identify themselves as multiracial is growing three times faster than the population as a whole, according to a new report that explores the latest nuances and contradictions of racial identity in a society that has sometimes seen itself as a melting pot.

And the largest group of mixed-race people include those who have been here the longest: whites and Native Americans. They make up half of of the mixed-race population in the United States but are also least likely to think of themselves as multiracial. (See The Washington Post, Pew: Multiracial population changing the face of the U.S., June 11, 2015.)

The Lord may well decide to use “the mixed-race population” which “are also least likely to think of themselves as multiracial”–or the largest mixed race group in the US. The mixture of whites and Native Americans may have been foreseen (2 Ne. 30:6).

As the report states, “the largest group of multiracial people, those with white and American Indian ancestry, have only a faint connection to their indigenous heritage.”

Looking for the “remnant” will not fulfill prophecy if the Lord intends to fulfill it in His own way, time and manner. We should do what we are asked, when asked, in the way we are asked to do it, and leave it to the Lord to vindicate His word. He will accomplish it in a way that will cause men (as Christ put it) to “shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” (3 Ne. 21:8.)

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.

Remnant, part X

First, a slight detour because of comments or complaints. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the only church I have ever joined. I owe to that church my knowledge of the truth. If you’ve read my original explanation of this blog, you would know that already. If you’ve read the books I’ve written, you’d know that already. I haven’t changed my position. I’m still what I was all along – a faithful, active Latter-day Saint.

It is from the church I have received the ordinances of baptism and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  

It is from the church I have received the scriptures, other ordinances, and authority.
I pay tithing to the church, attend regular meetings with other members, and receive the Sacrament weekly. I raise my children to attend and be faithful to the church. I am grateful to the church for its programs for children.
I listen to General Conference, and attend a large gathering on the BYU campus with my sons every six months during the Priesthood Session of Conference. I drive my children by the conference center during conference to see the protesters and read their anti-Mormon signs. This reminds my children that, although we are in the majority here, we are not liked by the majority elsewhere.
I have no intention of ever leaving the church. I see no reason to ever do so. I know the church welcomes me and my family. I know they are grateful that I attend, pay tithing and support the programs as we are asked to do.
I mention that only to make certain that some of those who read here are not misled. I have no ambition to lead the church or any person other than my family. I am grateful others are called to do so. I pray for them and do not think I could do any better job than is being done. On the contrary, I think I would make things worse.
I love my fellow Latter-day Saints. Even those with whom I have deep disagreements over doctrine. I enjoy associating with people who can discuss some of the important issues facing us, even if we hold very different views of what the solutions should be. At the end of the day, in order for the church to survive, it needs to have a mechanism to bring debate to an end and make a decision. That mechanism is in place and I respect it. If it were to be altered, it would likely break the entire system. The system is essential for the church’s survival.
I sustain President Monson and do not think anyone other than him has final decision-making authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Think about what it would mean if his decisions could be vetoed endlessly from his office down to the lay members. This would cease to be a meaningful organization.
We have tremendous problems facing the church at present. I think they are all due to the abandonment of a pattern originally restored, in favor of innovations recommended by social sciences. The Correlation Department has accelerated this metamorphosis of the church and now leads it. The possibility remains that the church will return to an earlier pattern, but that seems quite unlikely at this point. To paraphrase Deseret Book: “Doctrine doesn’t sell now.” Doctrine does not matter as it once did, and as a result, the gentiles are not even aware of the content of the scriptures, the messages addressed to us, the responsibilities which have been laid upon us, and the warnings about how we are proceeding. The prophetic pessimism of the Book of Mormon prophets is not found in the modern messages. In fact, the  feel-good messages seem to be denounced by the Book of Mormon and foretold as a sign of our own erring.
As a single, private member of the church, the only tool available to me approved by scripture is persuasion. If what I write does not persuade, I own no office, hold no calling, and command no position from which to insist you trust, believe or accept what I write. Oddly, no priesthood position in the church, from the least to the greatest, is entitled to insist you trust, believe or accept what they say. (D&C 121: 41.) I see very little demanding when it comes to actual presiding authorities. But I see a lot of that being urged vicariously, on behalf of presiding authorities, and in their names. It appears that between the Brethren who preside, and the common members, there is a disconnection wherein the Correlation Department has inserted themselves. Into that arena they have brought increasingly more intolerant and strict rule-making. I think there are talks every General Conference intended to work against that mischief. But, alas, the COB is a difficult beast to ride. It will take a grizzly bear to wrestle it into submission, I suspect.
In any event, the gentiles must fulfill their own destiny. Although there will be failings, limitations, foolishness and apostasy by the gentiles rejecting what is offered them, they will perform a great act. They will be the means of bringing back the remnant. There will be those who believe the Book of Mormon, teach correctly to the remnant about their own fathers, and assist in bringing about the New Jerusalem.
This interplay between gentile and remnant destinies is very real, and requires a work of the gentiles not yet completed.
I do not know how much further to pursue this topic. There are prophecies Joseph made about the Rocky Mountain gathering. There is the controversial “horse-shoe prophecy” about the travel of the Saints before the New Jerusalem would be founded. There is Joseph’s finger on the map pointing where he suspected the New Jerusalem would be built. And the fellow who saw the pointing who speculated it was around where Snowflake, Arizona is presently located. However, the map had no borders, no states, and Snowflake didn’t exist at the time. So a finger on a map could be hundreds of miles away from Snowflake. I’m not inclined to do much with that right now. I’m more inclined to take up some other stuff and leave the remnant alone for the time being.
As I said when this started, it was going to take a while. I’m thinking it might be better to change topics for a while and turn attention to some other things. The remnant will reappear in its own natural order as we move along in any direction we take. Their appearance is so widespread in latter-day prophecy that it is unavoidable. Many of you hadn’t noticed it before. Now you have some background and ought to be able to pick up the matter on your own and see it for yourselves.

Remnant, part IX

The interplay between the latter-day gentiles and the remnant has been illustrated repeatedly in the Book of Mormon prophecies. We have seen Nephi’s prophecies of the event, and Christ’s affirmation and expansion on the event.

Gentiles would be offered the fullness and would reject it. Then the gentiles would take the gospel to the remnant who would receive it.  The remnant would then blossom with the gospel, ultimately establishing the New Jerusalem. When the New Jerusalem is built by the remnant, a few gentiles who had received the fullness would be able to “assist” in bringing again Zion. (3 Nephi 21: 23-24.)

We have at least a reasonable basis for fearing the gentiles rejected the fullness by not building the Temple in the “appointed time.” Inside this Temple, the fullness was to be revealed. (D&C 124: 28, 32.) Joseph Smith, who possessed the fullness, was taken 3 1/2 years after the revelation warning to act with speed in building the required Temple. When he died, the walls had not yet been completed to the second floor.
If we assume the worst, and the fullness was taken by the failure to complete the Temple in the permitted time, what then? Do the gentiles have no further use? Are the gentiles without a role in the latter-day events? That is hardly the case. The gentiles continue to occupy a central role in the latter-days, despite their failures.
The gentiles will bring the Gospel to the remnant. (1 Nephi 15: 13-14.)  The gentiles will be commissioned to preach, teach, baptize, lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, carry the Book of Mormon forward throughout the world, and preserve truths which will enable others to be saved. The gentiles will shoulder a prophetic burden they alone will be able to bear off in the last days.
When Moses was taken, along with the higher priesthood he possessed,  the Lord did not cease to recognize ancient Israel as His people. They were indeed His people, and the ones with whom He worked. He cared for, and watched over them, although we know in hindsight they were a hard hearted and foolish people who rejected something far greater than what they kept. If we rejected a fullness by our own failures, that does not mean we are cut off. We are the Lord’s people. We have a form of priesthood, and the right to organize and preach the Gospel throughout the world. We are being watched over. We are the means through which the Lord will bring to pass all of His latter-day plans.
You should also not worry that our collective limitations apply to individuals. That has never been the case. There have always been those who have risen up, shed their sins, repented and come to the Lord individually and been redeemed. That pattern appears throughout scriptures. The Book of Mormon is a product of one family, led by one man who repented in a generation scheduled for destruction. He led his family, preached the Gospel, had sons who accepted the invitation to receive from the fruit of the tree of life, and established a righteous branch of Israel. The Book of Mormon at its foundation is a testimony that the Lord is ever willing to receive any who will come to Him.
The gentiles are integral to the Lord’s work. We should never fear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is meaningless, irrelevant or without God’s watchful care. It is the means by which people are invited to come to Christ today.
In Eighteen Verses I describe the phenomena of building a new religion inside the original one established by revelation through Joseph Smith.  This new, false religion is designed to interfere with the Gospel, enshrine worship or adoration of a priestly class instead of the worship of Christ.  The Correlation Department’s effort to correlate teaching has created a new ambition to correlate power and control over everything. Part of that involves the adoration of a person, or as I explained it in Catholic terms – the cult of personality. This is a tried and true pattern for compromising the Gospel and rendering it a means for controlling and dominating socially, politically, religiously, and ultimately dictatorially.
The way the adversary works is always the same. It is not to destroy the work of God by annihilation, but to co-opt it and make it his. Satan wants to supplant God as the god of this earth. Therefore, anytime God has a work underway, Satan is eager to rush in and become the one the Lord’s work follows. The “arm of flesh” as opposed to the “Holy Ghost” is the difference between following in the single, strait, narrow path which alone will bring people back to God, and the altered and compromised path that will take you elsewhere.
I thought President Uchtdorf’s analogy about the airplane being only one degree off would become 500 miles separated from its target at the equator was particularly apt. (A Matter of a Few Degrees, May, 2008 Ensign.) This is how men and institutions fail. How can mortal man be vulnerable to err, and committees of mortal men are not? It is an almost universal truth that committees multiply errors, not decrease them. And who of you have ever sustained the Correlation Department?  
We are fools to believe that the same pattern of compromising the truth that resulted in the apostasy of the church established by Christ will not relentlessly press against the restoration of our day. I know there are quotes saying otherwise–that the church cannot be led astray– but I cannot believe them, try as I might. Joseph, Brigham, John Taylor, President George Cannon all said the exact opposite. Even when Wilford Woodruff was claiming he would “not lead the church astray” he did not mean what we have attributed to his words. He was saying, in effect: “Don’t worry, the Manifesto is a lie. We’re not really abandoning plural marriage.” The Manifesto did NOT stop plural marriage and it was not a revelation. He referred to it as “beating the Devil at his own game.” Meaning it was intended to mislead the public. It was a press release designed to stop the persecution of the church and the threatened legislation to dis-incorporate and confiscate the Temples. Criticism by the eastern press resulted in it becoming part of the Doctrine & Covenants. Plural marriages continued from then until after President Joseph F. Smith testified before the Senate in the seating of Senator Smoot in 1905. When the excommunications of the Apostles Taylor and Cowley in 1911 happened, it was not based on the Manifesto, but on the letter of President Joseph F. Smith actually ending the practice. The fundamentalist groups know this history and use it to persuade others that their current practices are justified. Their practices today are wrong, as I’ve discussed in Beloved Enos. But their use of history to trouble the unaware has been effective in many cases. [Now this is entirely a side issue and I’m not interested in pursuing it at this moment. I’m only mentioning it in the context of another thought.]
So ask yourself which is better: 
1.   Presume that no man can err who becomes a President of the LDS Church in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor and George Q. Cannon taught?
2.  Presume that without the ratification of the Holy Ghost bearing testimony to you that a matter is true, no man can be trusted and your salvation is based on what God alone tells you to be true?

If you believe the first, your religion is new, post-Correlation and will damn you. I do not intend to disassociate with you, and will gladly let you practice your faith if you will permit me to practice mine. If you believe the second, you are a Latter-day Saint who accepts accountability for what you believe and will work out your salvation with fear and trembling before God. You believe as I do, that Joseph was the means through which the Lord initiated a work for the salvation of mankind, and that work continues today. You believe in revelation and in God’s continuing hand with us still today. You accept such good things as come through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rejoice in them, pay tithing to them, and are blessed by what things the church continues to preserve and practice. However, you are not deluded into worship of men.

The gentiles include both. The gentiles will be instrumental to the Lord’s work in the last days, whether they are Saints or Brethrenites. The remnant will come to the faith, receive the Gospel and become acquainted with their fathers through the Book of Mormon delivered by gentile hands. (2 Nephi 30: 3-5.) Without faithful gentile Saints, the work of the Father will not happen. Therefore, no matter the condition we find ourselves, we have an obligation to the Lord and to the prophets who went before, to so live as to bring these things to pass.

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.

3 Nephi 20: 17-19

3 Nephi 20: 17-19:

“Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.  And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor.  For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it.”

The remnant will be the instruments of Divine retribution against the gentiles. It will be the remnant’s “hand” which “shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries.” And it will be “all [the remnant’s] enemies [which] shall be cut off.” So, who will be the remnant’s “adversaries?” Who will be their “enemies?”

The Lord promises to “gather my people together” –and the only ones He has called His people are the Nephite audience, never the gentiles. (See 3 Nephi 16: 8-9; 3 Nephi 20: 15, 27; 3 Nephi 21: 2.) The Lord’s people to be gathered, the promised inheritors of the land, the chosen and covenant people are the remnant. This prophecy is about them. The gentiles are only included to the extent that a few of them will repent. (3 Nephi 16: 13; 3 Nephi 21: 6.)
The “sheaves into the floor” is a harvest image. It is an end-of-times view, because it involves harvest time. “Gathering the sheaves into the floor” is a reference to latter-day Zion, where a group is first “gathered” before the burning of the fields that always follows.
Again the Lord calls the remnant “my people” while clarifying that His people are those “with whom the Father hath covenanted.” To covenant with the Father is to receive a Father. The Father does not covenant with strangers. His covenants are with His household. So this is the Family of God.
The “iron horn” and the “brass hoofs” are also symbolic images. What does a “horn” represent? In the context of judgment, does the “horn” hold additional meaning? Why is the horn said to be “iron?” What do the hoofs represent? In the context of judgment do the “hoofs” have additional meaning? Why are they “brass?” How stern and unrelenting will the judgment be? How complete will it become for the “people” to be “beat in pieces?” How terrible will the pouring out of judgment become?
Why would judgment be so severe upon a people who claim to be godly? Think about the introduction to Joseph Smith at the time the restoration of all things was offered. (JS-H 1: 19.) Compare that to the statement made by the mortal Christ when the Pharisees were confronting Him about violating the rituals and practices of the religious hierarchy at the time. (Mark 7: 5-9.) Christ offered them the fullness of His Gospel and they rejected it. The judgment which followed was unlike anything that went before.  Christ warned them it would be so. (Matt. 24: 21.)  Nevertheless, they refused to accept the fullness offered them, continued on in their religious traditions, and were besieged by Roman legions and slain en masse. The account from Josephus is difficult and shocking to read. Mothers cannibalizing their infants to satiate their hunger pains. It is as if hell itself opened upon Jerusalem.
Rejection of the fullness of Christ’s Gospel carries terrible consequences. We have seen it before. And, when it was rejected before, it was done in preference to traditions from men. The arm of flesh and a religion multiplied the commandments of men until every aspect of life was controlled by religion. How one dressed, what they ate, how they observed the Sabbath, what things were considered clean and unclean, how to appear in public in order to conform to the right look, vocabulary and conduct. These were very religious people. I’ve discussed them in Come, Let Us Adore Him. I assume you’re familiar with that.
Thank goodness we are not like them. We have the fullness, don’t we? We are safe and in the right path and none can molest us or make us afraid. For we are the chosen people.
Well those other people (not us) who rejected the fullness of the Gospel, those are the ones who will be broken into pieces. Then their “gain” and their “substance” will be consecrated to the Lord. So they will live the law of consecration after all! Only it will be postmortem. That is, once killed, the Lord can use their gain and substance to provide for His people.
Lest any forget the author and finisher of our faith, He speaks to us anew to remind us who is responsible for these deeds: “And behold, I am he who doeth it.”

The Lord is, after all, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. When He invites us in meekness to come to Him, we should realize that failure to come risks the judgments that have always been terrible to bear. Those Old Testament events we have a difficult time associating with Christ will become associated with Christ again. Just as His New Testament judgments were His and terrible to behold. He is the same. We should expect that when the time ends and we have not met our appointment, we actually do risk rejection and judgment.

3 Nephi 20: 16

“Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.”

The descendants of Christ’s audience remaining after the holocaust of gentile destruction (i.e., the “remnant of the house of Jacob”) would be used by God to deliver judgment upon the gentiles. First the descendants are to be reduced to a remnant by the gentiles, but then the fortunes would be reversed. Initially the gentiles would be the very embodiment of the “wrath of God” to “scatter” and “smite” the descendants. (1 Ne. 13: 14.)  Following that, the gentiles are favored of God and “prosper.” This land becomes the temporary land of inheritance for the gentiles, as well. (1 Ne. 13: 15.)

But the gentiles would occupy the land on condition. They would need to serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ. (Ether 2: 12.)  
Ultimately, they will need to repent, or they will fill the measure of their own cup of wrath by rejecting the fullness of the Gospel. The gentiles would not continue in their humility, but would be offered the fullness of the Gospel, reject it, then turn to their own pride, even more proud of themselves than any comparable people upon the earth. As Christ describes the latter-day gentiles, they will be full of mischief, lyings, deceits, hypocrisy and priestcrafts. Indeed, they will be full of all this and will also reject the fullness of the Gospel offered them by the Lord. (3 Nephi 16: 10.)

When they do, Christ will “bring the fullness of my Gospel from among them.” (3 Nephi 16: 10.) Upon removing the fullness, and the gentiles being filled with their pride, priestcrafts, deceits and hypocrisy, the Lord will use the remnant who remain to return judgment upon the gentiles in the same manner the gentiles had earlier returned judgment upon the remnant. (3 Nephi 16: 15.)

As Christ states above, using the words of Isaiah, “a remnant of the house of Jacob” will “go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.”
We’ve discussed the “beasts of the forest” and the “flocks of sheep” before. Both categories of gentiles will be swept away. None can deliver them from this coming judgment. The remnant will be the Lord’s instrument of judgment upon the gentiles, and the gentile pride, priestcrafts, lyings, deceits will all come crashing down upon them in judgment. Their idols will be trodden down and torn in pieces, for they are their own idols imagining in their own hearts themselves to be greater than any other people. Their image of themselves as high and lifted up will be brought down low, into the dust. (Compare Isaiah 14: 12-17.) How like their master Mahon these gentiles have become. But then rejecting the fullness of the Gospel when it has been offered to a people always carries a heavy price.
The remnant will be doing the work of the Father in that day. For the judgment is the Lord’s and not the remnant’s. The remnant are only the means by which the judgment is delivered.
Cleansing precedes the blessing. And this blessed land will be Zion. But not while occupied by filthy people who idolize themselves, reject the fullness, support priestcrafts, lyings, deceit and hypocrisy calling it righteousness, truth and beauty. They cannot see their own condition, and will not trust the Lord to reveal it to them. They will say the Lord does not speak any more, and we have enough of the revelations of God. (2 Nephi 28: 27-29.) They will say God has finished His work of restoring truth, given His power to men, and now we must follow men to be saved. (2 Nephi 28: 5.)

But the Lord will prove that He had more to say when the gentiles learn, too late, they trusted in the arm of flesh rather than in the Spirit which saves. (2 Nephi 28: 31.) At that day, despite all the gentile petitions for relief from that God whose fullness they rejected, none will deliver.

The interplay between the gentiles and the remnant is a fascinating subject, with prophetic details given so as to allow us to appreciate the peril we find ourselves as gentiles in these last days. It is good we Latter-day Saints know we are safe and are part of a great, saved and favored community to be preserved against the coming judgments, isn’t it? It is good we do not need to repent much if at all to be saved, because as we hear so very often: All is well. All is well.
“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.  Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isa. 6: 9-10.)

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: 13

3 Nephi 20: 13: 

“And then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them.”
Notice “remnants” is plural. This is Christ speaking, and the scope of the message is universal. It is not local. It includes local events, to be sure. But the time of this fulfillment will be global. All the “remnants” will be affected.

It will not matter if the particular “remnant” is anywhere “upon the face of the earth” they will be “gathered in.”

Why would they necessarily be “gathered?” What is the purpose of “gathering?”

Why “gather” merely to then return them to their lands of inheritance? (See discussion of 3 Nephi 21: 27-28 here.)

Which is more important, to gather physically or to gather “to the knowledge of the Lord their God?”

How could people gather “to the knowledge of the Lord their God?” What kind of “knowledge of the Lord God” will be involved? Do you get that knowledge by supporting men in their callings? Do men and their callings even matter? Can you grow in knowledge of God by following, even memorizing, a handbook;  following, memorizing talks and inspirational literature? What does a person need to follow, to do, to abide by in order to gain “knowledge of the Lord their God?” What about those who testify to you about programs and personalities, but never preach about Christ and Him crucified?

Do true messengers speak about one another, or about their Lord? How can a man, any man, save you? Who alone has the capacity to redeem you? Is “knowledge of the Lord their God” related also to knowledge that He “hath redeemed them?” Can you “know” Christ and not acquire in the process of knowing Him the knowledge that He “hath redeemed” you?

Do you come to understand He has redeemed you by also coming to know Him?

Do Joseph’s remarks about the Lord coming to visit with the remnant in the Rocky Mountains explain how both those coming from the four corners of the compass will gain “knowledge of the Lord their God” and also know He “hath redeemed them?”

Do you begin to see a pattern of consistent prophetic foreknowledge of the last days? Do Christ’s words in this message of the Book of Mormon give any greater reason to believe in the promises?

If these promises are made by Him, should you expect it possible for you to go ahead and “gather in” to Him even before there are others willing to do so?  Can this “gathering in” occur in your lifetime, for you? If God is no respecter of persons, then what would you need to do today to obtain the same blessings others will receive as they “gather in” in perhaps greater numbers in the future? Is it possible to do that? Are you willing to try?

It seems to me this doctrine is important in a macro sense in understanding prophetic promises and future gatherings. But it is perhaps more important in the micro sense, in that anything promised to anyone in any age is always available on the same principles to anyone willing to abide them at any time. (D&C 130: 20-21.) Do you really believe these teachings of our Lord? Then why not act on them?

I know these things are truly within the reach of almost all of you. The overwhelming majority of readers of this blog have lived better lives than I have You are almost all better qualified than I was. I believed these things, trusted the Lord, acted on His promises. As a result, I am among those who has been “gathered in” and I “know the Lord my God,” having been “redeemed by Him.” It is more than possible for you.

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 V

A few additional statements by Joseph Smith and others add weight to the identity of the existing American Indian population at the time of the prophecies given to Joseph Smith.

When Joseph and Oliver went to seek answers about baptism on May 15, 1829, they explained the motivation for the inquiry. They report they were inspired “after writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent.” (Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 1, p. 15, October 1834.)

“The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians,” Smith wrote to N. C. Saxton, editor of a Rochester, New York, newspaper. “The land of America is a promised land unto them,” where they would be instrumental in building a New Jerusalem. [Taken from Ronald Walker’s paper: Seeking the Remnant; one of the first publications to take the role of the remnant found in the American Indians as a serious matter of study.]

On their mission to the Lamanites, Oliver and Parley were interviewed by newspapers as they went on their journey. The Telegraph published in Painesville, Ohio, on 16 and 30 November 1830, made the following mention about Oliver’s interview: “He proclaims destruction upon the world in a few years. We understand that he is bound for the regions beyond the Mississippi, where he contemplates foundinga ‘City of Refuge’ for his followers, and converting the Indians, under his prophetic authority.” Cowdery also reportedly spoke of an about-to-rise Indian prophet, who would bring these events to pass. 

Parley Pratt’s autobiography discusses the Mission to the Lamanites. He describes how the missionaries didn’t even hesitate in their mission after their tremendous success at Kirtland. They changed the entire center of gravity for the Church by the Kirtland conversions. But they retained their focus on the target of the remnant, whom they had been sent to teach. This was the first organized missionary effort after the organization of the church, and the target was the Lamanites. The priority and focus was remarkable, when you consider the abundance of potential white converts all around the tiny start-up church. It gives some indication of how important Joseph regarded the Lamanite remnant to be as an obligation for the restored church. 

Winter did not slow their journey toward the western frontier and border with the relocated American Indian tribes. Here’s a brief excerpt from Parley’s writings:

“We halted for a few days in Illinois, about twenty miles from St. Louis, on account of a dreadful storm of rain and snow, which lasted for a week or more, during which the slow fell in some places near three feet deep.  …In the beginning of 1831 we renewed our journey; and, passing through St. Louis and St. Charles, we traveled on foot for three hundred miles through vast prairies and through trackless wilds of snow–no beaten road; houses few and far between; and the bleak northwest wind always blowing in our faces with a keeness which would almost take the skin off the face.  …We often ate our frozen bread and pork by the way, when the bread would be so frozen that we could not bite or penetrate any part of it but the outside crust. 

“After much fatigue and some suffering we all arrived in Independence, in the county of Jackson, on the extreme western frontiers of Missouri, and the United States.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 40.)

Parley’s account continues and explains how two of the missionaries took employment as tailors in Independence while the others crossed the boundary and “commenced a mission among the Lamanites, or Indians.”  (Id. p. 41.) They taught the Shawnees, then the Delaware, including the chief over ten tribes of Delaware. The sermon delivered to the gathering called by the chief, delivered by Oliver Cowdery, is set out on pp. 42-43 where it is clear Oliver understood the Delaware were descended from the Book of Mormon people. The chief replied: “We feel truly thankful to our white friends who have come so far, and been at such pains to tell us good news, and specially this new news concerning the Book of our forefathers; it makes us glad in here–placing his hands on his own heart.”

Although the Indian reaction was favorable, the Indian Agents were alarmed at the Mormon success.  In particular they did not want the upstart religion to gain a foothold among the relocated Indians, and began to interfere with the missionary efforts.

Of interest to us, however, is Oliver’s mention of the Rocky Mountains as the ultimate destination of the missionary effort, to be “with the Indians.” (The Telegraph, Plainsville, 18 January 1831, cited by Walker, above, on p. 9.) Walker writes: “Smith gave a revelation requiring Sidney Gilbert to open a store in western Missouri that would allow ‘clerks employed in his service’ to go unto the Lamanites and ‘thus the gospel may be preached unto them.’ He also issued a confidential revelation that presaged the introduction of plural marriage. This latter statement promised that the elders would intermarry with the native women, making the red man’s posterity ‘white, delightsome, and just.'” (Seeking the Remnant, p. 10, Citations omitted.)

This early focus on the duty to find and preach to the remnant was not a passing concern. It was far more central to the early efforts than we realize as we review the events today. Today the view of the Lamanite remnant’s role is, if anything, superficial.  To the earliest converts, they were central. They would remain a focus of interest throughout not only Joseph’s life, but also into the early part of the western migration. Indeed, the western movement of the church itself was related to locating the remnant.

Now there are a number of prophecies given in the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants which relate to why the remnant were a priority for Joseph Smith and the early church of this dispensation. The further we get from those times, however, the more we seem to forget the underlying reasons. We have become so successful as an organization, and prosper in every economic, political and social measure that it is hard to remember things. When Presidential candidates, the leader of the United States Senate, the Ambassador to China, business and educational leaders are members of the church, we do not relate as well to the promised cataclysms. Where once we may have welcomed destruction to end our persecutions, now we fear what we would lose. Our former poverty made us fear nothing in the destruction of the world, but now we have a great deal to lose and therefore we want to continue as we are. We have even redefined the term “remnant” to mean us, the Latter-day Saints, as if redefining it will remove the prophetic threat posed to the gentiles. (See Children of the Covenant, May, 1995 Ensign, the General Conference talk by Russell M. Nelson; in particular the interpretation given in footnote 15.) The careful distinctions between the remnant of the Book of Mormon on the one hand, and the gentiles on the other, has been forgotten, or altogether lost in our modern teachings. But that does not alter what Nephi or Christ meant in their prophecies that we still read in the Book of Mormon text.

We’ve worked to establish a basis for understanding the distinctions for several months now. With that foundation we will continue our search for understanding where we find ourselves in history, what group we are identified with and what we should expect in the coming calamities.

Onward, then…

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.