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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 VII

When Joseph had made a sufficient “offering” and “acknowledgments,” the Lord gave another opportunity for the Saints to receive again what had been taken from them, that is the “fullness of the priesthood.” (D&C 124: 1, 28.)

To be permitted to undertake this, however, there would be a limited time appointed. After that appointment, the church would be rejected.  (D&C 124: 31-32.) The time is not specified, but the work was to be undertaken by sending “swift messengers,” (D&C 124: 26) and gathering all the Saints together with their gold, silver, antiquities, and precious things to construct this Temple.  (D&C 124: 26-27.)

The Saints gathered to Nauvoo and by 1844 the population had swollen to 12,000. There were shops, brick homes, stores, and a Masonic Hall constructed in Nauvoo. There was a gunsmith shop, a university, library and wide streets. Unlike other frontier towns with adobe and log homes, Nauvoo boasted brick houses and affluence. This community was superior to anything else along the western boundary of the United States at the time. 

When Joseph and Hyrum were killed on June 27, 1844, the Temple walls were not completed and no portion had been dedicated. After Joseph’s death, the Saints rededicated themselves to finish the Temple.  The exterior walls were completed in December, 1844 and the final sunstone put into place with some considerable difficulty. 

On March 16, 1845 Brigham Young asked the Saints to rededicate themselves to building the Temple, promising them blessings if they would redouble their efforts to complete the building. On the following day 105 extra laborers showed up to help. (History of the Church 7: 385-87.) It was not until 24 May 1845 that the capstone would be laid. 

Joseph was dead for 18 months before the endowment was administered in the Nauvoo Temple on December 10th, 1845. Those who had been given some instruction regarding the Temple in Joseph’s brick store, used what they had learned before Joseph’s death to perform the ceremonies. A portion of the attic was temporarily dedicated for this work, even though the structure was incomplete. The final endowments were performed on February 7, 1846. On February 8, 1846 the Twelve prayed in the Temple to be able to finally complete and formally dedicate the Temple. The following day the Temple caught fire, damaging the area that had been used for the endowment requiring repairs to be made. A week later Brigham Young’s party departed Nauvoo with the Temple still incomplete, but Nauvoo was a magnificent city that showed enormous culture, prosperity and success.

If you have visited Nauvoo since the beginning of the Church-sponsored Nauvoo Restoration, Inc. work, you know how amazing the city was when abandoned by the Saints. It was a tribute to labor, dedication, and perseverance. The Temple was incomplete and still under construction – not at all ready for dedication, but the city was a marvel. As the church leadership departed to the west, they left instruction to complete the Temple even though it would not be used.

Finally, on April 29, 1846 the Nauvoo Temple was complete enough to dedicate. The following day a private dedication service was conducted by Wilford Woodruff, Orson Hyde and about twenty others. The prayer was offered by Joseph Young, Brigham’s brother. The next day a public dedication service was held with those attending charged $1.00 entrance fee to help pay those who had worked in completing the structure. In this dedication ceremony Elder Hyde offered the prayer and included the following: “By the authority of the Holy Priesthood now we offer this building as a sanctuary to Thy Worthy Name. We ask Thee to take the guardianship into Thy hands…” 

The following Sunday Elder Hyde explained that the Temple needed to be completed for the church to be accepted by the Lord with our dead. He commented that the work had only been accomplished “by the skin of our teeth.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal 3: 43.)

By September, 1846 a mob overran Nauvoo, and the caretakers gave the keys to the Temple doors to the mob. The mob was eventually shamed into returning the Temple to the caretakers and on October 20th the keys were returned to Brother Paine. The trustees of Nauvoo then tried to sell the Temple, but the best offer received was $100,000. A Missouri newspaper reported that the Temple was sold in June, 1847 to the Catholic Church for $75,000, but that the sale failed because of a defect in the title to the property.

On October 9, 1848 the Nauvoo Temple was destroyed by an arsonist.

In March, 1849 the French Icarians purchased the hollow shell of the destroyed Temple. On May 27, 1850 a storm blew down the north wall and made the structure so dangerous that it was further torn down to make it safe. Pieces of the blockwork were then sold and some of them were transported to be used in building projects outside the community, including to St. Louis. By 1865 the city removed what little remained. The site was then used for saloons, slaughter houses, hotels, grocery and drug stores, pool halls and private houses. (“The Nauvoo Temple”, The Instructor, March 1965.)

From the time of Nauvoo until the present day, every President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints either lived in Nauvoo between January 1841 and June 1844, or descended from those who lived there during the time. (Although some were called on missions and abandoned families who resided there for some of that time.)

Church history takes the view that Nauvoo was a triumph, and the Saints succeeded in accomplishing all that was required of them, and more. The stories of heroism, sacrifice and devotion that focus on the Nauvoo era are endless. Those families who trace their geneology to ancestors in Nauvoo at that time defend the notion that the they are specially favored as families, and are among the noble and great chosen to lead others in mortality because of their great devotion and sacrifice.

The promise of a remnant holding authority and performing a central work in the establishment of Zion, as prophesied by the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, would be a dramatic change in course for the church. This is something that will occur in any event. Indeed, coalitions, conspiracies and man’s arm will be powerless to prevent it. Unlikely history is the stuff of scripture.

Prophecies will be fulfilled. Despite vanity and foolishness, error and unbelief, prophecies will be fulfilled

Remnant, part VI

Another principle that must be included in the mix of understanding the prophecies concerning the remnant is timing and patience.

When you speak of bloodlines and blessings, it is not possible to follow the details of interconnections across generations with any amount of accuracy. Even Joseph Smith, while certain of the remnant’s existence and importance, was not certain of their identity. They needed to be found. Although some groups showed promise, they were not, and have not, been identified.

There were rumors of a people in the southwest, who made rugs, that may be the group.

There are those who are convinced the Hopi are the people. Hugh Nibley has spent time with the Hopi and written a great deal about them. He seemed satisfied they were likely the chosen remnant. He studied their year-end dance festivals and believed they contained elements of sacred narrative identifiable with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have LDS friends who have spent time among the Hopi who have the same view.

I do not believe it is necessary to identify who the remnant is. It is important to realize there is a prophetic destiny of a remnant, and to have a little humility about the limited gentile success which has been prophesied. But to go further than that is not always wise.

Everything in the Lord’s plan is timed. You cannot change the timing. If, for example, you hurry to get where you think Zion will be established, and arrive before the burning and cleansing of that land, then you may have found the right spot, but you arrived at the wrong time. You will be killed, burned off the land as it is purged and prepared. The Lord alone controls timing. And timing is as important as any other portion of the Lord’s plan.

Also, to identify the remnant beforehand is ill- advised. They will be identified in the ordinary course of events. They will fulfill their prophetic destiny. As it unfolds, it will be natural, appropriate and in accordance with the hand of God. There will be no need to force Zion.

Those who are the remnant may well be Hopi. Or, they may come from Hopi blood, if that is indeed the remnant bloodline. But during the time between the closing of the Book of Mormon history and the opening of American history, how many from that bloodline departed or were captured and carried away to another place. If only one left and migrated into Canada, later to intermarry and leave descendants, who have now intermarried and live in Alberta, Montana and Idaho, then they may have long ago lost any identity with the Hopi. But they may still be heirs according to the bloodline that is theirs.

How do we know the remnant does not now include businessmen in Mexico City, families in Peru, a physician in San Francisco, or a housewife in Florida, all of whom have the blood of the remnant within them, but they are without any knowledge of it? Nor can we know if there were intermarriages and migrations which make northern Mexico and Arizona filled with people who are the remnant, heirs of the promises, and destined to one day return to the faith of Christ. Who knows but what the in-migration of those regarded as “illegal aliens” currently inside the United States are not in possession of the blood that qualifies them as heirs of the promises.

They exist. They are known to the Lord. There may be great areas and people, as well as disbursed and assimilated individuals who are among those who are heirs. It is not important to “find” them in one sense, but critical that they be found in another. They will self-identify. That is, those in whom the promises will be fulfilled will act consistent with the promises. They will become known as they engage in the prophesied conduct. They will convert. They will become reunited through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They will shake off the dust of history, arise and become glorious. They will blossom as a rose and build the New Jerusalem. We will not control that. It will be them awakening, not us attempting to assimilate them into our culture and society. The  Indian Placement Program didn’t work because it was not the means by which they are to be found. Pushing our culture on them will only create errors their return is intended to cure. And so the timing and means are critical for this to unfold in accordance with the Lord’s plan.

If you were to know for certain exactly who was to fulfill the prophecies, and to visit with them today, you may be profoundly disappointed. Until the time is right, they won’t be ready either. They will awaken on time. But until that time, you cannot rouse from slumber those who are not ready to awaken. That it WILL happen is certain. But the time is as important as any other component of the event. 

Do the remnant people even know they are the Lord’s and heirs of promises in the Book of Mormon?  Probably not. They, the remnant, are to learn of these things from the gentiles. (2 Nephi 30: 3.) Therefore it is unlikely they will know anything about it until the record of the Book of Mormon is delivered to them by the gentiles. So if they are to learn about these things from the gentiles, the first step will be educational.  Gentiles need to become converted to the beliefs of the Book of Mormon, then bring these correct beliefs to the remnant. The remnant may have a glorious destiny, but not until after first the gentiles who believe in the words take them to the remnant and teach them.

Even if you knew the Hopi were the right people, that does not accomplish what the promises foretell. The remnant must be taught the truth. That will be taught by believing gentiles. We don’t have many of those yet. So to deliver a copy of the Book of Mormon to a Hopi and expect that to result in spontaneous combustion producing light, truth and glory is at best a naive notion and at worst absolute foolishness. It won’t happen that way. The right people must be brought the right message by a believing gentile, preaching the fullness of the Gospel to them. When that happens, Nephi’s prophecy may begin to unfold. We lack qualified gentile ministers at present. They labor under condemnation for not taking the Book of Mormon seriously or remembering the covenant made within it. So the first step is to convert a few gentiles.

Nevertheless, this is an important subject and worth taking time to understand. But with this, as with almost everything else in the Gospel, having it measured correctly and weighed in proportion is the only way to understand. So we proceed step by cautious step to try and dismantle false and corrupt notions, and to assemble the true ones. You must be patient to understand the Lord’s plan. And therefore we proceed patiently in this subject, as well.

Patience is more than a virtue. It is critical to participating in the Lord’s plan.

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 IV

You should already be familiar with the history of the problems the Saints experienced in Missouri. Independence was hostile, and the Saints were driven away from Jackson County into surrounding areas.  By 1833 the possibility of building in Independence was lost. A revelation assured the Saints that the place for Zion was not moved. The consoling revelation states: “Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.  Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered. They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion— And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.”  (D&C 101: 16-19.)

Zion was intended to be built in the center of the last part of Lamanite land available in 1831. The fact that the gentiles were expelled does not mean the site for building Zion was automatically changed. The Lord reiterated Zion wasn’t changed. The gentile children may be scattered, but the site would remain. More importantly, the Lamanite children were being scattered as well. The picture was changing on both sides of the line separating “Jew from gentile” in the years following the 1831 revelation. 

By 1838 the conflict between Mormons and Missourians had escalated to the point that it was called the “Mormon War.” The election battle at Gallatin on August 6, 1838 is at one end, and Joseph Smith’s surrender at Far West in November, 1838 at the other.

Missouri was lost to the Saints. The natives voted to expel them, and Governor Lilburn Boggs signed the Extermination Order on October 27, 1838 requiring Mormons to be exterminated or driven from the State of Missouri; a curious piece of Americana that was not rescinded until some 137 years later on June 25, 1976 by Missouri Governor Christopher Bond.

The immediate aftermath of the Extermination Order was the battle at Haun’s Mill, ultimately leading to the surrender in November by Joseph Smith. He was subsequently tried by a military tribunal and sentenced to death, but the death sentence was not carried out.

Joseph spent the winter of 1838-39 in the Liberty Jail, and in March, 1839 wrote a letter from which we have taken three sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, Sections 121, 122 and 123. The possibility of building in Missouri was lost, at least for the time.

The Saints moved to Commerce, renamed it Nauvoo, and started a new city. This one was also identified not only as “Zion” but as the “cornerstone of Zion.” (D&C 124: 2.)  So, although “Zion” was not to be moved, by 1841 the “cornerstone of Zion” was now in Nauvoo. This is not a contradiction. Zion has never been moved. But the Lamanites were moving, the Saints were moving, and the opportunity to locate it in the places where it could have been constructed earlier were no longer relevant.

We read the words of Section 101 to mean that the location remains in Independence, Jackson County. It is possible, however, there is another meaning. That is, the location hasn’t changed, although temporary opportunities existed earlier. It wasn’t built earlier, and will be built, but when it is built, it will be at the place always prophesied for its construction. Zion was to be located on the top of the high mountains.  (Isa. 40: 9.) Jackson County has no mountains, no mountain range, no possibility of fulfilling the promised environs for establishing Zion. (Isa. 2: 3.)  Make the descriptions “spiritual” if you want, but a mountain setting is clearly required for the prophesied Zion. (Psalms 133: 3; Isa. 52: 7; Joel 3: 17; Micah 4: 2; 2 Ne. 12: 3; D&C 49: 25; among others.)

Zion was always intended to be built upon the mountain top. (Isa. 30: 17.) Even a valley location in Salt Lake cannot answer to the description given in prophecy. A valley floor is not the “top of the mountain” upon which the beacon will be set. Zion has never been moved. Nor will it. In the same revelation which confirms Zion will not be moved, the Lord spoke of the Saints profaning the land earlier identified as Zion. “For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified. Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances. They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.”  (D&C 101: 5-7.)  

So the location identified for building Zion was lost.  It was lost because of the jarrings, contentions, envyings, strifes, lustful and covetous desires. This caused the land to be “polluted” and rendered it unfit for Zion. It is true, however, that in the same revelation making purchase of land in Jackson County was approved. (D&C 101: 70-71.) There is no doubt a glorious future for Jackson County. But that will be by and by. There is a gathering in the tops of the mountains which must precede that. If there is not a gathering in the mountains first, then ancient and modern prophecy will fail. There is to be a gathering within the boundaries of the everlasting hills. (D&C 133: 31-32.) Zion will flourish upon the mountains. (D&C 49:25.) There aren’t any places in Missouri that qualify for this preliminary gathering.

If jarring and contending can pollute Zion, are we ready for it now? If envy and strife will make it unacceptable, how prepared are we to gather to Zion now? If lustful and covetous desires will make it unfit for an inheritance, are we above those weaknesses now? So, how soon ought we expect the establishment of Zion to get underway?

All of this is an aside to the subject of the remnant.  But it is an important aside. The remnant will build the city of Zion. In 1830, when the earlier inhabitants were relocated to the area immediately adjacent to Jackson County, had the city been built it would have been there. It wasn’t time. It also wasn’t the place.  So, although the future of that place may be glorious at some point, the city of Zion to be built by the remnant, would necessarily be built where the remnant is located. Their location, if it answers to the description of prophecy, would be mountainous, in the top of the mountains, and a suitable place for refuge during a time of upheaval. We’ll follow the events of the 1840’s with that in mind.

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.

Remnant, part II

The first statement about the existence of the Book of Mormon in our day was made by Moroni to Joseph Smith.  Moroni stated, among other things: “he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.  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. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;” (JS-H 1: 33-34).  The “former inhabitants of this continent” would necessarily be North America.

The remnant came from people who frequently received a place called “this land” in the prophecies. For example: “we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.”  (2 Nephi 1: 5.) The relevant “land” is one which the ancestors of the remnant were promised would be choice above all other lands. A land of inheritance for the remnant. And one to which people would be “led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” to later occupy. This is a reference to Nephi’s earlier vision wherein the unfolding history of the Americas were shown to him. That included the following:

There would be a man separated by “many waters” who would be wrought upon by the Spirit of God and make the journey across the “many waters” to the remnant “seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1 Nephi 13: 12.) This identifies Columbus, whose original landfall was in the West Indies of the Caribbean. However, the prophecy continues with greater details, increasingly focusing on a North American setting.

After the original discovery by the man wrought upon by the Spirit of God (Columbus), the same “Spirit of God… wrought upon other Gentiles” who also made the migration across the “many waters.” (1 Nephi 13: 13.) Again it is not unequivocal because migration included and still includes both North and South America.

 
When the gentile waves of immigration overtake the promised land, they are humbled, fleeing from captivity (1 Nephi 13: 16), and the power of God was upon them (Id.). They were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. (1 Ne. 13: 19.) These gentile people are then “lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance.” (1 Ne. 13: 30.) That description seems to identify the United States, for there is no historic basis for saying Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Columbia or Peru are or ever have been “lifted up by the power of God above all other nations.” The United States, however, as the world’s single recognized “superpower” has fit this description. If it is the area of the United States being identified, then this is the “land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance.” Or, in other words, this is where one should expect to find remains of the remnant who inherited and will inherit again the land as their promise from the Lord.
 
The gentiles who inherited the area of the United States waged a continuing campaign to dispossess the native people, succeeding in causing them to dwindle, but not be utterly destroyed. (1 Ne. 13: 30-31.) It is in the United States, beginning in upper New York State that the gentiles are given the chance to remove the “awful state of blindness” through the restoration of the Gospel. (1 Ne. 13: 32, 34.) The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was a North American event, coming to the gentiles who are occupying the land covenanted to the fathers and upon which we would find the remnant. (1 Ne. 13: 35-36.)
 
There is enough, therefore, in Nephi’s prophecy to identify the area where the remnant would initially be found. That area is inside the United States. This is where the remnant would initially be swept away, smitten and afflicted by the gentiles. But they would not be utterly destroyed. A small fraction of them would be preserved, so the promises could be realized. (1 Ne. 13: 30-31.)
 
So they were here. And some of them remain still.  So, when we begin to identify who they are, the initial proof of their identity is found in Nephi’s prophecy and our own history. I do not think it was intended to be particularly difficult to see what was prophesied or who was involved. But we need to pay some attention or we miss the information lying before us.
Joseph Smith also made statements identifying the former occupants of the area that is now the United States where the Book of Mormon people were situated. From his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, we have the following description of what Joseph told the family during the four years he was being educated by Moroni in the annual visits to the Hill Cumorah before obtaining possession of the plates: “During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.” The reference to “this continent” being a reference to North America.
 
There are other references by Joseph Smith, as well.  In looking at this I am not trying to identify where Book of Mormon events occurred. Instead I am only interested in the subject of whether at the time of dispossession of the land, the people who were dispossessed were descendants who had promises extended to them in the Book of Mormon. It seems evident that is the case. It seems almost undeniable that the promised people who are yet to receive the benefit of an earlier covenant with Lehi and Nephi, Jacob and Enos, include those who were occupants of the area of the United States during the early years of American conquest.
 

Remnant, part I

When I started, I doubted a blog was an appropriate venue to address a topic like the “remnant” of the Book of Mormon. This is still an experiment.
 
If you’re new to this blog, you need to go back and start reading sometime in April. Then you’ll have the foundation for understanding this topic as we move forward.
Undoubtedly there will be those who don’t bother to read what has been written previously. They will make comments here about something that was thoroughly discussed in earlier posts. Just grin and bear it.  For the most part, I will be ignoring it.
I’ve tried to remain focused even when there have been questions good enough to answer. But to start answering even very good questions is to hijack the topic and run afield. There have been occasional asides, but that’s because of human weakness and the inability to resist temptation.
We are trying to fit our traditions about the remnant and their role into the framework of the Book of Mormon. From what we’ve seen so far, it should be clear that we, the Latter-day Saints, are identified as “gentiles” in the Book of Mormon. We are not ever identified as the “remnant.” As a result, the prophecies about the “remnant” are not prophecies about us. They are primarily descendants of the Lamanites, but have some mixed blood of Nephi as well. They are grouped by the Lord into several different clans, and remain identified as “Nephites, and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and the Zoramites… the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the Ishmaelites.” (D&C 3: 17-18.) These are those who, though diminished in numbers, are still with us. They retain both a separate identity before the Lord and prophetic inheritance from previous covenants. They are not us and we are not them.
There are two great books which discuss two different views of where the Book of Mormon geography took place. One is by Sorenson, titled An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. The other is Prophecies and Promises by Meldrum and Porter.  Sorenson says Central America, Porter and Meldrum say North America.
It is not necessary to resolve the question of Book of Mormon geography in order to have a discussion of this topic. The place could be either Central or North America. The result of the last genocidal wars was that the fighting spread into the Finger Lakes region of New York, with Moroni ultimately placing the plates in the Hill Cumorah, where Joseph Smith recovered them.  Therefore, there were descendants of these people located in the North American area by the time the Book of Mormon record ends. Furthermore, during the time between 400 a.d., when the record ends, and the time of post-Revolutionary American in 1805, when Joseph Smith was born, there were many undocumented migrations of people we know nothing about other than what anthropology tells us, which is not much.
So when we get to Joseph Smith and his comments about the “descendants of the Book of Mormon” he is speaking at a time disconnected from the events in the Book of Mormon. I take Joseph’s comments at face value, and presume them to be correct. When Joseph talks about the ancestors of the American Indians being the Book of Mormon people, I accept that.
Also, I think it is better to let the words of prophecy speak for themselves and not impose our own beliefs or traditions on them. We tend to see in the words meanings that are harmonious with our own preconceptions. It is better to abandon those preconceptions and see if the words give us any better or different explanation of what is to happen.  That way we are not misinformed by the traditions of men, even if they come to us from very good men. 
I do not judge what others believe, explain or teach. They are entitled to their beliefs. But each of us are entitled to believe and take at face value the words of prophecy in scripture, even if they collide with some other notions. I think it better to abandon the ideas which collide with scripture than it is to wrestle the scriptures to conform with the ideas.  But you can do as you choose.  I really do claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and believe it my duty to allow all men the same privilege. I will let them worship how, where, or what they may. That’s not a hollow statement for me. I believe in complete freedom of conscience for you and for me. We are accountable to God only for what we believe. Until the COB correlates that out of the Articles of Faith by editing instead of by conduct, I will continue to believe in, and practice the principle of freedom of belief. [That is why so many comments critical of me appear in this blog and why relatively few of those praising me are allowed through.] 
So, with that brief introduction, we turn to the trail we’ve been on for some time. The remnant….

2 Nephi 33: 15

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