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1 Nephi 13: 40-41

1 Nephi 13: 40-41:

“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.”
 
The “books” that the prior verse referred to are now called “records” by the angel. The “records” will be among and originate from the gentiles. The purpose of the “records” is to establish the truth of the original records of “the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” The purpose of the whole is to confirm the reality of Christ in His mortal ministry. Christ, who came to earth, lived and died as a mortal, was the Savior of mankind. The New Testament record confirming His ministry, sacrifice and resurrection is true! Their testimonies of Christ are reliable. He is our Savior and our God!
 
The “plain and precious” things that got removed will be returned to us.  I’ve spoken of that before and won’t repeat it again here. But the “plain and precious” things will become known to “all kindreds, tongues and people” again. 
 
I was thinking about what was required for Joseph Smith to be able to get a message out in his day. He needed a printing press, which he could not afford. He needed Martin Harris to give a $3,000 note backed by a mortgage on his home to motivate the printer to make the first printings of the Book of Mormon. He needed an army of disciples to distribute the material on foot or horseback. He needed an infrastructure that went well beyond his individual means. Today Joseph would need a keyboard and an internet connection. He could speak to more people in a few minutes, across a wider swath of the globe, as a single individual acting alone, than he was able to speak to through an army of followers who uprooted their lives to follow his teachings.
 
We continue to make great sacrifices in purse and time to send missionaries throughout the world even today. In truth, if Joseph Smith had access to the internet he could have restored more things to more people in less time than has been done from 1830 to the present. It makes you wonder – if the truth were not packaged, marketed, focus-grouped through approved language, and accompanied by supporting photos and digital graphics – if the truth were simply spoken plainly, would it have any effect? Does it need an infrastructure of trained professional marketing to accompany it? Does it need a slick website to attract His sheep? Is His voice enough?
 
What if someone were to declare “that all men must come unto the Lamb of God, who is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world, or they cannot be saved.” What if they were to declare in sober words that the Lamb of God lives still! That He had appeared to and spoken with the one making the declaration.  Would there yet be those who would hear and repent?
 
Would that message be drowned out by the chorus of foolish and vain things being spoken in the name of Jesus Christ by those who, despite having real intent and sincere desire, have not been given power to declare His words? Would such a message only be another bit of entertainment for the bored and curious to give but passing notice? Could the world be given such a message and warned, but fail to see what it is they are being offered for one last time before the harvest is to begin? If so, would we notice?
The verse raises interesting options for the Lord to fulfill His promises in ways which have only come into existence in the last few years.  He certainly does have the ability to “hasten His work” when He chooses. (D&C 88: 73.)
 
Should someone choose to come, the verse reports: “they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” What does that include? Authoritative baptism? Authoritative bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost? Prophecy?  Revelation? The “rock” of seership we discussed a few days ago? How must they come?  The Book of Mormon suggests it must be through the gate of revelation.  (Moroni 10: 4-5.)  Without revelation you cannot obtain the testimony of Jesus; which is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev. 19: 10.) Or, in other words, unless you find prophets who can bear testimony of Him, you have not yet found the means for salvation. This becomes quite interesting and important. Very frank about the conditions for salvation.
 
Then the promise is that all these witnesses, all these records, and all these disciples are to become “one.”  “[T]hey both (records) shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth” who in turn makes people to be “one” as well. A great assembly, a general congregation and Church of the Firstborn.
 
How great a promise has been offered to those who will receive! What good, however, is it to offer a gift if the one to whom it is offered refuses to accept? (D&C 88: 33.)

1 Nephi 13: 39

 
“And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true.”
 
We know the New Testament will come forth first and get into the hands of the “remnant” of the promised people. It will get into their hands BEFORE some other materials will also come forth.
 
When did that happen? Was it something that occurred before the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830? Which native tribes received copies of the New Testament before the “other books” came forward? What are these “other books” referred to here? They “came forth by the power of the Lamb” but came “after” the New Testament was given to the “remnant.” What books have come forth “by the power of the Lamb” to your knowledge? Apart from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Moses, Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith History and Matthew, what other books would qualify? Did all these come after the “remnant” had first received the New Testament “book of the Lamb of God?”
 
The effect of the “other books” will be to “convince” the gentiles as well as “the remnant of the seed of my brethren” of the truth of the New Testament and “records of the prophets.” Have the gentiles become convinced? Have the “remnant” become convinced?  Have the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth become convinced? Are they convinced of the truth of “the records of the prophets” even if they are not yet convinced of the truth of the “twelve apostles of the Lamb?”
 
Is this a serial progression? That is, does it come and convince the gentiles first?  Then, having convinced them, does it next convince the “remnant?” Then, after having convinced both the gentiles and the “remnant,” does it in turn convince the scattered Jews? If serial, what stage of the unfolding of these events is happening now? What is needed before the phase would be completed and the next one begin?
What does it mean that “other books” will come forth? What kinds of “books” would they be? Who would have written them? Why would they come “by the power of the Lamb” only to meet the criteria? Is a good commentary written by CES among the promised “books” coming forward? What about the Ensign?
 
How would you be able to recognize a book coming “by the power of the Lamb” in fulfillment of this promise? Will these “books” be recognized as scripture? Do they include discoveries at Qumran and Nag Hammadi? Was Hugh Nibley working on such projects, and if so, was he among those in whom the “power of the Lamb” was working?
This verse has potential for broad application. It raises questions worth contemplating and may surprise you at some of the issues it requires us to confront. Such are the Lord’s dealings with mankind in every generation. We are  made prayerful because He gives us great subjects with which to grapple.

1 Nephi 13: 38

1 Nephi 13: 38:

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

1 Nephi 13: 37

“And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.”
Now we encounter words that require us to know meanings first. For the Lord’s “Zion” to be brought forth, we need to know what “Zion” means. What is it? When the Lord calls it “my Zion” does it belong to Him. Will the Lord be the one who “brings again Zion” as stated earlier in the 3rd Nephi materials of Christ’s prophecy? (3 Ne. 16: 18, quoting Isaiah 52: 8.) What are the role of people in “seeking to bring forth His Zion?”

Will they actually “bring again Zion” or is that the Lord’s doing? Unless the Lord determines to “bring again Zion” will men be able to accomplish it? Even if they are quite sincere and determined? What, then, must precede Zion’s return?

Even if they are not given the commission or command to participate in Zion’s return, will they nevertheless be blessed if they seek to bring it again? Is the promised “gift and power of the Holy Ghost” promised to those who would seek to bring forth Zion? What does that mean? How could anyone accomplish that?
What does it mean to “publish peace?”

What does it mean to “publish tidings of great joy?”

How does the “publishing of peace” and “tidings of great joy” relate to having your feet become beautiful upon the mountains? (I’ve already discussed having your feet clean of the blood and sins of your generation in an earlier post, How Beautiful Upon the Mountains.)
Why feet “upon the mountains?” What “mountains?” Are these literal, or figurative, or both? If the “mountains” are a symbol, what do they symbolize?

Tuesday I went to the Salt Lake Temple early with a missionary who reported to the MTC on Wednesday. I teach him in priest quorum. I wanted to make sure before his departure that the “endowment” he received would include some details of what the Mountain of the Lord’s House was intended to confer. Young men are still teachable. I’d really like to move to the Primary, however. Primary kids, despite their energy, have open hearts and they are willing to receive.

By the time we get LDS adults to teach there is just too much idolatry to deal with….

1 Nephi 13: 36

“And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.” 

Christ’s Gospel is in the Book of Mormon. I’ve written books explaining just how much of His Gospel is contained in the Book of Mormon. When writing The Second Comforter I found the Book of Mormon was the best source to explain the process. In the Preface to Eighteen Verses I wrote (and meant) the following: “I am convinced the Book of Mormon is the preeminent sacred text for our times. All other volumes of scriptures are not just inferior to it, but vastly so.”  (Id. p. iii.)

The Book of Mormon contains Christ’s Gospel.  It also contains His “rock” and His “salvation.” What is the “rock” contained within it?

John Hall thought the better translation of Christ’s colloquy with Peter would have included the Lord identifying Peter not as a “rock” but as a “seer stone.” And upon the stone or seership would the Lord build His church.

I’ve thought the Book of Mormon was more a Urim and Thummim than a book. It is a tremendous source of subject matter upon which to ponder, oftentimes drawing a veil at critical moments while inviting the reader to ponder, pray and ask to see more. Used in that fashion, the Book of Mormon can open the heavens and make any person a seer indeed.

The words of a prophet are best understood by a prophet. If you can come to understand the Book of Mormon’s words, you can become a prophet. Or, more correctly, a seer before whom scenes of God’s dealings with mankind, past, present and future, will be put on display. Mosiah 8: 17 reports: “But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.” 

Another way to interpret the “rock” is found in Eighteen Verses where I discussed the meaning of 1 Ne. 1: 6. The meaning of the “rock” before Lehi (who wrote in Egyptian and would therefore understand meanings) would mean Ma’-at.  Facsimile 2. figure 4, for example, shows the image of the Horus Hawk atop a rock and on the heavenly boat.

Still another meaning is found in Moses 7: 53 where Christ uses the term as a proper noun, or name for Himself.  He is “the Rock of Heaven.” In this instance the meaning of the above verse is that you can find the Lord within the Book of Mormon. (Remember that EB Grandin’s print shop provided all punctuation and capitalizations to the first edition. It was actually John H. Gilbert who did the work, which he described in a written recollection of the events dated 8 September 1892. (John Gilbert’s September 8th, 1892 recollections) If this was a proper noun and Gilbert did not capitalize it, we still don’t. But that would not mean the word “rock” ought not to be rendered instead “Rock” as a proper name for Christ.)

The “salvation” to be found in the Book of Mormon is the same as salvation to be found in all the Gospel. That is, by finding Christ.  For life eternal consists in coming to know Christ, and in turn Christ introducing you to the Father.  (John 17: 2-3.) It is this appearing which Joseph Smith referred to as literal, not figurative.  (D&C 130: 3.)

The prophetic message of the Book of Mormon is deeper and more profound the closer you examine it. It begins to become quite unlikely Joseph Smith could have produced such wisdom unless it truly is an ancient document. Of course the critics labor to make it seem so, but they haven’t seriously examined its contents to see what it says.

1 Nephi 13: 36

“And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.” 

Christ’s Gospel is in the Book of Mormon. I’ve written books explaining just how much of His Gospel is contained in the Book of Mormon. When writing The Second Comforter I found the Book of Mormon was the best source to explain the process. In the Preface to Eighteen Verses I wrote (and meant) the following: “I am convinced the Book of Mormon is the preeminent sacred text for our times. All other volumes of scriptures are not just inferior to it, but vastly so.”  (Id. p. iii.)

The Book of Mormon contains Christ’s Gospel.  It also contains His “rock” and His “salvation.” What is the “rock” contained within it?

John Hall thought the better translation of Christ’s colloquy with Peter would have included the Lord identifying Peter not as a “rock” but as a “seer stone.” And upon the stone or seership would the Lord build His church.

I’ve thought the Book of Mormon was more a Urim and Thummim than a book. It is a tremendous source of subject matter upon which to ponder, oftentimes drawing a veil at critical moments while inviting the reader to ponder, pray and ask to see more. Used in that fashion, the Book of Mormon can open the heavens and make any person a seer indeed.

The words of a prophet are best understood by a prophet. If you can come to understand the Book of Mormon’s words, you can become a prophet. Or, more correctly, a seer before whom scenes of God’s dealings with mankind, past, present and future, will be put on display. Mosiah 8: 17 reports: “But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.” 

Another way to interpret the “rock” is found in Eighteen Verses where I discussed the meaning of 1 Ne. 1: 6. The meaning of the “rock” before Lehi (who wrote in Egyptian and would therefore understand meanings) would mean Ma’-at.  Facsimile 2. figure 4, for example, shows the image of the Horus Hawk atop a rock and on the heavenly boat.

Still another meaning is found in Moses 7: 53 where Christ uses the term as a proper noun, or name for Himself.  He is “the Rock of Heaven.” In this instance the meaning of the above verse is that you can find the Lord within the Book of Mormon. (Remember that EB Grandin’s print shop provided all punctuation and capitalizations to the first edition. It was actually John H. Gilbert who did the work, which he described in a written recollection of the events dated 8 September 1892. (John Gilbert’s September 8th, 1892 recollections) If this was a proper noun and Gilbert did not capitalize it, we still don’t. But that would not mean the word “rock” ought not to be rendered instead “Rock” as a proper name for Christ.)

The “salvation” to be found in the Book of Mormon is the same as salvation to be found in all the Gospel. That is, by finding Christ.  For life eternal consists in coming to know Christ, and in turn Christ introducing you to the Father.  (John 17: 2-3.) It is this appearing which Joseph Smith referred to as literal, not figurative.  (D&C 130: 3.)

The prophetic message of the Book of Mormon is deeper and more profound the closer you examine it. It begins to become quite unlikely Joseph Smith could have produced such wisdom unless it truly is an ancient document. Of course the critics labor to make it seem so, but they haven’t seriously examined its contents to see what it says.

1 Nephi 13: 35

1 Nephi 13: 35:

“For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.

It is the Lamb who makes this promise. He declares He will “manifest” Himself to Nephi’s seed. Christ promises the same thing (to “manifest” Himself) to the gentiles in our day. (1 Nephi 14: 1.) This original promise would be repeated by later Book of Mormon prophets.

The descendants of Nephi to whom the Lord would manifest Himself “shall write many things” which the Lord would minister. What does the qualification “many things” imply?  Is “many” the same as “all things?”

The things to be written are what Christ “shall minister unto them.” Is this limited to His ministry after His resurrection? Would it include all things which He “ministered” to them, even through prophetic ministers sent by Him?

Here again the words “plain and precious” are repeated. Why is this phrase used? What does it mean? Why was this what was removed by the “great and abominable church,” but replaced through the things to be written by the Nephites? Is the fact Christ “ministered” to the Nephites, over a thousand-year dispensation, through many different ministers, in many different settings, alone evidence of something “plain and precious” to us?  When Nephi would later write: Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts. “ (2 Nephi 28: 29-32.)

Is not speaking to the Lord, and more importantly hearing from Him the most plain, the most precious of things? Would the Lord have ever promised to come, take up His abode (John 14: 23), and sup with you (Rev. 3: 20-21) if He did not mean it? Does the Book of Mormon reiterate the promises given in the New Testament? Have they been restored to us by the Book of Mormon?

Here again we find the word “destroyed” used. “Destroyed” does not mean complete eradication. It means the loss of order, political independence and social coherence. Many will die, but they will not cease to exist.

What does “dwindle in unbelief” mean? Will anything be kept, although they should “dwindle?” Can a people “dwindle” and yet retain some truths?

It is not just the Nephite descendants who will “dwindle in unbelief,” but “also the seed of thy brethren,” the Lamanites. Whatever truths remain will not permit them to have on-going access to the Lord’s presence. However, that does not mean they will not have Divine favor, does it?  After all, the Lord gives to everyone precisely what will be best for them to know according to His wisdom. (Alma 29: 8.) Does dwindling mean that people are altogether lost to some portion of God’s teachings and favor? How is it possible to determine if any people from any society are not being brought wisely along by the Lord?

The teachings that Christ will “minister” to the Nephites will be written, and then “these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles” at the appointed time. Why write them? Why preserve them? Why are the records of His acts important for others to learn about? Why would a record of His dealings need to eventually be brought to light? Will all His dealings eventually be brought to light?  (2 Nephi 29: 13; D&C 133: 30.) If He, therefore, imparts His word to you, what becomes your responsibility?

What does the coming forth of the Nephite record “by the gift and power of the Lamb” mean? Will this same pattern repeat? (D&C 133: 26.) Will the “gift and power of the Lamb” be on display again? Will this “make bare His arm?” Will people finally consider things which they have previously ignored? (Isa. 52: 15.) Can you and I consider them now?

1 Nephi 13: 33 – 34

1 Nephi 13: 33-34:

“Wherefore saith the Lamb of God: I will be merciful unto the Gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment. And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb.” 
 
Here is meat indeed! What amazing truths unfold in this announcement!

Notice the definition of the “remnant” to whom the prophecies apply has now been given.  The distinction between the “gentiles” and the “remnant” are apparent here. Notice that although the gentiles will receive “much of my gospel” they will still remain identified as “Gentiles.” We may refer to the restored church as “latter-day Israel” or similar terms, but the Book of Mormon vocabulary applies the term “Gentiles” to us. This is akin to the “Samaritans” many of whose blood was as Jewish as those who were exiled to Babylon and returned. Even Christ didn’t acknowledge they were Jewish.

Why is it that the gentiles receive “much of my gospel” rather than the “fullness of my Gospel?”  As you consider that, remember Joseph used to lament about the Saints’ unwillingness to be taught new truths. Here are two of his comments:
 
“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation.  It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even the Saints are slow to understand.” (DHC vol 6, p.184).

“Paul ascended into the third heavens and he could understand the three principle rounds of Jacob’s ladder – the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, when Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful to utter. I could explain a hundredfold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision were I permitted and were the people ready to receive them.” (DHC vol 5, p. 402.)

Joseph administered a form of endowment ceremony in Nauvoo, but told Brigham Young that he would have to finish it. Joseph initiated a few in the manner he received, but was not content with the form of the endowment. Brigham Young reported that Joseph told him, “Brother Brigham, this is not arranged right. But we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed, and I wish you to take this matter in hand and organize and systematize all these ceremonies.” (See Journal of L. John Nuttal, Vol. 1, pp. 18-19, quoted in Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1999, p. 97.)

Joseph also initiated a practice of sealing others to him, as the Patriarchal head of a dispensation. The nature of Patriarchal authority Joseph administered is different from what we currently understand or teach. Today we “seal” families together in genealogical lines based upon birth or legal adoption. Our families are tied together in what we understand was the intended purpose of Elijah’s prophecy about “turning hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers” so that the earth would not be smitten with a curse at the Lord’s return. But Joseph’s practice was somewhat different.

Joseph, who received the revelations on this matter, attempted to set out the manner in which the “family” will be constituted in eternity. He used Christ’s comment in Matthew 19: 29 to support the idea that those who are worthy will be placed in a family organization that would be completely restructured in the resurrection.  Orson Hyde later constructed a diagram of this teaching and published it in the Millennial Star Vol. 9 [15 January 1847] at pages 23-24.  If you search for that on-line you can find it. You need both the diagram and the explanation to understand the teaching. It is also in The Words of Joseph Smith at page 297. Please find and read it. You need to understand that teaching, which came to Orson Hyde from Joseph Smith.

As a result of this teaching, beginning with Joseph Smith and continuing until Wilford Woodruff discontinued it, sealing for eternity was not done in family lines. It was done instead to bind those who had received the Gospel to Joseph Smith, as the Patriarchal head of this dispensation. Joseph’s teaching was followed by Brigham Young, who sealed himself to Joseph as his (Joseph’s) son. John D. Lee, who was executed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, was another sealed to Brigham Young as his son. Heber Grant’s mother was sealed to Joseph Smith, although his father was Jedediah Grant. As a result he (President Grant) considered himself Joseph’s son. That’s a side issue.

Returning to the gentile inheritance of “much of my gospel” referred to above, does it suggest that the gentiles are not/never were given generally or as a group possession of “the fullness?” Is “much of my gospel” something worth considering? Can you be certain Joseph delivered all he could or would, were the Saints willing to receive it? If it was “much” rather than “the fullness” then how does that change things?

Assuming “much of my gospel” includes (as it tells us) those things which “shall be plain and precious” then do the gentiles have enough to allow them to receive an audience with Christ as the promised Second Comforter from John’s Gospel? (John 14: 18, 23.) If so, then will not Christ, along with the Holy Ghost, teach you all things needed, even if the gentiles are not in possession of the “fullness” of it all? (John 14: 26.)

This is important to understand. Nephi makes it clear how the gentiles can become adopted into the promised line and inherit a place among the chosen people who will be preserved, inherit this land, and be numbered among the house of Israel. While that jumps us ahead a bit, it is directly connected here. The first two verses of the next chapter state the following:

And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks— And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.”

If the gentiles will hearken to the Lamb, He will manifest Himself to them. What does that mean?

What does it mean to manifest Himself to us “in word?” What does it mean to manifest Himself to us “in power?” What does it mean to manifest Himself to us “in very deed?”

How would Christ manifesting Himself to you in word, in power, and in deed “take away your stumbling block?”

These are the means promised by the Book of Mormon to deliver gentiles so that they may become “a blessed people upon the promised land forever” so as to never be brought down into captivity. But to know this would require you to come into possession of the fullness.  Gentile possession of the fullness does not come from group-think, or group possession of some institutional magic. It comes by the same means as salvation has come to mankind from the beginning. The Catholics don’t have it and can’t give it to you.  No institutional church has the means to deliver the gentiles. It will come, if it comes at all, from Christ and on the same conditions as saved Joseph Smith, Paul, Alma, Moroni, Peter, Moses, Enoch, Abraham and others.

Now there is a great deal to understand about how to move from having “much of the Gospel” to having a fullness of it. But it was always planned for that final step to be taken by you with the Lord.  After all, He is the gatekeeper who employs no servant between you and Him.  (2 Ne. 9: 41.) This is why true servants will always point you to Him. False ones will claim they can save you, they have power to bring you to Him, they have been entrusted to open the door for you. The “gatekeeper” however does not need a doorman. Nor can He be fooled by men making pretensions to have authority while lacking any of His power. You must confront Him; or, to use His description, you must be comforted by Him.

If Joseph taught the organization of the Celestial Kingdom would involve reconstructed “family units” based upon the capacity of the individuals’ involved, did he understand doctrine differently than we now do? Why were the original sealings performed to bind people to Joseph as the Patriarch? Why was that continued through Wilford Woodruff?  Why was it discontinued? Although it was replaced with a method that provides us with sentimental associations, is there something about our understanding that is less complete, less accurate and less of how Christ intends to organize the eternal family?

It is clear from these verses in 1 Nephi Chapter 13 that the Lord intends to make redemption available to the gentiles, if they will receive it. But the primary means was never intended to be an institution. It was intended to be the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon speaks right over the heads of those who are trying to distract you from returning to Christ. You must either seek and find Him while here, or remain in this Telestial state worlds without end. His invitation is extended.  He will open the gate.

Where will we find true doctrine taught? From what source does it come? Will He not, as He has promised, send true messengers to warn before He cuts off and divides asunder? If you do not understand this it is because you will not ask Him.

So, let us press on. I find this is more interesting a Gospel than I had at first imagined.  Truly, such things do not enter into the heart of man. They must be revealed, or they stand unknown. Fortunately for us, the Lord has provided the Book of Mormon and sent Joseph Smith to establish a foundation from which we gentiles may derive hope.

1 Nephi 13: 31 – 32

1 Nephi 13: 31-32:

“Neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren. Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen.”

The gentiles are limited in how far they may go. Although the covenant people will be smitten and afflicted, they will not be utterly destroyed. Diminished, broken to the dust, but not altogether lost. And, no matter what afflictions they may be called to endure, the Lord intends to give them this, their promised land.

A hopeful note sounds for the gentiles: The Lord will not let them “forever remain in that awful state of blindness” they are in when they arrive here. The Lord has commended the gentiles for coming to this land. They did so in response to the Spirit of God which “wrought” upon them. (1 Ne. 13: 13.) The gentiles came out of captivity and humbled themselves before God. (1 Ne. 13: 16.) The gentiles were given the “power of the Lord” because of their humility. (Id.)  In the preceding verse, the power of God was how they were delivered from their captivity. (1 Ne. 13: 30.) Despite all this, these gentiles are “in that awful state of blindness.”

How can the gentiles be both blessed to inherit all the Lord’s assistance and yet in an awful state of blindness?

What caused them to be blind?

If something is “plain” in the scriptures what must it include?

If something is “precious” in the scriptures what must it include?

If something both “plain” and “precious” has been removed, what has happened to the scriptures?

What does it mean to be blind? What does it mean to “stumble?”

What does it mean to cause plain and precious things “to be held back?”

Does any organization or group which “holds back” plain and precious things become part of that “abominable church?” Since “abominable” requires the use of religion to suppress truth or impose a false form of truth, can the definition of “abominable church” be limited to Historic Christianity? What about a modern church, even a restorationist church like the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) which suppresses or abandons truth? If they “hold back” truth, do they join in the collective assembly of false religions called the “abominable church?” Even it they came through Joseph Smith and accept the Book of Mormon?

What are the “plain and most precious” parts of the Gospel, anyway? Would it have anything to do with knowing Christ? Since this is life eternal, to “know” Him, would it be a simple and plain, but most precious teaching to urge people to part the veil of unbelief and behold their Lord? (John 17: 3.)

Where do we hear that message preached today? I think when I find such a message taught, I will give heed to it.

Nephi’s vision of these events does inform us, does it not?