Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 8

Jacob uses Isaiah Chapter 50 to establish the reality of a coming Messiah, in addition the centrality of Israel to the Lord’s plans. Israel is forever backsliding and wayward. Yet the decision to “divorce” Israel is the Lord’s and He refuses to do so. (2 Ne. 7: 1.) It was always in His mind to preserve a remnant of Israel as His “fruit” or the product of His mission and ministry. Jacob will return to this theme in his own book. We will look at that later. Here we are just becoming acquainted with Jacob as a teacher.

Even at the end of days, the Lord will continue to focus on redeeming Israel. The “rock” from which they were hewn was Abraham and Sarah, the father of the righteous and his beloved wife. (2 Ne. 8: 1-2.) The problem with Israel is the slumber that keeps them from awakening to their awful situation and repenting of their sins. Jacob sees the end of time, and Israel still slumbers and cannot establish Zion because of their deep sleep. They must awake, put on the strength of salvation or priesthood, shed their filth for beautiful garments, and cease association with the unclean and uncircumcised. (2 Ne. 8: 24.) Zion will not otherwise come to pass.

Zion will never emerge from those who slumber in the dust, whose necks are bound with iron. (2 Ne. 8: 25.)

Zion evades those who desire it because they are too ill-educated, thinking their scholarship has merit and the Holy Spirit does not. (2 Ne. 9: 29.) They are rich, and think it a good thing rather than a hindrance. (2 Ne. 9: 30.) They will not hear, and therefore are as good as deaf. This form of deafness prevents them from hearing the warning and so they will perish in their ignorance of the truth. (2 Ne. 9: 31.) They are also deliberately blind, refusing to see the truth when it is presented to them. (2 Ne. 9: 32.) They are uncircumcised, liars, whoring after other gods, and worshiping idols. (2 Ne. 9: 33-37.)

It is Jacob who testifies the “keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel” and “he employeth no servant there.” (2 Ne. 9: 41.) Jacob entered through that gate and met the Gatekeeper. He reminds us that He “cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” (Id.)

Jacob then reminds us of his role – the prophet’s role: “Would I harrow up your souls if your minds were pure? Would I be plain unto you according to the plainness of the truth if you were free from sin?” (2 Ne. 47.) The prophet’s role is always to cry repentance. Priests may preside, and kings may rule, but the prophet’s voice is always crying repentance. Prophets have almost never presided over a congregation (other than occasionally a small inner-circle). They always speak from the sidelines crying for a return to God’s ways. Even when there were cities who repented in response to the message of repentance, the prophets who gathered them taught repentance and left it to the assembly to govern themselves. So it was with Enoch, and Melchizedek, and similarly Joseph attempted to teach repentance to his people. Enoch and Melchizedek were able to teach the people who wanted so desperately to repent (and did so) that they had angels and the Lord come dwell among them. Joseph sought to accomplish the same, but the Lord never dwelt among the Saints of this dispensation. Jacob bids his brethren and us to repent, hoping his teaching will eventually lead to a latter-day Zion. Apparently there will be a small group who will eventually repent and qualify for the Lord to come dwell among them. It remains a distant possibility, without any concrete progress underway as yet.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 7

The problem with war is it arouses the instinct for killing. As men adapt to war, they become predatory, seeking to destroy those they view as the enemy. They study and train to trade life for death.

Zion will not possess those skills. They won’t learn them and will not need them. Zion will be a place of peace, where those who are unwilling to take up arms against others will flee. (D&C 45: 66-69.) Though peaceful, the glory of the Lord will strike such fear among the wicked they will not dare come up against that place. (D&C 45: 70.) As unlikely as this seems, it is true.

When mankind has degenerated to the point of looking at one another as prey, the Lord will not allow His people to become prey to the terrible and the mighty. As Jacob (borrowing from Isaiah) explained, “For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people. For thus saith the Lord: I will contend with them that contend with thee.” (2 Ne. 6: 16-17. ) The Lord intends to establish His covenant among those who take the Spirit as their guide, who reject the doctrines of men as truth, who do not trust in the arm of flesh, and who have not dwindled in unbelief.

Those who qualify, and who are in a covenant with Him, will see the destruction of those oppressors who threaten them. The armies and mobs who think they can overtake Zion will learn to their dismay that the Lord intends to protect them in such unmistakable acts they will be compelled to confess He is God and Zion is His people. As Jacob put it: “And I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (2 Ne. 6: 18.)

The Lord has two contradictory persona’s in scripture. He is the Lamb of God, and He is the Lion of Judah. Those two persona’s appear in widely separated passages of scripture. They merge together in one passage of scripture written by the Apostle John. It was John who shared Nephi’s vision and who was permitted to write of it. Nephi deferred to him. John uses both titles in succession when describing the Lord’s role in loosing the seven seals, calling the Lord both “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and “a Lamb as it had been slain.” (See Rev. 5: 5-6.) He is the Lion of Judah to those who seek to prey upon His covenant people. He is the Lamb of God to His own.

When you see the Lamb and the Lion lie down together, you may know the Day of Judgment is at hand. It will be both great and terrible to the righteous and wicked.

Jacob knew this. Jacob saw these things before they happened, so he could write his testimony as a warning to those who live in the last days. He was a prophet more for our day than for his own. Provided, of course, we have the eyes and faith to see it.

Jacob’s skill in expounding doctrine is not limited to his commentary. It includes the careful selections from Isaiah chosen to illustrate his points and clarify his views. Since he saw the Lord and was ministered to by Him, Jacob becomes adept in recognizing and expounding truth in a way which is trustworthy, and reflects his knowledge of the Lord’s great work to save the souls of men.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 6

Jacob makes a startling promise for those who live when the destruction begins preliminary to the cleansing of the world before the Lord returns. He says “none will he destroy that believe in him. And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, quakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine.” (2 Ne. 6: 14-15.)

This amazing promise is predicated on “believing in Him.” This requires us to understand what the word “believe” means in the parlance of the Book of Mormon. Those who believe in Him know and accept correct doctrine, or the truth about Him. Those who do not know and will not accept correct doctrine or the truth have dwindled in unbelief. They do not believe in Him. They may have religion, may belong to churches, may be active in all their observances, but they are not in possession of belief in Him. Instead they accept for doctrines the commandments of men, and their hearts are far from Him. They teach false and vain things. As a result they neither enter into the kingdom nor suffer those who are entering to go in. This includes those who, though they are humble followers of Christ, are nevertheless led that in many instances they do err in doctrine. (2 Ne. 28: 14.)

There will be many who are destroyed who will be quite surprised by it. They will complain that they have prophesied in Christ’s name, and in His name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works, but they do not know Christ, and therefore never did believe in Him. (See Matt. 7: 22-24.)

If you are one of those who believe in Him, and who will not dwindle in unbelief, will not accept the commandments of men as doctrine, but will take the Spirit for your guide, then Jacob promises that Christ will not destroy you. The rest He will destroy.

Fire will upset the order of things and make societal collapse inevitable. Men’s self-inflicted woes will not be the only sign of Divine disapproval. The earth will quake to signal God’s disapproval. Interruptions of social order and control will be followed by self-inflicted violence. Bloodshed will be widespread among the survivors. Disease and pestilence will be one of the results of the lack of social order. Air and water will be contaminated. Neglected hygiene will lead to the promised pestilence. As the downward spiral continues, food production and distribution will be inadequate to prevent widespread, global famine. It is as if Jacob could see the sequence of events and gave us the list of how it would unfold, step by step, as the unbelieving are wiped from the earth.

Survival during this bleak time depends on the qualification of “believing in Him.” Suddenly, if you think Jacob knew what he was talking about then our doctrines take on terrible significance. What we believe matters. Not just in the distant after-life, but for the preservation of our present lives. Jacob does make a powerful case for studying the Gospel a good deal more carefully than we can accomplish in a 40 minute class-discussion, with an approved “discussion leader,” using Correlated materials, rather than a teacher declaring and testifying of true doctrine.

I’m pretty sure Jacob would be a very marginalized Mormon, if he were among us today.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 5

Jacob has some relevant instruction for us. He reports: “And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things.” (2 Ne. 6: 12.) Some of the Gentiles will be preserved, as well. It will be those who:

1. Are among those of whom the prophet has written. Interesting condition. These are already the topic of revelation. That requires us to study the revelations to know something of the Gentiles “of whom the prophet has written.” That is no small topic in its own right.

2. Are repentant. Of course, that requires the recognition of the need for repentance. Most of the Gentiles are unaware of their need to do so. Some because they are not religious. Others because they are overly religious and fail to understand that their religion condemns them. It does not justify them.

3. Fight not against Zion. Here is “Zion” which will come into being at some point. Not today, but by and by. When it does, there will be Gentile opposition to it. Those who aren’t initially invited will find the idea of Zion without them offensive. Their response should be to repent (as in 2, above). Instead, because of their blindness and jealousy, they will “fight against Zion.”

4. Do not unite with the great and abominable church. This is not a single congregation. It is the world itself. The entire world is divided into two: One is the church of the Lamb of God. The other is everything else. (1 Ne. 14: 10.) This is a bigger problem than it may first appear. Inasmuch as there are endless ways to belong to the great and abominable church, but a single way to avoid the great and abominable church, the odds are Gentiles will not find Zion. Instead they will fight against her and join the worldly minions who are opposed to her.

Most of the Gentiles will not meet these four conditions. Consequently, they will be so reduced they will “lick up the dust of their feet” who are in Zion. (2 Ne. 6: 13.) For those few Gentiles who give heed to Jacob’s teaching, there is good news.

Despite all the Gentiles have done to disappoint the Lord, He will “set himself again the second time to recover them.” (2 Ne. 6: 14.) Jacob will elaborate on this future in his own book. Chapter 5 of his book contains an allegory describing all the Lord’s efforts to produce fruit suitable to be preserved against the harvest. Jacob was well qualified to know what he was teaching. His brief confirmation that the allegory is true is so modest, so plain, so direct that it speaks of the man’s confidence. It is unadorned by rhetoric. The starkness of it suggests Jacob is a man of few words because they aren’t necessary.

Jacob bears close study. Unlike the later writers (beginning with Mosiah), Jacob carved his book onto the small plates of Nephi himself.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 4

Jacob’s first recorded sermon identifies what concerns him. It is the “welfare of souls” (2 Ne. 6: 3) and “things which are, and which are to come” (2 Ne. 6: 4.) The definition of truth is knowledge of things which are, which were, and which are to come. (D&C 93: 24.) Jacob is interested in teaching truth. But the truth he wants to focus on is the present and future of his people.

He identifies Isaiah as speaking “concerning all the house of Israel” (2 Ne. 6: 5) and therefore they can be likened to the Nephites. Then he turns to the Gentiles and places them in the future role of “bringing thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” (2 Ne. 6: 6.) In the dismal future of Nephite destruction by the Gentiles, there is still a more distant day when Gentile efforts will become helpful, not destructive. When that happens, the Gentile fortunes are reversed, and they will “bow down to [the Nephite remnant] with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of [Nephite] feet.” (2 Ne. 6: 7.) So the cataclysm which befalls the Nephites will also befall their Gentile vanquishers. They will be brought down to the dust as well.

Jacob also reports to his audience “the Lord has shown unto me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried  away captive.” (2 Ne. 6: 8.) Jacob must have asked to be shown. He asked and was shown, and therefore he knew his family had left Jerusalem in time to avert death or captivity. Jacob was born after they left Jerusalem; but he knew about it, inquired to know, and was shown their destruction.

This reaffirms how the departure by Lehi and the destruction of Jerusalem was inter-related. The Lord uses ‘just-in-time’ scheduling of events more often than not. There is no need to flee until the moment when the destruction is about to begin. Nor is there a need to begin the rainfall before the ark is completed. Nor is there a need to send down fire to consume the offering until the altar is built, the sacrifice offered, the water poured on the offering, and the prayer completed. (1 Kings 18: 31-38.) Timing is always the Lord’s.

Jacob also leaves nothing to the imagination of his audience. He tells them the Messiah will come to Jerusalem, will be scourged there, and will be crucified by them. Jacob knows this “according to the words of the angel who spake it unto me.” (2 Ne. 6: 9.) From this we see Jacob’s pre-sermon preparation does not consist of gathering together thoughts and quotes from poets or philosophers. He consults with angels and dispenses information from heaven. Here is a source which is to be trusted. When speaking of Jerusalem’s destruction, it comes from the Lord’s showing him, and of the Messiah’s mission. It comes from the angel’s speaking to him.

We think it an odd thing to have a man speak with the Lord and be ministered to by angels. Yet in the example of Jacob, it is almost matter-of-fact. As if he wouldn’t dream of speaking about such things without consulting with heaven.

Nephi’s brother Jacob is among the great figures in all of sacred scripture. The critical differences between him and his teaching, and other men giving what they regard as inspirational thought, should not pass by unnoticed. I’m growing to respect this man Jacob.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 3

When Nephi composed his small plate account, it was approximately 40 years after they left Jerusalem. He included his visionary experiences, but stopped short of giving a full account. (1 Ne. 14: 25.) As he prophesied about the coming of a Messiah to his brothers, they challenged Nephi’s teaching of a future Messiah. In that context, he resorted to quoting Isaiah “that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer.” (1 Ne. 19: 23.) Nephi’s use of Isaiah in his first book is limited to the single topic of whether the scriptures confirmed his own prophesy that there would be a Redeemer. (1 Ne. Chapters 20 and 21.)

The next quote of Isaiah occurs in Nephi’s second book. There the material is quoted by Nephi’s younger brother Jacob in his first recorded sermon. In Jacob’s use of Isaiah, the scope expands dramatically. Jacob uses it to cover the history, the scattering and regathering of Israel, the latter-day Zion, and then he preaches and expounds on these materials to give context to the Nephite experience. (See 2 Ne. Chapters 6-10.)

It is Jacob’s more expansive use of Isaiah that seems to have inspired Nephi to turn to the Isaiah materials to complete his own record. When Jacob’s sermon is finished, Nephi then adds 14 additional chapters of Isaiah material to complete his record. Then, to end his message Nephi takes Isaiah’s themes and gives his final lessons in an American setting, elaborating on the Isaiah themes.

These transcripts raise the possibility that it was Jacob, rather than Nephi, who saw the fit between Isaiah’s materials and the Nephite/latter-day Americas. Nephi no doubt used the Isaiah material first, but confined it to the promise of a Messiah. He used it defensively to respond to his older brothers’ criticism. Jacob, on the other hand, uses it expansively.

If Nephi was giving credit to Jacob for this expansion (as his two books seem to indicate), then it tells us a great deal about Jacob, and even more about Nephi. For Jacob, we can know:
-He was a careful student of scripture.
-He saw what was possible, not only what was evident on the surface.
-He could apply Isaiah prophetically into the distant future.
-He could put his life and his people’s position in history into a prophetic context.
-He was more concerned with the future than with the past.
-He saw their time as important, but not the end of times.

What it would tell us about Nephi is that:
-He was meek.
-He gave credit to his younger brother.
-He allowed truth from the younger brother to instruct even him, the elder brother.
-He refused to fall into his own older brother’s jealousy and resentments.
-He was a ready student of Jacob’s – the younger brother.
-He recognized inspired truths.
-He wanted others to rejoice in the truth, even if he took a step back in allowing them to be presented.
-He rejoiced in the learning of others.

There is a great deal about the interplay between these two brothers that ought to inform our own approach to authority, truth, learning, “presiding” and recognizing inspiration in others. The Book of Mormon is a treasury of lessons applicable to us. We do not adequately appreciate them.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 2

Jacob’s first recorded sermon is not his first sermon. Quite the contrary. He admits he was given to a lot of preaching. Jacob records this: “ye know that I have spoken unto you exceedingly many things. Nevertheless, I speak unto you again; for I am desirous for the welfare of your souls. Yea, mine anxiety is great for you; and ye yourselves know that it ever has been. For I have exhorted you with all diligence; and I have taught you the words of my father; and I have spoken unto you concerning all things which are written, from the creation of the world.” (2 Ne. 6: 2-3.)
Jacob’s preaching was plentiful, and always based on two things: First, the words of Lehi. Second, the scriptures. In other words, he was not an innovator. He was a custodian of truth. He wanted to preserve the revelations entrusted to the Nephites; not to add to them, or stray from them.
It is interesting he had this strict orientation in his teaching, because give his background, he could have ventured into a great many other thing. We know his knowledge reached beyond the veil. As Nephi put it: “[Isaiah] verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him[.]” (2 Ne. 11: 2-3.) In their knowledge of the Redeemer, Isaiah, Nephi and Jacob were peers. Notice how distinct they were from one another in what they revealed. Although Nephi revealed some of what he learned, he used Isaiah as the primary source for his prophetic teaching. Jacob was even more discreet in how he ministered. Isaiah, on the other hand, wrote an extensive prophecy about all of history.
In his earliest recorded sermon Jacob reminds the audience how strictly he confined himself to the two categories above. Then, after Nephi’s death, when he took over as the primary prophetic leader of the Nephites, he still displayed the same caution about the text he took for his material. He told the people to come to the Temple and he would prophesy to them. (Jacob 2: 2.) Then in his sermon he quoted at length an allegory from the Prophet Zenos. (Jacob 5.) When he finished the lengthy quote he added his prophecy: “as I said unto you that I would prophesy, behold, this is my prophecy—that the things which this prophet Zenos spake, concerning the house of Israel, in the which he likened them unto a tame olive tree, must surely come to pass.” (Jacob 6: 1.) It goes by quickly, but there it is. Jacob’s prophecy is that what he read, the account Zenos wrote, was true. Jacob knew it was true. He had seen it, just like Isaiah had seen it, just like Nephi had seen it, and could tell you that Zenos also saw it and recorded the truth concerning the Lord’s unfolding work among the chosen house of Israel.
There is so much about Nephi’s younger brother which is a model of the true prophet. His ministry reflects the very things which we should expect to see from a messenger sent by the Lord.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob

The first words from Jacob, Nephi’s brother, are marvelous. He begins his public ministry among the people of Nephi with these words:

“I, Jacob, having been called of God, and ordained after the manner of his holy order, and having been consecrated by my brother Nephi,” (2 Ne. 6: 2.)

Jacob was “called of God.” He was also “ordained after the manner of his holy order,” meaning that his ordination came from God. He was like Melchizedek. The manner of this ordination is described in JST-Gen. 14: 27-29: “[H]aving been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.” This was the holy order to which Jacob was called by God.

In the restoration of the Gospel, the first time this appeared in the church was in June, 1831 on Isaac Morley’s farm. As Joseph Smith recorded it in his history: “the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders. It was clearly evident that the Lord gave us power in proportion to the work to be done, and strength according to the race set before us, and grace and help as our needs required.” (DHC 1: 175-177.) To understand this statement of Joseph you would need to recognize there is a great difference between being “an Elder in the church”– an office held by operation of the church’s organization, much like a Relief Society President or a Sunday School President– and the Melchizedek Priesthood. Today there is no appreciation of that distinction. That is because we have little understanding of the history of the church or the scriptures.

In any event, Jacob was ordained by God to “his holy order” or, in other words, received the same High Priesthood as Melchizedek in the only way it can be received: “It [is] delivered unto men by the calling of His own voice.” Jacob was one of those.

Despite this, Jacob’s right to be a teacher among the people of Nephi reckoned from his brother’s presiding authority. Although Jacob was in possession of this calling from God, in order to minister to the people he needed to also be “consecrated by my brother, Nephi.” It was Nephi who was the presiding authority. Therefore, to preach to the congregation Jacob needed to be called and authorized. Nephi did this, and Jacob became a recognized, sustained teacher.

Without both, Jacob could have preached, taught and expounded, but he would not be able to speak in an organized meeting of the church over which Nephi presided. From this we see the order of things. The church and God’s authority do not necessarily overlap. But, in his wisdom, Nephi used the very man who God had empowered to be a minister of righteousness within the church over which Nephi presided. Nephi did not envy his younger brother’s calling, but supported and advanced him in it. Of course Nephi held the same calling, but that does not matter. Somehow men can find it within them to be jealous of others even if they are called themselves. After all, Lucifer was a son of the morning.

Joseph Smith, by revelation in January, 1841, was told that his brother Hyrum was to become “a prophet, and a seer, and a revealtor unto my church.” (D&C 124: 94.) Joseph did not envy his brother this calling, but immediately ordained him to the office of Assistant President; in an almost identical manner as had Nephi with his brother Jacob.

From the first phrase out of Jacob’s mouth, we encounter doctrine so very meaningful to understanding the way of God. What a great book we have in the Book of Mormon. I do think a man can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than from any other book!


I received a question: “Knowing that the local church leaders sometimes misjudge the repentance process and sometimes struggle to know what the individual truly needs. Is it possible to properly repent for serious sins and have the repentance process be between just you and the Lord, without confessing your sins to your bishop? On many occasions, we read in the scriptures that repentance was done by confession to the Lord alone. If you truly had a change of heart and had abandon the sin, wouldn’t it be ok for you and I to do the same today, as recorded in the scriptures, without confessing to church authorities?”

This question is a reflection of just how “institutional” our orientation has become. The church is powerless to forgive sins. Christ forgave sins during His mortal ministry. (Mark 2: 5-12.) Christ forgives sins in His current ministry. (D&C 61: 2.)

Christ may allow men to possess the power to forgive sins as in the case of Joseph Smith (D&C 132: 46), but that has definite limits. Men are given such power because they will never use it independently of the Lord’s will. (Helaman 10: 5.) Even those who will be allowed to “judge” others in the final judgment, will not have independent reign, but must announce Christ’s judgment, not their own. (3 Ne. 27: 27.)

The only one who can forgive sin is Christ. He requires us to forgive one another, but will Himself determine whose sins He will forgive. (D&C 64: 10.) He is the only gatekeeper for forgiveness. (2 Ne. 9: 41.)

If you think the church leader is attuned to the Lord’s voice and can give you comfort, encouragement to come to Christ, and help guide you in the path, then counseling with such a man is very worthwhile, but he cannot forgive sins, for that you are required to look to the Lord.

Discarding and Staying Aloft

You can throw things out of the hot air balloon to try to stay aloft. But eventually, you will run out of things to discard and will descend anyway.

There is only one real solution to staying aloft: You must return to what got you lighter than air in the first place. There must be more fire.

You can’t fake such a fire. Your claims to have fire will accomplish nothing. You will continue to descend, even if there are momentary jumps from throwing something weighty overboard. Rhetoric is powerless to curb the fall.

It Will Be Again

As it was once, it will be  again. Adam was born again and received the Record of Heaven, or in other words the Holy Ghost. (Moses 6: 66.) Adam was born of the Spirit and quickened in the inner man. (Moses 6: 65.) Through this he was after the Order of the Father. (Moses 6: 67.) This same Order will return again at the end of the world. (Moses 6: 7.) The end of the world is the destruction of the wicked (JS-M 1: 4) to happen at the Lord’s return. (Matt. 13: 38-40.)

This same Order is connected with surviving the day of His return. “There are, in the church, two priesthoods.” (D&C 107: 1.) “There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to [in the Epistle to the Hebrews]” (TPJS, p. 322-23; DHC 5: 554-55.)

God, who presides over this process, created Adam in His likeness and image. The image of God’s body consists of both the male and female, and they together are called Adam. (Moses 6: 9.) Through it, the man and woman called Adam begat a son named Seth. (Moses 6: 10.) From this we can see the procreative power, which produces offspring, is possible only through the man and woman called Adam, because together they possess this godlike attribute. Apart they are not in God’s image. Their seed continues, which is what God does. (D&C 132: 19-20.) The return of this Order, that was from the beginning, requires the man and woman who have had God’s Spirit poured on them, and have been quickened. It is promised to return again before the end of the world.

We do not inherit these things by imposing our views on God, but by allowing ourselves to become converted to His views. His are as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth. (Isa. 55: 9.) We must receive counsel from Him, not give it. (D&C 22: 4.) God alone makes us a son of God. (Moses 6: 68.) Enoch was also a son of God. (Moses 6: 27.)

Noah, whose days are like the Coming of the Son, was ordained to this same Order by God. (Moses 8: 19.) Noah called upon men to repent, but men did not listen to him. (Moses 8: 20.) Moses told them to repent and follow Jesus Christ, receive the Spirit and be taught by heaven which will reveal all things; but the people did not listen. (Moses 8: 24.)

When they refused to repent, God destroyed all flesh because of their corruption and violence. (Moses 8: 28-30.) “But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man.” (JS-M 1: 41.) The good news is that this Order will return. There will be the opportunity to repent. God intends to make sons again. This promise should make us all search the matter and freely repent of our sins, using the Spirit as our guide to find God’s will. Then we should have the courage to conform to it. This is good news, as long as we are willing to heed it.

Cake: Shadow Stabbing

Cake’s lyrical prose sometimes strikes a chord of truth. I’ve puzzled over why they aren’t recognized for their musical genius by more folks.

“Adjectives on the typewriter
He moves his words like a prizefighter
The frenzied pace of the mind inside the cell…

Outside, outside the world
Out there you don’t hear the echoes and calls
But the steel eye, tight jaw,
Say it all, say it all
But the white paint, plastic saints
Say it all, say it all, say it all…

Say somebody’s got to say it all
Somebody’s got to say it all…”  (Cake: Shadow Stabbing.)

How much wasted time is devoted on the umbilical keyboards of the Internet ranting over things that have no value, giving the mis-impression of accomplishing something important? In the din of opinion, we gather that the truth no longer has an independent existence. It is all opinion. If you should sway it then you’ve done something godlike, because in the polling and measuring what people think really matters.

Outside there is still God. Even if we don’t hear the echoes and calls of the flood engulfing mankind when we turn to Him. There, apart, outside the world, if you should encounter God you will find yourself with a steel eye and tight jaw, and no longer able to look upon the white paint and plastic saints where the world continues to adore and worship.

Somebody’s got to say it all….

Not to please others, but to just speak what desperately needs to be said. Somebody’s got to speak it.

I am a Latter-day Saint. But that is merely a congregation. It dosen’t matter much, really. Within that congregation there are those who want to control what I think. They are waging a losing battle. To win they must persuade, not condemn and intimidate. Show me the errors and I will gladly abandon them. Demand I walk away from truth and I will die first. This is why truth can only ever be spread by gentleness and meekness, by persuasion and kindness. It cannot be dictated. (D&C 121: 41-42.)

When all you have left is a hollow cry that you have authority, you’ve lost the argument. YOU (no matter who “you” are) don’t have any authority. Only heaven has that. (D&C 121: 35-36.) And it isn’t sharing it with the proud, vain, ambitious and controlling. (D&C 121: 37.)

Quoting someone in a position of “authority” who is not in possession of the truth should not persuade anyone, and certainly does not persuade me. Those echoes and calls can’t even be heard once you’ve gone outside the world.

Ignorance can be put on stilts and equipped with a bullhorn, requiring everyone to notice it. But it remains unworthy of the time it takes from you.

It would be better to know God than to please men. I doubt many men who know God ever do please men again. Instead they look with pity at the white paint and plastic saints. It would be good to reach them, but it is only necessary to let God reach you.

The Importance of Scriptures

As a sign of the Lord’s keen interest in the scriptures He pointed out to the Nephites they had neglected to include Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy in their records. He admonished them to “search the prophets” who had testified of Him. (3 Ne. 23: 5.) Samuel the Lamanite was an outsider, whose ethnic identity was with the largely apostate enemies of the Nephites. His genealogy was not kept among the Nephites. He did not live among them. Where he came from and where he went afterwards was apparently unknown to the Nephites. None of that mattered to the Lord, because the Lord sent him.

Samuel had no Nephite credentials. Everything necessary to assess his relevance is summed up by the Lord: “Verily, I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people[.]” (3 Ne. 23: 9.)

When he spoke, Samuel modestly stated his credential: “Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart[.]” (Hel. 13: 5.) And, “behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me[.]” (Hel. 13: 7.)

Samuel warned them they were condemned because of their love of riches. (Hel. 13: 20-22.) This love caused them to be filled with “great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities.” (Id. v. 22.) Samuel warned them they boast they would have accepted the true prophets and not persecuted them (Hel. 13: 25), but they were worse than their predecessors because “if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquites, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.” (Hel. 13: 26.) In contrast, when a man comes to declare the people are righteous, and do not need to repent, but all is well with them, such a man “ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.” (Hel. 13: 27-28.)

Though the Nephites rejected him, and he fled from among them, when the Lord came He acknowledged He had sent Samuel. He criticized the Nephite records for neglecting to include the full extent of Samuel’s prophecy, asking “How is it that ye have not written this thing[?]” (3 Ne. 23: 11.) The content of scriptures should always reflect the Lord’s words, no matter the source He elects to speak them.

This example from the Book of Mormon is a clear warning intended for our day. Christ’s admonition to “Search the prophets” is just as important an admonition now as it was then. So the challenge remains to keep ourselves ready, and listen to the words of the Prophets. It is our common misconception, however, that there will never be another Samuel the Lamanite who is an outsider and without credentials to be given a message for us by the Lord. We expect that if there is a message for our day it will come from the head of the church, not some obscure outsider, like Samuel. We imagine it is always safe to disregard such characters. It is curious, however, that the Book of Mormon, which is the “most correct book” includes this odd departure as an example. It is odd the Nephites never figured out our system. It is so much better than theirs was. We really are a royal generation, the most blessed of all who have ever lived! We never face such a test, because we imagine we have an authorized source of truth, an institutional charisma that can never fail, and through which we can never be led astray. The Lord has made it so much easier for us in our day. It somehow makes sense to us, but leaves me wondering if the Lord ought not apologize to the Nephites for making it so much harder for them. Then there is that unfortunate recent announcement by the church a few days ago about church leaders speaking “in the absence of revelation” which complicates these questions.

It makes me wonder if our eternal salvation depends on sorting out the truth from error. Or, alternatively, if it matters in the more immediate unfolding history preliminary to the Second Coming and the whole earth being cursed if we get it wrong.

Fullness of the Gospel Among Gentiles

I’ve written about the issue of the “fullness of the Gospel” being rejected by the Gentiles on this blog in connection with a discussion of the Book of Mormon remnant and 3 Ne. 16: 10. There is another mention made of this matter by the Lord in a prophecy He spoke to His Apostles at Jerusalem. That prophecy was restored by revelation through Joseph Smith.

The Lord explained to His Apostles that:
-Men’s love to one another would wane.
-Iniquity would increase.
-The Times of the Gentiles would come in and the Gospel light would be restored to them.
-The Gentiles would not be willing to receive it, however.
-They would turn their hearts away from Christ.
-They would prefer the precepts of men.
-Then, because the Gentiles refused to accept His fullness, the Times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled.
-Nevertheless, there would be a few disciples who would stand in holy places and not be moved by the overflowing scourge poured out.
(D&C 45: 27-32.)

In the prophecy, the Lord returned to His parable of the Ten Virgins. For those who would take the Holy Spirit for their guide, and because of that “have not been deceived” they will abide the day and not be hewn down by the judgments to be poured out. (D&C 45: 56-57.)

This revelation to Joseph Smith was in March 1831. It anticipated more would be given as the scriptures were revised. Matthew Chapter 24 was translated later that same year and appears in The Pearl of Great Price, as “Joseph Smith-Matthew.” The latter-day tribulations begin with verse 31. There the warning again refers to the widespread latter-day deception. Even His “elect” will be vulnerable to being misled. However, before His return His ministering angels will preserve and gather those few who “treasureth up [His] word.” (JS-Matt. 1: 37.)

The Lord’s prophecy focuses on two things His elect will have to rely on: Angels and the Holy Spirit. These two are the last days source through which His elect will find safety. Conspicuously absent are men, or perhaps more accurately, the arm of man.

Interestingly, the elect will be able to see this as it unfolds. (JS-Matt. 1: 39.) They will recognize it is like the time of Noah. (Id. v. 41-42.) Then again, if those who thought themselves wise actually knew when the thief was coming in the night to overtake them, they would not have remained asleep. (Id., v. 47.)

Taken in aggregate, it appears the Gentiles do have a fair chance given to them. We can understand the Lord’s lament, “what more could I have done?” Still, there is always a difference between saying, “I am of Christ,” and “receiving the testimony of Christ.” (D&C 76: 100-101.)

More Ado About Church History And Race

We have yet another pronouncement concerning the church’s past ban on priesthood for blacks. This is the most recent church statement:

“The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that ‘no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.’ Recently, the Church has also made the following statement on this subject: ‘The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.'”

If this is altogether accepted as a carefully considered, inspired and accurate statement of the truth, it raises some interesting questions about the church today and in the past:

President Hinckley’s statement, reiterated again today, is that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ.” If this is correct, how are we to now regard Brigham Young?
[“In the preisthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. .. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants. …Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the priesthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to desstruction…” (Address to the Legislature by LDS Church President and Territorial Governor Brigham Young, Feb. 5, 1852, spellings not corrected.)]

John Taylor?
[“Why is it, in fact, that we should have a devil? Why did not the Lord kill him long ago? . . . He needed the devil and great many of those who do his bidding just to keep . . . our dependence upon God, . . . When he destroyed the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, he suffered a descendant of Cain to come through the flood in order that he [the devil] might be properly represented upon the earth (Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, Oct. 29. 1882, p. 336)].

Many others, even President J. Reuben Clark who objected to pictures in the Deseret News showing black and white children mingling together, made disparaging remarks. What of them? Are we now to regard them as not true disciples of Christ? If so, then what does that do for the church’s status? Did the church pass through a lengthy era of being led by those who were not true disciples of Christ and yet retain all of our blessings, entitlements, power and priesthood? How did that operate? Can a non-true disciple of Christ pass along priesthood authority? Or is President Hinckley’s declaration an overstatement because it proves too much? Does any of this raise the possibility that church leaders can in fact “lead us astray?” Or instead is it that we are never led astray, but they can make mistakes? If so, how are we to distinguish between mistakes, and errors so serious they cannot be regarded as “true disciples of Christ” and yet preclude leading us astray? Doesn’t something have to give? Were the church members who opposed the ban “true disciples” even though they were out of harmony with their leaders? If that is the case, how can we know where “true disciples” are to be found, if there is a possibility for the lesser, dissident members who are out of harmony with those leaders to be “true disciples of Christ?” Does it mean we can have “true disciples” led by those who err in teaching for doctrine the commandments of men? Isn’t this the problem the Lord intended to solve in His opening statement to Joseph Smith? Are there some leaders now serving who are “not true disciples of Christ?” How do we distinguish between those who will be regarded as “not true disciples of Christ” at some future point but who are now serving in leadership? When do we know we are being taught for doctrine the commandments of men?

These are very interesting questions. What a great opportunity this presents for more study and careful contemplation by us all. Should I agree with President Hinckley and think the worse of earlier leaders? It seems harsh to think them “no true disciple of Christ” on the one hand, but on the other their remarks are quite disparaging of those of another race. Actually, disparaging of one specific race, not other races generally. Should culture bend a “prophet’s voice” or does a “prophet’s voice” require culture to bend? Were they originally just reflecting social values when speaking disparagingly about the race, and are they doing the same now there is widespread antipathy for racism? If that is the case, then do we really need anything more than popular opinion to guide us then and now?

If these church leaders spoke “in the absence of revelation” how were they “revelators?” Or weren’t they? If they were sustained as “revelators” but spoke in the absence of revelation and were wrong, how often has that happened? How often does it happen? How do we tell the difference between truth and teaching for doctrine the commandments of men? Aren’t we told essentially everything coming out of the hierarchy is entitled to respect as if it were the Lord speaking? Does that apply when they speak “in the absence of revelation?” What a fascinating assortment of issues the church has now given us to ponder.

Does our eternal salvation require us to resolve these things correctly?

There are so many more questions I can think of now that the church has given this new announcement. I wonder why they weren’t addressed in the latest announcement.