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Misunderstandings

I received the following comment, which I am putting up because it does a good job of illustrating a number of misunderstandings:

Mr. Snuffer,

I am not a follower of your blog but I love some who are. When I read your recent post, “I’ve been getting emails and comments asking if I’m alright. I’m fine. When I have something to say I’ll say it” I thought wow. It feels so unkind? People have become dependent on your claims to know Heavenly Father’s will. Many have abandoned their own voice of reasoning leaning on your daily prophesies. They no longer feel secure in their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without your input so I question how you are okay with dropping and then mocking those who you have called into your fold? I expect all is not well and pray that Heavenly Father will be able to mend His children’s fearful hearts, including yours. Peace and goodwill.

This comment contains a number of misunderstandings:

It is abhorrent to me that anyone would “become dependent” on me. I’ve worked to point to the Lord, never to myself. If there are some who have “become dependent,” then there is every reason for me to withdraw to prevent that from happening. It is wrong for any person to be dependent upon another in matters of faith. We should all be dependent upon the Lord alone. As Moroni confirmed, citing Acts 3: 22-23, the only “prophet” people must hear to avoid being “destroyed” is Christ. Those who will not hear His voice will, according to Moroni, “be cut off from among the people.” (JS-H 1: 40.)

If it is true that, “Many have abandoned their own voice of reasoning leaning on your daily prophesies. They no longer feel secure in their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without your input” then the only proper response on my part is to withdraw. It is wrong of them to do this, and it is the more wrong for me to facilitate it. This idea is one I have rejected, repeatedly denounced, and consistently stated that I am unworthy of followers. It would be wrong of me to continue.

I have not intended to “mock” anyone who is seeking to know more of Christ and to understand His Gospel more clearly. I have done what I could to assist. In doing so it has been my purpose to point to Him, never to myself. I have fully recovered from the last surgery. I lift weights; I walk several miles a week, and I am in better physical condition than I have been in some time.
I have no “fold” and I am not a shepherd of anyone. Even my own children are asked to find Christ and His truth for themselves.

My “heart” is not “fearful” of anyone, or of anything. I am at peace with God, and I hope others will become similarly at peace with Him. I have been asked to accomplish a number of things and I have accomplished them. Until asked to do something further, I stand at the ready and await His counsel and guidance. In the meantime, I serve as asked in my ward and stake, and try not to call any undue attention to myself.

I hope that this Christmas season will be filled with remembrance of the Lord and His great condescension coming here to live among us. His birth was necessary to allow Him to die for us. He entered mortality foreordained to die for our salvation.  He willingly came here, endured what was required of Him, and suffered the will of His Father in all things, even drinking out of the bitter cup given to Him when He begged to have it taken from Him. Bethlehem and Golgotha are linked together by the ministry of our Lord; the one necessary for the other. I would hope also some reflection would be given to Mary, whose soul was inevitably to be “pierced” also as the prophet Simeon foretold to her. (Luke 2: 34-35.) Our Lord, His Father and His mother all paid a price both to bring Him into this world and to witness His sacrifice for us.

CD’s of Talks

I was in Benchmark Books yesterday. They told me they now have in stock CD’s of all the recorded talks I’ve given. They asked me if I would inform blog readers. In the past, Confetti Books and on-line were the only sources to get copies. Benchmark is located at 3269 South Main Street, Suite 250 in Salt Lake City.

I Have No Spokesman/Spokesmen

A couple of years ago I put a post up confirming that no one speaks for me. You can read that post here.

It is still true. If I have something to say, I will say it. No one is authorized to speak on my behalf. And no one is entitled to interpret what I think, or how I view any given issue or subject. To the extent that I have a view, I will tell it.

A parting thought

I’ve been getting emails and comments asking if I’m alright. I’m fine. When I have something to say I’ll say it. I do have one parting thought:

In the Book of Mormon a people were “destroyed” when they lost control over their government. Their ability to preserve their own values, and choose the way they were governed was taken over by others. Most often it was from a different ethnic group, though not always. In the case of Amalackiah he was ethnically Nephite, but his values were Lamanite.

Once people were “destroyed” they were oppressed and suffered. Often they were oppressed with grievous taxes, and had religious liberties removed. Then they faced a choice: Either repent, in which case they came through the period of oppression with another chance. Or, if they were angry and rebellious, they would then be “swept away.”

Being “destroyed” is not at all the same as being “swept away.” It is possible for people to have been destroyed and not even realize it. But when swept away they face extinction, and cannot help but notice it.

144,000, part 3

One final passage of scripture seems connected to this process. A question was posed by Elias Higbee. Joseph took this question to the Lord. The question and answer is in D&C 113: 7-8:

“Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to? He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.”

Although the number 144,000 is not mentioned here, this is also clearly a last-days event. The individuals involved are those who “God should call in the last days.” The verses describing the 144,000 make it clear they will be called of God, and will receive sealing from the angels; as Revelation 7: 3, D&C 77: 11 and D&C 84: 42 all reference.

The “power” of the angels “over the nations of the earth” (D&C 77: 11) is needed to prevent Zion from being overrun or destroyed by the nations of the earth. These other nations, if they oppose Zion, will be destroyed. (See Daniel 2: 31-45; D&C 87: 6.) The “powers of heaven” which will hover over Zion will discourage any army from battling her. (D&C 45: 70.)

I put the term “powers of heaven” in quotes because this refers to the hosts of heaven. This is why the term “powers” and not “power” is used in D&C 121: 36. Priesthood is always a relationship between man on earth and the “powers” or hosts of heaven. These angelic or heavenly beings were those who escorted men to the first heavenly Zion (Moses 7: 27), and will do so again. 

It will be the relationship between those who have been “sealed …of our God in their foreheads” (Rev. 7: 3) and the heavenly powers or angels which grants “the power of the priesthood to bring again Zion.” (D&C 113: 8.)

Notice the return of Zion is connected also with “lineage” in the answer above. Or, in other words, the bloodlines of Israel are required to be found in those who will be gathered. This has always been true of Zion. In the first Zion, the gathering of individuals was carefully assembled to bring together “a mixture of all the seed of Adam” so all the families were included. (Moses 7: 22.) There was one exception, however that bloodline was likewise preserved through Noah’s son’s wife. (Abr. 1: 21-23.) The Lord, therefore, took measures to keep either in Zion or on the earth a representative descendant of “all the seed of Adam.”

As the revelation explains, to “put on the authority [notice here authority is singular] of the priesthood” is necessary to “bring again Zion.” This is why the Lord says HE will “bring again Zion” and not men. (See Isa. 52: 8; 3 Ne. 16: 19; see also the description in Moses 7: 62 of the Lord’s role in the final Zion.)

Zion is the Lord’s and His name is “the King of Zion.” (Moses 7: 53.)

In the answer found in D&C 113: 8 the priesthood power has been “lost” and needs to be returned. This raises the interesting question of whether this is referring to the final calling of the 144,000, or if it means the restoration with Joseph Smith. Have/will we successfully perpetuate the authority from Joseph’s time until the return of Zion? (Look at D&C 86: 11.) Or will it require a new connection between man and the “powers of heaven” and a new “sealing” of men in their foreheads by the angels? Revelation 7: 3 implies this authority will be returned immediately prior to the plagues described in the next chapter. But it is up to the Holy Ghost to provide a correct interpretation of these verses. I leave that to you to receive.

The Lord appears in prophecy to claim a direct or immediate role in establishing Zion. And the verses we have considered appear to make it a project which will involve not only the Lord, but also angels and the Father. Indeed, the “powers of heaven” appear to all have some hand in bringing again Zion, do they not?

The most interesting thing to me is the symbolic nature of the number 144,000. If the Lord intends to preserve the blood of all Twelve Tribes, and there are perhaps as many as a thousand different families connected together in your own ancestors, could one man account for a thousand of these 144,000? Could his wife account for another thousand? How few individuals could be able to preserve the bloodlines of the twelve thousand families from each of the Twelve Tribes?

For those who are not included, they will nevertheless have part in the resurrection. The scriptures promise it will be “tolerable” for them. (D&C 45: 54.)

144,000, part 2

The 144,000 are “sealed” by the “four angels” in Rev. 7: 1-3. They are “sealed” by “angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth” in D&C 77: 11.

In the account of Revelation, they are sealed before “the earth, …the sea, …the trees” are “hurt” in the last days. (Rev. 7: 3.) This timing necessarily requires the “sealing” to precede great distresses which to us are still future. 

-What does it mean to have an “angel to whom is given power” come and “seal the servants of our God in their foreheads?” (D&C 77: 11; Rev. 7: 3.)
-Are men, or institutions, in control of this process?
-How would you expect this to happen?
-Does the “sealing” imply some kind of ordination?
-Is this connected in any way to the “oath and covenant of the priesthood?”

On that last question, D&C 84: 33-42, is often read, explained, and taught. But a context is imposed on the words that presumes a certain meaning. What if that context is incomplete, or merely a tradition, and not what the words were meant to convey? Here are the verses with another possible context inserted into them as they proceed:

For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling [notice “calling” is singular], are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies [here? now? in the resurrection?]They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron [who are “sons of Levi” and associated with the Aaronic or first priesthood] and the seed of Abraham [who is the father of the righteous, and one of the “fathers in heaven” to whom we must connect or be “utterly wasted” at the Lord’s return; and is associated with the second priesthood], and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God [this body of chosen individuals are a “church” and that church is confined to the “elect”]. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord [in other words, the Lord makes Himself known to them, for that is how He is “received”]; For he that receiveth my servants [who are His “servants?] receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father [is this what Mosiah 5: 15 is referring to when it says Christ will ‘bring you to heaven, that you may have eternal life?’]; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him [in other words, the promise of exaltation and eternal life. Therefore, obtaining these two ordinations is directly connected with the “servants” and then the ministry of the Son, and the introduction to the Father]. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father [in other words, they have knowledge from the Father that they are His, will inherit from Him all He has, and learned this as a result of the Son’s ministry with them], which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come [because they have knowledge obtained from the Son, and a covenant obtained from the Father, and if they turn away they must rebel against the Godhead, whom they have come to know. They become ‘sons of Perdition’ because this is willful and known rebellion]. And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood [because if you do not receive this, you do not receive the fullness of the Gospel, and you do not have knowledge that will save you] which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens [because the higher priesthood is only given by the “voice of God” as described in JST Gen. 14: 29: “And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice” -see also JST Gen. 14: 26-29. This is why the “ordination” is confirmed by God’s voice here]; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you [which is how the “sealing” of the 144,000 will be connected to the “angels” who have “authority” in the verses which describe these events].

I have inserted a possible new context into the words for you to consider. I would remind you, however, that scripture is not something for “private interpretation,” but can only be unlocked through the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1: 20; see also JS-H 1: 74.) The meaning belongs to and is controlled by God.

144,000

The number 144,000 appears in scriptures in a number of places. (See D&C 133: 18; 77: 11; Rev. 7: 4-8; 14: 3.) The number is associated with the last days and Christ’s return. Although there are a number of myths associated with the number, the scriptures tell a specific account of these last-days people.

The number is highly symbolic. The account in Revelation makes it clear the number is associated with redeeming the Twelve Tribes of Israel from their scattered condition. When the tribes were located in their original lands in Biblical times, they intermarried. For example, the Ten Tribes of the north had been removed by Assyria 125 years before the Book of Mormon account begins. The Southern Kingdom, or Kingdom of the Jews, was where the opening of the Book of Mormon is set. The descendants of Joseph (Ephriam and Manassah) were among the Northern Kingdom. Lehi’s family were descended from Manassah. (Alma 10: 3.) Today, it is unlikely any individual descended from Israel is a pure descendant.

Therefore, when Rev. 7: 5-8 attributes “twelve thousand” from each of Judah, Reuben, Gad, “Aser,” Nepthalim, “Manasses,” Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph and Benjamin, once again the number is symbolic. The symmetry of the division between each tribe symbolizes the Lord’s intention to treat all Israel alike because He is no respecter of persons. (See D&C 38: 26.)

So if the Lord intends to show respect to all the Tribes of Israel, then the language of Revelation 7: 5-8 demonstrates by numerical symmetry this intent. Does it mean that literally there will be “twelve thousand” from each tribe? Does it mean of those gathered the bloodlines of each tribe will be preserved? If it means the latter, then can one person have mixed blood within them from more than one tribe? Can one person have the blood of all the tribes within them?

In D&C 77: 11, the 144,000 are explained in modern revelation. They are described as follows: “We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.”

To understand the description it is useful to know what is meant by:

-“those sealed are high priests”
Is this the office in the church?
If not, then are they going to be among the church’s priesthood?

-“ordained unto the holy order of God”
Is this the system in the church?
Will they hold “certificates of ordination” from a stake clerk?
Could it refer to the ordination described in JST Gen. 14: 28-30.

-“ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people”
Is this literal?
Does every “nation” mean the nations of the earth, or the Tribes of Israel?
Does “kindred” refer to all peoples, or those who descend from Israel’s scattered bloodlines?

-“by the angels to whom is given power”
Does this refer to “ordination?”
Do angels have to ordain these chosen ones?
If the angels are to ordain them, will they be known or recognized by the church?

-“given power”
Are these the angels who ordain?
Are these the “high priests” who are ordained?
What power is given?

It is interesting the 144,000 are connected to “power” and to “angels” in this description. What do these things have to do with the end times? Why would there need to be high priests, angels and power connected to these last days events?

Is 144,000 an actual total number? Is it representative? Can one person preserve within them the bloodlines of more than one tribe? Can they also preserve the bloodlines of more than one family within the tribes? Can a much smaller group represent 144,000 family lines and fulfill the Lord’s intent to keep all “twelve sons” equally represented (D&C 38: 26) in the stock of families who begin the family of Israel again at the start of the Millennium. They, like Noah’s small group, will restart the human family. (Luke 17: 26; Matt. 24: 37.)

How many are really needed to fulfill the Lord’s prophecies concerning the 144,000? What does the number really mean?

Accountability

All of us are accountable before God for our own sins. (D&C 101: 78.) No one can escape responsibility based on their willful ignorance. If you have the scriptures, you know you cannot be saved in ignorance. (D&C 131: 6.) You also have been warned that the scriptures have information which is able to teach you about salvation. (2 Tim. 3: 15.) You also have the Lord’s warning to search into the scriptures if you expect eternal life. (John 5: 39.) When this is before you, it is impossible to sin ignorantly, even if you are ignorant as a result of your own neglect. (3 Ne. 6: 18.)

D&C 90: 2

I received an email asking about the meaning of D&C 90: 2. Here’s my response:

This verse, like most scripture, is deliberately unclear. This is why the first topic in the fireside was the Holy Ghost and its relationship to both gifts of the spirit and understanding the “mysteries” of God. (See JS-H 1: 74.) The Holy Ghost inspired the text (conveying the words of Christ directly to Joseph; see D&C 90: 1). Therefore, having the Holy Ghost is required to understand the meaning of the text. (2 Peter 1: 20-21.)

The verse says: “Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time.” (D&C 90: 2.)

Ask yourself these questions:
-Who is “thou”? Is it Joseph Smith or some collective group or successors?
-Who “bears the keys of the kingdom” in the verse? In 1833, was that Joseph Smith? Or was it some group? Was it his successors?
-Who had the “keys of the kingdom given unto [them]”? In 1833, was that Joseph Smith, or was it someone else? Did it include a group? Successors, too?
-What does “for the last time” mean? Does it mean it will never, ever happen again? Or does it mean the “latest” or “most current”?

There are a few verses after this one that will help with some of these questions. For example, verse 3 seems to identify Joseph Smith: “Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come[.]” (D&C 90: 3.) This seems to be singular. It is addressed to Joseph. But you must decide if it is him, or if it means anyone in the church leadership, then and now. The Holy Ghost should assist you in reaching the right conclusion.

It adds in verse 4: “Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church.” (D&C 90: 4.) This seems to make it clear that the “you” and the “thou” referred to earlier was Joseph Smith. But it then raises other questions:
-What are “the oracles”? Are these the revelations (i.e., sections of the D&C, parts of the Pearl of Great Price, etc.)?
-Are “the oracles” a power or gift of the Spirit?
-If some power or gift, when? To whom? Was it fulfilled in Hyrum? (See D&C 124: 123-124.)
-Was it fulfilled in the Council of Fifty when Joseph gave “the keys of the kingdom” to them, establishing the right to create a kingdom to overtake all other governments and grind all competing governments on the earth to dust in fulfillment of Daniel 2: 36-44.

On the question of “the last time,” verse 5 helps with the meaning:
“And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them least they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.” (D&C 90: 5.) If we can “stumble and fall,” it suggests we can lose what we were given. If we can lose it, then it can be returned. That would mean “last time” in verse 2 is referring to the “latest,” much like D&C 76: 22, where “last of all” means the “most current” or the “latest” testimony. It doesn’t mean that there will never be another person with a testimony of Christ.

The verse also makes it clear that everyone (including Joseph and his peers/successors) can “stumble and fall” if they treat the “oracles” lightly. To “stumble” is one thing. But to “fall” suggests departing from the way and losing what was given. This returns us to “the oracles” and the meaning of that term:
-Are they the revelations/Book of Mormon? (See D&C 84: 54-57.)
-Is it some ordination or gift?
-If a gift or power, and if it is possible to “fall” from it, then what does that imply?

You decide by the Holy Ghost what verse 2 means. I believe it means that Joseph Smith was blessed and he held keys which would never be taken from him, even if he died. That his possession of those keys allowed him to be regarded as a member of God’s kingdom. He was the latest person, or only one living in 1833 to be regarded as a full member of that kingdom. But you should prayerfully decide what it means for yourself.