I received the following question:
“I was reviewing the audio version of Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and came across the part where Joseph makes the comment that High Priests are to administer in Spiritual things and hold communion with God. But not to ‘exercise monarchical government’, or appoint meetings with out the approval of the Elders. Considering the limited comment you recently made on your blog regarding the divine right of kings, but also considering the invitation found in the temple to be both a priest and a king, I wondered how these thoughts reconciled and was interested to hear your thoughts.”
The object of the Lord’s return is governmental. More specifically, Monarchical. He will return to be a “King of kings” and a “Lord of lords.” (See Rev. 19: 16.) To be a King who presides over “kings” requires the existence of other kings. To be a Lord over other “lords” requires the existence of other lords. But the church’s High Priests are not qualified to be that, and therefore cannot exercise such a monarchical form of government. To do that is a revolutionary act inside the United States of America. That is one reason the Lord has decreed there will be a full end to all nations. (D&C 87: 6.) He will institute a new form of government that will not be compatible with other national interests.
The Lord’s plans are quite different than we sometimes presume them to be. Joseph Smith was apparently tuned in to that in a surprisingly revolutionary way. It is no wonder he was killed. He represented a new era where old things were to be thrown down and a new order established.
Joseph represented an opportunity; but we weren’t interested in it. Ultimately it was the Saints themselves who complained and got him to return and surrender. He remarked that if his life was of no value to his friends, it was of no value to him. He realized the Saints were unwilling to follow into the kind of remaking of the world his ministry offered.
I doubt Joseph Smith would be any more welcome today than he was in his own time. I think we’d treat him like a crank, who entertained delusional ideas and offered a foolish, magical view of the world unworthy of serious consideration.
Kingship is tied to the promise of land, as we see in the case of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Lehi and Nephi, among many others. When the land is given to the Lord’s “king and priest” it comes from the Lord by His word and is everlasting. It is received by covenant, and when received the king is the land in a very real sense. He and it are connected by the covenant, and what goes on thereafter is a reflection of how the king (or his descendants) honor or dishonor the covenant.
Although the Melchizedek priesthood cannot exercise monarchical government (a form of government involving Patriarchal rule), there will be a return of this kind of order before the Lord returns. The remnant will build Zion. There will be an Ephriamite with the authorization there to “crown” those kings and lords who will rule with Christ at His return. (D&C 133: 32.) Everything will happen as foretold. But we can’t and aren’t supposed to be able to see it beforehand. We are only supposed to witness it unfold before us. We cannot comprehend God’s strange act. Those who take the Spirit for their guide will not be deceived or hewn down. (Mark 13: 5-6; D&C 45: 57.) This was the original form of priestly order from the beginning of time. It will return at the end of the world again. (Moses 6: 7.) This priestly order is what allowed a small group to gather at Adam-Ondi-Ahman where the Lord visited with them and comforted Adam. (D&C 107: 53-55.) That scene, involving Adam and seven who held this same priesthood will be re-enacted again at the end. We are working our way back in a great chiasm of history as the Lord counts us back to the beginning and we draw to the end. He calls it His “strange act” (D&C 101: 95; Isa. 28: 21.) Joseph’s ministry took us back to an earlier time. The Lord intends to return us back further.
But, again, these are things Joseph understood and began to put in place. Now we have only a tattered remainder of that original purpose and an ambition to become something more modern, like the other faiths. Today we have no capacity for monarchical government under the present organization of things. That might be a good thing. We get into less trouble that way.
Ambition for these things will not accomplish a thing. It will be the Lord’s doing or it will not happen at all. He always tells us emphatically that it will be HIM who brings again Zion, not us. (3 Ne. 16: 8; Mosiah 12: 22; Isa. 52: 8; D&C 84: 99, among others.) Our ambition will not bring it to pass. Only His will can do so. The challenge, of course, is to be among those invited by the angels to participate rather than to be left among the residue who will be hewn down.