Category: consecration

All or Nothing

Zion and a New Jerusalem will exist before the Lord’s return in glory. (D&C 45:28-32; 133:17-35; 45:65-75.) But God will bring it as His work. Mortal man will labor with Him, but the Lord will be given credit for accomplishing it. (Mosiah 12:22; 3 Ne. 16:18; –both quoting Isaiah 52:8.)

A chorus of Pied-Pipers are now clamoring for attention, none of whom speak for the Lord. None offer the slightest idea or information on how to proceed with the work of Zion. They chirp criticism and proclaim their doubts, claiming something ought to be done. The chorus does not sing from the same page, for one says, “there is no need for a temple”, while another states confidently, “Denver is too enamored with Joseph Smith”, and another proclaims as his great theme, “all you need is Jesus, for He has no final work on Zion to accomplish”, and another, “I’m not saying there hasn’t been a visit by something or someone with Denver, but it certainly wasn’t Christ.” Then there is: “The Davidic Servant will be the translated John!” says another. (This despite the fact that Zion is a mortal challenge to be accomplished by mortals. Immortals do not involve themselves directly in responsibilities required of mankind.) Many other alternatives are also offered, inconsistent and contradictory, all of which pursue as their one theme: Do not expect the Lord to bring again Zion; and if He does, do not expect it to be done with any involvement by Denver.

Do not be misled: I make no claims for myself. Nothing has been accomplished. Until the work is completed, no one can claim a role for himself or proclaim he will fulfill prophecy. Quite frankly, little has been done so far by any one, and every man’s life is short with little time to labor before taken from this world. The task of Zion is far more daunting than the foolish imagination of the human heart. If we soberly assess what is left to be accomplished, we would all repent and cooperate with one another, lending whatever strength we have to the task. We would stop fighting and opposing one another, and ask what we could do to aid.

No institution exists with the capacity to accomplish Zion. It will be so entirely foreign to this world that the people who come there will be required to adopt a new society, new way of thinking, different way of interacting, entirely new law, a form of government that does not presently exist, an order to their lives that alters everything, and a form of righteousness that is only possible for a society with a new structure.

Much of the sinfulness of mankind is due to the way our society, government and economy are organized. If mankind were reordered, a great deal of what is broken inside the individual would be fixed by a new environment. But it is an “all or nothing” proposition. Half-measures will fail. The restoration did not reach a conclusion. It began, halted, and has been receding ever since. The objective was Zion. But Zion is all or nothing. Taking “some” of the attributes without the rest of it, is doomed for failure.

Zion will have “all things in common” but only as a by-product of a larger construct. Without the rest of the social structure, implementing “all things in common” is only a curse, not a blessing. The Pinery Mission in Wisconsin was established to harvest lumber for the Nauvoo Temple. Those sent to Wisconsin decided to live a “consecrated” life and have everything in common. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 24 footnote 26.) When the leaders of the mission wrote a letter February 15, 1844 to the first presidency to report on progress, they made an observation about how poorly things were working with their attempt at living consecration:

[T]he main hindrance to our successful operations was the feeding, clothing, and transporting a great many lazy, idle men, who have not produced any thing by their pretended labor, and thus eating up all that the dilligent and honest could produce by their unceasing application to labor, & (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 24.)

The economic catastrophe left the participants destitute. What was worse, the lumber from this effort, although intended for the Nauvoo Temple and Nauvoo House, was pilfered by workmen for use on their own Nauvoo residences.

Everyone knew the Nauvoo Temple had to be built with dispatch. The same commandment that required the temple built also warned that once sufficient time to build it had passed, if the saints failed to accomplish the task the church would be rejected. (D&C 124:31-32.) The men harvesting the lumber in the Pinery Mission concluded the Nauvoo Temple would not be completed according to the commandment. Their letter said:

…having also become convinced that the Church at Nauvoo are or in the Eastern States will not build the Nauvoo House according to the commandment, neither the Temple in a reasonable time. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 30.)

As George Miller observed, theft of the lumber was preventing progress on the temple:

Miller discovered that lumber they had earlier supplied for the temple and the Nauvoo House was instead being used to construct houses for the workmen. (JS Papers Administrative Records, footnote 39, p. 30.)

When a society acts on the notion of having “all things in common” as an end, rather than a by-product of a new society, then any project, just like the Nauvoo Temple, becomes almost impossible to complete successfully. This principle cannot be separated from a reordered society. This is why the Lord must bring Zion, because mankind cannot.

Minutes of a meeting May 6, 1844 mentioned twenty-five men who would be returning from the Pinery Mission in Wisconsin:

About the 1st of July there will be about 25 able men down from the Pinery who would be destitute when they returned home. (JS Papers Administrative Record, p. 155.)

Zion will not begin with people attempting to “have all things in common.” Zion will require a new government, new social order, new way of life, an altogether different society from what now exists. It will not be just adopting some new magic economic rule like “have all things in common.”

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There are still a series of talks that need to be given to the Christian community. No venue has yet been arranged to speak in California, Texas or Atlanta. I appreciate the effort given by so many of you, and believe the attempts have all been noted by the Lord. The assignment to speak has not been withdrawn, and I still need assistance to make such arrangements for the three venues. If you can offer an opportunity, I would appreciate knowing of it.

Sacrifice of Isaac

There were ancient Jewish traditions which held that Abraham actually killed Isaac on the mount and the Lord brought Isaac back to life.  The reference in Hebrews 11: 17-19 seems to be based upon this earlier tradition; in contrast to the Genesis account (Gen. 22: 9-13.)

If Abraham actually slew Isaac, and Isaac was raised from the dead, the trial of Abraham and the test of Isaac is more analogous to Christ’s sacrifice than we imagine.

Hugh Nibley writes about these earlier traditions in Abraham in Egypt, pp. 329-344, 372-375.

We imagine the difficulties of the ancients to be less than they were.  Their faith was established through trial, sacrifice, obedience and consecration.  Not to the will of man or men, but to the will of God.  When men attempt to displace obedience to God into submission to the will of men, then it is not merely an error, it is idolatry. It is an abomination.

More often than not, obedience to God causes conflict with your fellow man.  It did not get these ancient Saints applause, position, praise or notice.

2 Nephi 33: 4

“And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.”
Nephi makes a practical application and provides us with an example of his teaching of “consecration.” He knows the Lord God will “consecrate” his “prayers for the gain of [Nephi’s] people.” Notice that the benefit of that consecration is not for the welfare of Nephi’s soul, but the welfare of others. Once again Nephi follows his teaching, and then elevates the purpose from “the welfare of [his own] soul” to the welfare of others. (2 Nephi 32: 9.) His concerns are selfless, sacrificial and intercessory. He has become a man of charity and full of love for others. These whom he calls his “beloved brethren” and his “people” are, in fact, those who will destroy and supplant his own descendants. Although a “mixture” of his seed will be there, these people for whom he is consecrating his petitions to God are the Lamanite victors over his posterity. If you have read Beloved Enos you will see the elements of redemption playing out in Nephi’s words similar to how they play out in Enos’ words. Charity is the end result of this consecrated life.
Nephi’s words were “written in weakness” but he knows the Lord God will make them “strong unto them.” Who is “them?” How does the Lord God make “words strong” to someone? What power communicates the strength of Nephi’s words?
What does Nephi mean by “it persuadeth them to do good?” Why is persuading to do good part of the way to recognize words from God?
What does Nephi mean “it maketh known unto them of their fathers?”  Which “fathers?” Does the reference to “their fathers” help you identify who “them” is referring to?
Why do words which will become strong always focus upon “Jesus, and persuade to believe in Him?” Can words which speak of something else, or other programs, initiatives, organizations and events ever “become strong?” Must the message focus upon Christ before it is possible for it to “become strong?”
Why must you “endure to the end, which is eternal life?” What end?  We’ve asked that before, but not answered it. How long must the enduring last, if it is to result in “eternal life?” Will it be a great deal after this life before you have learned enough to be saved? Will you need to endure then, as now, for eternal life to be yours?
What else were you going to do after this life? Planning to play a harp and sit on a cloud somewhere with Captain Stormfield? Or were you planning to be engaged in a good cause, enduring to the end of all time and all eternity, worlds without end? 

We encounter so much doctrine in Nephi’s writing. It is almost impossible to understand this writer-prophet without some effort to learn the doctrine ourselves. Perhaps we de-emphasize doctrine at the peril of losing the very message Nephi wrote.