Category: sacrifice

All or Nothing, 7-Conclusion

The return of Zion will require sacrifice. If mankind understood the intelligence that God will return to the earth they would be eagerly asking how to help. Zion will not be a place for proud men to pontificate about man’s learning or their conjecture about the meaning of scripture. It will be a place to learn of God’s ways.

Therefore thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. (Isa. 29:22-24.)

The proud, learned and those who think themselves wise may continue to walk by the poor sparks of their own dying fire, but they will lay down in sorrow for the loss of their opportunity to learn in Zion. (Isa. 50:11, also 2 Ne. 7:11.) The humble and meek, however, will want to learn from God. They will submit in gratitude to what the Lord offers:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isa. 2:2-3.)

This can happen in our day. Or not. One day, some few will be guided by the Lord to accomplish it. But the choice of allowing it to happen is left to us. The journey begins by living the way Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at Bountiful.

Every one of man’s institutions are corrupt. They are led by men and women who rule against the best interests, even the will, of the people over whom they exercise control. They abuse authority and their subordinates lord it over their minions.

The kingdoms of men will be ground to dust because all peaceful men will choose to live above their laws in Zion. There will be no commerce to be taxed, but only labor to feed and clothe one another. No legal agreements because people will honor their promises to one another. No police, no lawyers, courts or prisons. They will “deal justly with one another” never asking for mercy, or pardon for failure. To deal “justly” requires every citizen to hold themselves to the rigorous standard of “justice” instead of the lax standard of “mercy.” Even as they hold themselves to a standard of “justice,” they will show “mercy” and “forgiveness” and “charity” to others. “Justice” is only to be applied internally to make us deal fairly with others. Externally, every man expects to allow his neighbor the kindness and mercy he hopes the Lord will show to him in the day of judgment.

As the best of society gravitates to live in Zion, those who refuse to obey a higher standard will be left behind. They will become increasingly unproductive, unlawful, unkind, unmerciful, and ungovernable. Babylon will collapse into chaos. Zion will thrive. The scenes that went before will be repeated again:

And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness. The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish. And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion. And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever. But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed. (Moses 7:16-20.)

Zion is destined to overthrow the world. But it will happen methodically, with effort, and through a system God established in the beginning returning to the earth. If men will welcome it, and live according to God’s plan for happiness, men will become free and happy indeed.

There can be no king in Zion other than the Lord. The journey is a return to Eden and the beginning. Adam is often referred to in scripture as “father” and not once referred to as “king.” Christ regarded Himself as a “servant” and lifted others around Him by the light of His teaching and godly example. Look carefully at the promise of someone who will be “mighty and strong” found in D&C 85:7:

I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God[.]

Was not our Lord “clothed with light for a covering” because of the intelligence He displayed and the graceful things He taught? Were His words not “eternal words”? Were not His bowels “a fountain of truth”? And did He not “set in order the house of God” by what He explained, did and gave? Yet in all this our Lord was meek and humble. He was apparently ordinary. There was no reason for any of those in positions of authority over Him to admire Him. The Jews rejected Him and very few recognized He was the promised Messiah. There was nothing desirable in Him for the wicked. (Isa. 53:2-3.)

Zion, like our Lord, will receive little attention or regard from the world. The people who will recognize that its foundation is being laid will be very few. While the Jews, Christians, saints and philosophers look to constantly replenish themselves from the east (Isa. 2:6), God will begin His work quietly in the mountains of the west (D&C 133:30-32). Thus the Lord’s great revolution will eventually overthrow all other kingdoms.

Obedience and Sacrifice

The first temple covenants are “obedience” and “sacrifice.” The order places the obligation for obedience before the obligation for sacrifice. They belong in that order.

Obedience requires men to support their wives (D&C 83:2) and parents to care for their children (D&C 83:4). [The first verse of the Book of Mormon informs us Nephi was supported by his goodly parents, including receiving a good education. (1 Ne. 1:1.)] This principle to care for family must happen before any sacrifices can be considered.

In other words, before any sacrifice is made to help the poor, build a temple, support a community, or any other good and charitable thing obedience to the commandment to care for your family members must be satisfied. Those who fail to provide for their families are no better than the faithless. (1 Tim. 5:8.) Those who disobey the obligation to support and care for their families bring the faith of Christ into disrepute and cause scorn for His church.

All earthly things?

Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6: 7

“Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things.”

Is the sacrifice of all earthly things always necessary for faith unto salvation?

This kind of sacrifice is between the individual and God. You cannot fabricate a sacrifice to try and qualify. It is the Lord who sent Moses back to Egypt to confront Pharoah. It is the Lord who asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It is the Lord who sent Lehi into the wilderness. It is the Lord who allowed the brothers, Joseph and Hyrum, to fall into the peril that would take their lives.

It is only when the Lord requests the sacrifice that it becomes possible to make the sacrifice knowing you are pleasing the Lord. The result does produce saving faith.

“Keys” as Challenge

What if “keys” are better viewed as a signal, or a sign post along a pathway? Instead of “I hold ‘keys’ and so I hold something of value.”

The better view might be “I have been told one ‘key’ to my calling is to have angels minister to men. Therefore, I know this is a critical matter, or a key to search into.”

What if “holding a key” is better viewed as being given a strong guide or route to take? It points you to something you need to obtain. You have a “key” and now need to discover what it is that must be unlocked.

A “key” is something used to open a lock. It is also something that is “important” or “central in importance.” A “keystone” is the point in an arch that fits in the center, holding the arch together. Upon it all else rests.

If the word is viewed using these meanings, it suggests that holding a “key” implies using it in action. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve use their key positions to manage and maintain the worldwide church organization. If not for that constant oversight, the organization of the church would lapse into disorganization. Their “keys” are indispensable to hold the entire structure together. Without them at the center, like a “keystone,” the “building” would collapse. But the Gospel (and the church) is not a spectator sport. Even if fifteen presiding authorities waste and wear out their lives keeping the church organized, no one will be saved by observing them. It devolves upon us, each one, to obtain the keys of our own salvation by a covenant with God.

Offices belonging to others are their responsibility. For you, there are “keys” which come to us in our own sphere. We are all asked to rise up in testimony and knowledge until, at last, we arrive at “the perfect day” of understanding. (D&C 50: 24.) We are all invited to come to know the Lord, see His face, and know that He is. (D&C 93: 1.)

Can you imagine what a different church it would be if we were all able to say we know for ourselves, nothing doubting, our Lord? Can you imagine how all the problems we now face would evaporate overnight, if our quest was to grow from grace to grace until we too receive of the Father’s fullness? (D&C 93: 20.) Most of what now afflicts us would become trivial, left behind as we grow in light and truth. (D&C 50: 23-25.)

Our temple rites symbolize the trek back to the presence of God. All of us, male and female, receive the same ceremonial blueprint to build upon. Every person within the church should obey and sacrifice (for God and not man), then learn through service, the Gospel of Christ by walking in His footsteps.You agreed to undertake obedience and sacrifice before committing to following His Gospel. This order is critical. Without it, you could err in thinking the Gospel will come to you without sacrifice.

From the Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6:

7. Let us here observe, that a religion [meaning true religion, no matter what another may say or do that tempts you to depart from it] that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power [forget about office or position or authority to conduct a meeting, and realize this is the power to obtain eternal life] sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things [meaning your own reputation, your standing, and any praise you may hope to gain from others– all must be laid upon the altar even if your fellow Latter-day Saint falsely accuses you]: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God [because God will make that known directly to you and you will know, nothing doubting]. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.

8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice [which you learn in the temple rites and which you have covenanted to do], and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.

This outlines the “keys” for your own salvation. Seek for these for they belong to each of us. Do not be jealous of church positions, they do not matter and are not necessary. One thing is necessary; therefore choose the better part. (Luke 10: 39-42.)

Mosiah 3: 8

The angel identifies the Lord by name and title: “Jesus Christ” which is the English version of the Greek form of the name Joshua, or Yesheva, the Anointed or the Messiah. In other words Joshua the Messiah, or Yesheva the Messiah. In our English language equivalent, Jesus Christ.

The name “Christ” is derived from christening, or anointing. Meaning that Christ came to us designated, foretold, sent and anointed with the calling of redeeming mankind. He was God’s chosen sacrifice. He came into the world to be offered as the sacrifice that would fulfill all righteousness.

He is also “the Son of God.” His entry into this world came as a consequence of the Father having been directly involved in introducing Him here. He is God’s own Son. He came with godly parentage, and is capable of offering a godly sacrifice.

He is also “the Father of heaven and earth,” meaning He did not come here as a novice. He has been through this, and knows and presides over it all. His is the power and glory of the Father. He laid that aside to condescend to be here, but He is in reality and truth, “the Father of heaven and earth.”

He is also “the Creator of all things from the beginning.” Notwithstanding anything you may have been told to the contrary, the angel knows what he is saying to King Benjamin in this chapter of Mosiah. After all, the angel lives with the very person he is describing. These are not just titles, but hard won identities belonging to the One you call your “Brother.” In truth, He is much more than that. He earned His exaltation before this world was begun. Therefore, He had the power to create and organize this world as the “Father of heaven and earth.”

The angel adds “and his mother shall be called Mary.” The mother of Christ was not selected to become the one who bore Him carelessly. She, too, was known from the foundation of the world, chosen for the role, and trusted by God the Father to bring His Son into the world. Her name is given by this angel to King Benjamin more than a century before He would be born. Consider how important her calling was for a moment, and you will have some idea of how carefully she would have been prepared, even before birth, for this role.

From verses 7 and 8 we have some idea of how significant the Lord’s role, titles, power, significance and responsibilities were even before His birth here. We can also contrast the humble, obscure circumstances He came into this world with what great glory was His before birth. The only ones who recognized His birth were His parents, the family of a cousin, a handful of shepherds, and an elderly prophet and prophetess at the Temple of Jerusalem. He came into a family of limited means. He grew up without power, wealth, social standing, control over the church or state, in a beleaguered and subjugated province of Rome These were the circumstances “the Father of heaven and earth” chose to enter mortality. We attach such great importance to office. Christ attached nothing to it.

To the extent Christ relied on the presence of official “office,” He used it to conceal His presence, and to oppose His mission. He allowed everyone who would see nothing in Him to see just that. For those whose eyes were opened to the things of heaven, He allowed them to see “the Father of heaven and earth” and the “Creator of all things from the beginning.”

How often the Lord chooses to send His messengers in exactly the same way as He came! Without rank or office, and without social significance or recognition; as with Abinadi, Samuel, Peter, Luke, Joseph Smith, Amos, and Elijah. The test remains exactly the same in every generation. We can know Alma would have received Christ, because he received Abinadi’s teachings. Against the opposition of the society he lived in, Alma heard in the message something from the Lord.

How difficult would it have been to have seen in the obscure and lowly station of Christ the reality that this was the Son of God? For the most part, the “Christian” world flatters themselves into believing they would have recognized and accepted Him if they lived in His day. The only reason most people claim Him now is because of the two millennia of Christian conquest, and traditions of their fathers. If they had to choose a living, teaching Christ of obscure and uncredentialed origin, they would reject Him. They want buildings, budgets, hierarchies, and social acceptance. Today Christianity offers all that to them.

The meek and lowly Lord who came was everything the angel foretold. But He came with no credentials that we should respect Him. No office, that we should recognize Him. No wealth and influence, that we should admire Him. He was without form or the kind of regalia we respect, and therefore no reason to desire Him. (Isa. 53: 2.)

Ether’s Reference to Christ as Father

Here is a question taken from the Book of Ether. The question: “Explain Ether 4:12 where the Lord says: ‘he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me.  For behold, I am the Father…’ I understand that the Father and Son are unified in everything and I understand that the Son is the Father because he has begotten us through the atonement and that He was also the creator. How would you explain that verse to someone just reading it for the first time?  It sounds like a description of the trinity as many Christian religions view that the Father and Son are literally one being.”

Response: Foremost in this creation is the reality of Christ. He lived. He died, voluntarily, as a sacrifice. His death was unmerited. (1 Peter 2: 22; Alma 22: 13-14.) He died because of other’s sins, not because of His own. (1 Peter 2: 21-23.) He did so to make an offering to appease the ends of the law. (2 Ne. 2: 6-7.)

Law has one purpose: It establishes required conduct that when violated requires a punishment to be imposed. Without punishment there is no law. (Alma 42: 22.) We came here to live in a fallen state where we are subject to law and knowing when violate the law the result would inevitably require punishment. (Alma 42: 18.) Christ came to suffer that punishment. (1 Peter 3: 18.)

Overarching all else in this creation are the acts of two parties. Adam fell. (Moses 6: 48.) Christ arose. (Alma 11: 42.) Adam introduced death. Christ overcame it. (Mosiah 16: 8.) Through Christ the law was made unjust because death could make no claim upon Him, but He willingly died to suffer the punishment He did not merit. That forever satisfied death’s claim. (Mosiah 15: 9.) Once it had claimed the life of one who did not deserve to die, it could no longer make claim on Him or those He came to redeem. His punishment was infinite, because His sacrifice was infinite. If He did not merit death then death took from Him what was infinite and would have no end. (Heb. 4: 15.) He submitted. His death satisfied the need for dying.

Mankind still die. That is just; but after their death, Christ’s sacrifice makes it possible to live again, just as He did. (Jacob 6: 4.) But you know all this already.

The “Father” of your eternal life will be Christ. (D&C 35: 2.) He is your Father who is in heaven, because your continuation after the grave will come through His sacrifice. He will literally provide you with the resurrected body you will inherit. This makes Him the Father. (See Mosiah 5: 7.)

Secondly, they are His teachings which will provide you with more than just resurrection. He will provide the further possibility of glory to you on the conditions He has made possible through obedience to Him. The one you follow, whose teachings you accept, whose ordinances you accept, is also your Father. (1 Cor. 4: 15.) The role of the Father is to raise His seed in righteousness. Christ’s teachings are given in His capacity of a Father to all who will follow Him. Through His teachings you can have a new life here and now. You can be “born again” as His seed. (1 Peter 1: 23.) To do that you must first accept His role as your Father/guide. Then you must further accept His role as Father/Redeemer. When you do that, He gives you a new life by His teachings and new life by His ordinances.

Here, excluded from the presence of Heavenly Father Ahman, we have no way back except through Christ. (Mosiah 3: 12.) (For the name “Ahman” see D&C 78: 20 where Christ mentions His Father’s name.) He must become our Father to bring us back again into the Ahman’s presence. Christ visits here. Christ labored here, lived among us, ministers still among us, and though resurrected still walked alongside two of His disciples. He appeared in an upper room, cooked and ate fish on the lake’s shore, and appeared to many. He will come to dwell here again. The Father Ahman, however, only appears in a state of glory, has not stood here since the Fall of Adam, and awaits the completion of the work of Christ before He will again take up His abode here.

Christ is not the same person as Father Ahman. Christ becomes the Father of all who are redeemed through Him. Therefore, by redeeming you Christ has become your Father in Heaven. You will have many fathers, including Christ, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and in our dispensation, Joseph Smith as well. And all these will also be children of Father Ahman.

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.

Belief becomes knowledge

The post I put up with an excerpt from Lecture 6 a bit ago was deliberately chosen as a foundation for what was put up a few days ago.  That Lecture included the fact that you “know” not merely “believe” that what you are doing is in conformity with God’s will.  A person obtains “actual knowledge” that they are acting in conformity with God’s will.
Kisi asked a question regarding the idea of being asked to do something you regard as “wrong” or perhaps even “evil,” and how can a person avoid deception with such an idea.  The answer lies within the doctrine taught in Lecture 6.  You simply cannot proceed without knowing.  You cannot know without following the correct course.  You must make an acceptable sacrifice to obtain the knowledge.  Without making that sacrifice you cannot obtain that knowledge.  However, once you have possession of the actual knowledge, then it is not a matter of conjecture, or speculation, or desire, or “hope” as the world uses that term.  Rather it is an act in utter righteousness, in strict conformity with the will of God, whose will is known to the person because they have proceeded correctly in obtaining this knowledge.
To gain that knowledge a person keeps the commandments, pays their tithes, does everything they are asked to do to follow the will of God as understood by them.  Such a person will be “firm in their minds” and not weak minded or given to flights of fancy.  (Moroni 7: 30.)  They will have been qualified by the things which they have done in following God to possess this kind of knowledge.

The idea that a person would do something which they regard as “wrong” or to be “evil” is typified in the experience of Abraham (Gen. 22: 2) and Nephi (1 Ne. 4: 10.).  This is what the Lecture is talking about when it says:

“a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.”
Now I do not expect anyone to be asked to sacrifice their only child.  Nor to be told to kill someone and take their possession.  What I expect is that in the context of the life someone has lived or is living, they will be asked to do or not do something which is so specific to them that they alone will understand why it is a sacrifice to them.  If asked of another, it may be completely insignificant. But when asked of them, it will be exactly what the person will struggle to lay upon the Lord’s altar.  Hence the term “sacrifice” with its partial meaning of parting with something involving great value to them.  However, it is not possible to rule anything in or out – the Lord alone will know you and what is required for you to obtain this faith.
The terms for obtaining this kind of faith are the same for every man or woman who has ever lived.  Without making the sacrifice it is not possible to obtain the faith.

The same is required of all

I was asked this question:
 
“I am at a point where I do not know how to get past the fear to move on to faith. In my being I know that if I can get past this I can do all God asks of me, and I want to. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can accomplish to get over the hump? If you have any it would be greatly appreciated. I have always wanted to see my Savior from the time I was very small, but I know that I need faith to do it. Please help, if you can.”
 
Everyone faces the identical challenge.  It seems different only because of our individual strengths and weaknesses.  The challenge is adapted to our own personality, capacity and life’s history. Therefore, when you are asked to overcome something, it will fit in the framework of your life.
 
All are asked to make a sacrifice that shows they will not withhold anything from the Lord.  It will come to each person based on what they value and would regret to their core surrendering.  Whatever that is, you will be asked by the Lord to give it to Him.  You must decide to do that when asked.

All are asked to do something that they view as wrong, evil or inappropriate and will seem to be inconsistent with the Lord’s mercy, righteousness and perfection.  The request will unmistakably come from Him.  You cannot evade the request because you doubt He is asking.  You will clearly know it is Him who asks, and that to all your understanding it will be wrong to do.  You must do it anyway.
 
All are asked to take a step in faith beyond where they are at the time.  Trust in Him, and only Him, as you take that step.  You will be certain that if it were something you were undertaking on your own, it could not be accomplished.  But because you are doing as He has asked, you know you will have the strength or support to do as He bids.
 
All are asked to come to Him without guilt or shame, knowing you have done everything you understand Him to have asked of you.  Without this knowledge, you will not be able to endure what He asks.

All are able to develop the faith to lay hold on eternal life only because they have been led by Him through this process.  When they have the faith sufficient to lay hold on these things, the Lord will declare to them by His own voice, that they have been begotten of Him and have a place with Him in eternity.
 
This is universally the process.  The specific form each of these will take will vary from person to person because of individual traits.

D & C 132, part 4

More on Section 132:

This brings us to some details that need to be understood.  The clarifications in verses 41-44 were a result of the “mechanics” of how the practice was implemented.  The various efforts to “fulfill the law” while still keeping up Elizabethan appearances included performing a “sealing” for time and eternity to one man, while the woman was married for time to another man.  This relieved the eternal husband/companion of any duty to have conjugal relations with, or provide financial support for the woman while here. It allowed her to live a “normal” married life with her husband, while still committed eternally to another.  A sort of nod in the direction of the plural wife revelation, without any real commitment to actually practice it here.  There were other forms of compromise attempted, as well.

The defining of what was and what was not “adultery” was necessary in light of the troubles on the ground, so to speak.  Confusion began to multiply as these compromise efforts were attempted by people who really didn’t want to get this thing going in the way David and Solomon had done. 
Also, verse 51 grew out of a specific incident in which Joseph and Emma were arguing.  She protested his secret addition of more wives (beyond those she had approved) and was complaining to him about it.  In response to the arguments, Joseph offered to have her marry William Marks (the Nauvoo Stake President) as well.  This is what is referred to by the oblique reference: “that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her.”  This, again, was an event in the 1843 time frame. It could not possibly have been part of what was happening in either 1829 or 1831 when the first part of the revelation was received. Showing once again this was an amalgamation of several revelations, and not a single transcript.
Not everyone in Nauvoo knew what was going on.  Nor was everyone who practiced this principle discrete enough to escape notice. Enter John C. Bennett, who had abandoned his wife and children and come to Nauvoo pretending to be something more than he was.  He got added to the First Presidency and elected mayor of Nauvoo.  He learned of the commandment, and then began to let his libido go in Nauvoo.  He produced a system of seducing other men’s wives under the practice of “spiritual wifery” which he would later blame upon Joseph Smith.  Indeed, John Bennett’s account of Joseph’s exploits seem more autobiographical of Mr. Bennett, with Joseph given credit for Bennett’s wrongdoings.
As I said before, this was not a culture into which this commandment fit neatly.  It was awkward.  They just didn’t know how to do it, nor what would work or not work.  Even so basic a matter as the definition of “adultery” became hard to sort out.  The half-way measures Joseph tried to implement in order to avoid the outright practice were not working. They were producing such confusion that these verses were needed to sort the mess out.
Trying the souls of those who were involved, indeed!  Proving whether you have faith to sacrifice everything for God, indeed!  This was terrible, difficult stuff.  Not the license for a libido that critics were trying and still try to make it seem.  Even Bushman has mentioned how few offspring Joseph Smith produced as a result of the plural wife system.  It seems that the only offspring Joseph ever fathered were through Emma.  (Of course we have the tale of Eliza Snow’s miscarriage, but that child did not live.  So far as has been documented, all Joseph’s living descendants came through Emma, despite DNA testing of other living descendants from putative children.)

Look, we should have compassion and empathy for these people.  They didn’t want it any more than a normal, mature and moral person living today would want this.  They were draftees, not volunteers.  It was quite hard for them and even harder on them.

Anyway, I still am not to the answer to the question, just laying the groundwork to understand the answer first.  I’ll write some more on this as I have time.

D & C 132, part 3

Further on Section 132:
 
Joseph taught that we can’t expect to achieve the same glory as the ancients if we do not make a similar sacrifice as they did.  It’s all in Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith.  I’ve quoted that stuff in several books and won’t repeat it here.  If you don’t have a copy you should get one.  And read it.
 
Anyway, it is quite important to note the necessity of sacrifice to produce the kind of faith which saves.  Joseph’s explanation required us to sacrifice all things to be able to lay hold on saving faith.  Without the knowledge that we would give up everything, even our own lives if necessary, we cannot receive eternal life.  We have to trade this life for the next.  No trade, no exaltation.
 
So when a man or woman reaches the point where she/he can be tested, the Lord will supply a test to them to prove (to themselves) that they will sacrifice all things.  [The Lord already knows, but we don’t.  And it is OUR faith which is required to be tested.]
 
For most women, they make this kind of sacrifice when they marry.  They literally “give up their lives” and become a wife.  Even to the point  they surrender their prior name and become known by a new name and begin a new life.  The sacrifice for them is completed in childbirth, where they risk their life and then shed their blood to bring a new person into the world.  For women, therefore, this estate provides a ready-made opportunity for the development of this faith.  For men that is much different.  That is why we produce so few men worthy of preservation into the next life in an exalted state.
 
Joseph Smith succeeded in receiving his calling and election.  His promise of eternal life appears within Section 132.  That is no accident.  If the revelation is a series of communications, beginning in either 1829 or 1831, and continue through nearly the time of the recording in 1843, all of which are on the same subject, then they are all interrelated.
 
Joseph’s sealing authority is confirmed in verse 46 and his calling and election is confirmed in verse 49.  This would have been after Joseph had received the beginning of Section 132 and had actually begun to live it.  Meaning that Joseph was doing what he was commanded to do, and that in so doing he was sacrificing everything.  Even his own life was being sacrificed.  He was developing the faith necessary to know he would surrender everything to God by this principle.  Later, when he would go to Carthage and die, it was not as difficult for him to do because he had earlier lived a principle which proved to him that he would obey God at all costs.  Death under such circumstances was not a test, merely a confirmation of what Joseph already knew.
 
Plural marriage was so difficult for Joseph that it was THE means by which he advanced in faith to the point he knew he would surrender all things to God.  It was the key to his exaltation.  Not because plural wives are needed, but because of the difficult sacrifice this practice imposed upon him.
 
Now if that were true for Joseph, then we should not think the practice of plural marriage, with all its difficulty and sacrifice, something desirable to undertake. Nor should we be fooled into thinking that Joseph wanted or welcomed it. The revelation belies this notion.
 
Therefore I take it as a given that plural marriage was introduced as a test.  Not as a reward or as a holiday for Joseph Smith and his close associates.  It was a difficult, trying ordeal. 
 
Now there’s more to be said, so I’ll add another post at some point on this as well.

How beautiful upon the mountains

The feet of those who walk upon the mountains crying peace are beautiful (Isa. 52:7) because they are clean from the blood and sins of their generation.
In the ancient ceremonies involving animal sacrifice, blood was shed upon the ground and the feet of those involved in the rites became bloody.  The blood of the sacrifice upon the feet became a symbol of the sins for which the sacrifice was offered.
The feet of those who walk upon the mountains crying peace are cleansed from that blood.  Christ’s washing of His Apostles’ feet was to symbolize this cleansing which He alone could provide.  He employs no servant to provide such a cleansing. (2 Ne. 9: 41.)  These feet, washed by Him are, therefore, beautiful because they connote the sanctity of the one crying peace.
 
“Crying peace” because the only thing which stills the mind of man, and brings rest from the trouble of this world, is the atonement of Christ.  That is why it is called “the rest of the Lord.”  When cleansed, it becomes the consuming desire of those who are clean to bring others to partake.  Just like Lehi’s dream, when  those who had eaten of the fruit of the tree of life ate, they immediately invited others to come and join them.
“Upon the mountains” because the mountain is nature’s symbol of the ascent to God.  The climb represents repentance and purification of the soul.  When a person stands upon the top of the mountain, she appears to be part of heaven itself and no longer earthbound.  Her profile is with the sky, symbolizing the completion of the ascent back to God.
It is beautiful.  All of it is beautiful.  All of it is a reflection of the purity and intelligence of God, whose ways are higher than man’s ways as the heavens are higher than the earth. (Isa. 55: 8-9.)