Sunday, April 23, 2017

Covenant Book, Part 1: Crying From the Dust


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And the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?
—Moroni 10:27


When the Lord condemned early church members for their failure to take The Book of Mormon seriously, He referred to it as “the new covenant.”
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom. (D&C 84:56-58)
There’s much to consider in the idea that The Book of Mormon is a covenant. So we’ll start by examining what we can to better understand how the Book of Mormon and the new covenant are related. Ultimately, we’ll discover:

• The Book of Mormon CONTAINS a covenant
• The Book of Mormon IS a covenant

and 

• The Book of Mormon is to be RECEIVED by covenant

That’s a lot of ground to cover, and it will take some time to cover it all. So let’s get started. 

Lehi’s Covenant

Our study necessarily begins with Lehi—whose repentance opened up an important possibility for the Lord and for us. As you recall, Lehi lived at a time when the Northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed, scattered and carried away captive by the Assyrians. The Southern kingdom of Judah came under threat from Babylon, and would soon be similarly destroyed if the Jews did not repent. 

The Lord sent many prophets to cry repentance and warn the people, and Lehi believed them. He took actions that opened the heavens and brought him into the presence of God, where he saw and heard much (1 Nephi 1:6). Because he was faithful, Lehi received a covenant from God, which included a land of promise for him and his family, as well as other blessings. The covenant required faithfulness to God’s commandments (2 Nephi 1:5-9). We do not have the full record of Lehi’s covenant, because Nephi did not record it (1 Nephi 1:16), and Lehi’s book was lost as part of the 116 pages Joseph Smith entrusted to Martin Harris. 

Nevertheless, from the information we do have available, we can see that the covenant included a promised land, scriptural records, safety, liberty, and prosperity (though not the way the world defines prosperity.) Because the Lord had a covenant people, even though it consisted of just two families, He led them to safety in this land of promise. Leading them away also accomplished another very important thing in the Lord’s wisdom: It preserved a record that bypassed Babylon and Babylon’s influence, ultimately to come to us in the latter days. 

As a quick review, remember that Babylon destroyed or corrupted the last vestiges of Abraham’s covenant, teachings, and people. By the time the Jews returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of Babylonian captivity, their religion had become so corrupt, it was ultimately used as justification to slay their God. 

We need to keep in mind that the Bible, containing records of God’s dealings and covenants with former prophets and patriarchs, came down to us by way of Babylon and Babylonian influence. The loss of Jerusalem affected the world forever, by forever supplanting God’s word with Babylon’s ideas.

But God sidestepped all that by sending a pure record with a covenant family to a land of promise; they escaped Jerusalem before Babylon invaded. Though the Nephites eventually apostatized from the covenant, their records preserve for us a knowledge of their relationship with the Lord and His requirements. 

Christ’s Message

Now, let’s fast forward about 600 years to the time of Christ. In particular, I want to focus on the curious event wherein Christ attempted to teach the Nephites, then abruptly stopped. He could tell they weren’t getting the message, and it was too important to risk them getting it wrong. Said He:
I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time. Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again. (3 Nephi 17:2-3)
Too weak is too weak. Even Christ couldn’t teach them the message He had been sent to share.

As I’ve previously written at length, Christ didn’t leave—because the people asked Him to stay. So to cure their weakness, He healed their sick, then improvised an endowment ordinance using their children. Having accomplished these, He next instituted the sacrament among them and empowered his disciples to bestow the Holy Ghost.

The next day, Christ returned, endowed the twelve, and provided the sacrament again. The ordinances had the desired effect:
Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus, whom they both saw and heard. (3 Nephi 20:9) 
Having thus prepared them, Christ continued His sermon from the day before, repeating the previous day’s misunderstood information, and continuing the message to completion. When I wrote about this previously, I said the following:

Oddly enough the balance of the message dealt with OUR DAY, not theirs. Why do you suppose that is so? Is there something there for us, or was it all for them?

I previously left those questions unanswered, but now it’s time to answer them. As we proceed to study Christ’s sermon, we need to keep one vital key in mind to unlock the meaning of His message. To put it simply, it is this:

The message was NOT for the people at Bountiful. Christ used the Nephites to get a message to US.

The message wasn’t for them; it wasn’t about them; it had very little to do with them at all. But Christ needed them to record His words and faithfully transmit them two thousand years into the future. The fate of this world, and the completion of God’s work depended on Christ's ability to get the message to us. 

He commanded three times that His message be recorded, making particular note that the message was to be transmitted to the Gentiles of a different day:
And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer. (3 Nephi 16:4)
Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles. (3 Nephi 23:4)
Write the things which ye have seen and heard, save it be those which are forbidden. (3 Nephi 27:23)
The Lord knew, thousands of years in advance, that the only record of His dealings and covenants available in the latter days would be the post-Babylon, corrupted Bible, which would suffer from the ravages of poor copying, intentional alteration, and misinterpretation. He knew that such would never be adequate to restore knowledge of His covenants, or establish a new covenant branch of Israel to complete the Lord’s latter-day work.

So he used an existing covenant family as His scribes to etch a message from Him to us, preserved on metal plates. Safely buried in the ground, it would remain uncorrupted and untouched until it could be translated by the gift and power of God to reach us in its purity. This message was so important, so vital to His final labor in the vineyard, that he wouldn't even teach it to the Nephites at Bountiful until they were prepared to properly understand it, vividly recall it, and accurately record it. 

They would need the Lord’s Spirit to make this possible.

Filled

Fortunately, the text is clear that, having eaten and drunk the emblems of Christ’s flesh and blood, the multitude “were filled with the Spirit.” Mind you, this is the first time the record notes the multitude being filled in such a way. Evidently, the sacrament ordinance had the desired effect and the multitude were prepared to understand and record Christ’s words.

His response?
And it came to pass that when they had all given glory unto Jesus, he said unto them: Behold now I finish the commandment which the Father hath commanded me… (3 Nephi 20:10)
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork to understand the context of what the Lord is about to speak, and the pains he took to get it in front of us—in my next post we’ll begin to consider the actual message he conveyed.

Just One More Thing:

It’s clear from the record that it was always meant for us, and never for the Nephites who wrote it. Likewise, it’s clear the message was preserved for the specific purpose of re-establishing the covenant the Lord previously made with Israel:
And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit, in his wisdom, that these sayings shall come unto the Gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel, concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance, is already beginning to be fulfilled. (3 Nephi 29:1)
The time is now. The gentiles who repent will come into the covenant and be numbered among the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 16:13) They will inherit this land.

The final chapter of 3 Nephi consists of a personal note from Christ to us, as follows:
Hearken, O ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you, for, behold he commandeth me that I should write, saying: 
Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 30:1-2)
There’s Christ’s summary to you and to me. Repent, obey the doctrine of Christ, and come into the covenant He offers. When you have eyes to see it, you’ll find the same message everywhere throughout the Book of Mormon, crying from the dust.

And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust...for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey!
—2 Nephi 33:13-15

13 comments:

  1. Adrien,

    Perhaps this will be addressed in your forthcoming posts, but if not, I feel that it is important to make some points.

    There is a tendency among gentiles to follow some sort of script, pattern, chart, performance or plan and recite a catechism regarding "how" they can return to God and take a place next to Him on His throne. Often lost in this is the emotion, heartfelt passions and pains of the story belonging to "the covenant." It's as if September will come along and a group of people will raise their hands to the square to accept the Book of Mormon and then voilà..."The gentiles who repent will come into the covenant and be numbered among the house of Israel. They will inherit this land."

    If the Lord is fair, (which He is), then those who hold title to the House that the gentiles intend to inherit (specifically, Lehi's house) will have a say as to who will be brought in. Knowing the history of gentiles, and how they like to usurp and take over something which isn't rightfully theirs, why would Israel even consider adopting "drunkards" who abuse the gifts which God gives them?

    From what I can see, adoption won't just be a given, but will come with some stipulations and expectations:

    * The gentiles will have charity for Israel - In Ether 12, Moroni pleads with the Lord to give the gentiles charity. Why would he want them to possess this attribute? If you connect the dots, you'll see it is for the sake of his own family. Without gentile charity, (the unconditional love of Christ, even for one's adversaries), Moroni's family is lost. Yet very little discussion is had about this among the fellowships. Mostly, I hear, "We want to build Zion!" without mentioning that our lot is to assist, not lead in that endeavor.

    * Along those same lines is that the gentiles will convince the house of Israel that "they are not cast off forever." - What group among Lehi's seed and Israel would think that? Even the Israelites in bondage to the Egyptians had hope of a deliverer. Is there a culture living on the earth today who believes that they have no chance of returning to God? If not, then who would even think that? (See 2 Ne 26:10)

    * The gentiles will have something new - Why would the kings shut their mouths at what is presented to them? What exactly is it which they hadn't heard or considered? While there is something unique about the gentiles, do they even know how they will convince a lost and fallen people that the Lord will fulfill His promises? Remember that this will be something which has never occurred in the history of man -- Zion to be built here for good, and not to flee away.

    * The gentiles will be nurturing fathers and mothers - If one is to nurture and heal another then it should go without saying that their concern for that person is beyond the concern for their own well-being. Like the 3 who chose to tarry (instead of the 9 who wanted to end their ministry and enter the Lord's rest), the desires of the gentiles will necessarily be directed towards restoring Israel to their rightful place. When the time does come for the work to be established, we are told that we will receive guidance from those who have been-there-done-that (see Ether 5:4).

    We gentiles should be grateful that the Lord has provided a way to bring us into a covenant, but it is only by His mercy that it is the case. We should not be so vain as to believe that we are entitled to the blessings and land of Lehi's house without having a desire to serve the family. In my mind, the forthcoming covenant will not be about "resting," but bringing the souls of men (and specifically Israel) to Christ while the world shall stand. If that is not part of your mantra, I suspect that this covenant is not for you.

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    1. Related: http://captivegentiles.blogspot.com/2017/04/out-of-captivity-part-v.html

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  2. Sorry I misspelled your name. I was looking at the E in your last name when I typed.

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    1. Ha! No worries. At least you got the "e" in there somewhere!

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  3. We have become the Israelites. Can you see it? Since we won't ascend and meet the Lord face to face - we are getting far less. Fellowships. Rules. Correlated scriptures. Temple fund. All as a substitute for the real thing. Denver already declared this exactly a year ago yesterday: http://denversnuffer.com/2016/04/why-a-temple/

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    1. I disagree on many counts with what you have asserted.

      For example, the assertion that fellowships, rules, scriptures, and a temple are all substitutes for knowing the Lord is a fallacy. Even among those who know the Lord face to face, are there still not fellowships? Rules? Scriptures? A temple?

      In Enoch's city, were there any of these things? Can you show from scripture there were not?

      I would be careful about rejecting something for no reason other than the vague idea that it isn't the "real thing" or isn't part of the Lord's plan.

      If the Lord asks for these things, we reject them at our peril.

      I suppose you could raise the same objections against baptism, as an example. So should you throw it out?

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    2. Yes the baptism offered through Denver should be rejected because the authority for a proper baptism has not been reestablished yet. That authority will be re instituted with the "One Mighty and Strong".

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    3. First, I was referring to baptism in general. Second, what you call "the baptism offered by Denver" is actually the baptism commanded by Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon. Denver has only pointed to it. And third, I invite you to provide any scriptural reference to substantiate your assertion that the "one mighty and strong" will reinstitute baptismal authority.

      You can hide behind anonymity and make whatever statements you want, but if you can't support them with scripture, please don't expect anyone to take you seriously.

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  4. I think you all should study the covenant of death mentioned in Isaiah. Until the Remnant, which are those Native Americans living on this land, arise with power and might, I believe all this work is for naught. How many of you are actually working to bring the message of the BOM to those who rightfully belong on this land? Denver's promise that if you do this covenant you will be saved, and you will have a legal right to this land may or may not be true. My suspicion is that those who do this covenant will have to go through much more tribulation than those who seek the Lord at all costs. How many of you have received the Second Comforter? From those whom I have confidence in who have received the Second Comforter, they have all mentioned that this covenant you are wanting to do will have consequences and they are not good consequences. You may be saved by the grace of God, but only after you have gone through much refining and rid yourself of the idolatry associated with Denver. He is a sifter ... and at one point was a messenger. But his message changed from Seeking Jesus, to educating you on church history and let me tell you. Though you think he is versed in church history, he is a lawyer and he spins the story the way he wants one to believe it. Your putting him up as your leader instead of Jesus will have consequences for you all. This is a warning ... you may need to go through the refining in order to rid oneself of all idolatry, but it would be much better for you to again make Seeking the Lord your priority and ridding yourself of needing a fellowship, or community or Denver. Denver's training in his legal profession makes him skillful at only divulging parts of truth in order to garner support. Please proceed with caution and much prayer.

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    1. And on the other hand, if Denver is a messenger sent from the Lord, and bearing the Lord's message, we reject it at our eternal peril. The challenge that confronts us is always the same. It's not about the person; it's about the truth. Joseph Smith was far more rejected than ever accepted, and yet, he bore a true message and a legitimate opportunity.

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  5. Looking forward to your next blog post where "we’ll begin to consider the actual message he [Christ] conveyed". There is so much to comprehend about this covenant stuff. While everyone is embarking on the project in revising the draft version of the restoration scriptures, I'm just trying figure out what exactly the Lord is extending, what it will it require of me, and everything else that the "covenant" will entail. Any insights you share from your labor upon the Word is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks, Khaden. I'm looking forward to writing the next installment soon. This has been an incredibly busy two weeks and time to write has been hard to come by. Thanks for your patience!

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  6. I'm extremely interested in understanding this topic of covenant. I sense the importance. Thank you, Adrian, for putting together this series to help educate and encourage study of this vital topic.

    Things are proceeding quickly it seems to me, and in a certain order.

    The importance of accepting a covenant was pointed out in Denver's St. George talk where he is making it a requirement BEFORE he testifies to the Christian world at large this Fall. He said (on page 25):

    "If there are any others who are willing to do so, I intend to join them in accepting the covenant in September. That will allow me to address Christian audiences in California, Texas and Atlanta as a covenant holder offering to them the benefit of accepting what the Lord offers to everyone freely."

    The "great division" which has been prophesied is shaping up. The "marvelous work" (1 Nephi 14:7) which will convince people one way or the other to pick a side is having its foundation built in real time before our eyes. That foundation I believe may be the covenant and the CHOICE to accept or reject it. The covenant may be the focal point, it may end up actually being THE line which divides people.

    Obviously, Denver is inextricably attached to the covenant so by association he will unavoidably be the focal point as well.

    Is it a light matter to honor it once accepted? He says, "Any others who accept the covenant can do likewise. If accepted, the covenant needs to be kept."

    Denver then brings up a side of the Lord which the Lord hasn't displayed in thousands of years: FORCE. The image of the Lord as Lion comes to mind. "No one other than the Lord will enforce the covenant. But He has at His disposal lightning, pestilence, famine and earthquakes. (D&C 43:25) He has warned of a coming time when there is burning, desolation and lamentation. (D&C 112:24) He has always planned to have covenant people survive the last days with His protection."

    It appears that force will be used by the Lord for defensive purposes. The Lord will protect his covenant people.

    The implication is that force will be used AGAINST the covenant people (as history will repeat itself), and that the Lord will intervene. Denver says the Lord will "enforce the covenant".

    Adrian, what does "enforce the covenant" mean to you?

    Will there be any compulsion to accept the offered covenant and by association, His servant, Denver/ David? No. But with consequences. The would lose God's protection. So there will be consequences.

    "Anyone who objects to this is free to continue on without accepting God’s offer. They are free to persuade others to also reject the covenant and remain alone without God’s protection in the coming difficulties. But their opposition cannot prevent it from happening for others who choose to accept the Lord’s offer to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks."

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