Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why You Should Pray for Baghdad

As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth. 
—Jeremiah 51:49

This last Wednesday, Denver Snuffer posted an intriguing and ominous, single-sentence post on his blog as follows:

“The God of Heaven tells me all the world should pray that Baghdad does not fall.”

Since that post, I’ve seen a number of reactions. Some have offered thoughts about the humanitarian elements of war and suffering in and around Baghdad; others have talked about the economic consequences to the United States and the world. And some, honestly, have no idea where Baghdad is, or why its fall might matter at all. 

As for me, I’m quite concerned that one of the most important events in world history is staring us in the face and so many of us are unaware and oblivious. So here’s a quick primer on Baghdad and why it is so important, even vital, to the future, not just of the Middle East, but of the world. I pray that you’ll consider these things carefully, as they affect your future as well.

Please keep in mind, the following is my opinion. I don’t speak for Denver Snuffer. I’ve reached these conclusions by study and prayer. I invite you to study it for yourself. 

Let's talk about Baghdad.

A Modern City with Ancient Roots

Baghdad is the political, governmental, cultural, social and educational capital of Iraq. The name Baghdad comes from the Persian word meaning "the gift of God." The city is situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the land known as Mesopotamia. 

The foundation of Baghdad dates back to AD 800. It was built after the destruction of the prior capital of the area—known as Babylon—the ruins of which lie 50 miles to the south. Yes, THAT Babylon. Modern Baghdad occupies the same general region and governs the same territory as ancient Babylon. Baghdad is, in some prophetic applications, the modern equivalent of Babylon.

Babylon, you will recall, attacked and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, carrying the Jewish population captive back to Babylon for a period of 70 years. It was, in fact, this pending attack that Lehi warned about, prior to fleeing Jerusalem with his family. Mulek, son of king Zedekiah also fled this attack and came to the promised land with a different group. The prophet Jeremiah was among those taken captive by Bablyon. Hence, in Jewish scripture, Babylon is often synonymous with wickedness or the world. Babylon is also highly significant in modern prophecy, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The city of Baghdad is also very important in Islam, having been the political capital of prior Islamic empires for hundreds of years. It was, at one point, the largest city in the world, with 1.2 million inhabitants.

Today, over 7 million people live in the city of Baghdad with another 5 million in the immediate surrounding area. Baghdad is the largest city in Iraq, and the second largest city in Western Asia.

U.S. Intervention and Presence

Since the fall of Baghdad to U.S.-led coalition forces in April, 2003, the U.S. has had a continuous military presence in the city. The heavily fortified U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad is the largest embassy in the world, and is really a city within a city, housing up to 35,000 personnel. 

Baghdad and ISIS

Now, let’s talk about the importance of Baghdad to the current world situation. To do that, we must start with ISIS.

If you pay attention to the news, you’ve likely heard of ISIL, ISIS, or the Islamic State. This is a group of Islamic insurgent fighters who have waged war in Syria and Iraq, and have now gained control of large parts of both countries.

ISIS employs brutal tactics in its warfare, and has gained much recent notoriety for barbaric cruelty. Dressed in black clothing, black masks and carrying black flags, ISIS has mastered the psychological impact of terrorism on their enemies and on the world. A small sample of their most recent acts include the following:

  • Placing a downed Jordanian pilot in an iron cage, dousing him with gasoline, and burning him alive while onlookers cheered.
  • A follow-on, caged burning of 45 captured enemies. 
  • The mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.
  • Executing unarmed, captured enemies by the hundreds in front of machine-gun firing squads.
  • Beheading captured relief workers, journalists, and Christians.
  • Murdering women and children in occupied areas. 
  • Stoning, crucifixion, torture, slavery, rape, forced marriage, and sex slavery. 

Many of these heinous acts are captured on video, professionally edited, and paraded before the world. These are not isolated events, but carefully planned propaganda. ISIS has a very effective PR machine and gets all the press attention they want.

ISIS is also waging very effective war. It has doubled the land it controls since last summer, despite over 1,000 coalition airstrikes. ISIS now controls a third of Syria and a third of Iraq. The fighting has displaced over 1 million Iraqis and over 3 million Syrians, creating a desperate humanitarian situation.

Fighting for God

The most important thing to understand about ISIS is the religious ideas driving their war. Volumes could be written here, but I’ll attempt to give a brief overview. Here is what you need to understand:
  1. ISIS follows a very strict interpretation of Islam. These are not ignorant barbarians, but deeply religious, and often educated, devotees to the prophet Muhammad. You will not beat them in debating their scripture, the Koran, nor will you find more strictly religious adherents to Muhammad’s original teachings. This is not about oil, jobs, money, fame, power or control. This is about religion. 
  2. ISIS is committed to purifying the world by slaughtering vast numbers of people, until all are brought under Islamic rule and Sharia law. They consider this their mandate from God. The executions, crucifixions, slavery, beheadings, and brutality are condoned by their scripture and considered religious duty. They are proud to parade these things before the world as evidence of their devotion to God, claiming that prior terrorist groups like Al Queda were simply too weak to do what God requires.
  3. ISIS has done something quite remarkable that few have dared to do in nearly 100 years. They have declared a Caliphate. If you’re not familiar with this word, a Caliphate is like a religious kingdom, led by a Caliph, who is like a religious king. In calling themselves the Islamic State, they are reinforcing the idea that ISIS is now a separate political entity, and not merely an insurgency. In their eyes, they are the Kingdom of God on earth.
  4. The leader of ISIS, a man named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared himself the Caliph. Such a title makes him the direct successor to Muhammad. If he were to gain widespread acceptance as Caliph, all Muslims worldwide would be required by their religion to swear a vow of allegiance to him and take up his cause. As Caliph, he would be required to wage continuous war until Islam conquers the world. 
  5. ISIS followers take this all very seriously. Many Muslims throughout the world are already beginning to accept Baghdadi as Caliph and are flocking to Syria and Iraq to join the fighting. Estimates say 20,000 Muslims have come from other regions including Europe, Africa, Russia, Asia, and even the U.S.
  6. To be considered a legitimate Caliphate, ISIS must control a substantial territory where Sharia law is enforced. Without territory, there is no Caliphate, just as a king with no kingdom is just a man. Land is essential. This explains the highly aggressive incursions into Syria and Iraq that have brought large areas under ISIS control. But these areas are mostly rural and sparsely populated.
  7. And finally, this explains the relentless push toward Baghdad. ISIS, by capturing Baghdad would have an incredibly strong position, not only militarily, but also religiously. It would be nearly impossible for most Muslims, who believe the Koran, to deny the legitimacy of the Islamic State Caliphate when it controls such a large, powerful, and important city. (Incidentally, the last caliphate to exist was also centered in Baghdad, as were many others for over 500 years.) Rather than thousands of Muslims pledging their loyalty and coming to fight, there would be millions. Many millions. 
  8. Taking Baghdad would also defeat the sparse U.S. forces defending the city. This would send a resounding message to the world, massively enhancing the respect and credibility of ISIS in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, US forces in Baghdad are not nearly strong enough to defend the city, and they rely heavily on air strikes, the weak Iraqi army, and the fortifications of the US Embassy compound. Imagine the effect on other Muslim insurgent groups worldwide if ISIS were to defeat US forces, take Baghdad, and take over the heavily fortified US embassy compound as their new worldwide headquarters. 
  9. This sort of success would unite rival insurgent factions, like Al Queda, Boko Haram and others, to the ISIS banner.
  10. In short, the fall of Baghdad would give ISIS the credibility, numbers, allegiance, weapons, infrastructure and legitimacy they need to completely dominate the Middle East and launch a full-scale attack on Israel. ISIS has openly stated that this is their intention. 
  11. Tiny Israel, massively outnumbered, unprotected by a weakened U.S. military with no resolve, and facing an attacking army many millions strong, would have no choice but to respond with its nuclear weapons. Israel would undoubtedly nuke Baghdad, striking at the head of the snake, fulfilling prophecies of the desolation of Babylon for the second time in history, and launching Armageddon. ISIS expects and welcomes this. They also expect and welcome European armies to meet them on the field of battle. They expect to win because they have prophecies that say they will.
If you want to more fully understand ISIS, there's a lot on the internet. Here's a great article to start with.

What will Stop Them?

So, given the fact that ISIS has made their intentions clear, and that the scenario I outlined above is a very real possibility, we have to ask ourselves what stands to stop the fall of Baghdad and the resulting Armageddon. 

Well, last June, ISIS attacked Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. Despite having a population of 1.8 million, the city rapidly fell to ISIS as the Iraqi army fled in terror. This city has served as the the headquarters of ISIS since it was taken. 

ISIS is very well armed and increasingly well organized. Most of their weapons are US made, and came from Syria, where the US was providing arms to the wrong people. ISIS also controls vast oil resources, bringing in over $3 million per day. In other words, they have lots of resources at their disposal.

ISIS actually attempted attacks on Baghdad last summer, but was repelled. They’ve spent the intervening time solidifying their hold in more areas of Iraq, growing in numbers, and perfecting their skills. Last week ISIS forces reportedly burned alive 45 prisoners just 5 miles outside the Ain al-Asad US air base, which is only 50 miles from Baghdad, and is protected by about 320 US Marines. The base has been under more or less continuous attack for weeks and could only repel a full-scale assault by using air strikes.

In total there are fewer than 4,000 US military personnel in Iraq, and ISIS forces are estimated between 30,000 and 50,000, with more arriving daily in response to a very effective PR and propaganda outreach. Incidentally, rival Kurdish leaders have estimated ISIS has 200,000 fighters. 

The Iraqi army is very weak and showed at Mosul they would almost immediately flee, rather than risk being killed, or worse captured, then tortured and burned alive.

I won’t go into the strategic side of things here, but suffice it to say Baghdad is very exposed, and very vulnerable. The fall of Baghdad is not only possible, but likely. U.S. Air defenses are the only real bulwark the city has at this point. If our bombers and fighters fail, Baghdad falls. That said, keep in mind that over 1,000 air strikes have so far not slowed the advance of ISIS. Air strikes are not effective against certain kinds of attacks.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. 
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (Revelation 16:16, 19)
To say the situation is grave is an immense understatement.

Babylon in Modern Prophecy

And so we come to modern prophecy  Consider this, from the Lord’s preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, in which Christ tells us the following:
Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear: Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. (D&C 1:11-13) 
This is not an idle warning from the Lord. He is serious about what is coming. 
And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; (D&C 1:14-15)
The Lord has sent and is sending prophets to warn us of the danger of our situation. Who is raising that warning voice today? 
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (D&C 1:16 emphasis mine)
And this is the crux of the matter. The world has fallen into great wickedness and idolatry. And so the world and its idols are waxing old, and will perish in Babylon. Remember, where Babylon is? A valid reading of this verse tells us that the fall of Babylon brings the destruction of the world. 
Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments; And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets— (D&C 1:17-18 emphasis mine)
The Lord always sends prophets before destruction. He has sent one in our day. We must have ears to hear and hearts to heed.
The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world; (D&C 1:19-20)
The message of repentance and warning teaches us that each of us can, and must, come to know the Lord ourselves. We cannot, and must not, trust in the arm of flesh. No man can save us. 

And so We Must Pray

The leader of ISIS, who has now declared himself Caliph, is named Baghdadi, which means “of Baghdad.” This is reportedly not his given name, but one he chose for himself. I think he means it.

I don’t believe military force will stop what’s coming. Our only hope is that God will intervene.

Of course, we need to pray for the victims of this brutality. We need to pray for the displaced refugees, and the threatened. We need to pray for our fellow Christians, who face death for their faith. We need to pray for the perpetrators of this awful violence. These are our brothers and sisters, and we should be doing that anyway. 

But most of all, we need to pray that Baghdad will not fall. A prophet has given us this warning from God. I intend to heed it.

A Little Longer

In the Zenos allegory of Jacob 5, a point is reached at which the vineyard has become utterly corrupt and the Lord determines to burn everything. 

But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer.  
And the Lord said: Yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard. (Jacob 5:50-51)
The Lord of the vineyard, rather than proceeding with the destruction, was persuaded by his servant to take extraordinary measures and spare it a little longer. 

You and I, we need a little longer. We need time to repent, to prepare, to humble ourselves to the dust. We need to to be the servants who cry unto the Lord. If the chain reaction is touched off now, Zion may not come before the destruction. We need more time before the world burns.

There are currently thousands and tens of thousands who are praying every day that they will be able to take Baghdad. Like it or not, they're asking God to let it happen. We MUST counter with our faith and our prayers. The situation is desperate, and God can, indeed, intervene. But it will require the faith and prayers of thousands.

A prophet has warned us with a message from the God of Heaven. This Sunday, February 22, many will be fasting and praying that Baghdad will not fall. Please unite your prayers and faith with ours. We need more time to repent and prepare—before the world falls into the coming dark day.

Lord, spare it a little longer!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Prophets Part 6:
Another Prophet Now is Sent

And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men. 
—2 Nephi 25:17

If you haven't yet done so, it’s important you read the other 5 parts of this series before reading this installment, as they lay vital groundwork for what I will present here.

Note: It’s rather preposterous that I’m taking on today's subject in a single blog post. There should be books, no—libraries, written about God's marvelous work in our day as prophecies that have stood for millennia are fulfilled. So please remember, I’m only giving an overview, and introducing some concepts. A fuller understanding will require study and prayer. That’s up to you.

In my last post in this series, I closed with the following:
If it happens again; if the Lord does indeed call and empower another "voice crying in the wilderness" in our day, will you recognize him? How?
Well, it has happened. Today I'm going to tell you about it.

Act 1: Restoration Interrupted

Let’s start with a very important question: Why is there a need for a return to the prophetic pattern in our day? The answer will require us to look at our history; if we want to understand where we are, it’s important to first understand how we got here. 

The Latter-day Restoration of the Gospel started in 1820 with Joseph Smith’s first vision. This signaled the end of the long night of apostasy as the Lord sent new revelation into the world and sent a true messenger to teach a true message. Faithful to the prophetic pattern, the one God called was a religious outsider, without title, credentials or worldly authority, yet he spoke for the Lord, having received the message by direct contact with Christ and angels. New records came forth and gospel truths long lost were again taught on earth. The flood of heavenly light between 1820 and 1836 was remarkable and miraculous.

It’s important to remember the Lord’s stated reasons for the opening of this new dispensation. He said the following of the then-extant Christian religions:
“they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JSH 1:19)
There is much contained in that statement. "They" are religious and pious. "They" zealously teach the gospel, but fail to actually believe it in their hearts or live it. "They" have a form of godliness, or a godly appearance, but "they" do not have the power of godliness, and therefore cannot behold the face of God and live (D&C 84:22). Hence, a prophet named Joseph Smith was sent to restore missing truths and receive missing power. He beheld the face of God and told the world.

From the very beginning of the restoration, Joseph sought to establish the prophesied latter-day Zion. (D&C 21:7-8) In fact, he tried three times to do it. The first try was at Kirtland. It failed, and Joseph had to flee for his life. The second try was at Missouri, and it culminated in Joseph being imprisoned in Liberty Jail and the saints being violently driven from the state. This time the sentence of death was passed on Joseph’s head, and he was only saved because his executioner refused to obey the order to execute him.

The Lord, ever merciful, offered a third opportunity at Nauvoo, but only upon very specific conditions. It's important to realize that by this time, revelation to the church had all but ceased. In fact, only one major revelation was received at all during the Nauvoo era—D&C section 124. (There were other sections of the D&C written during the Nauvoo era, but they are proclamations, administrative pronouncements, answers to specific scriptural questions, or recording revelations that were received much earlier.)

Section 124 is the only major revelation. And in it, the Lord set out the terms for the saints to attempt, one last time, to build Zion:
But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me. But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God. (D&C 124:31-32, emphasis mine)
Therefore, according to scripture, the saints were commanded to build the temple, and given a finite amount of time to get it done. If they didn't labor with all their might and complete it in time, they would be rejected as a church.

In the same section, the Lord explained why this was such a vital thing to accomplish:
For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood. (D&C 124:28)
The Lord states in plainness that he had, by 1841, taken the fulness of the priesthood away from the LDS church. But he offered to personally come and restore the fulness if the people would offer the required sacrifice in the form of a temple. Dedicated space was required for the the Lord to come and do what was needed. It couldn't happen in any other way, for "there is not a place found on earth."

Further conditions were as follows:
And ye shall build it on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build it. If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy. And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place. (D&C 124:43-45, emphasis mine)
Therefore, if they labored with "all [their] might" and got it done, the Lord would consecrate the spot, make it holy, and the saints would not be moved out of their place. But if they didn't get it done, here’s what could be expected:
And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord. 
For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord. 
And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God 
And I will answer judgment, wrath, and indignation, wailing, and anguish, and gnashing of teeth upon their heads, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord your God. (D&C 124:47-48, 50, 52, emphasis mine)
So the Lord makes it clear: If they don’t get it done, the Lord is not bound to fulfill any of His promises, and will instead visit them with cursings and judgments unto the third and fourth generation. That’s what the scripture says. He then reiterates the commandment and its purposes:
And again, verily I say unto you, I command you again to build a house to my name, even in this place, that you may prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life. (D&C 124:55 emphasis mine)
Now, lest there should be any confusion, here are the terms outlined by the Lord in Section 124 for the saints to get another chance at Zion in Nauvoo:

This is the way the Lord ordained for the saints to prove themselves faithful; this was the acceptable sacrifice that would overcome past failures: Prove yourselves faithful. Build the temple. Labor with ALL your might and get it done in the allotted time. After two disappointing failures, I don’t believe the Lord was messing around. Unless he is a liar, He actually expected the saints to learn from their history and do as He commanded this time.

Well, long story short, the saints didn’t get it done. The outside walls were only up to the second story when Joseph’s life was sacrificed. Other structures were beautiful and complete, including the Masonic hall, numerous brick homes, businesses, shops, mercantile establishments, the Seventies hall, newspaper office, etc. 

But not the temple. 

The people didn’t labor with “all their might” to make the appropriate sacrifice to God, and instead spent their labor on other projects—building a beautiful city around a half-finished temple. 

The results were as follows:

1. Joseph’s life was forfeit.
2. The temple was never completed (it was eventually deemed "sufficiently complete" and dedicated two years after Joseph died, but it was never completed.)
3. Christ never came to the temple to personally restore the fulness that was lost.
4. The spot was not consecrated or defended by the Lord. In fact, the temple was quickly desecrated, burned, and knocked down by a tornado.
5. The people were indeed “moved out of their place” and forced to leave Nauvoo.
6. Incredible suffering, deprivation and hardship followed the saints for many years as they crossed the plains and re-established in the West.
7. Like the Israelites of old, the church retained only the lesser portion of priesthood:
Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. (D&C 84:23-27)
A lesser portion has continued with the LDS church since the death of Joseph. Even in our temple work, we only have a lesser portion. For example, our washings and anointings today inform us they are not the real thing, but only preparatory to the real thing. D&C 132 informs us ALL our ordinances are conditional in nature. It’s all preparatory and not binding until, and unless, it is independently sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.

There are those who claim Joseph passed on the fulness before he died, and that it has passed down to today’s leaders. There are many problems with this assumption, but the the most obvious is this:
For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. (JST Genesis 14:30-31 emphasis mine)
Those who have the fulness do these things. They don’t have to do all of them, but if they do ANY of them, it is evidence of the fulness. Who does them today? Those who claim to have the keys and fulness do no such works.

Also, higher priesthood is not passed from man to man, but must be given by God:
It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. (JST Genesis 14:28-29 emphasis mine)
This is very different than what we pass from one man to another, by the vote, will and action of men, in the church today.

So to summarize: the Lord, in plain English, said he took away the fulness of the priesthood. (124:28.) There is no record of him ever bringing it back. Joseph, who held the keys, was killed, largely due to the actions of current and former church members. The church was driven from Nauvoo, suffered incredible hardship, and fundamentally changed in many ways.

Act 2: Three and Four Generations

The Lord’s pronouncement that the fallout of failure would last until the third and fourth generation is an interesting timetable. The Lord, for good reasons, requires a certain amount of time to pass before another opportunity is granted. This is, in part, to ensure that not only those who failed to obey will pass from the scene, but also all those who knew them or were directly influenced by them will also be out of the picture and unable to pollute the next attempt. Another opportunity requires a fresh start. 

During the intervening years between 1844 and today, much has changed in the movement Joseph founded—including altering, ignoring, suppressing, and neglecting what Joseph Smith taught, and attributing entirely new words to Joseph that he never taught. In summary, since the death of Joseph, light has continually diminished and truth has been lost. But the LDS church,  all while calling itself Zion, has become a massive, wealthy corporation, run by financial interests, lawyers, marketing experts and middle managers, but largely without the gifts of prophecy, seership or revelation

But the Lord, ever hopeful, has persisted with the LDS church as well. Like the Israelites of old, even with the lesser portion, the LDS people have been recognized and led by the Lord as the requisite time passed before another attempt was possible. The Lord has been extremely patient, offering ample opportunity for repentance and return in the intervening years, both personally and institutionally.

The first generation passed and Zion didn't come. Likewise the second and third. The fourth generation from Hyrum Smith, the patriarch, was Eldred G. Smith, emeritus Patriarch to the church. He was Hyrum's great, great grandson, and he died April 4, 2013, at age 106. When he died, interestingly, he was the oldest man in Utah. The passing of Patriarch Smith, Hyrum’s direct descendent and holder of the patriarchal authority, marked the symbolic and literal passing of the 4th generation, and the opening of a new opportunity to continue what Joseph Smith started.

The opportunity is here again.

Act 3: Restoration Renewed

And so we come to the prophetic pattern. 

Said Joseph Smith:
“It is in the order of heavenly things that God should always send a new dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood…” (TPJS 375)
According to our scripture, the LDS church lost the fulness of the priesthood many years ago, and the restoration of the gospel effectively ended, incomplete, in 1841. The church then endured the Lord’s wrath and a lesser light for the required four generations, while failing to realize the predicament at hand or the meaning of our history.

Those in power invented a narrative that made the LDS people chosen, special, and utterly unable to be led astray—all the while claiming Joseph's titles, but utterly failing to demonstrate Joseph's gifts. The charade has been monumentally effective, convincing otherwise intelligent and thoughtful Mormons to believe what is clearly unscriptural and not true. But the charade, like all falsehood, will eventually end.

According to the Lord’s prophetic pattern, prior to the coming destruction, we can expect that an authorized servant will again be sent with a message of repentance. We can expect such a man to arrive from outside the LDS hierarchy, without credentials, title, position, or earthly authority, but WITH a message from the Lord. We can expect such a messenger to boldly declare he has been in Christ’s presence and been given the words to speak. We can expect him to speak the words of eternal life.

And, true to God’s pattern, and right on time, such a man has arrived.

His name is Denver Snuffer, but that’s only important so you can identify him and find his message. He’ll be the first to tell you he is otherwise unimportant and insignificant. Here’s his story:

Brother Snuffer was raised a Baptist in Idaho. He knew of the LDS church but had no interest in it. Eventually he joined the Air Force and found himself in New Hampshire, where a chance encounter led him to begin meeting with the missionaries. After a lengthy investigation, he joined the LDS church and became a faithful member in 1973. 

He lived a typical LDS life, serving in the church, marrying in the temple, raising a family, and establishing his career. He tried to take the gospel seriously though, and studied it incessantly. His life presented him many experiences, including a heartbreaking divorce. He was, in most ways, a pretty typical Mormon, and by his own admission, not the best example.

But he believed the scriptures. He believed Joseph Smith, who taught that to receive the Second Comforter meant to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, literally, in the flesh. Because he believed such a thing was possible, he sought it with diligence.

And in February, 2003, he received what he sought. He met the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh. The Lord came to him and ministered to him. He does not talk about the content of that visit, but he does testify it happened and is real, just as the scriptures say. He has met with the Lord or his messengers on multiple occasions since then. He has been taught by them.

One result of receiving the Second Comforter was that Brother Snuffer was asked by the Lord to write a book so others could follow the same path into the Lord’s presence. That book, published in 2006, is titled, appropriately, The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. Others have read this book, followed the path it outlines, and received the Second Comforter. I first read this book in 2011, and it changed my life in permanent and significant ways.

Brother Snuffer kept writing books on gospel topics, publishing six additional books (for a total of seven) through May, 2011. Most of his books focused on expounding scripture. They are powerful and profound, and were written from a faithful LDS perspective, such that they didn't cause much controversy. 

But that changed with his 8th book. Titled Passing the Heavenly Gift, this book took the step of looking at LDS history through the lens of scriptural prophecy. In other words, since our scriptures contain ample prophecy about our day, including specifics about followers of Mormonism, why not look at our history in light of the prophecies about us—rather than evaluating prophecy in light of the vain things we tell ourselves about our history?

This approach shows our history not as an unbroken string of successes in the Lord's work, but rather as a litany of repeated failures to receive what has been offered by God—very much like the history of nearly every other dispensation of the gospel. The children of Israel are an applicable parallel to the LDS people.

Brother Snuffer's approach was to start with prophecy and then examine our history to see how it fit, rather than the usual approach of starting with self-congratulatory assumptions and then explaining how we are chosen and special, and the prophecies all apply to others.

Needless to say, his approach caused quite a stir, leading to the ultimatum from the highest levels of the church that Brother Snuffer remove the book from publication or face excommunication.

At about this same time, Brother Snuffer announced he was starting a lecture series, speaking on the topic of Zion over the course of 10 lectures inside a year. Though this lecture series was conducted completely outside any LDS property, delivered at no charge to the public, and paid for at Brother Snuffer's own expense, the LDS church nevertheless included in its ultimatum that Brother Snuffer must cancel this lecture series or face excommunication. 

During the course of interactions with church leaders, the book Passing the Heavenly Gift was read by members of Brother Snuffer’s local leadership, the Seventy and the Quorum of the Twelve, who all rejected it. One of the Twelve insisted that Brother Snuffer’s Stake President take action and excommunicate him. And so he was cast out of the church in September, 2013, having been a member of the LDS church for 40 years. The decision was announced the day of his first lecture.

He delivered his lecture series, speaking in 10 different cities. I personally attended nine of those lectures and found them deeply insightful, filled with light and truth. The purpose of all the lectures was to remind us of, and help us appreciate, what the Lord gave the world through Joseph Smith. We can't expect the Lord to give more until we take seriously what has already been given. Brother Snuffer stated explicitly in his lectures that the content of what he shared and the scriptures he discussed were delivered personally to him by Jesus Christ. I therefore conclude that this makes them prophecy. False or true, there is indeed fruit to examine.

So What Does it Mean?

At this point, if you're not already familiar with this narrative, you likely have a lot of questions. I'm going to try to address them, but first I want to give my interpretation of the events I've outlined above.

In so doing, I want to reiterate, what I express here is my own thinking. I do not speak for Brother Snuffer, and frankly, he's likely not comfortable that I'm talking about him at all. But the events unfolding right now, before our very eyes, are too important not to mention. I keenly feel my inadequacy to declare this message, but I also know what the Lord has asked of me, so I'm doing the best I can and counting on the Lord's help.

Denver's message has changed my life. Since I began reading his books, blog and lectures, I have been filled with light and truth, quickened by the Holy Ghost, and drawn much closer to the Lord. I've received a much greater understanding of Joseph Smith, the restoration, the scriptures and the Lord. My power to overcome sin has increased, my weaknesses have become strengths, and my character has been remodeled. I say none of this to boast—rather, I simply seek to declare the fruit born in my life. This blog has been one of the results of the light and truth I've received. I have learned to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to me, and I try to do what is asked.

I believe these experiences and blessings are the direct results of Brother Snuffers' teaching me to seek the Lord for myself, and encouragement that those who seek shall find.

God Speaks Again

Denver Snuffer fits the prophetic pattern in every particular. Though he will not call himself a prophet, he boldly declares that he has spoken with the Lord face to face and has been given a message to declare. Yet in so doing, he never points to himself and only points to the Lord. He invites all to seek Christ for themselves. He refuses to lead an organization, start a church, accept money, or even earn book proceeds. He declared his message and went back to his regular life, awaiting further instruction from the Lord.

The Opportunity was Offered

I believe the book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, was God's offer of repentance to the LDS church. It arrived just as the fourth generation passed and the window of opportunity opened again. Denver Snuffer published it and then kept quiet. He did not seek to lead, to displace church leaders, or to seek any title or position at all. He simply remained a faithful church member, serving the young men in his ward.

The book explains our history, how we got where we are, and the dire predicament in which we now find ourselves. Had the book been accepted and heeded, repentance may have been possible for us as a church and as a people. What was lost might have been restored. Zion might have been built.

The Message Rejected

But sadly, the message was rejected at every level of the church, from Brother Snuffer's local stake, through the Seventy, the Twelve and even the First Presidency. As is so often the case when the Lord calls an apostate people to repentance, the message was rejected and the messenger was cast out. The prophetic pattern held true, just as it always has.

And so the Lord has turned away from the LDS church. Though His work of restoration continues, and the Lord has indeed set His hand again to gather His people, the work is being done outside the church He once claimed as His own. The rejection of His authorized messenger was a de facto rejection of Him, and will bear unfortunate consequences in the years to come. 


Meanwhile, some Mormons are awakening, arising, and realizing all is not well. Some are beginning to seek the Lord themselves, recognizing the prophetic warnings in our scriptures actually apply to US—the people that read them. Many who awaken and repent are cast out of the LDS church as "apostates." Those who sit in the chief seats are threatened by people who seek the Lord themselves, without need for mortal leaders or the supposed keys they hold. 

It is telling that those who hold "a little authority, as they suppose" will persecute those who believe in Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and the restoration, and will do so on the basis that these "apostates" will not declare that a man who has never prophesied is, in fact, a prophet. Such leaders ignore scripture in favor of a secret administrative manual that you and I are not even allowed to read. And this is all happening with increasing regularity. The humble followers of Christ are being systematically cast out of the Church that claims it is His.

Nevertheless, the awakening continues. All over the world, people are seeking and heeding the message God sent into the world by the first authorized messenger since Joseph. Fellowships are forming, spiritual gifts are manifesting, and angels are again visiting the earth. Some have met the Savior. Joseph's restoration continues.

The possibility of Zion is with us again—even at this moment—among a few, courageous followers of Christ who have received His message. It is small, weak, and only sprouting, but the seed has been planted and put down roots. The Lord has set His hand again.

The Test you Must Pass

And now, the world is on trial. YOU are on trial. And you've got to get this right if you want to survive the coming day "that will burn as an oven." (JSH 1:37)

Discerning truth from error is the universal challenge of mankind. Satan seeks to deceive, Christ seeks to rescue. False prophets and true prophets vie for your attention, and you must decide. Get it right, and you may end up redeemed and in Zion. Get it wrong, and you'll most certainly end up burned. It's up to you, but time is running out. You cannot abandon this responsibility or trust another to simply tell you what to do. You were sent here to make the choice. You must make it.

I recommend you follow Christ's advice about prophets and judge them by their fruits. I've already written extensively about the utter lack of prophetic fruits among those called prophets in the LDS church. There's simply nothing by which to judge.

On the other hand, here's a man who claims to have met the Lord face to face, claims to have  delivered a message from Him. The message is before you, awaiting your examination. This is EXACTLY what the prophetic pattern teaches us to expect! And so you now must judge the matter for yourself. Receive the message and take it to the Lord.

Brother Snuffer gave ten lectures, designed to remind us of what Joseph gave the world. Joseph's interrupted restoration cannot be renewed until we first remember what we've already received.

The lectures are long, in printed form, comprising over 400 pages. The audio is close to 30 hours. Sadly, some will simply decide it's too much effort to evaluate the message, and they'll turn away. But others will show the Lord they're willing to expend some effort to seek His word. Which will you do?

Here's the link where you can download the 10 talks in audio or text form. 

If you're Mormon, you now find yourself in the surreal position of being an "investigator." I've told you about a man who has seen the Lord and produced a long book, purported to contain a message from God. I'm challenging you to read it and then pray and ask God if it's true. If you ask with an open heart and faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it to you by the power of the Holy Ghost. And if it is true, then the man who produced it is indeed a prophet, in every true sense of the word—and the prophetic pattern continues!

Now you know what LDS investigators must confront when they're introduced to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. The situation is the same, and the challenge is now issued to you. Everything hinges on what you decide to do. If you believe and teach Moroni's promise to others, here's your opportunity to do what you claim to believe.

No matter how strange and unbelievable you may find the idea that God has spoken through Denver Snuffer, it is no more strange and unbelievable than Joseph Smith's story. And so we're right back where we started:
If it happens again; if the Lord does indeed call and empower another "voice crying in the wilderness" in our day, will you recognize him? How?
If you decide the correct path is to reject Denver Snuffer outright, without investigating his message, you may be assured you would have done the same to Joseph Smith, had you lived in that day, or Jesus Christ, had you lived in that day. Please don't make that mistake.

A Word of Testimony

I have read everything Denver Snuffer has written about the gospel, at least twice. I've prayed and asked God whether what I've read is true, and God has spoken to me by the power of the Holy Ghost that these things are, indeed, true. Christ does, indeed, vouch for and own these words.

A Day of Rejoicing

And so, you and I, we have great cause to rejoice! The restoration of the gospel, cut short by Joseph's death, and diminished ever since, has resumed in our day! God speaks again! The heavens are open! The light has returned! The long night of apostasy is drawing to a close, and the marvelous work continues! Zion can yet come, and some may be spared the day of destruction!

Aside from Christ's atonement, this is the most joyful, faithful, incredible message I can deliver, and I mourn because I'm inadequate to deliver it.

So I'll simply plead with you. Find out for yourself. Your eternal life depends upon it. Past generations have almost universally rejected true prophets and idolized false ones. Please don't make that error. Said Joseph Smith:
The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves “in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth,” and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men. (TPJS, 206)

And it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared
—(3 Nephi 10:12)

A note about comments on this post: Please feel free to disagree with Denver Snuffer's message. If you see error, feel free to point it out and make your case. I have no problem whatsoever with that. But because I know him to be an authorized servant and messenger, I will not publish personal attacks against him. If you want your comment published, please focus on the message, not the messenger.

Also, if you need to contact me personally without submitting a comment, you can use the "Contact Me" tool on the right side of this page. Thank you.