Thursday, August 15, 2019

Restoration Edition Scriptures Now Available

I’m very happy to report the Restoration Edition scriptures are again available for purchase. Some of the paperback sizes are available for immediate order, and other sizes, as well as hardback options will be available shortly. Here’s the website:

We all owe much gratitude to the people who spent thousands of combined hours to make these scriptures available. Likewise, the efforts to prepare and produce these current volumes, in all their size and cover options, as well as producing the online portal for ordering, have been quite significant. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all involved.

And finally, just a reminder that on the website, these scriptures are sold directly at wholesale printer's cost, and that nobody is profiting in any way on their sales. All labor has been provided on a volunteer basis, and nobody has been, or is currently being paid for their efforts. 

These volumes are also available for sale on other sites for slightly higher prices, and the companies that run those other sites or offer those listings may be earning compensation for their services. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The End, Part 5: Blind Watchmen on the Mount

O ye wicked, and perverse, and stiffnecked people, why have you built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God, for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled. Behold, the Lord hath shewn unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shewn you unto me, and I know your doing, and I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts. 
—Mormon 4:5 NC

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Joseph Smith clearly understood the order of the Lord’s unfolding work. In confirming Orson Hyde a member of the church in 1831, Joseph prophetically spoke the following words: “In due time, thou shalt go to Jerusalem, the land of thy fathers, and be a watchman unto the house of Israel and by thy hands shall the Most High do a great work which shall prepare the way, and greatly facilitate the gathering of that people.” (Remember that word, watchman, for later.)

At the April, 1840 general conference, Joseph called Orson to go to Palestine and dedicate the land for the gathering of the children of Abraham. Hyde did so in 1841, fulfilling Joseph’s prophecy. Thereafter, though interest remained in the marvelous work, little else was accomplished in that period, nor in the next hundred years. 

By the late 1960s, study abroad groups from Brigham Young University were making regular visits to Israel, and the LDS church had a tiny branch there, leading to the desire in the 1970s for BYU and the LDS church to have a permanent presence in the Holy Land. Tentative overtures in that direction began with a $1 million LDS Church donation to the city of Jerusalem, which was used to build the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden on the Mount of Olives, and which procured no small amount of favor with Jerusalem city authorities.

Riding on the goodwill generated by the donation, the LDS church increased efforts to take their place in the Holy Land and find acceptance among the Jews. Several projects started, including translating the Book of Mormon and other church literature into Hebrew, and talks of establishing an LDS visitor’s center and chapel. BYU proposed building a university extension in Jerusalem and ultimately secured a beautiful, prominent site, overlooking the city on the slopes of Mount Scopus, with a breathtaking view of Jerusalem. The mayor of Jerusalem called it “the finest property in the land,” and many agreed that it was.

Construction began in 1984, and as the $20 million building began to take shape on the prominent site, orthodox Jews took notice and began to protest. Throughout the next few years, protests grew and became more targeted, born of fear that the BYU Jerusalem center was nothing more than a front for LDS proselytizing efforts among Jews, who viewed missionary work with disdain. In response the LDS church hired a PR firm, took out newspaper ads, lobbied US lawmakers to pressure Israel, and sent two successive LDS church Presidents personally to Jerusalem to reassure government officials that the center was intended only for educational purposes and would not house missionaries nor be used for missionary efforts. 

How Rare a Possession
By 1985, with the protests and threats continuing, the LDS church sought to further reassure the Israelis of its non-missionary intent. It withdrew its representatives from Israel, abandoned all religious outreach efforts, burned its Hebrew language literature, and recalled the newly translated Hebrew Book of Mormon from publication. Only 1,000 copies of the Book of Mormon had been printed in Hebrew, and very few had been distributed before the remaining stock was destroyed. Those few Hebrew language copies that weren’t destroyed are now very rare, and bring nearly $1,000  each on the collector’s market, when they become available. 

The protests still intensified, and literally, nearly toppled the government of Israel. The church increased its assurances that no proselytizing activity would take place as the various issues wound their way through the courts and the government. Ultimately, still suspicious of LDS intent, government officials required written assurances from church leaders that no missionary work would take place at all in Israel.

On May 18, 1988, representatives of the LDS church and BYU signed the final lease on the land for the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. The lease included three additional addenda, stating a) that the center would be used only as an educational facility and ecclesiastical facility for those who were already members of the church; b) that the center would not be used for any proselytizing purposes; and c) that the LDS church and all people and institutions under its control would refrain from all missionary activity whatsoever in Israel (see the attached copy of the third addendum).

The lease also provides for a government legal committee to oversee the activities of the Jerusalem center to ensure that nothing is done that may be considered proselytizing. The LDS church and BYU agreed that all activities, other than normal classroom education, would be approved in advance by the government monitors. According to Jeffrey Holland, the President of BYU at the time, the church gave the government anything they asked. 

Getting Gain

The BYU Jerusalem Center is indeed magnificent, and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Jerusalem. It goes well beyond what would be required for university programs. With over 100,000 square feet and a 400-seat auditorium, it can comfortably house and feed 200 full-time resident students. The magnificent building architecture flows down the side of the mountain in 8 storeys with 117 arches. The building is adorned with Italian marble and Burmese teakwood, and features a million-dollar, Danish-built pipe organ, considered one of the finest organs in the middle east. From its perch on the mountainside, the highly-visible facility commands breathtaking views of the city. 

In other words, the building is designed to get noticed. It’s a showpiece to demonstrate the wealth and prestige of the gentiles who built it with the tithing funds of their members, and who will only use it to bless their own. It cost $20 million when built, which is $50 million today, not including the cost of the land lease, PR firms, legal work, lobbying, or endless travel of countless church leaders to oversee the conflict and construction. It could have been placed elsewhere in the city, gone largely unnoticed and unopposed, and been built for perhaps a tenth the price. But such a project, devoid of prestige and worldly praise, would never do. 

It is vanity.


Mt. Scopus is the name of the mountain where the center resides. Technically part of the mount of Olives, this peak has been known since ancient times as “lookout” peak, being so named in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek and Latin. “Scopus” is a Latinization of the Greek word for “watcher.” Mount Scopus is, literally, Mount Watchman--not only the place meant to serve as a sentry for Jerusalem, but also the historical place where scattered Israel would look with longing upon their lost holy city, yearning for return.

You may recall that we earlier mentioned Joseph Smith, in confirming Orson Hyde, prophesied that Orson would be a watchman to the house of Israel. This brings to mind the words of Ezekiel:
But if the watchman sees the sword come and blows not the trumpet, and the people are not warned, if the sword come and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore, you shall hear the word at my mouth and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die — if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand. (Ezekiel 16:2-3 OC)
When the Lord calls a watchman to Israel, that man is required to declare the word of the Lord in warning. If the watchman fails to do so, the blood of those he might have saved will be required at his hand. Isaiah gives a resoundingly negative assessment of the watchmen of Israel:
His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant. They are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand. They all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. (Isaiah 20:4 OC)
How ironic it is that the gentiles to whom the covenant came built a costly, opulent palace on Mount Watchman, but failed to erect the standard of truth, blow the shofar, or raise the warning.

Click to Enlarge
Ultimately, the real cost of the magnificent, mountainside mansion has nothing to do with the tithing dollars poured into the grand showpiece. No, the real cost is in the signatures on the agreements to refrain from any and all missionary work—an agreement the LDS church remains proud of making and proud of keeping. 

The agreement is dishonest on its face; they attempt to blame Israel with the following language: “We, the undersigned, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hereinafter ‘the Church’, undertake that the Church will not engage in any missionary activity within the borders of Israel, as long as such activity is not allowed by the government of Israel.” 

So they’re just being good citizens, right? The government prohibits missionary work, and they’re obeying, honoring and sustaining the law, right? Um…no. Missionary work is perfectly legal in Israel, and there is no prohibition against proselytizing. In fact, in a report on freedom of religion, the U.S. State department singles out the LDS church from among all other churches with the following statement: 
[in Israel] “Missionaries are allowed to proselytize, although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) voluntarily refrains from proselytizing under an agreement with the Government.” 
It’s voluntary—plain and simple—though the LDS church still promotes the false narrative that sharing the gospel is illegal and they’re only following the law. 

Further, BYU requires all students who attend the center to sign the following agreement: 
By signing below, you agree to not distribute, either directly or by mail, any materials pertaining to the Church or its doctrines within Israel or Palestine. You will not discuss the Church or its doctrines or answer any questions regarding the Church or its doctrines with individuals who reside in the Holy Land or who may be visiting there. You will not invite guests who are not LDS to attend Church services held in the Holy Land. You understand the assurances and commitment of the Church, University and the Jerusalem Center not to proselyte within Israel or Palestine and agree to abide by them.
Now, to be clear, I’m not laying blame on the thousands of students who have signed this agreement. Students are forced to do so as a condition of their education, and they must keep the agreement, because a single infraction may result in them being kicked out and sent home. They have no choice in the matter, and are only doing what the hierarchy demands. 

No, I’m specifically targeting these remarks to the leaders who signed and supported the agreements, including the LDS First Presidency, the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the President of BYU at the time (who is now a senior apostle in the LDS church.)

Think for a moment about the information we covered in the last post. Those who would oppose, delay, or prevent the Father’s marvelous work are compared in scripture to sons of Perdition. The references distinctly stipulate that they place themselves beyond mercy, and their final doom is to endure a never-ending torment. Here are the specific words:
Woe unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord. Yea, woe unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works. Yea, woe unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the holy ghost. Yea, and woe unto him that shall say at that day that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ, for to get gain; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy according to the words of Christ. Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor of any of the remnant of the house of Israel, for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn. Therefore, ye need not suppose that ye can turn the right hand of the Lord unto the left, that he may not execute judgment unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel. (3 Nephi 13:8 NC)
This is serious stuff. Those who made the non-proselytizing agreement checked every box in the dire warning: 

  • They got gain by making the agreement
  • They denied Christ’s works (by seeking to prevent them)
  • They said that there can be no miracle wrought by Christ (the marvelous work of taking the gospel to the House of Israel will be a miracle indeed, but they have said this must not happen) 
  • They have made the Jewish people into entertainment and study subjects, while withholding from them the very information that could save their souls. They have made game of the Jews.
  • They have conspired to prevent the Book of Mormon—a book written BY Jews, FOR Jews—from ever reaching its target audience. After spending the time and money to translate the book into Hebrew, they destroyed the existing copies to prevent them from reaching those who desperately need them. 
  • For over 30 years, they have resolutely required that BYU students and staff withhold all information about the gospel from Israel, refusing to even answer questions when asked. 

In short, they inked a deal with the devil to actively prevent, interfere with, deny, and yes, spurn the Lord’s marvelous work. With their billions of dollars, tens of thousands of missionaries, armies of scholars, political clout, and immense worldwide reach, they were, undeniably, the gentiles of prophecy in the Book of Mormon, on whom this responsibility was laid by the Lord. The LDS church was uniquely situated to fulfill the Lord’s very clear directions and bring the marvelous work to completion.

But instead, they have thrown their full weight into preventing it. They opted for another magnificent showpiece gentile monument to themselves on Mount Watchman, rather than fulfilling the Lord’s covenant. No matter what missionary work they now do, no matter who they share the Book of Mormon with, no matter how many temples they build or policies they change, you may rest assured it is all a farce, an act, and a ruse to get gain. 

Indeed, five months after authorizing the agreement, Ezra Taft Benson gave his iconic conference talk “Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon.” (This was, incidentally, the last general conference at which he would ever speak.) Here are some gems from that talk:
The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to “sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect.” This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work. 
We have the Book of Mormon, we have the members, we have the missionaries, we have the resources, and the world has the need. The time is now! 
My beloved brothers and sisters, we hardly fathom the power of the Book of Mormon, nor the divine role it must play, nor the extent to which it must be moved. 
Now, my good Saints, we have a great work to perform in a very short time. We must flood the earth with the Book of Mormon—and get out from under God’s condemnation for having treated it lightly. 
Some of us may not live long enough to see the day when the Book of Mormon floods the earth and when the Lord lifts His condemnation. (See D&C 84:54–58.) But, God willing, I intend to spend all my remaining days in that glorious effort.
Remember, just five months prior, Benson had authorized the agreement that committed the church to do NONE of the things he spoke of—in the one place where they matter most. Under his leadership they burned the Hebrew-language materials and destroyed their Hebrew-language stock of the Book of Mormon. And the LDS church has voluntarily maintained that position for over 30 years. They have failed to do the Lord’s actual work, and they continue to fight against it. The inescapable conclusion is that Benson lied to the entire church in his final general conference appearance. His voice, shortly thereafter, fell silent.

When I first understood this reality I felt unusual anger for such a situation. I’m pretty used to the exploits of these imposters at this point, and I don’t tend to get too riled up about them. Upon reflection, I felt pity for those who thought they had to, or were justified in, making such an agreement to get their building. I actually went to the Lord on their behalf and prayed for them, that they might find mercy on some technicality. I did not want to see them condemned and hoped there might be some grounds to excuse them. The Lord’s answer to me was a rebuke—firm but kind—which made me realize the source of the anger I felt when I learned what the LDS church had done. The Lord was not kidding when he said they were beyond mercy. They knew full well what the scriptures said and what was required of them, but they valued the adorning of their churches (Mormon 4:5 NC) more than they valued his word, his covenants, or his chosen people. His wrath is indeed kindled against those who did this, and they will surely face him in the day of judgment. There will be no escape.

Why no escape? Because it is in the book before them. It is so clear, so ubiquitous, so thoroughly and extensively taught, that no excuse exists for those who claim to be prophets, seers, and revelators in the Lord’s only true church to miss it. They claim to believe the Book of Mormon, but they do not. They claim to love the Lord and his work, but they lie. (T&C 69:27) They have spent over 30 years spurning the work of the Lord and preventing the book from reaching its target audience. Untold millions have been denied access to the very text sent by their Messiah to bring about their gathering and restoration. The Lord bore with their foolishness for a time, but his patience has expired and the cup of his wrath now overflows.

Rejecting Joseph Smith is severe. But intentionally fighting against God and spurning his covenant people for over 30 years to get gain is an exponentially higher level of wickedness. Perdition indeed. 
And he that shall breathe out wrath and strifes against the work of the Lord and against the covenant people of the Lord, who are the house of Israel, and shall say, We will destroy the work of the Lord and the Lord will not remember his covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel, the same is in danger to be hewn down and cast into the fire. For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on until all his promises shall be fulfilled. (Mormon 4:3 NC emphasis mine) 
You cannot prevent the Lord from remembering his covenant. It is the height of arrogant foolishness to fight against him. 
O ye gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay, but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads, for I the Lord hath NOT forgotten my people. (2 Nephi 12:9 NC, emphasis mine)
There’s simply no wiggle room in the above condemnation. There was no organization more prepared or better suited to participate in the Lord’s marvelous work than the LDS church. But they refused.

This has been a very troubling post to write, and I took no pleasure in writing it. My heart is truly broken to learn what has happened, and why, and I am pained to tears in declaring such hard things against anyone. But the Lord has required me to bear witness and I have done so. Words cannot adequately describe the wickedness, the arrogance, the depravity of those who think they can claim to be prophets and seers, while trifling with the Lord’s words and the souls of men. They have joined Lucifer in opposing the Father’s plan and leading countless souls to ruin. They have committed a terrible crime against those whom the Lord loves and seeks to recover. And their destruction is now sealed.

Wherefore, they that fight against Zion and the covenant people of the Lord shall lick up the dust of their feet; and the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah. And behold, according to the words of the prophet, the Messiah will set himself again the second time to recover them. 
—2 Nephi 5:5 NC

 A Note About Comments: This series requires me to declare some very solemn and difficult things, which weigh heavily on me. Though I initially accepted comments, Ive since decided, due to the gravity of what is being declared, this post should stand on its own. Ive therefore closed and removed comments from this post. I appreciate the thoughtful discussion that took place. Thank you for your understanding.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The End, Part 4: Opposition and Perdition

And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place, that I shall gather in from their long dispersion my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion...
—(3 Nephi 9:11 NC)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

In Part 3, we discussed the Father’s marvelous work and its application to our day. We concluded with the idea that it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this marvelous work. It is not merely “a” priority in the Lord’s plan; it is THE priority. This is why the restoration happened, this is why the Book of Mormon exists. This is the way God will keep his promises. 

We’ll continue now by taking a look at Mormon’s warning concerning the importance of this marvelous work. We’ll examine, with a few detours, 3 Nephi 13:7-8.
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, 
Which sayings? The ones Mormon is putting together—conveniently named, The Book of Mormon! When THAT comes to the gentiles…
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. And ye may know that the words of the Lord which have been spoken by the holy prophets shall all be fulfilled.
The marvelous work, once started, will reach successful conclusion. The prophecies SHALL all be fulfilled. 
And ye need not say that the Lord delays his coming unto the children of Israel. 
You can’t make excuses for delaying, or assume the work is meant for some ill-defined time far in the future. The Lord gave the signs to look for; they are before us now. Therefore, the time is now.
And ye need not imagine in your hearts that the words which have been spoken are vain, for behold, the Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made unto his people of the house of Israel. 
The Lord, clearly, takes this VERY seriously. These words are not vain, and are certainly not to be trifled with. 
And when ye shall see these sayings coming forth among you, then ye need not any longer spurn at the doings of the Lord, for the sword of his justice is in his right hand. And behold, at that day, if ye shall spurn at his doings, he will cause it that it shall soon overtake you.
Spurn is an interesting word. It comes from the same Latin root as “spur” and literally means to kick. But its common figurative usage means to reject with disdain, or treat with contempt. (See Webster’s 1828 Dictionary entry, “spurn” for details.) Any who will reject or treat with contempt the Lord’s work will face the sword of his justice, which is already in his right hand, prepared to smite.
Woe unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord. Yea, woe unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works. Yea, woe unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the holy ghost. 
Those who spurn at the Lord’s doings literally deny the Christ and his (marvelous) works. They who oppose or seek to interfere with the Lord’s plans are anti-Christ. They deny his revelations, gifts, and power to their detriment. Why would anyone do that?
Yea, and woe unto him that shall say at that day that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ, for to get gain; 
Ah, there’s the answer why. Some will spurn the Lord’s works and deny his coming miracle for one purpose. There’s something in it for them. They do it to get gain. 
for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy according to the words of Christ. 
I’m not sure how to even begin to convey the seriousness of what was just stated. “Perdition” is a word that means utter ruin or destruction. This is one of the names applied to Lucifer (T&C 69:6) because his path of open rebellion will lead him to utter, and permanent, destruction in the end. The Lord applied this name to Cain who consciously chose to follow Lucifer on that path (Genesis 3:8 OC). To become like unto the son of perdition quite literally makes you like a son of Lucifer. He becomes your father because you enlist to obey him. All are within Christ’s power to help, except the sons of Perdition (TSJ 9:20). Concerning them, the Lord said: 
I say it had been better for them to have never been born, for they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God with the Devil and his angels throughout all eternity, concerning whom I have said, There is no forgiveness for them in this world nor in the world to come, having denied the holy ghost after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, crucifying him unto themselves and putting him to an open shame. (T&C 69:7)
This is such an important concept that we must here take a detour to give a fuller explanation. Let’s head over to Mosiah:

And now I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved, I say unto you that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God. Therefore, he listeth to obey the evil spirit and becometh an enemy to all righteousness. Therefore the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples. Therefore, if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice doth awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire whose flames ascendeth up for ever and ever. And now I say unto you that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment. (Mosiah 1:11 NC emphasis mine)
Note that there is no possibility of mercy for those who remain in open rebellion against God. The sword of justice awaits because they are left without excuse. They knew better, but rebelled anyway. This is why Mormon compared them to sons of perdition. 

Unfortunately, there will always be those who understand God’s plan, yet choose to rebel and fight against it. The apostle Paul taught this would be the case before the return of Christ in glory: 
Let no man deceive you by any means, for there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thes. 1:4)
Now, let’s head back to 3 Nephi 13, where we were a moment ago. Mormon continues his thoughts about those who oppose the marvelous work by making an important connection. He specifically ties spurning the Lord’s work with how the gentiles treat the Jews : 
Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor of any of the remnant of the house of Israel, for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn. Therefore, ye need not suppose that ye can turn the right hand of the Lord unto the left, that he may not execute judgment unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel.
Well, you just can’t get more specific. The last-days marvelous work involves the Book of Mormon coming first to the gentiles. Some few of them will respond to its message and awaken to the duty they have to take it to the House of Israel. Others, sadly, will hiss (express contempt), spurn (reject with disdain) the work, and make game of the very people to whom the message is intended to go.

What does it mean to “make game of” a people? Games, then and now, are public diversions or contests exhibited as spectacles for the gratification and entertainment of the spectators. To make game of the Jews is to view them as a curiousity, a spectacle, a study, an interesting source of diversion. The Lord will execute judgment on any who would be so foolish as to consider lightly his work or his ancient covenant people. This is not entertainment; this is deadly serious. 

In summary, Mormon issues a dire warning to any who would delay, reject, oppose or deny the Lord’s work to get gain, particularly in conjunction with making a spectacle of the Lord’s covenant people, the Jews. In fact, this is THE MOST DIRE WARNING contained anywhere in the Book of Mormon, and perhaps in all of scripture. Becoming like unto a son of perdition is more serious than you or I can even comprehend. Yet the Lord couldn’t lay it out more clearly.

In Part 5, we’ll follow this idea through events and circumstances in our day.

For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men, a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other, either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity and also unto destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the Devil of which I have spoken.
—1 Nephi 13:26 NC

Friday, August 2, 2019

The End, Part 3: Marvelous Work

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. Wherefore, he shall bring forth his words unto them, which words shall judge them at the last day. For they shall be given them for the purpose of convincing them of the true Messiah.
—2 Nephi 11:6, NC

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

In Part 1, I discussed the LDS Church’s rejection of its own foundation and founder. I made the point that by destroying its foundation, the church has sown the seeds of its own destruction. Naturally, the church is countering the decline by attempting to transform into a more mainline, Christian denomination preaching the appealing self-help/prosperity gospel, as reflected on their new websites. This will not solve the problem or even stanch the bleeding, because it fails on every level to address the real issue. But that’s OK, because an institutional church was never the point. The Lord’s work for our day is much more comprehensive than a corporate church empire. This series is about the real issue.

What, why, how?

The Book of Mormon has an immense amount to say about our time and the work of the last days. Not surprisingly, everything is proceeding according to God’s schedule, just as prophesied. In this post we need to lay some groundwork by taking a closer look at this latter-day timeline, considering not only WHAT is scheduled to take place, but also WHY and HOW it is to all happen.

The topic begins right in Chapter One of 1 Nephi, where Lehi has a vision, beginning with the impending destruction of Jerusalem in his day, and continuing into the future. Nephi records the following:
And it came to pass that when my father had read and saw many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord, such as, Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the Heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish! And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God, for his soul did rejoice and his whole heart was filled because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shewn unto him. (1 Nephi 1:3 NC)
How is it possible that Lehi could rejoice? Having witnessed in vision the destruction of his city, the demolition of the temple, the captivity of his people, and the loss of his whole civilization, he should have been mourning in sackcloth and ashes. What filled his heart and caused his whole soul to rejoice? 

I believe the key is in the language he used in praising God: “great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!” Lehi was shown—he saw—what scripture repeatedly calls the “marvelous work.” And what is that? It is the amazing, highly unlikely, seemingly impossible, miraculous outcome to the Father’s plan. It is the work that’s been in process for thousands of years, indeed from the foundation of the world, that ultimately will result in fruit suitable to be laid up against the season, which is to say, redeemed souls being added to the family of God. It is the plan to recover and reconnect the scattered House of Israel. It is the result of God remembering and keeping the covenants he made to the fathers.

We can thank Isaiah (and the King James translators) for the moniker “a marvelous work and a wonder” originally found in Isaiah 29 of the KJV. That chapter begins, as did Lehi’s vision, with the destruction of Jerusalem, here called Ariel: 
Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel. And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee. And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust. (Isaiah 29:1-4 KJV) 
As in Lehi’s vision, Isaiah’s prophecy continues into the future redemption of Jerusalem, its reestablishment as a holy city, and the restoration of the family of Jacob (Israel): 
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. (Isaiah 29:22-23 KJV)
This process—this narrative of repentance, return, restoration and redemption—is what Isaiah calls the marvelous work:
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Isaiah 29:13-14 KJV)
Note the language about, lips, hearts, and precepts of men. This is the very language the Lord used in Joseph Smith’s first vision, which marked the latter-day beginning of the marvelous work. 

That work is a theme taken up by Nephi in a lengthy explanation, encompassing 1 Nephi chapters 3 and 4 in the New Covenants edition. In chapter 3, Lehi explains further concerning what is to come:
For behold, it came to pass after my father had made an end of speaking the words of his dream, and also of exhorting them to all diligence, he spake unto them concerning the Jews, that after they should be destroyed — even that great city Jerusalem — and many be carried away captive into Babylon, according to the own due time of the Lord, they should return again, yea, even should be brought back out of captivity. And after that they should be brought back out of captivity, they should possess again their land of inheritance. Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews, even a messiah, or in other words, a savior of the world. (1 Nephi 3:2 NC) 
And it came to pass, after my father had spoken these words, he spake unto my brethren concerning the gospel which should be preached among the Jews, and also concerning the dwindling of the Jews in unbelief. And after they had slain the Messiah who should come, and after he had been slain, he should rise from the dead and should make himself manifest by the holy ghost unto the gentiles. Yea, even my father spake much concerning the gentiles, and also concerning the house of Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive tree whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth. Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth. And after the house of Israel should be scattered, they should be gathered together again, or in fine, after the gentiles had received the fullness of the gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree — or the remnants of the house of Israel — should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer. (1 Nephi 3:4 NC, emphasis mine) 
This really is as good a summary as you’ll find of the marvelous work, and we’re only three chapters in! 

A Mystery and a Miracle

Note that Lehi relied heavily on Zenos’s allegory of the olive tree to explain the process of preserving the covenants, gathering scattered Israel, and restoring blessings in the latter days, through the instrumentality of believing gentiles. Indeed, Jacob explains the purpose of the allegory before quoting it:
And now I, Jacob, am led on by the spirit unto prophesying, for I perceive by the workings of the spirit which is in me that by the stumbling of the Jews, they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation. But behold, according to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation upon which the Jews can build. And now my beloved, how is it possible that these, after having rejected the sure foundation, can ever build upon it that it may become the head of their corner? Behold, my beloved brethren, I will unfold this mystery unto you… (Jacob 3:6 NC emphasis mine)
It is indeed a mystery! How is it possible? How can a covenant people be restored after rejecting the covenant so fully and rejecting the Messiah who gave it? How will the Lord ever fulfill his promises to the fathers? 

Then follows Zenos’s brilliant explanation of trees, roots, scattering, gathering, grafting, and redemption, which forms the backbone of the discussion in The Book of Mormon and in the New Testament. (Romans 1:52-56 NC)
And now the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fullness of the gentiles is that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief — yea, for the space of many years and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men — then shall the fullness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the gentiles, and from the gentiles unto the remnant of our seed. And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel and that they are the covenant people of the Lord. And then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him. Wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved. (1 Nephi 4:3 NC emphasis mine)
By now it should be clear that believing Gentiles are the foundation of this plan. The gospel would first go to the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles to the scattered remnants of Israel. 
And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land, and by them shall our seed be scattered. And after our seed is scattered, the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the gentiles which shall be of great worth unto our seed. (1 Nephi 7:3 NC)
I could go on referencing many lengthy discussions of this marvelous work that begins among the Gentiles. Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni all taught about it. But the greatest explanation was given by the Savior himself. As you may recall, after his sermon at Bountiful, he began teaching about the marvelous work, but abruptly stopped, perceiving that the multitude was too weak to receive what he needed to teach. He instructed them to return home and pray for understanding, and he promised to return. But they implored him to stay, so he healed their sick, used their children in an ordinance to open the heavens, and administered the sacrament. The next day he returned, sanctified the twelve, opened the heavens again, and repeated the sacrament. Finally, after all that, the multitude was filled with the spirit and ready to receive the remainder of the message. 

And do you recall what that message was? What was so important that the people required elaborate preparation and the influence of the Holy Ghost to even receive it? 

It was this. The marvelous work. The miraculous last-days plan to recover scattered Israel. He taught the Nephites at Bountiful, not about themselves, their current situation, the gospel or the church. He taught them about events that would unfold two thousand years in the future, and he asked them three times to write what he taught so we could receive it in our day. (I’ve posted more about that here.)

He called this his Father’s work. He promised it will come, and outlined how it will happen. He expounded the prophecies about it. He used the Nephite record to send a message directly to us, communicating the Father’s agenda and our role in it. He gave us our marching orders and expects us to participate in what is arguably the most important group-related plan in the entire panoply of the Father’s work with this creation. The marvelous work is THE point of The Book of Mormon, at least as it relates to group efforts. Think about that for a moment. We may assume Zion is the fundamental and final group outcome in this creation, and yet The Book of Mormon has FAR more to say about the marvelous work than it ever says about Zion. 

Opposition and Recovery

Being that this marvelous work is so crucial to the Father’s plans, opposition naturally comes with it. Nephi goes to some trouble to inform us at length about the gentile church called “great and abominable” (GA) that opposes this work, corrupts the scriptures, and blinds the gentiles to their role in the plan. Specifically, the GA church targets and removes the covenants, thus striking directly at the identity of the House of Israel.
For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. (1 Nephi 3:21 NC)
The Lord’s solution to this problem of lost and corrupted scripture—is The Book of Mormon. In particular, he promised Nephi that he would minister the plain and precious things to Nephi’s seed, and they would come forth to the Gentiles in the last days.
For behold, saith the Lamb, I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious. And after thy seed shall be destroyed and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up to come forth unto the gentiles by the gift and power of the Lamb. And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation. (1 Nephi 3:23 NC)
Therefore, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of The Book of Mormon in the last days’ marvelous work. It is here to cure blindness. The deaf shall hear the words of this book. It is the voice whispering from the dust. It is the key to laying the cornerstone. It is the standard of truth. It is evidence of God’s mighty work, brought forth in our day to heal the damage done to prior scripture by the great and abominable church. It is the sign Christ said to watch for, signaling the initiation of the work prophesied for thousands of years. It is the means whereby the Lord will keep the promises he made to the fathers. The Book of Mormon is the embodiment of the covenant. It is the key to the marvelous work. 

Is it any wonder, then, that just two years after the book was released, the Lord condemned the entire church for taking it lightly? 

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests 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. Otherwise, there remains a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion, for shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, verily I say unto you, nay.
—T&C 82:20