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

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.

Scopus

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 own 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.