Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Sacrament Prayers

And the church did meet together oft to fast, and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus. 
—Moroni 6:2

Our scriptures teach that we should “meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.” Though many of us currently can’t meet together, we should still avail ourselves of the opportunity to take the sacrament often. 

To assist those who, like my own mother, currently can’t gather with others to take the sacrament, and who don’t have someone available to perform the ordinance for them, I’ve linked to recordings of the blessings on the bread and wine below. 

Blessing on the Bread:

Blessing on the Wine:

I sincerely hope we will all be able to meet together again soon in our fellowships and families. But until then, at least we can observe our Lord’s command in this way. 

Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you. And this shall ye always do unto those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me, ye shall have my spirit to be with you. And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things, and if ye shall always do these things, blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock. 
—3 Nephi 8:7

Sunday, April 12, 2020

First Fruits

Wherefore, beloved, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Mashiach, his only begotten Son, that you may obtain a resurrection according to the power of the resurrection which is in Mashiach, and be presented as the firstfruits of Mashiach unto Elohim, having faith and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifests himself in the flesh.
—Ya’akov 3:3

Today, the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of the Messiah. This event is steeped in Christian traditions and gentile understanding, and in recent history has become mostly secular. I think it’s important to consider the actual events of the resurrection in the context in which they happened, and without the gentile baggage we overlay upon these events. In this post, we’ll use the Stick of Joseph to shed light on the events surrounding the resurrection of Yeshua.

Good Thursday

Christian tradition holds that Yeshua was crucified on a Friday, now called “Good Friday” in commemoration. This tradition is born of a misunderstanding regarding the sabbath. The New testament informs us he was crucified on the day of preparation before the sabbath, and that his body was removed from the cross and hastily placed in the sepulcher before sundown when the sabbath began (see Mark 7:29, Luke 13:25-26, John 10:15-16 NC edition). Because the sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, the Christian tradition selected Friday as the crucifixion day. 

This is problematic, of course, because scripture also makes it clear he arose on the first day of the week, which is Sunday on the Hebrew calendar (Luke 14:1 NC) and that it was the “third day” since the crucifixion (Luke 14:2 NC). Attempting to make the period from Friday to Sunday into three days has resulted in some rather strained interpretations and odd explanations. Common sense tells us if the crucifixion happened on Friday, then Saturday was the first day since the crucifixion and Sunday was the second day, not the third. 

The key to solving this mystery lies in the various sabbaths (plural) recognized by the Jews. The weekly sabbath is always Saturday, which begins at sundown on Friday. But there are also sabbaths that happen only once per year. These are annual holy days, also called sabbaths, but are tied to the Hebrew lunar calendar, and therefore may fall on any day of the week. One such day is the 15th of Nisan, which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, also known as Passover. The 15th can fall on any day of the week, but it is a sabbath because it is a holy day.

It so happened in the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion that the 15th of Nisan fell on the 6th day of the week, Friday, and the regular weekly sabbath followed the next day, Saturday. Therefore, there were two sabbaths, back-to-back, that week. Thus, we see that Yeshua was crucified on the 14th day of Nisan, a Thursday, and laid in the tomb before sundown. Friday—the first day of Passover—was the first day since the crucifixion, and Saturday—the weekly sabbath—was the second day since the crucifixion. Sunday then followed as the third day, and the day of the resurrection. If Easter Sunday is to recognize the resurrection, then it should be “Good Thursday,” rather than Good Friday, when the crucifixion is commemorated. 

Indeed, when properly aligned with the events of those days, we find breathtaking correlation and perfect fulfillment of every type, shadow, and prophecy concerning the Messiah’s role. His death during the preparation and killing of lambs was exquisitely timed, as was his resurrection.

The Stick of Joseph also teaches concerning this three-day period: 
And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease — for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater, nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours — and then, behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land…. And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning, and howling, and weeping among all the people continually,… (3 Nefi 4:3, 5)
Then at the end of that time:
And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to split, and the dreadful groanings did cease,… (3 Nefi 4:10)

The Stick of Joseph agrees with the New Testament scriptural record in recording that Messiah arose the third day.
And he shall be called Yeshua HaMashiach, the Son of Elohim the Father of Heaven and of earth, the creator of all things from the beginning; and his Mother shall be called Miryam. And lo, he comes unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men, even through faith on his name. And even after all this, they shall consider him as a man and say that he has a demon, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. And he shall rise the third day from the dead. (Moshiyah 1:14)
First Fruits

At the time of Yeshua, the first offering of the first fruits occurred after the sabbath of the Passover. On this occasion, the priests took the first barley from the field and offered it before the Lord as an offering of the first harvest of spring: 
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, When you have come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted for you. On the next day after the Sabbath, the priest shall wave it. (Lev. 11:4 OC edition)

This offering took place on Sunday in the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion, after the back-to-back sabbaths had passed. This was necessary because the act of harvesting barley constituted work, which was forbidden on the sabbath (Ex. 18:10 OC). Therefore, the priests harvested and offered the first fruits on Sunday that year, on the day of the resurrection. Yeshua was the first fruits, or the first resurrected soul, presented before God as an acceptable offering. 

This is amply attested to in the Stick of Joseph, where we read the following: 
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of Elohim, except it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Mashiach, who lays down his life according to the flesh and takes it again by the power of the spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto Elohim, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men, and they that believe in him shall be saved. And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto Elohim. Wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. (2 Nefi 1:6)

The above table lays out the days, the count, and the events associated with the timing of the resurrection. 

In Zenos’s allegory of the Olive Trees, the Lord of the vineyard seeks to preserve his tame olive tree specifically so that he “may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself” and “lay up fruit thereof against the season unto myself” that he “may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard.” The fruit in this allegory represents redeemed souls, rescued from sin and from death by the power of the resurrection of Messiah. Thus we see that he—Yeshua—was the first fruits unto God, and that he presents to his Father all those whom he redeems. 

Thus, First Fruits Sunday, or Easter Sunday as Christianity calls it, is not merely a celebration of  Messiah’s resurrection. It is an expansive invitation for all to come unto him through his doctrine, become cleansed and redeemed, and become his first fruits, worthy to be presented to the Father. His victory over death would be hollow indeed if it did not bear any fruit other than his own resurrection and return. His work and his glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all who are willing to receive. (Gen. 1:7 OC)

As we ponder the life-altering meaning of Messiah’s victory over death and hell, may we remember that victory was always meant to be expressed in us. WE are to be the fruit in which he can rejoice. 

And the firstfruits of repentance is washing by immersion. And immersion comes by faith unto the fulfilling the mitzvot, and the fulfilling the mitzvot brings remission of sins, and the remission of sins brings meekness and humility of heart. And because of meekness and humility of heart comes the visitation of the Ruach HaKodesh, which Comforter fills with hope and perfect love, which love endures by diligence unto prayer until the end shall come, when all the k’doshim shall dwell with Elohim.
—M’roni 8:5 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The End, Part 8: Sword of Justice

And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city, therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand, and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart. And he said unto them, Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart. And behold, he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people. 
—Helaman 5:2

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

The term “sword of justice” is unique in scripture. It only appears in the Book of Mormon/Stick of Joseph, and in no other scriptural source, and it appears there, in some form, 8 times. Interestingly, it always appears as a warning to the wicked, though it is used to warn various groups at various times.

We first encounter this term in 1 Nephi 3:17, where a great and terrible gulf that divides the children of men is defined as “even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God and Messiah who is the Lamb of God…” The justice of God, which divides the wicked from the righteous is associated with the large and spacious building of Lehi’s dream—which is something I’ve written about before. Justice divides those in the building from those at the tree of life. (1 Nephi 4:5) This is a general warning to all humanity.

In Helaman 5:2, Samuel the Lamanite warns that the sword of justice would fall on the Nephites if they did not repent and believe in Christ. He associates his warning with the glad tidings declared to him by an angel, but rejected by those to whom he preached. This is a warning to the Nephites specifically, regarding their acceptance or rejection of the Messiah.

In 3 Nephi 9:7, the Savior takes up the same warning, this time directing it to the Gentiles of the latter days:
And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent, it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the gentiles.
In 3 Nephi 13:7, Mormon takes up the same warning to the latter-day Gentiles:
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.
Mormon continues the line of thought by discussing those who oppose the Lord’s work and specifically his efforts to recover the lost sheep remnants of Israel:
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)
This is something about which I’ve written before as well. Notice that the sword in the Lord’s right hand is associated with justice, destruction, and separating the wicked from the righteous. Also, notice the specific time when the sword of justice will hang over the Gentiles. It is in the latter days, when the gospel has come to the Gentiles, when they have the Book of Mormon, and when its message is directed to the scattered remnants of Israel. In fact, the entire passage deals with the restoration of scattered Israel, and the warning is to those who interfere with or oppose that work.

If the Book of Mormon is any indication, you DO NOT want the Sword of Justice to fall on you. It is associated with “almighty wrath” (Alma 25:2), “heavy destruction” (Helaman 5:2), “utter destruction” (Alma 27:10), and “eternal despair” (Alma 14:18). These are not idle words.

This brings us, of course, to Moroni’s mic drop. As you’re no doubt aware, on March 18, 2020, an earthquake occurred near Salt Lake City, which caused the angel Moroni on top of the Salt Lake LDS Temple to drop his trumpet. Much has been made of this event, and the rather obvious symbolism of the angel now being unable to sound his trump, lacking a message to share, and so forth. In my opinion, these are all very valid interpretations.

But I’d like to discuss yet another take on this event. First, consider the following information, which was shared with me by my friend Marv Bateman:

Moroni’s trumpet on all versions of the temple statue is generally angled upward quite sharply. In the picture, you can see a replica of the Salt Lake statue, which shows the trumpet angle is approximately 30% above horizontal. Therefore, to lose the trumpet, either Moroni’s hand would have to break, or the trumpet would have to slide upward, against gravity, through Moroni’s hand to finally fall out. 

This appears to be exactly what happened, as Moroni’s hand is still clearly intact, including his thumb, as you can see from the overhead picture. In other words, this was a very precise strike that caused exactly the right vibrational frequency and direction to pull the trumpet from Moroni’s grasp and cast it down upon the temple.

Last June, the day after the LDS church ignored the 175th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum smith, lightning struck the Moroni statue on top of the Nauvoo temple. Moroni’s eyes were darkened and his trumpet was broken. The watchman on the tower was symbolically rendered blind and mute—unable to sound the alarm. That event was associated with very particular calendar alignments that take place only once in 10,000 years. It was also associated with the coming forth of the Stick of Joseph in the Hand of Ephraim, which makes the prophesied record uniquely available to the scattered remnants of Israel and the Jewish people. I previously wrote at length about these events.

When the earthquake struck Salt Lake City, it was again associated with a calendar alignment (Spring Equinox) and with The Stick of Joseph in the Hand of Ephraim. Whereas the Nauvoo strike aligned with the pre-registration of the copyright, the Salt Lake earthquake aligned with the final registration. The watchman on the LDS tower is not only symbolically blind and mute, but now has no shofar at all to blow.

The blowing of the shofar is the traditional signal for the gathering of Israel. The LDS church, having opposed and spurned the Father’s work, has now lost that opportunity completely. Moroni’s casting down of the trumpet upon their temple makes that point emphatically.

And it also frees up his right hand.

Some have suggested it appears Moroni is now checking his watch, as if to say the Lord delays his coming. It’s a fun meme and all, but has serious notes.
And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit in his wisdom that these sayings shall come unto the gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance is already beginning to be fulfilled. And ye may know that the words of the Lord which have been spoken by the holy prophets shall all be fulfilled. And ye need not say that the Lord delays his coming unto the children of Israel. (3 Nephi 13:7, emphasis mine)
Notice that this passage only mentions the Gentiles as a sign of what the Lord is doing. The coming of the Lord is to the children of Israel, NOT to the Gentiles. And no, he is not delaying his coming; his work is proceeding according to schedule. The book and the gospel came to the Gentiles, the time was fulfilled, and the opportunity passed. It now reverts to the house of Israel, as prophesied.

And likewise, as prophesied, the sword of justice is now in the Lord’s right hand, ready to fall upon the Gentiles, as demonstrated by Moroni, standing upon the decommissioned temple with his right hand outstretched. If earthquakes, viral plagues and locust swarms don’t convince us of our own powerlessness and bring us to repentance, all that remains is the falling of the sword on the Gentiles, starting with those who still claim to be the Lord’s only true church and bearer of the legacy of Joseph Smith.

The LDS church announced a couple of days ago that Moroni will be taken down, and that portions of the temple spires will be removed and rebuilt to repair the damage from the earthquake. This coming just before the April General Conference, held as a broadcast-only event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Six months of marketing hype from the church have built up this conference to be like no other in history. I’ve noticed a huge emphasis on “The Prophet” (meaning Russel Nelson), Joseph Smith’s First Vision, women, and priesthood. I heard this morning there are plans to call a solemn assembly and hold a Hosannah shout in the Sunday session, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. This is curious because in January 2017, the LDS First Presidency wrote the following letter to local and general church leaders throughout the world:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: 
During the next few years, the Church will enter a period of significant anniversaries of major Church history events. The Church will not be commemorating these anniversaries at the general level. However, stake and ward leaders may choose to commemorate some of them at the local level. 
We ask that any local commemorations not place undue burdens on leaders and members. 
Sincerely yours,
/s/The First Presidency

The current celebration of the First Vision is altogether appropriate and warranted for those who believe in the importance of that event. But it also represents a 180 degree reversal in official church policy. They specifically said they would not do this—and now they are doing it—which adds a great deal of importance to this conference. Therefore, at this extra-important conference, I expect President Nelson to make some sort of big policy change, declaration, or the like. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he claims a vision or revelation on a par with Joseph Smith, whom he asked all members to study in preparation for this conference. Perhaps this won’t be the case, and this conference will come and go with the usual platitudes; but it does seem like an awful lot of hype for a standard conference commemorating something they said they would not commemorate. Time will tell.

Unfortunately, regardless of what may be said, done, claimed, or announced at this conference, Moroni still stands there, inconveniently, high overhead, with his right arm outstretched, figuratively holding the sword of justice, that soon will fall. And though a crane will pluck the damaged statue off the damaged temple, the prophecy yet remains and WILL be fulfilled. God help us.

And now I say unto you that well doth the Lord judge of your iniquities; well doth he cry unto this people by the voice of his angels, Repent ye, repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Yea, well doth he cry by the voice of his angels that I will come down among my people with equity and justice in my hands. Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. Yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword. But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared. Now therefore, if ye will cast out the righteous from among you, then will not the Lord stay his hand, but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten by famine, and by pestilence, and by the sword. And the time is soon at hand except ye repent.
—Alma 8:5

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Remnant Missionary Pal: 2020 Edition!

In 2018, I wrote a brief announcement here regarding a new book called the Remnant Missionary Pal. This book is modeled on a prior work called the Missionary Pal, which provided scriptural references organized by topic. It's a neat—and very handy—reference tool.

I'm pleased to announce that an updated version is now available. This new 2020 version is updated with final RE scripture numbering and references, plus an expanded introduction and new sections on the responsibility to the lost sheep remnants of Israel. 

You can download a free version at, or purchase a hard copy at publisher's cost on Amazon. 

This is an excellent reference tool, is very inexpensive (or Free!) and highly recommended for scripture study. Enjoy!

NOTE: I've been told the Amazon listing still says it's the 2018 Edition, but I've been assured by the publishers that what is actually shipping is the 2020 Edition. They are working on updating the listing with Amazon.