This lecture by Denver Snuffer entitled “The Mission of Elijah, Reconsidered” was originally recorded in Spanish Fork, Utah, on October 14, 2011, in front of a live audience.
Well, if technology works, we’ve begun.
When you run into a phrase in which you find agreement between John and Paul and Moroni, and they use virtually identical language in what they’re saying, then that sort of leaps out, because these divergent personalities converge on a thought, and the thought suggests something, I think, profound. I’m going to take the one that John wrote, which is in 1 John 4:15, and since this is not a sacrament meeting you won’t offend me if you get your scriptures out and you choose to turn to 1 John 4:15. The statement that all three of them make is: “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
When it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which according to Joseph Smith comprehended all truth. It is our own fear that limits our capacity to gain from what’s being offered. It’s a measure of our ingratitude, when declining the invitation that Joseph extended to search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God, we elect to withdraw fearfully and conclude that we’re just not interested in what might have been had.
It’s actually a trick of the devil to get people to close their minds and close their hearts, because they fear what they may be learning will do damage to them. You see, when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit and then Satan called to their attention the fact that they were naked, that’s the beginning of the mischief that gets visited on humanity by the adversary who seeks to bind and control and to limit the freedom of all mankind, to imprison them. He pointed out to them that they ought to be ashamed. And when therefore they heard the voice of God speaking they withdrew, not because of shame, but because the shame triggered within them – fear. They were afraid to come into the presence of that being who they knew to be just and holy, because now they were in a state in which fearfully they were naked. Their “nakedness” came to them as a consequence of understanding the difference between what they were and what they are, and that knowledge came to them by partaking, out of season, of the fruit that they weren’t scheduled to receive a command to part of, until after a day of rest had been observed. So now, not only are they naked before God, they are also violating the Sabbath and beginning the labor of the mortal existence out of time, out of sequence, out of season. That’s the way a great number of errors are made in humanity.
You see, we’re commanded not to partake of some things out of season, and then we are commanded to partake within season, and when we get the timing wrong we wind up with difficulties and problems that ought not to have been visited. The other references on that same statement, about the opposite of love is fear, is 2 Timothy 1:7 and Moroni 8:16.
Repentance is a critical thing. It is the message of the Book of Mormon. It is the greatest message that’s contained within the Book of Isaiah, and it is the message of all the true prophets. The thing that stirs you up to repenting is actually two things: the first thing is to awaken to your awful situation, and the second thing is to arise, and that is to connect with the source which will cure what is wrong with you because we are not self-curing. We are filled with that same shame that came to us in the beginning as a consequence of doing what we were not supposed to be doing. The greatest way in which the adversary keeps us in a state of slumber is to prevent us from looking about and becoming awakened to the awful situation in which we find ourselves. Hugh Nibley commented on more than one occasion that there is nothing quite so terrible as being awaked out of a deep sleep. No one really likes that. When it comes right down to it, unconsciousness is a very good thing, particularly when what you are looking at is what we have here.
Alma the Younger, a fairly expert source on the subject of repentance, after he had been seasoned by his experience in being converted and his experience in preaching the Gospel, and his experience in fatherhood, gave some advice to his own children. After giving them a talk and an explanation about the demands of justice on the one hand, and mercy on the other, and how they are balanced with one another, and how mercy can overcome the demands of justice but it is not by robbing it, it’s by satisfying it. It’s just a brilliant doctrinal discourse. Then he turns in a series of statements at the end. This is in chapter 42 of Alma, beginning in verse 27. He says: “Therefore, O my son, whosoever come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come…” It is free, and it is not only free, it is non-compulsive. It is purely voluntary. Anyone is free to accept it, and anyone is free to reject it. But in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds. That is, offered freely, available to all, non-compulsory, but you are accountable. Therefore, when you elect to decline what is offered to you, then you receive at the last day the recompense that you merited. Those who refuse receive whatever it is that comes as a consequence of their refusal. Those who receive, receive what is offered.
28 If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God.
29 And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.
Don’t trouble yourself, unless it is motivational, to have change. Repentance simply means change. Repentance actually means you turn from the way, the direction, you are facing. Whatever the direction is you happen to be facing, change from that and face God. When you turn to God and face Him, when that is the object of your focus and your attention, then you’ve repented.
30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.
Well, that’s a graphic expression: being “brought down to the dust.” Dust is something that is below, it’s beneath, it’s on the ground. You’ve got to grovel in order to get there but that’s the point. “Awaking and arising” begins from a position in which you are in the dust. You are in the dust anyway, we all are. It’s only by virtue of waking up and discovering that you happen to be rather dusty that you decide to get up and dust yourself off. That is the condition in which we find ourselves.
Therefore, when we look at the voices that would like to call attention to whatever it is that they are trying to draw your attention to in this world, one of the things that Alma suggests might be helpful are those voices that happen to be saying that there is something amiss, there is something that deserves your attention; to repent, to change the course you are on, to turn and face God, and to allow the only one who can offer salvation to offer salvation.
In Ten Parables there is a story of “Hope and Tarwater” – which by the way is a parable that has multiple meanings, but the intended meaning is that both Hope and Tarwater are the pre-existence, but you run with that when you read it. Tonight what it’s about is the attitude that you bring with you. You bring it from the pre-existence, but, the attitude that you bring with you to anything. You see, what Lance found in the forest was exactly what Lance thought he would find in the forest. What James found in the forest was exactly what James thought he would find in the forest. Neither one of them could escape the view that they brought with them into the condition in which they find themselves. It’s a painful experience to have the suggestion made that the way in which you have always entertained the world view is, in fact, skewed, amiss, ugly, wrong, deceived, malevolent even.
When I was 19 – actually it started even earlier than that – but when I was 19 they succeeded at last in overcoming my opposition to the message that the missionaries brought to me. I expended with liberal abandon the quantity of missionaries who came to teach me. I was a “golden contact” because the mission field was a scurvy lot of hard-headed New Englanders who had no inclination to listen to what Mormons had to say about their religion. I made the error of complimenting a fellow and it was mistaken as interest, and so they were fetching me with pamphlets. I literally showed up with, “Hey, come in please.” I literally showed up to missionary discussions with a six pack of beer. I asked if I could light a cigar in the living room. They were a BYU graduate, a Molly Mormon; I look back now and I cringe. I was a cretin and I had no idea. Eventually something happened which got me to pay attention and to entertain the criteria that they were saying was the correct criteria by which to measure the message that they were offering. The message they were offering required an entire shift to my world view. I’d been raised from my youth in Idaho to understand that Joseph Smith was a charlatan and a fraud, and that Mormons were deceived, mislead, and worshipped a false god, on and on, all the ridiculousness that you hear in the political debates of our country even now.
I had to make the leap from the world view of ‘Lance in the forest’ to the world view of ‘James in the forest’ in order to say, “There might be something to this.” That’s the problem, after all, of the restored Gospel – there really might be something to this. If there is something to this, then how important is it, and if it’s that important, then how thoroughly ought we to examine it? How relentlessly ought we to search into it? And, how carefully ought we consider it? If there is some additional light that can be shed about any topic, how freely, how openly ought we to discuss it? I have no fear whatsoever about examining Joseph Smith from top to bottom, through and through, every minute of his life. I don’t have any concerns about that.
I think anyone who is unwilling to entertain a thorough going examination of the life and the ministry of Joseph Smith is demonstrating fear, which is the opposite of love. We don’t have details about the life of Moses. We don’t have details about the life of Peter. We have an extraordinary limited vantage point from which to examine either one of them. We don’t have much in the way of detail about the life of Nephi. In fact, everything that we have about him is autobiographical. Therefore, to some extent, Nephi is going to tell us a narrative about himself that doesn’t give a full, fair, and impartial accounting of why it was his brothers continually found themselves not persuaded by the message that Nephi was delivering. I understand there are those who are hard-hearted, and I understand there are those who resent and envy the younger brother when the younger brother supplants the older brother, particularly when the supplanting takes place very early on in a difficult life’s journey, when he returns with the emblems of kingship, with the possession of the sword of Laban, with the brass plates, with all of the indicia that he is the leader. Then during the trek in the wilderness he actually assumes the role. By the time they get to the coast, now he is the one, and not his father, through whom the revelation is coming about the construction of the boat. The supplanting has been complete by the time they get to the coast. When Lehi dies in the new world, you’ve now taken off the one governing rallying point and the rebellion is in full swing, but what might have been done in the way of a list of legitimate criticisms of Nephi by Laman and Lemuel, if we were willing to hear their side of the story, we don’t know and we don’t have that. But when it comes to the Prophet Joseph Smith, I do have that! You see, I have the written accounts of those who hate him. I have the written accounts of those who conspired to kill him. I do not have autobiographical material. I have a wealth of information about him.
I can still choose to be ‘Lance entering the forest.’ I can say I want to hear every word of criticism that anyone ever fabricated against the Prophet Joseph Smith, because it salves my conscience and it makes it easier on me. I needn’t “awake” and I needn’t “arise,” I needn’t do anything about a message that may be authentic and comes from God because I find flaws in the messenger. Praise Philastus Hilbert and those other ones; good for them. Even Sidney had some helpful things to add.
When you have the opportunity to take and reckon the stature of a prophet from both those who love him and those who hate him; both those who merely admire but are not converted by him, and those who resent and are unconverted by him but feel no need to turn violent on the topic; when you have a mix of those various personalities, those various viewpoints converging on the meaning of the Joseph Smith; the more of that that I can gather in one place and consider – particularly as I consider it in light of the disposition of the person involved – the more of Joseph’s humanity comes through. Joseph Smith was not a deeply flawed human. Joseph Smith had a great deal about him that was downright commendable. But he was too eager to take some people into his confidence and he was oftentimes misled because he attributed motives to people that reflected what his inner motives were.
You see, I have the virtue in my life of having been hired to handle the problems of other people as their attorney. The shine has been taken off of the business leader, the Church leader. The fraudulent purveyor of a security scan whose entré into the trust of those that give him their money is the fact that they are an LDS bishop, or they are a stake president. I taught a course at BYU Education Week on fraud in one of their Education Week cycles many years ago. I offered it as one of the “badges of fraud,” and a bad deal. If the person who is trying to get you to part with your money tells you in the first fifteen minutes what their religion is, and what their calling in the Church is, that is an indicator. The purpose behind the “sheep’s clothing” always is to mislead. The only reason you don the clothing is because you hope that by appearing superficially to conform to an image you mislead and you deceive. It is always the substance that matters. It is always the underlying message that matters. And, in general, what matters is: does it cause you to awaken? Does it cause you to arise? Relentlessly, the condition in which we find ourselves is one in which it is absolutely necessary that you awake and arise and that you shake off the dust and that you get out of the slumber in which you find yourself. Now, there are those who have awakened only to find themselves in a nightmare of their own making because the reaction to awakening is violent.
I don’t swim in the shallow end of the pool. The only end I’ve ever been in is the deep end of the pool. It began when, indoctrinated by a Baptist mother, I knew these missionaries were out to perpetuate fraud and I had to overcome that. By overcoming that and by putting it to the test I got an answer to prayer. There is no argument you can advance that will succeed in altering that reality. Therefore, when someone coming to me after that point says, “Yeah, but they didn’t tell you that Joseph Smith had wives! Plural!” My reaction is, “Well, okay.” I grew up in Idaho, mind you. I’ve said, translated into – I guess I’ve read on a blog that even this is offensive: “No crap!” But you know… “I’ve gotta look into that! Well sure enough, there it is, right there in Section 132! (gasp)” I suspended judgment on the entire plural marriage issue from the moment that a critic trying to dissuade me from conversion first raised the issue. I have to tell you it was a real low priority for me. It’s weird, okay. I don’t care if you’re an advocate. I don’t even care if you practice it. It’s weird, okay? I love my wife. I don’t want another one. In fact, my view is that the more you love your wife the less you want another one. The more delightful the relationship is the less need there is to multiply complexity or try to find… If Joseph was willing to take that on then some day I’ll look into it and try and figure it. I suspended the judgment on the issue and I actually didn’t reach closure on that topic until maybe four or five years ago; it just wasn’t that important.
I’ve reached closure on the issue and you have the benefit of what it is now that I view the correct view of that topic is in the last book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, and why Joseph practiced it. It’s not what some folks suggest. There was news on this topic while I was still in manuscript form and I could have added the DNA testing that had gone on, because they’ve been updating that, and there was another study. My recollection is that the source that reported it was the Salt Lake Tribune and not the Deseret News which again, is a reflection somewhat of fearing to broach some topics because the circulation of the Desert News is a different demographic. We ought to be very open and we ought to be very fearless. Nevertheless, they’ve been trying to figure out all of the genetic markers that relate to Joseph Smith and his purported prodigious sexual exploits with the plural wives. Even as of a year and a half ago, the last remaining trail that could have led to Joseph Smith as having sired a child came to a dead end. Right now the only children that Joseph Smith has ever been able to demonstrable have fathered by genetic markers are those children of Emma Smith, and that’s it. Now we have that story about Eliza R. Snow and the pregnancy, and all that, and we don’t have any progeny from that. Therefore, you can put that one on the “you probably ought to investigate that further.” Nevertheless, Joseph Smith fathered children with Emma Smith.
Joseph Smith – as I walk through my thinking on the topic in Come Let Us Adore Him – got the answer to his inquiry concerning plural wives in 1829. It came to him as they were translating Jacob chapter 2. Just like Joseph Smith, as they’re translating the Book of Mormon, he encounters the topic of baptism and he goes and he inquires, and John the Baptist appears to him. It is translating the Book of Mormon that is the trigger for the inquiry. He translates the Jacob chapter 2 material. Now, keep in mind, he began with the record of Lehi abridged by Mormon, and he went all the way through 116 pages, at which point he entrusted Martin Harris. The 116 pages were lost and Joseph commenced the translation from the point that it stopped after the 116 pages to the end. When he got to the end then he was told, go back and take the small plates of Nephi that had been included for a wise purpose, and translate them. So he translated the small plates of Nephi in which we find from First Nephi, the words of Mormon. Therefore, in translation you pick up after that period King Mosiah, King Benjamin, to the end of the Book of Mormon, and then you move to the beginning of First Nephi. The translation and the raising of the topic in the translation of Jacob 2 occurs very late in the process. The Book of Mormon is all but finished. You still have some of Jacob. You still have Enos. You have Omni and the rest of those through Words of Mormon left to do, but the work is essentially complete by that point.
He inquires and he gets an answer to his inquiry. The answer that he gets informs him about the eternal marriage covenant. First of all, when something provokes a person to inquire of the Lord, particularly when what they are inquiring about is something that really matters to them about which they would really like to get an answer, they’re struggling; an interior lighting problem with your barges, for example. That’s a pretext used by the Lord in order to get you in a circumstance in which you are petitioning and open so that He can tell you something that really matters. We’ll take care of your interior lighting problem right there. Now what did you see? Okay, let’s get after it. Now let’s talk about redemption of you, Mahonri, from the fall, taking you back into my presence, and then let’s give you a plenary tour through the endowment so that you can know how everything fits together. But the problem that he approached Him with was interior lighting.
Now, Joseph is approaching about the plural wife thing, and the answer that he gets begins with the eternal marriage covenant. The eternal marriage covenant, as we walk through in the book, “a wife,” “a wife.” Everything is phrased in the singular through all the beginning of this in which it is the mandatory commandment that must be obeyed, and then appended to the end of it is then the answer to the question that he posed. “Oh yeah. On that, we let some people do that under two specific circumstances that are outlined in the book.”
We get Section 132 on July 12, 1843 when Hyrum asked Joseph to put it into writing so that Hyrum could take it to Emma and he could persuade Emma. When Joseph Smith dictates the revelation on July 12, 1843 he includes not just that first answer but he includes revelations generally on this topic all the way down through events that were then unfolding in Nauvoo. There are at last five different revelations contained in Section 132 but there were at least six revelations on the topic of plural marriage, one of which Joseph didn’t bother putting into the narrative of Section 132. The one that is missing is the one in which Joseph was commanded by an ‘angel with a drawn sword’ to practice this, which he found to be detestable. Joseph Smith complied, after he had been told to comply, and after he had been told. Eliza R. Snow’s account of that is the correct one, the most accurate one. He was told that he would forfeit priesthood if he did not comply with the requirement. Therefore, Joseph complied. It was a dreadful ordeal to him but he complied. After having complied, the revelation and his dictating picks up again, and Joseph is rewarded for having laid on the altar the thing that he did not want to lay on the altar. Against the Lord’s commandment he complied. Joseph’s calling and election is made sure. Joseph was given the sealing power. All of that happened before 1831 because Joseph uses the sealing power in 1831 in his ministry.
Which leads us then to the topic I intend to talk about tonight, which is The Mission of Elijah. We have a narrative on Elijah that you are welcome to accept. I’m going to explain only how I understand it. You are free to choose. You can “take the waters of life freely and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come.” You don’t need to come with me. You don’t need to come with any man. You can be content as you are.
Well, the story of Elijah actually begins a long time ago. (I’m checking my recorder when I do that. I want to see what it does with that.) “Three years previous to the death of Adam he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah who were all High Priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto THEM. And they rose up and blessed Adam and called him Michael the Prince, the archangel. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him, I have set thee to be at the head, a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince forever over them. And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation and, notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generations. These things were all written in the book of Enoch.” (D&C 107: 53-57, emphasis added.) He was one of the seven who were invited. He was one of the seven who participated.
Here you have an interesting setting in which on the earth, previous to the death of Adam, we have a gathering in which there are seven people who are correctly qualified to stand before the Lord. The Lord comes and appears unto THEM. These seven who are present with Adam are now lineal descendents of Adam, members of the same family. Therefore, I would suspect they had all things in common. And the Lord came, even if only for this ceremonial moment, and dwelt among them.
One of the participants in that moment, on that day, in that group, was Enoch. Enoch is the one who records it. It will be testified of at the proper time.
Here we have the definition of Zion. It is diminutive, it is temporary, and it is tightly confined to a narrow group, and it is not this thundering congregation of 3.7 million temple recommend holders, all crowding like we see right now on Wall Street. (For goodness sake, get some Porta-Potties there.) It’s a very small group. It is a group to whom it is possible for the Lord to come and dwell among them. Among their number, then, is Enoch. So we have Zion.
If you want the criteria, and we have a description, part of what we have in the Book of Moses given to us by Joseph Smith. By the way, I was reading in Doctrine and Covenants Section 107, verses 53-57, in the account of the appearance with Adam-ondi-Ahman. In Moses 7:16 we find this: “From that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them. But the Lord came and dwelt with his people and they dwelt in righteousness,” which is an interesting contrast. Here you have wars and bloodshed on the one hand, but then you have the Lord, and the Lord dwelling among people who are living in righteousness. “The fear of the Lord was upon all nations so great was the glory of the Lord that was upon his people.” (Id. v. 17). It was the “glory of the Lord upon his people”, it was not the glory of the Lord, it was the people that intimidated. The Lord doesn’t show Himself to the wicked except unto destruction, but the Lord shows Himself unto those who are prepared. And then the “glory of the Lord upon them” that others find intimidating. That was the case with the people of Zion.
“And the Lord blessed the land and they were blessed upon the mountains and upon the high places and did flourish.” (Moses 7: 17.) That is literal. Zion is not in a valley. “And the Lord called his people Zion because they were of one heart and one mind, dwelt in righteousness, and there were no poor among them. (Id. v. 18) ― and the Lord dwelt among them. It’s a socio-economic problem for us.
Let’s take a look at Enoch then, because Enoch becomes the next figure that is important to understand Elijah. Again, I am explaining my understanding of the relevance of Elijah, which is not the story that other people tell concerning Elijah. You are free to accept what other folks say because, well, who am I?
So, we have Enoch in D&C 107:48. Enoch was 25 years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam. And he was 65 “when Adam blessed him.” That ought to tell you something right there. In Passing the Heavenly Gift one of the things that I suggest is useful to understand is that ordination is an invitation. The invitation is authoritative and available through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it is the mechanism by which an authoritative invitation is extended to mankind after the days of Joseph Smith. You do not get an invitation elsewhere.
However, when you walk through the lives of all these men, whose lives have some import, even Nephi’s brother Jacob, who was ordained by Nephi, talks about his ordination by his brother, and then later confirms, “I got my errand from the Lord.” (Jacob 1:17.) There’s a difference between the invite that is extended by ordination, and the blessing that comes when the authority is conferred, and when the power is conferred. You are seeing that dichotomy because Enoch was 25 years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam. He was 65 when Adam blessed him and “he saw the Lord, and he walked with him, and was before his face continually; and he walked with God 365 years making him 430 years old and he was translated.” (D&C 107:49.) So, he is ordained, he is blessed, he is “continually before the Lord”. Then we pick up the story back again in Moses 6:25: “And Enoch lived 65 years and begat Methuselah.”
Enoch had been ordained to the priesthood. These things matter. They matter more than you can possibly imagine unless you comprehend the Gospel of Christ. He is ordained at 25, he is blessed at 65, and he fathers a child at 65. There is something coincidental with Enoch becoming approved by the Lord and Enoch becoming completed as a person; because there is neither the man nor the woman separately in the Lord. They are both together. The narrative assumes that you might know something about the Gospel, and therefore assumes when you see this that you’ll take note of it, because man cannot be saved separately and singly. Man is saved in a union that’s designed, like God, to produce progeny. Without the woman there is no salvation. There is no happiness without the woman, and when you manage to cajole, intimidate, berate and belittle and to finally get reluctant submission by a woman, you haven‘t produced anything worthy of eternal preservation. You haven‘t produced anything that God will take note of and say, “Hey! This looks like Heaven. Let‘s hold on to this for all eternity. Because this is an environment inside of which we can produce progeny and they will grow up to something other than street hoodlums in the Kolob sector.” It doesn’t work that way.
If you have read the Tenth Parable, the thing which caused the stirring to begin was the notice the angels took that here on the ground, on the earth, there was something that looked like Heaven. There was a man and a woman whose experience and circumstances mirrored the same kind of things that the angels, who are watching, recognized from where they come from. They went and they got the Lord, and the Lord came and He evaluated, and he said, “We’re going to save this one. Here’s the to-do list. Now get busy.” Eighteen years later they got busy.
Here we have in Moses. [Enoch] has fathered a child and “Enoch journeyed in the land among the people, and as he journeyed the spirit of God descended out of Heaven and abode upon him; and he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people.” (Moses 6:27.) It goes by real quick, but God just took ownership of Enoch as His son. You ought to note that. That means something, too. “Enoch, my son.” He said, “Prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people and my fierce anger is kindled against them for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off. And for these many generations, (ever) since the day that I created them, they have gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I have given unto the father, Adam.” (Moses 6:27-28.)
“And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; (that doesn‘t mean what you think it means) wherefore am I thy servant?” He is not slow of speech. He was a brilliant man; he was an articulate man. He was a capable man. He wrote the record. He is envisioned as the Great Scribe. He is thought, he is the one that brings wisdom, that brings knowledge.
He is “slow of speech” because, quite frankly, he’s rather think about it than talk about it. He would rather consider it than speak about it. He would rather be left alone than to be made public. He would rather have his privacy and his family than he would to minister to people who don‘t give a damn about what he has to say, and who think that he is a wild man come among them, because he has no business delivering the message.
Well, the Lord wouldn‘t take that. “Go forth, do as I have commanded thee.” (Id. v. 32.) The Lord says, “Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good. Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify.” (Id. vs. 32-34.)
Enoch is told at this point that in this walk that he is assuming, being a person “slow of speech,” and a reluctant draftee, that the mountains will flee before him and the rivers will turn their course and Enoch will abide in Him. Enoch will abide in the Lord and the Lord will abide in Enoch.
This is a statement that is made when he is 65. But you have to understand that it is some several hundred years later before the word of Enoch has the effect that the Lord says will take place at this point, because the Lord, who has all things in front of Him, can see where this is going. But Enoch, who is down here, though a seer, isn’t there yet. It’s not “pixie dust.” It is acquired in exactly the same way in every generation, by everyone who acquires it, and it is acquired through the exercise of faith. The way by which people exercise faith is to conform their actions to the things that they believe in, even when the actions that they take are difficult. Even with what the Lord asks of you is something which you are very reluctant to lay on the altar. Even when everyone will hate you for what it is that you do. Nevertheless, he did what he was asked. This is interesting. His ministry gets covered there in Moses Chapter 6 – really interesting, but we’re not going to have time to go through all that in detail.
The Lord gives to Enoch a description of the Holy Ghost. The description that he gives in Moses 6:61 are these words: “Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” That is the definition of the Holy Ghost. On the list was the word “Comforter.” It is a definition that Jesus will endorse later. I don‘t know if He had the record of Enoch in front of Him when He made that endorsement. But it was Jesus speaking to Enoch at the time that this revelation was given, so that shows up as a common thing.
If you take verse 61 and you say, this is the definition of the Holy Ghost: The Holy Ghost is the “record of Heaven.” The Holy Ghost is the “Comforter.” The Holy Ghost is “the peaceable things of immortal glory.” The Holy Ghost is “the truth of all things.” The Holy Ghost is “that which quickeneth all things which maketh alive all things.” The Holy Ghost is “that which knoweth all things and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” You will get a lot closer to understanding about why it is that the Holy Ghost is a “personage of spirit that dwelleth within you” and is not a personage of tabernacle because otherwise it could not dwell within you, and other such interesting things,
Well, Enoch launches his ministry, and at some point in his ministry he does do what the Lord said he would do some hundreds of years earlier. In Moses Chapter 7 now, we are a whole chapter later and this is verse 13: “And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.” That is one of the unique attributes about the existence of Zion. When you have Zion in place then it is the Lord who fights the battles against it. You do not need to have a weapon‘s budget in the Zion camp. It doesn‘t happen. The battle to be fought is fought by the Lord. In the descriptions given through the Prophet Joseph Smith about the last days the people decide that they will not take on Zion, because Zion is too terrible because of the Lord. It is not their munitions. In fact, the description includes a statement that those who will not take up arms against their neighbor are the only ones that flee to Zion and the only ones that aren‘t out killing.
Which then raises the conundrum: Why does the remnant which will build Zion “tear in pieces and trample under foot” the gentiles? Why do they do that? Oh, stop thinking with a damn howitzer in your hand, and start thinking about the image of Babylon that is going to be torn in pieces and be trodden under foot. You do not need anything other than the truth to tear in pieces the Gentile‘s kingdom. And it will be trodden under foot by the truth.
Zion‘s final development says: “The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.” (Moses 7:17.) That’s where you’ll find Zion. Not on a plain and not in a valley. You will find it in the high places on the mount, not merely symbolically. No one will have a height from which to peek down into the goings-on in Zion. They will be beneath, and Zion will be above. Zion‘s presence will be terrible. I’m not going up there. You going up there? I’ve got a flak vest and I’m not going up there. It’s the same problem Israel had before the mountain when Moses was up on the mountain communing with the Lord.
Mountaintops are acceptable substitutes for temples. I doubt the people of Zion are going to have a budget with which to build what needs to be built. Well, the Lord has a way of making do. “The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart, and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”(Moses 7:18.) There were no poor among them physically; there were no poor among them spiritually. They did not compete, they cooperated. They did not envy, they shared. They did not look to pass a zoning law. I will tell you how to ruin Zion, how to keep it from coming – pass a zoning law. Let’s ̳police the neighborhood. Let’s get some restrictive covenants. The instant you start to regulate Zion it’s gone. It’s slipped right between your fingers. No man need say to another: ‘know ye the Lord; for they’re all going to know him who dwell in Zion.‘
I’ve thought about writing a fictional account of this curious city in which people who have children live in big houses, and people who have no children live in small houses. No one has a job or a schedule but everyone works. One day the lead character gets up, walks outside, and notices that the lawn could use mowing. So he goes and finds a lawn mower and he starts mowing. He mows from one place in his house across the city to the other side. Everywhere he goes that he finds grass, he mows. When he finishes after a couple of weeks he returns to his house and says, “Hey, the grass has grown.” So he starts mowing again. He does this because he feels like mowing the grass for the time being.
Then after a season he notices that there is only one person working in the bakery. Well, he’s never worked in a bakery, but he decides he’ll go see what it’s like to work in a bakery—and he rather likes that. So he spends a year in the bakery doing that. And he wonders whatever happened to the lawns. They’ve have been cut, but he doesn‘t know who has been cutting them. On his way to try and find someone who is cutting the yards, because he liked doing that, he has something in common with them. He would like to know how they liked it and what their pattern was. “How did you do that?” But on his way, he gets distracted by the orchard that needs harvesting, so he spends the fall harvesting that.
So the story just ends, with complete chaos. A total ungoverned society, in which everyone is at peace, and no one has a job, and everyone works, and the only thing that motivates is what needs doing. “Hey, let‘s go do it.” And let’s do it for as long as we feel like doing it, and then let’s do something else.
Our vision of Zion is regimented, regulated. “This is your assignment. We have called you; we are going to sustain you. We’re gonna put your ass in this position, and you are going to park it there, and you’re going to do this stuff, and you magnify that job!” Now, we’re not sure what “magnify” means, but I can tell you, you better be calling attention to yourself so that everyone notices, because we can‘t have the invisible lawn mower. We can‘t have the invisible baker. We can‘t have the invisible in harmony with everyone around them orchard harvester because this is the “Zion Reich!” As soon as you do that, it is gone. It’s slipped between your fingers. Zion is without compulsion. Zion will occur when the Lord brings again Zion. And it will happen perfectly naturally.
We’ve got to get after this because we’re trying to figure out what the role of Elijah is.
(Moses 7:20-21, 23): “And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever. But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed. And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch” and he saw everything. And “…Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him;” and so on. So Enoch and his city depart.
Now we have not only the example from Section 107 of the appearance of the Lord with… (Yee-haw! We’re going to build us some Zion!)
Enoch and his city were taken up. Noah remained behind. Again, here I am offering you my view. I am not offering you something which has been endorsed by anyone, although there are those folk on the fringe who have suggested the same thing that I think. But it is my view that Melchizedek is the new name given to Shem, and that Shem is the son of Noah. When it’s talking about the priesthood through the fathers unto Noah as the basis for a doctrinal interpretation, that that means that there were generations separating Noah from Melchizedek; that’s not how I read the verse. I read it to say, “Through the fathers, that is, from Adam down to Noah,” and the connection between Noah and Melchizedek is immediate, father and son, and Shem is the son, which is why then the next appearance of Zion happens as a connection. These initial appearances of Zion in this world are connected, because the first one in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman occurs, and Enoch is present. The second one occurs with Enoch, who was present when the Lord had dwelt with people before. The third one will occur when Melchizedek, who was acquainted with those on the other side of the flood – he’s an adult when they enter the Ark. He knew of Enoch, and the option. At that moment in history, here’s the dilemma: God is going to destroy the world but a group inside the world had attained the status of Zion. Since they are in the state of being Zion the world cannot destroy them. It is fair game for the wicked to destroy the righteous. The wicked are allowed to destroy the righteous all the time. If you don’t believe that then go ask Amulek, whose suggestion to Alma was rejected because Alma was saying, “Oh, no, this is a good deal. Let them burn. The Lord is getting mad right now. Something’s going to happen.” These people are received up in glory. These people being killed by the wicked, the wicked get to kill them! And they get to kill them because then God will judge the wicked by the taking of the lives. That’s the system. The most righteous man who ever lived was allowed to be killed by the wicked. In fact, was indispensable that the wicked get to kill the righteous because otherwise there could not have an Atonement then made. Therefore, Christ was slain at the hands of wicked men. But we have a problem with Zion because when the Lord sets about to destroy, the Lord cannot destroy the righteous, and He’s going to obliterate life on the earth except for those who were in the Ark or those in Zion. The wicked can’t come against them and all are going to be destroyed.
So what do you do? Well, we’ve got a new status for humanity. The new status is you take them into heaven. But you don’t take people into heaven without an associated calling. There is no reason ever to take a person off the earth, even if they’re righteous. Abraham died and was buried. Christ died and He was more righteous than any who ever lived. You don’t take them off the earth unless they have a calling to minister, so we have a calling to minister. Enoch and his city could not be destroyed when the Lord was going to destroy. [He] and his city were called and they were given two callings: Their first assignment is as ministering angels, not only here but elsewhere. Their second calling – I don’t want to appear irreverent but really they’re the crowd – they’re the cheering group backing up the Lord at His Coming. They are the ones when He comes in the clouds with the angels. That group is Enoch’s people. They are the certifiers, they are the testifiers, they are the chorus, they are the entourage.
There is a reason why our tinhorn dictators and our phony idols have an entourage. It’s to mimic the real deal, because when the Lord comes again in His glory he’s going to come with an entourage. So they got the job, Enoch and his folk.
Melchizedek, who was acquainted with that condition, in my view had to be offered the option. Going on the Ark and staying down here when there is a group that are going to be leaving and going elsewhere, Noah was qualified to leave. All of them were qualified to leave and they had to be willing to stay. When you are allowed the option, and when you are going to stay but you know that there are those who are taken up, it seems like a reasonable request for Melchizedek to make, that after he finishes his ministry here that he also should be allowed to take a people with him.
In the course of events Melchizedek established a city, a City of Peace, a city of righteousness. He was the king and he was the priest, and he presided over his people in righteousness. Abraham, who was converted to the truth, came to Melchizedek. They had a ceremonial get-together in which, among other things, there is a sacral meal. Melchizedek, who has been waiting for this moment, ‘hands the football’ to Abraham and says, “At last! Me and my people are gone!” And so, once again, Zion flees.
When Zion flees again, now we have the people of Melchizedek. Notice, if you will, that the Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God has been renamed the Priesthood of Enoch, and then renamed again the Melchizedek priesthood. That name has become rather more enduring because in each case they came and they established Zion, and when they established Zion they were taken with their people up into heaven.
Now we have…I was going to read this stuff about Melchizedek. You’ll find that in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis Chapter 14. It’s a long enough section that it’s back in the back of your bible, beginning with verse 25:
“And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram. Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire. And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,” (Vs. 25-27.) He‘s got the same covenant as had been previously made with Enoch. That tells you something if you’re paying attention. “It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as (received) his name.” (Vs. 28-29.)
Joseph Smith tells us when he got the Melchizedek Priesthood, in my view. And in my view it was not an incident that occurred in which Peter, James and John were present. But it was “the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county” (D&C 128:21) when Joseph received the Melchizedek priesthood. Peter, James and John, like other angelic ministrants, came to deliver keys but not Melchizedek Priesthood because the priesthood of Melchizedek comes but of God. “It was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. We can ordain people all day long, but the manner the ordination assumes power is by ‘the calling of God‘s own voice’.” That‘s the description given by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the translation of Genesis 14. He tells us that event took place from the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, as referred to in D&C 128:21.
D&C 128 is a letter Joseph Smith wrote in Nauvoo. It’s late in his ministry. It’s a letter that Joseph wrote while he is in hiding in Nauvoo and he’s trying to stay in contact with the saints. I make no reference to this in Passing the Heavenly Gift but it is another example, just as it is a glaring omission from the testimony of Oliver Cowdery, that he makes no mention of Elijah’s appearance in what we have in D&C Section 110. So also, in the listing of the angelic ministrants who came to Joseph Smith, in a letter that he composed in Nauvoo in 1842, six years after the appearance of Elijah. To our current way of informing one another he does not include Elijah in the letter or the list. And throughout the time period that he’s speaking in Nauvoo – you can look at the Nauvoo talks, and we will look at some of them – Joseph speaks of the return of Elijah as a still future event. If the return of Elijah is a still future event in 1842, 1843, and 1844, then the appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple cannot answer to the mission of Elijah.
But now we’re ahead of the story. Let’s go back to Melchizedek for a moment. In the case of Melchizedek, once again we see a repetition of the pattern in which there is a prophet-ministrant and a people who respond to the message of repentance, and people coming up to the state in which the Lord can come and dwell with them and then they are taken up into heaven. And then the narrative of the appearance of Zion evaporates from the scriptural record. Now, we do have the Nephite experience where the Lord came and He dwelt among them. They were not taken up into heaven. For a moment I want to stay on the idea of Zion’s ascent up the heavenly corridor. Just like the first Zion with Adam, all of those, including Adam, died, except Enoch and his city, and they did not die, they were taken up into heaven. Then we have Melchizedek, and his city was taken up into heaven. The subsequent experiences where the Lord visited with people, whether it is in Jerusalem or whether it is in the new world, did not result in Zion going up and ascending into heaven. It didn’t happen. But there is another incident which occurs when Moses is taken up into heaven. And then there is yet another incident that occurs when Elijah is taken up into heaven.
Let’s turn to some of what we have going on with Elijah. Elijah is an interesting fellow. He raises someone from the dead. He helps the widow. This is in 1 Kings Chapter 17. He helps the widow of Zarephath, miraculously saved. He goes up on the mountain. On the mountain he encounters the Lord. The Lord tells him the way in which he can recognize the voice of God forever thereafter. He confronts the priests of Baal and he calls down fire from heaven. It’s a rather remarkable demonstration, after they have dumped water all over – this is in 1 Kings Chapter 18 – and fills the trench with water after they’ve made the sacrifice. He calls down fire from heaven and then kills 400 priests of Baal. All of this going on rather testifies that Elijah is now in possession of some of the power and spirit of God, and at this point in his career he’s developed to becoming quite adept at its use. He’s also stopped being inhibited about its public display, and so Elijah kills 400 of these guys.
Then the moment comes when Elijah is going to leave. It’s interesting because… Well, I don’t know how much of that to get into. Elijah’s coming departure is not a secret. When Elisha and Elijah are on their way to the place at which, on the day on which Elijah’s going to be taken up into heaven, as they’re going along there are folks saying, “Hey, Elisha, you’re losing Elijah today.” This is the day he’s going. It’s not a secret. It’s going to happen. So Elijah’s on his way and Elisha’s with him, and Elijah wants to know, “Hey, you know this priesthood you’ve got and this thing you do.” (There’s a movie about that.) He’s saying, “Can I get some of that?” Elijah, recognizing that this is not a connection which men form among men but this kind of connection is one that requires a connection to heaven, tells Elisha, “If you’re with me when I’m taken up.” The heavens are opened; the presence of God is there. The witness will be there and the power will be conferred. “So if you witness it, it will be yours as well.” Elisha was with him when he was taken up. In a sign of benevolence and charity Elijah cast his mantle down and Elisha picked it up. When he got to the River Jordan he struck it with the mantle and the river stopped and he walked over on dry ground, and Elisha knew ‘now has that descended upon me,’ and then Elisha’s ministry continues from there.
This, in my view, is the reason why Elijah must return. In the last days that system that began at first with Zion going up to heaven is going to invert. It is going to open again but this time instead of Zion leaving, Zion is going to stay and it is going to be joined by those who went away. They will come again. There is this marvelous description of how, when they return, they will fall on one another’s necks and they will kiss one another, because Zion below and Zion above will be joined.
The purpose of the return of Elijah, which Joseph talked about being a yet future event in Nauvoo, has everything to do with the return and the Second Coming. You can look at the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have a copy of those with me. The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith are really based upon the diaries of those who were present and recorded what they heard in their diaries on the days that Joseph gave the talks. Then they took an amalgamation of what was said from the various note takers and compiled them into a consolidated version, edited it for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and that becomes the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. But if you want the actual journals or diaries, that is found in the Words of Joseph Smith… (It’s a Harley engine. I have this Pavlovian response to a Harley engine and I’m somewhere else for a moment.) In the Words of Joseph Smith – which is now out of print and extravagantly expensive if you decide to buy a copy. The last I heard they were going for over $300 for one in not very good condition. You can find them in an LDS electronic library, there are those that are available, but I understand that there is work underway to bring it back current in print and to add a second volume to it that will be the same kind of thing, the public addresses of Joseph Smith from the Kirtland era. The Words of Joseph Smith in its current version is the Nauvoo era discourses and I think it is going to come back as a two volume set. Andy Ehat is the one that is working on that.
In January of 1844, this is some eight years post Kirtland temple, Joseph is talking about Elijah and he said:
This is taken from [a talk] in front of Robert E. Foster’s hotel nearby the Nauvoo temple, then under construction, from Wilford Woodruff’s journal. (He put quotes in it too. Good for Wilford. He’s better than my transcription machine in that respect.)
“The Bible says, “I will send you Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord (of course, he misspelled “dreadful”. He spells it like “dreadlocks” instead,) Come that he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children & the hearts of the Children to their fathers lest I Come & smite the whole earth with a Curse,’ Now the word turn here should be translated (bind or seal) But what is the object of this important mission or how is it to be fulfilled, The keys are to be delivered the spirit of Elijah is to Come, to be delivered, to come, the gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, & and the Saints to Come up as saviors on Mount Zion but how are they to become Saviors on mount Zion[?] by building temples erecting Baptismal fonts & going forth & receiving all the ordinances, Baptisms, Confirmations, washings, annointings, ordinations & sealing powers upon our heads in behalf of all our Progenitors who are dead & redeem them that they may Come forth in the first resurrection & be exalted to thrones of glory with us.”
Then Joseph laments. This is the only guy. This is an important talk, and this is the only guy who records this, Wilford Woodruff. Woodruff records Joseph saying:
“I would to God that this temple was now done that we might go into it & go to work & improve our time & make use of the seals while they are on the earth & the Saints have none to much time to save & redeem their dead, & gather together their living relatives that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten.”
This is the place where Joseph says – he is talking about Elijah. He is talking about the seals being on the earth, and he’s talking about preparing for Zion. In this context, in January of 1844, this is where Joseph says:
“Their has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation it has been like splitting hemlock knots with a Corn doger for a wedge & a pumpkin for a beetle, Even the Saints are slow to understand I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God, but we frequently see some of them after suffering all they have for the work of God will fly to pieces like glass as soon as any thing Comes that is Contrary to their traditions, they Cannot stand the fire at all, How many will be able to abide a Celestial law & go through to receive their exaltation I am unable to say but many are Called & few are Chosen.”
In March of 1844 he picks up the subject again; on March 10, 1844. This time, when he is talking about Elijah, he says, “The spirit & calling of Elijah is ye have power to hold the keys of the revelations ordinances, oricles powers & endowments of the fulness of the Melchezedek Priesthood & of the Kingdom of God on the Earth & to receive, obtain and perform all the ordinances belonging to the Kingdom of God even unto the sealing of the hearts of the fathers unto the children & the hearts of the children unto the fathers even those who are in heaven.”
The hearts of the fathers who are in heaven; that’s the mission of Elijah. If you will receive it, this is the spirit of Elijah – that we redeem our dead and connect ourselves with our “fathers which are in heaven.” Our dead through us, us to our “fathers in heaven.” Who are our “fathers in heaven” to whom we are to be connected? We want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those which dwell in heaven. Those who are in the spirit world, our dead, the ones that need redemption from us, are not redeemed. They cannot be in heaven because they need us to be redeemed. We need to be redeemed by our connecting to the “fathers who are in heaven”. The dead have to be redeemed. The fathers are in heaven. Joseph understood this doctrine.
It is my view that the notion that you go to the temple and do genealogical work to answer the coming of Elijah does not conform to the description we are reading here from Joseph Smith. Our ancestors, our kindred dead, they need to be redeemed. They all have an interest in you and your life. The work that is being done needs to be done. But the gulf that needs to be bridged through the work of Elijah, in the words of Joseph Smith, is “to form a bond or connection.” Who was the last one who lived on the earth, not to hold the sealing power but to ascend to heaven and to draw together heaven and earth by his ascent, representing the opening of that way through which Zion above and Zion below will be connected with one another? Who was the last guide, as a mortal man, to have walked this path? When the Lord comes He is coming with an entourage, and the path needs to be opened beforehand. The path, once it’s open, allows men on the earth to be prepared for the coming again of those who are Zion above. Elijah answers, because Elijah is the one who made that connection.
The doctrine of sealing power of Elijah is as follows: “If you have power to seal on earth & in heaven then we should be Crafty, the first thing you do is you go & seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, & yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory.
“Unto your fathers in eternal glory.” That is not your kindred dead, they are relying upon you to be redeemed. The connection that needs to be formed is between you and the fathers who dwell in glory.
Who are the “fathers who dwell in glory?” If we go back to the revelation in which Joseph Smith received the sealing power, he received the sealing power some time before 1831. In that portion of the revelation known as D&C 132:49: “I the Lord thy God will be with thee even unto the end of the world and through all eternity for verily I seal upon your exaltation. Prepare your throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father.” (Emphasis added.) “I say unto you whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven. Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth in my name by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens. Whosoever‘s sins are remitted on earth shall be eternally remitted eternally in heaven” and so on.
Just before that portion of the revelation, in verse 37 he talks about Abraham, he talks about Isaac, and he talks about Jacob. Concerning those three, the Lord says to Joseph: “Because they did none other things in that which they were commanded they have entered into their exaltation according to the promises and sit upon thrones and are not angels but are Gods.” (Emphasis added.)
This is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These are the ones who are Gods.
I think that Christ is deliberate about everything He says, about the analogies that He uses, and about the stories that He tells. When Christ takes occasion in a parable to tell someone about the status of heaven, the story that He tells is about Lazarus and a Rich Man. It says concerning the beggar, Lazarus, when he died, he was “carried by the angels into Abraham‘s bosom.” The dead man Lazarus, with an angelic accompaniment, is taken to Abraham‘s bosom when he dies. The definition of a reward in the afterlife is to go to “the bosom of Abraham.”
The rich man is dead and he cries. The rich man, who is now in a state of torment, he cries out. He does not cry out, in Jesus’ story, to God. He cries out to Abraham.
When Jesus is describing positions of authority in the afterlife, a person He puts into a position of authority in the afterlife to answer the petition of the dead rich man for relief from his torment, is Abraham. “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
“But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime received the good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou are tormented.” There is an equation. Everything will balance. The things that you suffer from, it is the Lord’s intention to wipe away every tear. And, if you are one that chooses to inflict tears then that will be recompensed as well. Because what will be restored unto you is exactly, as we began with Alma, what you send out. It is an equation, after all.
The rich man cried out, “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father‘s house: (Send Lazarus to my father’s house.) For I have five brethren; that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went into them from the dead, they will repent. He said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead,” foreshadowing of course the rejection of the Lord’s resurrection and testimony as well.
One of the things that we’ve got going on in our Elijah theology is the notion that on the Mount of Transfiguration there came Elijah and there came Moses, and there was this get-together rather analogous to what happened in the Kirtland Temple. Out of that mix came forth the sealing power keys to Peter, James, and John and so on. One of the reasons why the narrative we have concerning that ought to be something you think about is because, take a look in Matthew chapter 17 where the account is given, where after six days He took Peter, James, and John and takes them up on the high mountain. He is transfigured before them. There appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with them. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall come and restore all things. But I say unto you, Elias is come already, they knew him not, they have done unto him as they listed. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:1-13.)
And so on the Mount of Transfiguration the “Elias” that is suggested here is John the Baptist, not Elijah. An even clearer account appears in Mark chapter 9 beginning in verse 2:
2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow;
4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
In the Joseph Smith translation he says – this is Joseph’s Smith’s insertion: “or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses.” Who appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, according to Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith translation of the incident, just like Matthew attributes it to being John the Baptist, so also Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith translation attributes it to John the Baptist. In fact, he clarifies the text.
Therefore, when I consider these things, I reach a different conclusion than the Elijah narrative that we generally talk about. The conclusion that I reach is that when it comes to Elijah‘s role and Elijah’s mission the purpose was, in the last days on the cusp of the Lord‘s return, in order to open the channel through which the Zion that has been taken above can return, there will be a ministry, just as Joseph put it, still future in 1844 – March, April, May, June, three months before the death of the Prophet, yet future – the purpose of which is to make possible the reuniting of those that dwell above with those that dwell below, formed by a people who are capable of bearing the presence of the Lord, coming back into His presence and not withering at the sight. Coming back into His presence and being able to dwell at peace.
I would suggest that the peace of Zion has much less to do with whether or not the outward hostilities of those who will be burned at His coming are fighting with one another and those inside the city are not taking up arms, but it is rather the peace that comes as a consequence of having shed your sins and being able to endure the presence of the Lord. These are those people who have “let virtue garnish their thoughts unceasingly because their bowels have been full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith.” Imagine that. Can you imagine that it’s necessary that you have charity for those who are within your own household of faith? Can you imagine that I need to tolerate and even love those inside my own community of belief who think me an emissary of the devil? Who think me an apostate? Toward them I must show charity?
And “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” Because you see, if you are not so constituted within your own heart – where there can‘t be any lies – if within your heart you are not at peace in charity toward those who would in the name of your own religion despitefully use you, then your “confidence [cannot] wax strong in the presence of God.” And all of this is connected to “the doctrine of the priesthood.”
“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly, then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews of heaven.” It will just condense there because when you do that, you reach ‘dew point.‘ (If Neal Maxwell were here he’d write that down. He would use it, too. I might send that to Cory. Say hey, hey! Go ahead and put it in his book and give him credit.
“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth;” I want a scepter! Because can‘t you use those things to bash people in the head and say ‘big me, little you?’ Scepters have nothing to do with ruling and reigning. Scepters have to do with serving and kneeling. He who thought Himself the least, kneeled and washed the dirt from the feet of those who in every respect He excelled. He wanted to give them the chief seats. He didn‘t envy those He raised. He didn‘t envy those that presided over Him. He declared the truth and He declared it boldly because He knew what the truth was. To the extent that He could do so diplomatically, He did. When the moment came and it was necessary to lay it out, it was He who chose the moment of sacrifice. It was He that went up to Jerusalem to be crucified, and it was He who drove the fury that resulted in the sacrifice at the appropriate moment because the fullness of time had come for the offering on that Passover, and He knew that. [I talk about that in Come Let Us Adore Him.] Because when the time had come, the time had come.
The peace that is in Zion is the peace that Joseph is describing in the letter from Liberty Jail, from which I have just been reading (D&C 121).
It is in the account from Enoch as well. The statement that’s made concerning the Priesthood, Moses 6:7: “Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.” That statement, “the same Priesthood that was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also,” when you take that and put it together with the statements that say, “as it was in the days of Noah, so shall also it be at the time of the coming of the Son of man,” every time you encounter the existence of Zion, the Zion that we read about, the first one had seven High Priests within it. There was a residue associated with them who were righteous but among them you had the seven High Priests. I have to assume that they each had families, and I have to assume that the families were the ones that were raised by these High Priests in righteousness. I have to assume that that included multiple generations, and so that collection of people was essentially seven families.
The Zion that was established by Enoch thereafter, we don’t have any geographic description or numeric description apart from the statement that we get in the book of Jude, which is really quoting from an earlier text of Enoch about the return of Enoch with his ten thousands, “with his ten-thousands” of angels. If that is a representation – and those kinds of things are not particularly reliable, because ten thousands, given the way in which the numeric compilations occurred in those days – the error, if there is one, is an overstatement not an understatement. In other words there would not be millions described as ten thousands; but there could be hundreds described as ten thousands.
The area occupied apparently by the people of Melchizedek and his city, in an agrarian setting, could have been located on something that is as small as 20 city blocks of our current type of area.
The significance of Zion is not its numerosity. The significance of Zion is its spiritual endowment. It is the power of heaven, and not the voting block. It’s not that you’ve got big numbers here that intimidate the ungodly. It’s that even a handful is sufficient.
Remember from the account of John that when they came to arrest the Savior and He declared, “I am He,” the guard stumbled backwards and fell down. The imposing figure of the righteous Lord was enough to intimidate those who came with swords and with shields, protected and armed, and Him clothed only with the garments that He had upon Him. At that moment in that garden, in that presence confined to the person of one individual, there was Zion. I do not think the picture that we have in our head of the role, mission, ministry and purpose of the return of Elijah in necessarily the one that is accurate. Nor do I think that the role, mission, ministry and the effort of Elijah is something from our past. Just as Joseph predicted the future return in January and March of 1844, I think the role and mission of Elijah is intimately connected with the immediate return. An opening up the capacity for the salvation of a group of people who will be greeted at the return of those that last went through that opening when they come and they fall upon one another’s necks, and they kiss one another.
No rivalry, no disparity, no hierarchy. All things in common are rather difficult when you’ve got “big” and “little” people; when you’ve got important and wealthy, and you’ve got obscure and poor, when you have those who are mighty and wonderful and those who are nothing.
Hugh Nibley used to talk, I think rather tongue in cheek, about how he would be content to be nothing more than a doorkeeper in the House of the Lord, because if he were he would be standing next to “the keeper of the gate who is the Holy One of Israel who employeth no servant there.” (2 Ne. 9:41.)
Well, I wrote a book and I made some people angry, but I also returned some people back to activity. I don‘t want there to be any mistake about my view of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If anything, I feel more strongly now than I did when I was baptized at age 19, of not only the relevance but the importance of the Church. It is the body that was set in motion by the hand of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is authorized by commandment to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel. It has been commanded to preach, teach, exhort, expound. It has been commanded to baptize. It has been commanded to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. It has been commanded to bless and pass the sacrament. If you want to get baptized then you need to leave the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Catholics and even Reverend Lovejoy‘s “Presby-Lutherans” and you need to come to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dallin Oaks gave a talk in General Conference just a few years ago [April, 2006]. He was talking about the presence of revelation in the Church and the presence of the workings of God, the hand of God in the affairs of the Church. All of the examples that he used in his General Conference address were drawn from the experiences of those in the lowest level of the Church. It is at the lowest levels of the Church that I have always resided. And it is at the lowest levels of the Church – if you’ve been on a mission and you’ve bourn testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you’ve had someone read it and get a testimony themselves, you know the hand of God is still over the work that is going on within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is, and it will continue to be there.
Any of you who choose to preach the Gospel as a missionary in the Church, and interface with people, and bring them aboard, you will find the hand of God is still working among the saints. But it is my view and it is my conviction to my core that if I were to encourage any of you to stop short of pressing forward to finding your Lord that I would risk damnation. Because it’s my view I would do that at the peril of contradicting the invitation extended to every one of you through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. You read D&C 93:1 and you tell me who has a right to say to you that you should not press forward to see His face and know that He is — not believe, not trust, not hope, but know. Know that He is.
There should be an entire chorus of Latter-day Saints who are able to say these words as their own testimony, and not just a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith: “I had actually seen a light and in the midst of that light I saw two personages and they did in reality speak to me. And though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision yet it was true and while they were persecuting me and reviling me and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying I was lead to say in my heart, Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, and why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” (JS-H 1: 25.)
It is not the purpose of the restored Gospel to have you get a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and then be co-opted into depending upon anyone other than God for the knowledge of the truth of all things. “And when you shall receive these things I would exhort you that you would ask God the Eternal Father in the name of Christ if these things are not true. If ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ He will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost and by the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:4-5.) All things.
It is a terrible thing for anyone to presume they can proscribe and limit the scope of truth into which any of you can inquire and get an answer for yourselves. It is a terrible responsibility. I would suggest that anyone who tries to keep you from inquiring of your Father to know the truth of all things is, like Satan, trying to use fear in order to eliminate your approach to that Being who loves you more than life itself. Who would gather you as a hen gathers her chicks. Who would have done that and brought again Zion time after time after time, but WE would not. I know that there are people that write books about the coming of Zion, and I know that they use quotes from those who think differently than I do. I’m not trying to persuade anyone of anything. You are free to believe whatever you want to believe. I only attempt to explain what I believe and why I believe it.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.