This lecture by Denver Snuffer entitled “Zion” was originally recorded in Grand Junction, Colorado on April 12, 2014, in front of a live audience.
This is a series of talks given in connection with 40 years of membership in the LDS Church. At about this moment at about 40 years ago, I had been responsible for a number of conversions and baptisms into the Church. I was one of those obnoxious missionaries, you know. I kinda confronted you with my zealotry back in those days. And there’d been, by this point, a series of baptisms that had taken place. The first one was 18 days after my own baptism, and that involved Ron Mahle—I mentioned that earlier in the second talk that was given in Idaho Falls. There was a Jewish fellow named Shapiro that converted. There was Pitman. There was Ford. There was Manchester.
There were others, but at about this moment, on a Saturday or a Sunday (I don’t recollect which, but it was nearly this point in time back in that calendar), there was a fellow who was in the military barracks where I was staying who left his door open. I got up early in the morning. I was going to some church-related activity, as things were wont to be back then. The church was everything. I mean, it was your Wednesday; it was your Tuesday; it was your Saturday, and it was certainly your Sunday. And as I was leaving, his door was open, and he was sitting on his bed in the barracks. And I said, “Hey, Mike, what’s going on?” And he said, “Oh, there are no good people left in the world today.” And I said, “Yeah, there are! Hey, get your stuff; come with me; I’ll show you some!” So, he said, “Where am I going?” I said, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll know. You’ll find some good people when we get there.” And so, he got his shoes on and put a shirt on, and he came with me. And we were doing some kind of gosh-awful activity like we did back in those days. And I introduced him to the Elders (‘cause the Elders were always there), and that was the end of that. Mike Kirby is now… He’s living in Colorado, been married in the temple, has several generations of his descendants who are members of the Church.
And so, let me tell you, missionary work is (and has been from the day I was baptized through today) the easiest thing of all to do. And I would encourage any of you who run into someone that’s curious about Mormonism—
And it’s even easier today because people know a whole lot more about Mormonism today than they’ve ever known before. They know Mitt Romney. I mean, when I began, the world did not even know Donny and Marie. But now they know David Archuleta. I mean, there’s a thousand things to talk about. And then there’s all that anti-Mormon crap (which, by the way, if you approach that, that is the best entré). When they’ve got some complaint, some “absolute, demonstrable proof that…” and, you know, choose your bad issue: book of Abraham; Joseph Smith and plural wives—choose whatever you want. That’s an invitation to talk. And by the way, the more upset someone is about Mormonism/the more angry they are/the more emotionally connected they are to denouncing Mormonism, the easier it is to have a conversation with them, and (as it turns out in my experience) the easier it is to make a convert—because they care. And so, I would encourage all of you to share your religion.
Zion is not just a topic. Zion has occupied the attention of every prophet from the days of Adam down to today. When I talked about covenants in Centerville—ultimately, many of the covenants that were made throughout history had, as their bedrock, the assurance that, in the last days, God would bring again Zion. That was a critical component of the covenant that was made in the days of Adam. That was part of the covenant that was made with Enoch. To understand Zion is to necessarily comprehend that there were covenants made by God which He intends to vindicate.
To understand Christ’s Gospel, it requires you to understand Christ’s Zion. Zion can not— can not—be brought through a ‘Strongman.’ The talk I gave about the Priesthood in Orem was given, in part, to inform you about what’s necessary, as a Priesthood component, for the existence of Zion. But a Strongman will not work.
If you go to Doctrine and Covenants section 84, beginning at 19, it says:
And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof [and in the ordinances thereof], the power of godliness is manifest. [And I would note, as a parenthetical, that you have to have Priesthood in order to have the ordinances.] And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh…
And Zion is a fleshly endeavor. It is to involve living, breathing people. Therefore, as you read these verses, you oughta recognize that the power of godliness being manifest to men in the flesh through the ordinances, as a component, is talking about the rudiments that’s required for Zion.
For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought…to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fullness of his glory…
The glory of God is intelligence. The “rest of the Lord” is the fullness of His glory or, in other words, light and truth—or in other words, it requires a people that are competent in the things of God who have an understanding which will reach into Heaven.
Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the holy priesthood also… (D&C 84: 19-25)
Thus ended Zion—because Moses went up the mount, and Moses talked with God, and he spoke with Him face-to-face. He wanted to bring the people with him up there so that they (like he) would speak with God and be in His presence face-to-face. That’s what Moses sought after, at which point Moses’ status as a leader ended because no one would need to say to another, “Know ye the Lord,” for they all would, therefore, know Him—a prophecy about Zion in the last days. That is an accomplishment that requires people and not individual. When this event occurred, that ended it. It did not end the Strongman, ‘cause they kept Moses for another 40 years—wandering about in the wilderness, as they did; wearing out their Adidas and their Nikes, as they did; eating manna from Heaven, and grousing and bitching about it, as they did. But they had a Strongman! So, what? You can’t get there through the Strongman model.
Here’s the incident—Exodus 20, And all the people… This is 20, beginning at verse 18:
And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be [proved] before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:18-21)
You can’t have a model of Zion in which there is ‘some big Strongman’ leading you. Moses is the perfect example of one of the greatest Strongmen in history. And Zion failed in his day precisely because they wanted him to go speak to God for them, rather than they going to speak to God directly. Zion requires a people to rise up, and it cannot come otherwise.
It will require you to have faith, which was the subject that we addressed in Idaho Falls. And it was addressed in Idaho Falls precisely for the reason that it was necessary to get that on the table before we begin to introduce the topic today.
It will require that you repent to know God, which was the topic that we covered in Logan, which was required for an understanding of the subject today.
If you do not comprehend the foundation, you will not understand the subject. You’re not just going to walk into Zion and take up residency there. You must have sufficient intelligence in order to be comfortable there. Its glory must be within you. As I read a minute ago, which rest is the fullness of his glory—in other words, you, you have to be the possessor of light and truth, which is the glory of God.
Moses saw Zion. If you go to Moses chapter 1, verse 8, it tells you that Moses—
It came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; …Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.
It’s actually amusing to me when I encounter Moses dealing with what he just told you about in one verse. Nephi made a valiant effort to hint around it, and then he defaulted back to the words of Isaiah to try and convey what it was that he saw. Isaiah made an enormous effort to put into epic poetry what it was he saw. And Moses, when he’s given that same opportunity, his response in his record is that—I just read it to you—[he] beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created. Well put, Moses. I get why you did it that way. Another one of the prophets: [I] saw and [I] heard much (1 Nephi 1:6; see also 1 Nephi 1:3 RE). [Laughter.] I get why they do that, and there’s a reason for that. Therefore, Moses understood. Moses knew what it would take because he saw it.
If you go to Numbers, there’s an incident that happens in chapter 11. Two of the men in the camp (Eldad and Medad), the Spirit rested upon them that they began to prophesy. They prophesied in the camp, and a couple of young men run and told Moses. And I’m beginning at verse 28:
Joshua…son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of [the] young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. …Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and…the LORD would put his spirit upon them! (Numbers 11:28-29)
Moses was not jealous of someone having revelation. He welcomed it. He understood what it would take in order to create a people of God. And he was not jealous that there happened to be two of the people of God within the camp demonstrating the gifts that are given to the people of God.
The Strongman model will not work.
I’m reading from The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I want to draw a contrast. I want to draw a comparison between the attitude that we found at the beginning of the Restoration, and the attitude that subsequently took over.
President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel—said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church—that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls—applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict[ed] the virtuous with their shafts of envy. (TPJS p. 237-238)
That’s in The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph, pages 237-238. That was a call by Joseph Smith for the saints to rise up. That was a call by Joseph Smith for the saints to realize the prophecies that he had heard from Moroni (that we began talking about all the way back in Boise)—to rise up and to become something: a people of God, a people of holiness; those who could and would commune with God. This is Joseph, and late in the ministry, too.
I want you to contrast that with this statement: “We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed, through which to make known His mind and will to the world.” That’s on page 42 of Gospel Doctrine.
Unlike every other dispensation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims it cannot lead you astray. This is again reading from the Gospel Doctrine:
If any man in that position [referring to the Church President], should become unfaithful, God would remove him out of his place. I testify in the name of Israel’s God, that he will not suffer the head of the Church, whom he has chosen to stand at the head, to transgress His laws and apostasize. The moment he should take a course that would in time lead to it, God would take him away. [That’s from page 44.]
I don’t know… I get in trouble when I’m tempted to say things like what I’m going to say next. My wife has counseled me…
I’ve spoken with brother Joseph F. Smith, and he rues having taught that. I can tell you if he were here today with what he now knows, he would not declare that doctrine. And he would retract it and repent of having used the name of Israel’s God in connection with a false doctrine.
The Strongman model constructs the opposite of Moses’ desire for all men to be prophets. It constructs the opposite of Moroni’s prophecy when he quoted from Joel. It is the opposite of Joel’s prophecy, which says:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh [again, the flesh! Here! Now! You! Living! Breathing! In the flesh!]; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaid[ens] in those days will I pour out my spirit. …I will shew wonders in the [heaven] and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and…terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. (Joel 2:28-32)
The Strongman model is the opposite of that prophecy. It would prevent Zion precisely because God must dwell among the people. If He does not dwell among the people, it is impossible to have Zion—because Zion is a place where God comes to dwell among them. And if God is dwelling among a people, no one need say, “Know ye the Lord,” for everyone shall know Him who is there. The false construct of ‘the Strongman’ has got to be replaced.
Zion will require a covenant. It will require authority from God for that covenant. And it will require a level of conduct that meets the requirements or honors the covenant.
There’s this curious incident, and I want to point it out in Acts—because before you get too enthusiastic about signing up to join up for what the Lord is about to bring, I want to remind you of what happens when a covenant is established, and it is done authoritatively, and it is approved by the Lord and then people neglect to perform it.
If you turn to Acts chapter 5, beginning at verse 1:
But [there was] a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, that his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answer[ing] unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. (Acts 5:1-10)
It’s a good thing that we forfeit the power to make authoritative covenants from time to time. Because if we had everything that we claim we had, and if we lived under an obligation that God would honor, and if we chose to violate that—as will be the case when we have Zion. You cannot endure a Terrestrial glory in a Telestial state. Lying, and stealing, and deceiving, and adultery, and whoremongering (all of the abominations that people prize in this generation), your lusts, your ambitions, your desires to lord it over one another (the common affliction of the Gentile)—all of those things are a level below what Zion requires. And so, if one happily strolls into Zion while profaning the conditions upon which it will be established, they subject themselves to the penalty of being where they should not be, in a condition in which they cannot endure.
The destruction that occurred at Christ’s death on the Americas was the destruction of the wicked only. If you look at 3 Nephi chapter 10, verse 12, you find out that the more righteous were saved. Those who live a Telestial law will be destroyed.
Turn to Doctrine and Covenants section 76. I wanna begin at—well, I may as well back up. I was gonna begin a little later on. I want you to remember the chant, “Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet,” which we can drill in mindlessly to the youth with a drumbeat cadence that sounds rather like [Denver makes Native American chanting sounds]; you know, “Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet”—you do that. “Follow the Brethren, Follow the Brethren.”
The glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ, …some of John, …some of Moses, …some of Elias, …some of Esaias, …some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant [yet to be established]. Last of all [and this is a general description of those who have Telestial behavior], these…are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud. These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. These are they who suffer the wrath of God on earth. These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. (D&C 76:98-105)
That is a broad description of those who can not be in Zion. And, notably, it begins with a list of those who “follow the prophets,” almost as if the Lord (in the revelation to Joseph Smith) anticipated your day and warned you: “Do not go thither! Do not partake of that! Receive the testimony of Jesus! Prepare when He offers the Everlasting Covenant! Do that!” To the extent that a church or an organization worships or trusts a man in lieu of Christ, it will lead you to Telestial destruction. It will not… Those who believe in it will not survive the destruction of the wicked that precedes the Lord’s return.
I’ll tell you what you get from a Strongman model. What you get from a Strongman model is a multibillion-dollar shopping mall. What you get from a Strongman model is a red Cadillac Escalade stopped on a back road in Nevada with $54,000 of cash in the back of the car when ‘the prophet’ is arrested for child abuse and child sexual exploitation (that’s Warren Jeffs). I’ll tell you what you get with a Strongman model: You get pretenders, and you get fools. You get people who hold onto their power (like the LeBaron’s did) by murdering one another so that they can claim that they have ‘the keys.’ I’ll tell you what you get with the Strongman model: You get Brigham Young
who takes a woman who was alreadywho takes women who were already married to another man (and not divorced), seals them to himself with keys,’ and then proceeds to father children with them (and Brigham Young condemned Parley Pratt for doing exactly the same thing—and even observed at Parley’s death that he probably deserved to be killed by the jealous husband because it was adultery for Parley to have done what he did). And what then is the distinction between the conduct of Brigham Young, on the one hand, and the exact same conduct by Parley Pratt, on the other hand? The difference lies in the fact that Brigham Young claimed to have the keys. If keys allow adultery, I want no such keys! If keys allow adultery, then I say, Damn me now, because I want nothing of it!
I don’t think that the pretenders in the Strongman model have any clue what it would take to bring again Zion, because they do not kneel down to serve and elevate the least. The only way to bring again Zion is if you—you—rise up; is if you come to know the Lord! Not me! The only way is if you comprehend the Gospel of Christ, accept the invitation, prepare your heart, prepare your mind, prepare your soul, clean yourself up, leave behind your sins, and come and face the Lord.
Zion is a level. It is an absolute level. Here’s a description of the level. This is Moses chapter 7, verse 18, And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and of one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them. There were no poor among them because it’s intolerable for your sister to suffer in want if you have enough and to spare. There were no poor among them because you cannot dwell in righteousness if you find a need, and you’re unwilling to fulfill it.
Here’s how you destroy Zion (we know, because there was an abortive attempt made during the time of Joseph Smith): Doctrine and Covenants 101:6. This is after it failed. This is the Lord explaining why. Here’s why; this is how you avoid Zion. Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances. That’s how you destroy Zion. It’s a fairly simple thing to accomplish because we all jar one another. We all contend one with another. And if you’ve gotta Strongman, we all envy him. We have our lusts (which means ‘ambitions’ in this context). Lusts and ambitions are the same thing: “I really want to get ahead in the organization.” Covetous desires—inequality. Inequality invites lusts. Inequality invites covetous desires. To be one, you must have… You must have equality. You can’t have one heart, one mind, and no poor among us if you have a stratified group of people. There can’t be any rich or poor. As a consequence of what it takes to have Zion, you cannot have a Strongman model. It will not work. As Gentiles, you are prone to this; you crave a Strongman. Therefore, you seek what cannot be in Zion.
If we go to Luke chapter 22, this is Christ making an observation. Luke chapter 22, verse 25:
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: [for] he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
The Gentile affliction—with the desire to have someone rule over them and to call such nonsense a “benefactor”—is precisely the motivation (that stems from the souls of those who have inherited this land) that creates so many of our current political problems: “Take care of us. Rule over us. Rule with a strong hand. Take away things from us that we shouldn’t have. Curtail our liberties, and show us the right way.” And yet, many of you can look at the government and detect that something is very much amiss, but you look at your own religious structure and you’re entirely oblivious to it. Governmental paternalism is “deeply offensive.” Church paternalism is “good, and right, and righteous, and holy, and wonderful and I just thought it was so special, the things that they said.” [Laughter.]
Turn to 2 Nephi chapter 10, beginning at verse 11:
And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no [king] upon the land, who shall [rise] up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith [the Lord]. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words. (2 Nephi 10:11-14)
We (if we’re gonna have Zion) must reject even the idea of a king. I know that embedded in the doctrine of the Restoration is the notion that we’re gonna become Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses. I want to suggest to you, when Christ said, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), and He gird Himself with a towel, and He knelt down, and He washed the feet of those that He was ministering to, that implicit within that is the kind of conduct that the real King (and those who are His kings and priests) put on display. If He said, My kingdom is not of this world, here He came merely to be a servant, how much more should we, gratefully, look at the opportunity to kneel and to serve rather than to say, “I want the chief seats,” rather than to say, “I want to be upheld and sustained and lauded and praised—and if you can, would you mind throwing a big musical celebration at my next birthday? [Laughter.]
Christ is our only King, and His kingdom is not of this world—John 18:36. He said, If I…have washed your feet; ye [ought also] to wash one another’s feet. For I have given unto you an example, …the servant is not greater than his lord—that is John 13, verses 14
and [to] 16.
The twin of kingship is priestcraft. In 2 Nephi chapter 26, verse 29 (by the way, the denunciation of kingship came from the same prophet who denounces priestcraft; he hit ‘em both)—2 Nephi 26:29, He command[ed] that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
Just so you know, no one is subsidizing anything that’s going on in these series of talks. We lose money every time we offer one of these. We estimated what we thought the crowd would be in this venue, we paid for and rented (personally, out of our own pocket) this, as we’ve done the other venues, and we underestimated—but I thought we would be safe because there’s always been extra room in other places. I don’t charge anyone to attend these things. I don’t ask anyone to help me pay for them. I don’t charge you an admission fee. I don’t try to sell you anything. Doug is recording this stuff. He comes here; he pays his own way. He does what he has to do in order to create a record, and then he sells the recordings that are made to defray his costs. All of the recordings are gonna be turned into a downloadable MP3. The only way I can get it into a form that preserves it so I can give it away is if Doug spends the money in order to make the record. He charges you, and he collects from you, and I don’t see one penny of it. When there was enough and to spare, and he said there’s some money for me, he used that money to help some missionaries. I got nothing. Just so you’re clear on the concept, if anyone wants to go out and make themselves a big, popular speaker ‘like me’ [laughter], then you go waste tens of thousands of dollars out of your own pocket in order to accomplish what I’m doing to give away information—which ought to make you somewhat wary of anyone who is inviting you to come unto the Lord in exchange for an entrance fee.
The twin of kingship is priestcraft, and the purpose of priestcraft is to set themselves up that they may get gain. It’s not that they set themselves up for a light unto the world, but they set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain.
Can’t tell you not only the losses I suffer, but also the insults I endure. I mean, you people… You people have one attitude. I have to tell you, when I put up a comment about “Stop… Stop praising me; stop quoting me; go to the content; go to the scriptures; go to the doctrine. Leave me out of it; I’m not a big man. Don’t use my name to make you credible,” I got a bunch of comments and emails that said, “I would never use your name because everyone I know hates you [laughter]. Everyone I know thinks you’re a lunatic; an exploiter; and that, sooner or later, you’re gonna have your own church, and you’re gonna be driving a red Escalade [laughter], and having $54,000 in cash.”
I want to be perfectly clear right now about something which has not and will not ever change about me. I am unwilling to give you commandments. (When have I ever commanded you?) I am unwilling to lead. (When have I ever said, “Follow me”?) I am unwilling to organize you. (When have I ever said, “I want to lead an organization”?) I am unwilling to accept money. (When have I ever said, “Pay me”?) We have enough Gentile leaders. We have a good-enough church or churches already. When those churches err, they suffer the consequences of doing so. We do not need another church or churches. We do not need a king. We do not need more priestcraft.
I read you a little bit ago from Doctrine and Covenants section 76: They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things— They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of His fullness, and of His glory (D&C 76:54-56). If I could pray, if I could beg, if I could entreat for you to have one thing, it would be His fullness, it would be His glory—nothing from me, something from Him. He’s the One who is mighty to save.
Changing the leader will not fix our problem. The problem is the people. The problem is that we need to rise up individually—and having risen up individually, then we have the potential for having a gathering. But changing the leader will not accomplish a thing. It’s just another delay. It’s just another stall. It’s just another perversion.
The change that is coming at the Lord’s return is going to alter the Telestial condition to a Terrestrial condition of the entire world. To the extent that any church tries to convert you to follow men (as I read you just a few moments ago), if you are of Paul, or if you are of Peter, or if you are of Cephas, or if you are of Spencer or Howard or… No, no, it was Spencer, and then it was Ezra, and then it was Howard, and then it was Gordon, and now it is Thomas. If you’re of them, you will not survive the Lord’s return.
You will not survive the Lord’s return, period.
And a revelation was given to Joseph Smith that informs you of that. I am not… I am not, I never have been, and I never will be of Thomas, or of any of those who follow and sit in that same chair. I would recommend that you hesitate being so.
I have to tell you, though (and this is one of the ironies of the Second Coming—ironies, you know, the Lord’s big on that sort of stuff), if you look at the description of… (Where is that? Alright.) This is a description of those in the Terrestrial condition, from Doctrine and Covenants section 76. It begins at verse 71, but that’s just talking about the glory that they have. Verse 72 says,
Behold, these are they who died without law; And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto…that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; …they…are the honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men, …who receive
not his glory of his glory, but not of his fullness. (D&C 76:72-76)
So, if you’re in the world, and if you’re blinded by the preaching of false ministers and you live honorably according to that—but you don’t follow them; you don’t worship them; you simply do the best you can—you will survive the Lord’s coming. But if you are worshipping a man as your leader (to whom you look for your salvation, who holds ‘keys’ to take you away from death and hell and put you on a throne somewhere in heaven), that group of people have gotten too close to the truth to be excused for their error. They are idolaters. Blinded by the craftiness of men, without idolatry—they’re simply confused about the nature of God—is different from approaching nigh unto it and then following and idolizing a man. I don’t know that you can create idolatry outside of a religion claiming keys: the Catholics, the Mormons. (Now I’m thinking about Joel Osteen. He seems affected to me, anyway.)
Zion cannot come with the minimum. Zion has to be at the forefront. Because Zion is required to be at the forefront, it must be the invitation for the Lord’s return. Until that exists, the invitation on this earth does not exist for His return.
But here’s a description given through the Joseph Smith Translation of Exodus chapter 33, verse 20. (And since it’s the Joseph Smith Translation, you’re gonna have to look there for it.) Here… Listen to this verse:
And he said unto Moses [this is the Lord speaking], Thou canst not see my face at this time, lest mine anger be kindled against thee also, and I destroy thee, and thy people; for there shall no man among them see me at this time, and live, for they are exceeding[ly] sinful. And no sinful man hath at any time, neither shall there be any sinful man at any time, that shall see my face and live. (Exodus 33:20, emphasis added)
You might catch a glimpse: “Whoa! Just before I ignited, I think I saw Him!” [Laughter.] That’s not Zion.
D&C 1, verse 31… Oh, here the Lord says it right to us again, right now in this dispensation. D&C section 1, verse 31: For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. So, contrast that with “I cannot look at myself without the enormous latitude of allowance because I’m very forgiving of myself.” You would be better off saying, “I will recognize, I will admit, and I will hold myself to every failing that I am prone to make. But as for all the rest of you, I don’t see anything wrong with any of you. I can’t detect a flaw in the least, because I’m gonna judge you with the standard by which I would like to be measured, which is: I take no offense; I freely forgive.”
One of the greatest sins that the Lord says that we are culpable of, in a revelation that was given about the Law of Consecration (another notion that only rears its ugly head one time these days—and that’s as you’re making covenants in a temple)… But take a look at Doctrine and Covenants section 70. This is about our failure to live the Law of Consecration, which brings us all under condemnation. Beginning at verse 14 of D&C 70:
Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. Now, this commandment I give unto
my servant my servants for their benefit while they remain, for a manifestation of my blessings upon their heads, and for a reward for their diligence and for their security; For food and for raiment; for an inheritance; for houses and for lands, in whatsoever circumstances I, the Lord, shall place them, and whithersoever I, the Lord, shall send them. (D&C 70:14-16)
Here we have, separate and apart from the description of Zion (they’re one heart; there are no poor among them; they’re one people), a commandment that says, “In your temporal things, you’re going to need to be equal. Otherwise, the abundance of the manifestation of the Spirit is going to be withheld.”
In a section about Zion (this is Doctrine and Covenants section 59, beginning at verse 18), the Lord has this to say—beginning at verse 18:
Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use [by] man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. (D&C 59:18-20, emphasis added)
Or, in other words, excess meaning ‘wealth’; extortion meaning ‘to compel the poor.’ “I am willing to give unto you some charitable thing if you will….” The poor are not to be extorted. I see little difference between the extortion that was exerted upon the heroine in Les Miserables, which sent her into prostitution—an exploitation that compels the single mother to do what she would rather not do, to take time away from her child in order to satisfy the demands of those who would extort.
It pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; …unto this end [they were] made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments. (Ibid, vs. 20-21)
It’s all His! And He gave it for our use, and our enjoyment, and our betterment, and our blessing. He did not give it to give me power over you! He did not give it so that I can say, “Well, now that I’m in charge, I like children if you cook ‘em right!” [Laughter.]
Consecration was given to remove or end poverty, and it was given in 1832. Let’s go to Doctrine and Covenants section 78 (this is 1832), beginning at verse 3:
For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion— For a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto my church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven; That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things; For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you. And now, verily thus saith the Lord, it is expedient that all things be done unto my glory, by you who are joined together in this order. (D&C 78:3-8)
Moses 7:18, we read before—one heart, one mind, dwell in righteousness, no poor among you. 1832…? 2014…? Where? Where is your unity? Where is your equality? I know you’re all very religious, or you wouldn’t be here. “How can you say unto me, Lord, Lord, but do not the things that I say? Why call you me Lord?” It’s almost like Christ anticipated the Gentiles making such a mess of what He gave us. Now, if we’re going to crawl back out of the mess, the only way to do so is carefully, incrementally, and by small measures. The Lord has a way of bringing great things through small measures.
Can you be one because you believe… Can you be one because you believe in the theory of equality? Can you be one because you believe in the theory of sharing with one another? Can you be one because you believe in the doctrine? Or must you act?
James chapter 2—James, the culprit of the Restoration—James chapter 2, beginning at verse14:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and [have] not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, [and] be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:14-18)
Well, if he was good enough to prime the well to get the Restoration started, I would suggest that he’s good enough to give us advice about the practicalities of the conundrum that we currently face. There is an enormous gulf between the content of the material that was revealed to us in the Restoration and the religion that you practice daily. That gulf is going to need to disappear. And you think… You think you’re trapped because of the FLDS Church, or the Community of Christ, or the RLDS Church, or the Church of the Firstborn—
Now that was an interesting incorporation because that’s just… There’s some things that to me are like fingernails on a chalkboard (although I have to confess, fingernails on a chalkboard don’t bother me, but I understand it bothers most other people, so I use that). There’s some things that I find deeply grating and profoundly off-putting. Incorporating an institution and calling it the “Church of the Firstborn” to me is one of those profanities that’s like, you know, “We’re going to a Latter-day Saint nudist colony.” [Laughter.] Just, they don’t work. “Endowed members only.” [Laughter.] See, that has a couple of [laugh] potential interpretations. [Laughter.]
So now, get your mind back with me here. [Laughter.] In order to get from where we are to where we need to be, you can’t do it inside the institutions that have trapped your minds. I am not preaching against your faith—if you’re some Fundamentalist, some RLDS member, some Latter-day Saint; honor your churches. But by degrees, you need to begin the process of by your works, showing what your faith is.
(And that’s the topic we will turn to next. I understand we’re changing the discs. I’m hot. I wanna go find something to drink. And we’ll take 5 minutes.)
(You ready? Okay, we’re recording.)
One of the things that happened as a substitute for the Law of Consecration was a replacement commandment that required the payment of tithes. Doctrine and Covenants section 64, beginning at verse 23 says:
Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming. [This is the statement from which that cliché that tithing is “fire insurance” is drawn from, because if you’re tithed you won’t be burned at His coming.] For after today cometh the burning—this is speaking after the manner of the Lord—for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today. (D&C 64:23-25)
I want to, therefore, encourage you to pay tithing. And I want you—if you are satisfied in paying that tithing to whatever church or organization you belong to—to continue doing so. The act of giving that as an offering to the Lord I don’t think requires you to supervise what happens with it once you give it to someone. I think they become accountable. For you, it is an act of faith. For them, it is a matter of accountability.
However, some of us are forbidden from paying tithing to our church of choice. Some of us simply refuse to pay tithing because they don’t trust the church. Some refuse because they believe the church has neglected the poor. Some refuse to pay tithing because church leaders of the LDS Church treat the return that they get on the tithing as investment income and then use it to build shopping malls and buy landholdings. And, by the way, on that, I believe the Lord anticipated that notion in one of the parables that He taught. In Matthew chapter 25, He says,
The kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, [and] to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded…the same, and made them other five talents. [The one] that had…two, [he went and he traded; he got] two. [The one] that had…one, [he] went and [buried it] in the earth. (Matthew 25:14-18)
He tells this parable, and then His disciples want Him to explain it, but He says… He comes back. The one that turned the five into another five, He says,
Well done, thou good and faithful servant: [you’ve] been faithful over a few things, [I’ll] make thee ruler over many things. (vs. 21)
The one that did two, he gained another two. He commended him:
Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant; [you’ve] been faithful over a few things, [I’ll] make thee ruler over many things. (vs. 23)
And then the one that had the one that buried it and didn’t do anything to get a return for the Lord, he said,
I knew thee that thou art [a] hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, [I] went and [I] hid [my] talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
…Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest…I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. (vs. 24-27)
In other words, in this parable, He owns it. He owns it. He owns the interest; He owns the investment. He owns it. In this parable, there is no such thing as investment income. So far as I know, the purpose of the Lord is not well served by importing Tiffany’s to Salt Lake City, or Porsche (or Porsche Design), or the Rolex outlet in the shopping mall. I can’t even afford—
I guess if I took all the money I’m spending in doing these lectures and put it together [laughter], I could go shop an afternoon. That’s about how long the burn rate at that place [City Creek Center] is.
There is no divine purpose in neglecting the poor. The purpose, primarily, of collecting the tithes and of the yield upon it, is to bless and to benefit the lives of those who are in need. So, given the fact that you are commanded to pay tithing (and some of you refuse to do so because of the particular circumstances you see out there), and given the fact that the Lord has said, “Organize yourselves,” I would suggest that one small increment that you could begin is for you to collect your own tithing. You manage it yourselves, among yourselves. You assist the poor who are among you. You, as a group of common believers, pay your tithing into a common fund. And then, by the voice of your own group, dispose it by common consent so that everyone knows everything that comes in and everything that goes out. And you begin to have no poor among you. You provide for those who need housing and food and clothing and healthcare and education and transportation. And you do it without a leader. Do it by the voice of your own common consent, by your unanimous approval. You do it by united agreement. If you do that, you will not be paying a qualified 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 institution to earn for yourself a tax deduction for doing so. Ohhh… ‘Tis a terrible thing. You don’t get a benefit. [Laughter.]
Tell us…what thinkest thou [Christ]. Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought…him a penny. And he said unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he… Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesars; and unto God the things that are God’s. (Matthew 22:17-21)
Christ had no problem paying the tribute. Don’t think that the purpose in paying tithing is to earn for yourself a deduction on your itemized deduction schedule. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. (It’s almost as if the Lord anticipated all of the latter-day circumstances in the teachings that He gave to us in His parables and His statements in the New Testament.) You might even have negative tax consequences because the benefit of your united group, using your tithing to benefit someone, may disqualify them from government eligibility. Do it anyway. Become independent.
Now, if some of you who hear this decide to begin to do this, you will learn firsthand in a pragmatic, lab experiment just how very difficult it is to become ‘one.’ You will learn how greatly this world opposes the idea of Zion. You will all learn how weak we all are. You will learn exactly what the Lord said was the problem with the first effort.
In D&C 101:6 (I read it to you before), I just want to refer to the words: jarrings, …contentions, …envyings, …strifes, …lusts, …covetous desires. You wanna know why the early Saints failed? You wanna know how far you are at this moment, and you want an accurate barometer of ‘what lack you yet?’ Then organize yourselves; and you, unitedly, gather your tithings into the storehouse that you maintain; and you, by your common consent, take care of those who are poor among you. And you will receive an education like none other in the reasons why men fail. But the fact that men fail doesn’t excuse you from your own failure. And unless you rise up…
And this is a very modest, little thing to begin with. You will learn so much, so quickly that it will astonish you. You don’t need or want a Strongman. And the woman’s voice should be equal with the man’s. There should not be some ‘ruler’ among you Gentiles saying, “It’s this way; it’s gotta be this way! I prayed about it. Lord said I get the money. I prayed about it, and the Lord wanted me to have a new Porsche—and I got the down payment, but I don’t have the monthlies. And therefore, ‘Hear ye the word of the Lord, Give Fred a Porsche!’” [Laughter.] If that’s the way in which you conduct it, you’re no better than the rest of the Gentiles. You may as well stay in whatever organization you have at present. You may as well pay to support red Cadillac Escalades and shopping malls. You may as well just do that. Dump your money where it does no good.
I know, I know, there are lots of people that get benefited in lots of ways. But that doesn’t excuse the money that those Strongmen spend on themselves. The highest-paid clergies in the world manage the various denominations of the Latter-day Saint movements. It’s just the way it is. I hate to break it to you.
Take the money that the Lord intended for the poor, and you administer it for the poor among you. If you try this experiment, and if there is someone among you who receives rather than gives because they have not, then let me remind those who receive of another statement made in the revelations of this dispensation in Doctrine and Covenants section 42:42 (you should be able to remember that, 42:42): Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer. If you’re the beneficiary, not only should you be grateful, but do what you can in turn.
There is absolutely no reason to gather in order to fail again. We do not need another Jerusalem. We do not need another Rome. We do not need another Antioch. We do not need another Kirtland. We don’t need another Jackson County. We don’t need another Nauvoo. And we certainly don’t need another Salt Lake. We need Zion. And there’s no reason to gather if the gathering is going to be to fail again. Stay home, serve in your callings, and be happy. But—if you will rouse yourself to an experiment upon His words, you will find that it begins to grow within you. And you will find that it begins to be delicious to you.
It’d be wonderful if, at some point, out of the overwhelming majority of those who have been baptized and are regarded nominally as Latter-day Saints (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)—if the roughly 9 to 11 million completely inactive Latter-day Saints found renewed life and vigor by practicing the religion in this manner, the day might come when the other active 3 to 4 million members of the Latter-day Saint Church would be able to have something good come of their organization as well.
I want to remind you however that throughout the scriptures, when it comes to the establishment of Zion, there is no such thing as ‘hastening the work.’ [Laughter.] It can’t be done in haste. I’m just gonna lift a few out for you:
- 3 Nephi chapter 20, the Lord’s speaking. 3 Nephi chapter 20, verse 42: For ye shall not go out with haste nor go by flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the [Lord] God of Israel shall be your rearward. This is the Lord speaking. He’s quoting Isaiah, but it is the Lord speaking.
- Doctrine and Covenants section 63—I’ve read that; I’m not gonna do that one again.
- Doctrine and Covenants section 101, verses 68 and 69: Nevertheless, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, let not your gathering be in haste, nor by flight; but let all things be prepared before you. And in order that all things be prepared before you, observe the commandment which I have given concerning these things— Which saith, or teacheth, to purchase all the lands with money, which can be purchased for money. There’s gonna be an excess, ultimately, from your gatherings if you will undertake it. And there will be a place prepared, but not in haste.
- Going back to 3 Nephi, in chapter 21, verse 29: And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.
It cannot be done in haste. But look at what gets done if it is done in the way in which the Lord would have it be done. Doctrine and Covenants section 133, beginning at verse 25 is a description of the results if there is a people who get prepared. This will be the result (133, beginning at 25):
And the Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh. And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; …they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep. Their enemies shall become a prey unto them, And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land. And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants. And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence. And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory [in this context, it’s an ordinance], even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim. And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy. Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows. (D&C 133:25-34)
Ephraim the proud. Ephraim the headstrong. Ephraim—the one who is constantly in rebellion. Ephraim must come back, must heel to, must at last allow the Lord to rule over him, because Ephraim has got to rise up in order for this to happen—not in haste; never in haste.
Crowned with glory or in other words “with intelligence” or in other words “light and truth” or the “knowledge of God” so that no one need tell you Know ye the Lord—because you’re all going to know Him, from the least to the greatest.
Going back to 3 Nephi chapter 21:
But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this…remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance…
They are the Gentiles. They are Ephraim—you.
And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem. …then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, …unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I [will also] be in [their] midst…
The word “Powers of Heaven” is talking about the angels. In this circumstance, the power is singular. Not only because they are one, but because among them will be our Lord Himself. And where He is, there is the Power of Heaven, and it is singular.
And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people…
Because when you gather to hear what you’re going to hear there, this is the final stage in the Father’s work. This is the work that requires holiness to accompany even its teaching.
Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem. Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name. Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward. (3 Nephi 21:22-29)
Again and again, the notion that this work can be hastened is denounced. Again and again, it’s to be a place in which the preparations are done first. Again and again, it suggests that before we can gather together, we must have that heart/that mind which can make us one.
Turn back and look at the results—Doctrine and Covenants 45, beginning at verse 65:
And with one heart and with one mind, gather [you] up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you. And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion…
They won’t come unto it because to go there is like Acts chapter 5. You cannot endure that environment if you’re abiding a Telestial law. You’d be consumed.
And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy. (D&C 45:65-67)
Think about what it would take to transplant various populations, from various locations (not in haste), with everything having been prepared in advance. And in our currently fragmented society, unless you’re willing to experiment with your own effort to live the Law of Tithing by organizing yourselves and governing yourself… Miscellaneous groups will never make it—but people of God will.
Doctrine and Covenants section 65, verse 5:
Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth. Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever. Amen. (D&C 65:5-6)
If you read that and you know that the Lord is going to come to that, you realize that He cannot come unless it exists. If it doesn’t exist, He cannot come to it. If He cannot come to it, then He delays the day of His coming. And generation after generation may come and go, never having accomplished what the Lord invites us to do, what the Lord invites us to be.
Moses chapter 7—This is the Lord speaking to Enoch in a vision (recorded subsequently by Moses, by revelation), but it is a restoration of the book of Enoch, and the conversation and the speaker is the Lord. Beginning in Moses chapter 7, verse 60:
And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah…
This is the Lord’s oath to Enoch. He’s going to come. He’s going to come in the last days.
And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be [had] among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood [a thing that is possible now by you sitting at a keyboard anywhere in the world—you can cause the truth to flood the earth], to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle [in this context, the tabernacle to be built is His house], and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other [this is the second return of Enoch, as well—first, His house; then Enoch]; And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years. (Moses 7:60-65)
Zion exists before these things can happen. If Zion does not exist, these things will be delayed. They will not be prevented, because the Lord has, by a covenant, insured that they will happen. But the fact that the Lord has, by a covenant, insured that it will happen, is no guarantee that we will see it. Because we will only see it if we undertake to abide the conditions by which He can accomplish His work.
This is a Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis chapter 9:
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself. And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy; And the general assembly of the church of the first-born shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch. (JST Genesis 9:21-23)
…the covenant that God made again with Noah; the covenant that He made originally with Adam; the covenant which some generation will rise up to receive. Whether that’s you or whether you go to the grave without realizing it or not is entirely up to you.
Now, I need to read you something. This is Ezekiel, beginning in chapter 33 at verse 25 [heavy exhale]:
Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the blood, and [ye] lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land? Ye stand upon your sword, ye work abomination, and ye defile every one his neighbour’s wife: and shall ye possess the land?
Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence. For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the [mountain] of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through. Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.
Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak[ing] one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.
And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.
AND the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, …say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be [un]to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the [flock]? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty ye have ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves anymore; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, …where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and…all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie [down] in the good fold, and in a fat pasture [and they shall] feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
And as for [thou], O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [will] judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk [from] the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; …they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with [the] side and with [the] shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; [for] I the LORD have spoken it.
And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them…the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing[s]. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand[s] of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I [am] the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 33:25-34:31, emphasis added)
I was required to read that, but I am not required and, therefore, will not comment on that.
Zion has been the promise of the Lord since the beginning:
- Adam foretold it at the great meeting in Adam-ondi-Ahman. I’ve spoken of that previously. I referred to that in a talk I gave in Centerville. I won’t read it again. You can find it in Doctrine and Covenants section 107, verse 56.
- Enoch foresaw it; he prophesied concerning it. I’ve read that to you again today, even though I read it previously.
- Noah had it revealed to him by covenant. I read that to you today from the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis chapter 9.
- Moses was shown that it would be accomplished. I read that to you earlier today.
Now I want to change your view of one scripture, if I might. I want to take you to Luke chapter 9. You all think that the Mount of Transfiguration had a whole lot to do with Elijah, Moses, and keys, and the Kirtland Temple, and so on. And it didn’t have anything to do with that. It had to do with the head of the dispensation—Moses—and the one who brought that dispensation to a close—John the Baptist—appearing to Christ on the Mount to hand off for the new dispensation. But it also had… It had the purpose of fulfilling the covenant, the promise, the word of the Lord—Christ—who spoke concerning Zion. The Mount of Transfiguration is about Zion, as it turns out. And I can prove it from your scriptures.
Christ, in Luke chapter 9, beginning at verse 27—Christ prophesies:
But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God…
That’s the latter-day kingdom. That’s the one that Christ said was not of this world that He’s going to come and inherit at the end. So, He says, “Some of you who are alive today will not die until you see Zion.” (The gymnastics that have gone into trying to explain that by both Christian and Catholic and even Mormon commentators is rather amusing.)
Keep reading though:
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:27-31)
So, He says, “Some are living; they’re not gonna die until they see the Kingdom of Heaven.” And then He takes those three up on the Mount, and they see some things.
Turn to Doctrine and Covenants section 63, beginning at (this is talking about Zion), beginning at verse 20 of section 63:
Nevertheless, he that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come; When the earth shall be transfigured, even according to the pattern which was shown unto mine apostles upon the mount; of which account the fulness ye have not yet received.
He promised them that they would get to see the latter-day triumph. He took three of them up on the mountain, and He showed them the latter-day triumph. Therefore, there were those that were standing in that generation who did not die until they had seen the latter-day triumph of the Kingdom of God. He fulfilled His own word. And it was put into the gospel in that fashion for that reason.
It will happen! But it requires an awakening, and it requires an arising. It does not require a leader—a servant, maybe; not a leader. It does not require a president. It requires your common consent by your deeds—not only to say, but to do. It will not be achieved by control. It will not be achieved by coercion. It will not be achieved by force. It will not be achieved because there’s some big Strongman among you. It will only happen if each of you are strengthened in your faith and know the Lord. It will be achieved by humility. It will be achieved through meekness. It will be achieved by love which is unfeigned—the real thing.
One of the things I do some evenings (though I haven’t done it for awhile)—one of the things I’ve done in the evenings is to teach a graduate class on leadership. It’s a well-studied, well-documented, well-understood phenomenon: leadership, as distinguished from mere managerial behavior. Leaders have a set of things that they do. And the purpose behind teaching the leadership class is to equip those who are not leaders with the ability to mimic leadership behavior in such a way as to inspire the misapprehension that what they’re looking at is, in fact, a leader—rather than someone merely skilled in the art. I teach this class as a complete obscenity to me. It grieves my spirit as I teach this stuff. And I try (although they won’t pass the course if I don’t give them the material), I try to give a little bit of my own view about how repugnant this stuff is. Because really what we’re talking about is the ability (having used studies and social sciences to figure out what appeals to people)—how you can mislead them into thinking that something that is not authentic is in fact authentic. It’s really using behavioral conduct as a form of sheep’s clothing in order to conceal what is either altogether missing (it’s sheep’s clothing on the empty suit) or, alternatively, it’s sheep’s clothing on the wolf. Today we manufacture leaders. Today we produce them as a result of a skill set. And they will mimic it, and they will appear as though they are something that they are not.
So, when I say, “love unfeigned,” it cannot be feigned. There cannot be anything about the establishment of Zion that is inauthentic, illegitimate, or insincere. You have to be your own judge about who you are and what you’re about. But to the extent that you think you can behave and imitate and get in, all you would do is jeopardize your life. You have to be it; you can’t feign it. Because if it is feigned, it will not satisfy you.
(Now there’s a big topic that I want to cover, but I want to cover it on the last tape. Tell me where we are—how many minutes do we have? Okay, I wanna talk about one thing, and then we’ll save the… It’s a big topic, and it needs to be addressed, and I don’t want someone getting that break in the middle of it.)
Some of you read my blog and saw that post I put up about a talk that was just given in General Conference. And it’s important… It’s important, because of the dynamic that is on display, to talk about that for just a moment. When Joseph Smith established the Relief Society, he established an independently-functioning woman’s organization that the women controlled and ran. They were an auxiliary to the church, to be sure, but it was a women’s organization. Today, we like to say that it is the longest-lived, oldest women’s organization on the earth. And that was true at one point, but it is no longer true. Through the process of correlation, the Relief Society (which once had its own budget; it once had its own checkbook; it once had its own control; it once had its own magazine; it once had its own lessons—it was a women’s run organization)—what happened was through correlation, the women’s organization was brought into the correlated authority of the local priesthood that’s gonna run everything. As a result of which, the women lost their budget. The women lost their magazine. The women lost control over their curriculum. The women lost their Relief Society. And what it became was an appendage to the correlated priestly control.
As a result of it being an appendage to the correlated priestly control, it’s just a matter of time… Just, I mean, start the watch… Start… You can measure it. It’s just a matter of time. Sooner or later, some woman, as a Relief Society President, knowing what needs to be done, will want to do what needs to be done, and some priesthood local authority (Bishop or Stake level/Stake President) is going to say “no.” And he’s gonna say “no” for not a very good reason. And before long there will be an accumulation of incident after incident, problem after problem, disappointment and frustration after disappointment and frustration, to the point where, in the natural chain of events, there will be women who say, “We’ve got a problem.” And the solution to the problem in the correlated church consists in obtaining possession of the right to be the one with the thumb; to be the one who is asserting the thumb, not the one that is under the thumb. So, the solution to the problem is, “We can’t govern ourselves because it’s now a man’s organization populated by women.” It’s no longer a women’s organization; it is man’s organization populated by women. So, what do the women say? The women are saying, “The problem here is that we want control back, and the way we get control back is (since it’s a correlated deal and that means priesthood)—we want to fetch for ourselves priesthood so that we can get control back.”
And the oblivious correlators, not recognizing that the problem is correlation itself, have determined that “We have a solution! The solution to the problem is that we have key holders. We have Thomas Monson; he’s chief key-holder—belt is completely full of those things [laughter]. And then we got the Twelve, and then we got Seventy, and we got Area Seventies, and we got Stakes, and we got Bishops. And when we get down to Bishop, he’s got like four or five keys left on his key chain.” But they got key-holders, and with that key… And it’s on a retractable… [laughter], I mean, you can’t drop it. You can hop on your Harley, and you can go to Sturgis, but you’re not gonna… Every time you drop it, it’s retracting right back on. You’re gonna hold on to them keys. I can take that key—I can take it out, and I can touch, touch the little lady, “There you go, little lady, now you have the authority from the key-holder! Voilà, I have brilliantly… I have solved the problem! The women agitating for ordained women are now empowered by the authority of the Priesthood.”
That was what Elder Oaks’ talk was all about: giving them the authority of the Priesthood so that they can go out, and they can perform a function like as if they were a priesthood holder. Misses the point! Swoosh, went right over! I would say gave him a haircut [laughter], but he’s like my friend Jon here; he’s follically-challenged. Went right over the head of the one who was given the responsibility of announcing the new program that will allow women to exercise the authority of the priesthood, because that’s not what they want! They would like to get back their organization. And I don’t blame ‘em.
And therefore, if you decide to experiment upon the words we have found in scripture today, and if you decide that you’re going to try and together collect your own tithes and administer to your own poor among you, I would suggest that not only should women have an equal voice, but that Joseph Smith was really on to something. Long before the notion of a Bishop controlling a storehouse, and even after the existence of a storehouse, the Relief Society was a lively partner in the process. I would suggest when you are ‘one,’ and when there is relief that is needed, and when as a result of what the Lords needs to have happen is for people to gather with love unfeigned, forget the nonsense about who is greater and who is less. Look among whatever group you participate in and ask yourself, “Who’s more compassionate, and who loves more?” And listen to her [laughter]. And listen to all of the ‘hers,’ because when it comes to the home and the hearth and the needs of children, there is a competency among the women that is innate. And love can be feigned by the presiding authorities. But women generally have a difficult time pulling that kind of nonsense off. Men can pretend to many things—
I saw Bill Clinton at a funeral, laughing and carrying on until he saw the camera, and then he was right back to grieving. [Impersonating Bill Clinton’s voice] “Oh, I feel so bad.” I think he feigns so well; that’s why women like him. “I care, I care a lot… Is that a D-cup?” [laughter] (I… I’m gonna face this way [laughter]. Yeah, we’re gonna have to edit this [laughter].)
One or two other little trifling matters that I wanted to mention, and then we’ll close for this part of it. In my view, the word and the title of “Prophet” to me is something that is hallowed and sacred and, like the name of the Son of God, probably ought not to be repeated too often. And I don’t think you can take the measure of a man until he finally lays his life down. And I think how he lays his life down matters in the aggregate as well. I don’t think that someone who fares sumptuously and receives accolades during his lifetime is ever much in a position to understand the rigors of obeying God and the difficulties of being thought a wild man, or preposterous, or everything that you are not. And so, when we use the name “Prophet”—and we use it casually—to me that seems to take something that ought to be spoken with a great deal of care and turn it into more or less a calling card. I find it offensive. I find it cheapens something, and it grieves… It troubles me.
When I think of the word “Beloved,” I think of the word “Beloved” exclusively in the context only of the Savior: This is my Beloved Son. And the One who is doing the loving in that context is the Father, making that all the more a term that oughta be used with extraordinary delicacy and reserve.
When you take those two words and you couple them together—“Beloved Prophet”… My sensibilities are such, at this point in my life, that when you say, “Beloved Prophet,” you are not appealing to me; you are repulsing me. You are not persuading me; you are offending me. You are not converting me; you are driving me away.
I don’t say this to be critical of anyone. I say this because despite everything I would like to be able to tolerate, despite my best efforts to try and make allowances, there are some things which, when I hear, I simply cannot control. My repugnance at the notion that there is one that walks among us who oughta be called “Beloved Prophet” is something I simply cannot control. I don’t invite you to join me in that, but I want you to understand that in some respects, we talk across a gulf.
I think I understand who our Lord is and why He was Beloved. I think I understand what it is that He requires of someone when they will hear His voice and do what He says. And I can think of nothing more superfluous or offensive than praise. I can think of nothing that would offend the Lord more than a mere man inviting adoration of himself. It is wrong.
I don’t want anything but your criticism. Don’t think you’ve got to defend me. I would rather hear what they have to say—not because what they say is true, but because it gives me an opportunity to understand what their fears are. Much of the criticism that gets leveled at me is leveled at me because they fear I’m something that I’m not.
We’ve got so many pretenders. There’s some guy out in some new iteration of some form of Zion that is on YouTube giving School of the Prophet lectures, and he’s a faux General Authority. You look at him, and he looks like a General Authority. He dresses like a General Authority. I’ve had enough General Authorities for a lifetime. I’ve seen enough Strongmen come and go for a lifetime. I’m not anyone’s Strongman! I will never be anyone’s Strongman—period! It is repulsive to me! It is morally corrupt. And in this world, as soon as you create an institution, as soon as you have anything other than people voluntarily (together) working towards an end, as soon as you have anything other than an idea, you have corruption.
I will leave no seat for another man to occupy. I will leave no institution for another man to compromise. You will not have another person that says, “I sit in his seat.” I won’t even explain to you what seat it is I occupy. I want you to occupy, not as my equal, but as my better.
I think there are many people here (and there have been at every one of these) who are, literally, better people than I am. And I don’t say that to feign something. There are some of you people that have lived lives of devotion and goodness and honesty. I came to the missionary discussions drunk. I mean, I grew up in Idaho, and we were bored [laughter]. And the stuff you do when you’re a bored, young man, you know—there it is. It required the Atlantic Ocean for my baptism and not a drop less [laughter].
So, when I preach these things, it does not mean I model these things. There is so much about this that is for me an aspiration and not a reality. I live in constant fear of my own failure. I don’t think I belong up here talking to you about this stuff, because I don’t think I’m the most worthy in the room. I can tell you that the Lord forgives sins and, therefore, makes allowances for those who are inadequate to fulfill what He would like to have done. It is perhaps because I recognize (#1) I am not well qualified, and (#2) I fear my own failure more than everything else that perhaps He trusts me. Because He knows I’m not going to go out and freelance—and I have not, and I do not, and I will not.
Therefore, I don’t need or want or even welcome your admiration or your praise. You’re probably more admirable than am I. I’m not telling you these things because I can do these things. I’m telling you these things because this is what the Lord would have us do. He’s told us what’s on His mind and here it is; it’s laid out for us. The question is not, “Who’s great and noble and gonna stroll in there?” The question is, “Who’s meek? Who’s humble? Who’s appreciative of their inadequacies? Who’s willing to say, ‘When I count up all my foibles and failings and I look at them, I don’t think I have any ground upon which to criticize anyone else.’”
And I hope none of you think I’m criticizing Elder Oaks; I am not. I’m explaining the dilemma that the church has put itself into. I’ve corresponded with… He’s Professor Oaks—I mean, he was the Trust Professor while I was in law school. He was the President of Brigham Young University, but when he crossed the street to the law school, he became ‘Professor Oaks.’ And the Dean was Dean Lee—Rex Lee; he was our Dean. Dallin Oaks was a Trust Professor—Professor Oaks. I’ve been taught by him. I’ve sat in a moot courtroom with him. I heard him at a number of occasions. I’ve been invited up during General… They still invite me up during General Conference to attend a reception on the Saturday afternoon because I’m a graduate of Law School. I don’t go; I can imagine the horror. I went down to the Marriott Center, and one of the Seventy were down there and introduced himself. And I shook his hand and told him how glad I was to be there. I didn’t want to put him to any discomfort by telling him my name.
But I do think that if we’re going to have Zion that someone (inadequate though they may be) needs to point out that if you’re hoping some Strongman’s gonna come along and take you by the hand and lead you to the Promised Land, watch your wallet—and if you’re a lady, watch your zipper or buttons. Because I’m telling you, Strongmen have an insatiable appetite for self-aggrandizement, and that’s not me. I don’t want that. I don’t welcome that. I don’t advocate that, and I warn you against it. If someone came up and hit me in the head with a hammer, and six months from now I’m organizing a church, and I’m asking you to give me women for multiple wives and pay me your tithing, you remember what I said today before they hit me in the head with a hammer. Because I’m intact mentally today. I may be crazy then. But it’s wrong to do the things that have been done, and it’s wrong to preach and practice the things that get preached and practiced in the name of the Lord.
It is right to expect Zion, but it is right to expect Zion upon the conditions that are laid out for Zion and on no other basis. It is right to expect Zion on the terms the Lord has ordained and none other. You won’t be able to cheat your way in there, and a group of people will not be able to accomplish it apart from the conditions the Lord has ordained.
So, this brings us then to the subject I’m going to talk about for the final third of this talk, which is “Where is Zion?” ‘Cause I imagine lots of you think you’re gonna go back to Independence, Missouri and find yourself a location there and build yourself a Zion. And I’m gonna talk about the ‘wheres’ of it all when we wrap this up in the next third. Thanks.
(Are we good? Okay, we’re gonna start this last part, and the tape is rolling. It’s like a wall of heat when you step in this room. It’s cooler out in the hallway than it is in here).
You know, the subject of where Zion will be is something that there’s a lot of eagerness about and a lot of confusion concerning. And I wanna talk about the topic of the location of Zion just generally.
The last days’ Zion is connected with the rights of the Fathers. And I talked about covenants. And I talked about the preliminaries. And in Centerville there was some material that is relevant to this topic. From Adam to Noah and then to Melchizedek there was an unbroken chain of both priesthood, on the one hand, and father-to-son descent, on the other hand. There was literally “a family of God” that began with Adam as the son of God, and it descended then, generation after generation, until Melchizedek in an unbroken chain. But then there was an apostasy from that Order. As a result of the apostasy from that Order, the chain got broken. And because the chain got broken (like we looked at in Centerville), it was the hope of Abraham to reconnect that chain.
I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same [that is, the rights of the fathers]; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge and [possess a greater knowledge, be a greater follower] and to be a [and this doesn’t make much sense unless you comprehend what it was that he was looking at, and you are convinced that what he was looking at is exactly that Order that began with Adam; he was desiring to be a] father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or the first father, through the fathers unto me. (Abraham 1:2-3)
This is what Abraham sought. And the reason Abraham sought that was because he understood that once that connection had been broken that he needed to turn his heart to the fathers so that he, Abraham, would not be smitten with the curse of apostasy. Therefore, he sought for the “blessings of the fathers.”
Now, in this late moment in time—in this late period of the generations of humanity—I don’t think we can much aspire to being one of the Fathers because, well, they were established long ago. But we ought to be turning our hearts to the Fathers. And we ought to be seeking also for what it was Abraham was seeking for… Not to become, ourselves, but to become connected—not as a Father but as a descendant, as a son or daughter.
When Abraham reconnected into the Fathers, Abraham was again able to perpetuate an unbroken chain from himself to Isaac, and Isaac in turn to Jacob, and Jacob in turn to Joseph, and Joseph in turn to Ephraim, to whom passed the right of the Fathers or the right of the firstborn—even though Isaac wasn’t firstborn; Jacob wasn’t firstborn; Joseph wasn’t firstborn; and Ephraim wasn’t firstborn. And yet they were all the firstborn because they received the inheritance by right, and it was conferred upon them by right. Therefore, they were the firstborn. Five generations in which the ancient pattern, through the faith of Father Abraham, returned and “took”—it actually endured for five more generations.
Well, Jacob gave a blessing to Joseph that we find in the book of Genesis chapter 49, verse 26: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren. As a consequence of that, the latter-day Zion must be brought through Joseph. He’s the one upon whom the blessing devolved, and interestingly enough, he passed that on to Ephraim, not to Manasseh. And interestingly enough, though Manasseh was the lineage through which Lehi’s family descended, the prophecy I read you about the blessings being conferred in the last days are to come through the hand of Ephraim. (There’s something afoot.) And it’s going to come through Joseph at “the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.”
I don’t know how many of you’ve spent much time in Missouri, but the hills there aren’t “everlasting.” They’re almost so diminutive as to be undetectable. And if you happen to be in a cornfield or around some trees, they’re altogether gone. Because that terrain was never the terrain prophesied as being the location when the blessing was given by Father Jacob to Father Joseph.
Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah chapter 2, verses 2 and 3:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it…
In this context, in this prophecy, “all nations” is not Russia and China and Ethiopia and Uzbekistan and Turk-crap-istan and I’m-a-nut-istan [laughter]. “All nations,” in this context, means all the 12 tribes of Israel. The “nations” are the 12 tribes of Israel, period. That’s it. That’s who’s gonna flow unto it. So, you won’t need an international airport. Nor will you need to host the Olympics.
The mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, …let us go up to the…house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths…
The paths of God lie in the heavens. So, if you’re going to learn to walk in His paths, you’re going to have to learn how to walk in the heavens.
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3)
The “ensign” that is prophesied to be established—in the context, in the meaning of that day—had reference to a zodiacal, a constellation, a depiction of the heavens themselves. So, when an ensign is going to be reared and it’s going to tell you about how to walk in the paths of God, this is talking about something very, very different than what most of us today would envision. Zion is going to be a connection between heaven and earth. And at that place, you will learn of the God of Jacob’s ways, and you will walk in His paths—because Heaven and earth will be connected, and the stairway connecting the two will be open. And the heavens and the earth will be reunited again. And this is going to happen in the top of the mountains.
In March of 1831, there was a revelation given that we can read in D&C 49, verses 24 and 25: But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed—the mountains. These were the prophecies at the beginning, as the Restoration was starting to roll forth.
Joseph Smith said this: “Our Western tribe of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them. And unto it, all the tribes of Israel will come with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requirements of the new covenant.” That’s a letter that Joseph Smith wrote to N.C. Saxton that can be found in The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled by Dean C. Jesse, at page 273. But he’s talking about the Western tribes of Indians in that comment, which will make more sense as we get further into this material. He really did mean “out West.”
Doctrine and Covenants section 133, verses 26-34 talks about Zion in the Western mountains, the descendants of Joseph being responsible to build it, and there being crowning by Ephraim. And we read that a little while ago. I don’t think I’m going to read it to you again, but you can read it—D&C 133:26-34.
Now, there was a revelation that was given in which the first group of missionaries were sent out. And this is a nearly preposterous proposition to consider unless Joseph Smith was called to do something very, very different than what ultimately wound up happening in the Restoration. Because when the church got founded, when the Book of Mormon came forth, and when there were a small band of believers and there was going to be a mission, the first mission to be sent out… The first mission to be sent out was called to be sent to go “among the Lamanites.” Didn’t have anything to do with finding more Gentiles. It didn’t have anything to do with going to England. It didn’t have anything to do with going to Europe or the Eastern seaboard. It was sent out among the Lamanites.
Doctrine and Covenants section 28, beginning at verse 8:
And now, behold, I say unto you…you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment. And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city of Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be [in your current version, it says] on the borders by the Lamanites. (D&C 28:8-9)
If you go to the Joseph Smith Papers and you look at the original revelation, and you look at the revision that was made to the revelation, you find that what Joseph Smith received as a revelation says, “it shall be among the Lamanites.” And in the handwriting of Sidney Rigdon, “among” is eliminated and “on the borders by” is inserted. And so, the first missionaries were sent out to be “among” the Lamanites. An odd priority, indeed, for a fledgling church that Joseph Smith presided over in upstate New York.
Unhappily along the way, they managed to convert an entire congregation in Kirtland, Ohio that already knew that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel were faith, repentance, baptism, and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost—and that you needed to have a New Testament Church, and that God was all about restoring the New Testament church, and ‘Restorationism’ was the key of the day. And they had everything they needed except for one missing ingredient, and that one missing ingredient was they needed priesthood. And now, here’s a character, Joseph Smith, that could furnish them that. And so, if they go and they get Joseph Smith to sidle up with them, they could turn this Restorationist movement into a priestly congregation. And so, one of their ministers, Sidney Rigdon, came aboard as one of the earliest converts. He first went up to upstate New York and inspected Joseph Smith, in person, to make sure he was a suitable sort of prophet for Sidney to tolerate. And he was. And he came aboard. And sooner or later, an organization began to emerge, and as it did, Sidney Rigdon became “Number Two”—Counselor in the First Presidency, number two to Joseph. First Counselor in the Presidency and Second Elder of the Church—Oliver Cowdrey—became less and less. And so we’re off to the races with Kirtland, and strange things happen.
On their way out, however, and before they managed to get to the congregations that already existed in Kirtland, Ohio… The first missionaries did not set out for Independence, Missouri. There’s a report in the Painesville Telegraph on December the 7th of 1830. The missionaries said they were headed for (and this is a quote from that group Oliver Cowdrey was leading as they went out) “some unknown region, where God will provide a place of refuge for his people called the New Jerusalem.” The missionaries said that they were “bound for the regions beyond the Mississippi, where he contemplates founding a city of refuge for his followers in converting the Indians under his prophetic authority.” The “he” that they’re referring to in the interview is Oliver Cowdrey, Second Elder of the Church. Another edition of the Painesville Telegraph reported, “The four persons who were here, have proceeded on their mission to the Indians, or Lamanites as they term them, in the far West, where they say a Prophet is to be raised up whom the tribes will believe.”That’s a report on November the 30th of 1830.
Well, now, I wanna back up a little bit and set the stage for what was going on in 1830. Because when you look at the micro history of what was happening in the Restoration against the macro history of what was happening inside the boundaries of the United States (continental—it was beyond the borders, but the continent that the United States would be formed upon in its current form), there’s a lot going on.
Joseph Smith was born in 1805, but in 1803 there was the Louisiana Purchase, “Loozana.” So, Louisiana was purchased in 1803. We fought a war in 1812, and those dirty rascals from Great Britain managed to co-opt the Indian tribes as their ally in the War of 1812. I mean, we fought those guys back in 1776. Now we’re fighting them again in 1812, but this time they managed to persuade the Indian tribes to come aboard. So, we’re fighting Indians, in addition to the Brits (we can’t have that).
On September the 21st of 1823, through the night, to September 22nd, the angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith—September. By June of the next year—June of 1824—the Reverend Isaac McCoy was in Washington D.C. lobbying for a new law to be adopted. He would stay. He would lobby. He would irritate. He would agitate. He would persuade. He would convince that there needed to be something done to prevent anything like the Indian alliance with a foreign power from ever threatening the United States again. We’ve learned by sad experience that when Indians get a foreign power, as they are pleased to call it, they will immediately begin to excise Americans.
And so, Isaac McCoy made his case. In April of 1830, the church was organized—April of 1830. Six weeks later, after the organization of the church, the Indian Removal Act was passed in May of 1830. The work that the Reverend McCoy had been undertaking had borne fruit. With the adoption of the Indian Removal Act, all Indians—all Indians—inside the borders of the United States (as it was then configured) were forcibly removed from the Eastern United States and placed into part of the property that had been purchased in the Louisiana Purchase, which assumed the name “the Indian Territory.” All Indians were relocated west of Missouri on a north/south line that divided the United States from Indian Territory.
Just as the mission among the Lamanites began, President Andrew Jackson (on the basis of the law that had been adopted in 1830)—by 1831, he was forcibly moving all of the Indians—the Trail of Tears, all the rest of that. Now, why are the Delawares in the Louisiana Purchase? President Andrew Jackson was relocating all Indians to just beyond the western border of the Missouri line. Therefore, at that moment in time, when you send the first four missionaries out on their mission, at that moment in time, if they were going to locate any of the American Indians, they had to go to Missouri—because that is the first moment at which you would encounter them. There was no other choice; you had to go there.
And as it turns out, the location of the town Independence, Missouri was exactly in the middle of the various areas that had been allocated to the various tribes. The center of the land adjacent to the place where the Indians were then located (the center spot) was Independence, Missouri. It would also happen to be the trailhead for the only trail that came out West, which was the Santa Fe Trail. They embarked from Independence, Missouri to come out West. At that moment in time, when the first missionaries went out, it was the center place.
The Delawares (we have a state on the East Coast named after their tribe) were sitting out there on the other side of Missouri in the Louisiana Purchase property, and Parley Pratt (as one of the first missionaries) went and preached to the Delawares. Have you ever scratched your head and wondered what the heck is the Delaware tribe doing sitting on the other side of Missouri’s Western boundary for Parley Pratt to go minister to? Chief Anderson (that was his American name)… Parley Pratt taught Chief Anderson of the Delaware tribe and gave him a Book of Mormon. You’ve read about that in The Autobiography of Parley Pratt.
Well, the Indian agent was Richard W. Cummins, and the Indian agent forced the missionaries to leave the Indian territory. In fact, he threatened to take them to Fort Leavenworth and incarcerate them if they didn’t leave the Indian territory.
Delilah McCoy Likens, who was the daughter of the Reverend Isaac McCoy (Isaac McCoy being the one who was responsible for the adoption of the Indian Relocation Act), was happy to inform her father in a letter she wrote on July 31st of 1831 the following: “The Mormonites are about to take the country. They are preaching and baptizing through the country; are trying to proceed West to find the new Jerusalem, which they say is towards the Rocky Mountains. The agent has driven them off this side of the line and forbids their crossing it.”
K, it’s impossible because of the law, because of the agents, because of the circumstances, because of the threat of arrest for “Mormonite” (as they were called then) missionaries to get any closer to the Indians than Independence, Missouri. If you stepped beyond that boundary, you will be arrested—you’ll go to Fort Leavenworth.
Reverend Isaac McCoy is quoted in the daily Missouri Republican on November 28th of 1833 as saying,
The Mormons as I suppose from information, came here so ignorant of laws regulating intercourse with the Indian tribes, that they expected to pass on into the Indian Territory, procure lands of the Indians, aid them in adopting habits of civilization, and attach them to their party. At the western line of Missouri they were arrested by the proper authorities of government.
It becomes increasingly clear that the target of the first missionary effort had nothing to do with stopping at Independence, Missouri. It had a great deal to do with going into the Western mountains (the Rocky Mountains) and establishing Zion. But the good Reverend Isaac McCoy (the father of the Indian Relocation Act)—whose daughter was there on the scene, who was married to a minister—who had a grievance motivated by false religious ideals (and the best way to oppose Zion is always to have false religious ideas) were right on the spot at the very moment when, at its incipient stage, under the guidance of Joseph Smith, some effort could’ve been made to establish the New Jerusalem, but they couldn’t.
If you take a look at Doctrine & Covenants section 124… Joseph was told that when they had located in Kirtland that it would be temporary. And the location in Kirtland was temporary. When they went out and they found the center place—and that was found not by Joseph Smith; that was found by the four missionaries (five, because another guy joined ‘em as a result of proselytizing in Kirtland, so they had five when they got there)—they said, “We can go so far and no further, and at this spot we are in the center.” And so, that spot, given all of the legal entanglements and prohibitions, that spot became as close as you could get. They established a trading post where they would trade with the Indians. And the idea was that since they couldn’t go into the Indian Territories to proselytize them, that if they established a trading post and they traded with them fairly, that the Indians would cross the border (which they were not prohibited from doing), and they could come to their trading post and get a fair price. And so, if the Mormon missionaries established a trading post and dealt with the Indians fairly, they’d have a chance to proselytize when they came to them. These are not ideal circumstances, and as it turns out, not much was able to be done.
Later (and this is during 1841; this is in Nauvoo, and a temple is being required of the saints in Nauvoo), there’s this interesting statement within the revelation about constructing the temple in Nauvoo:
And ye shall build it on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build it. If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy. And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place. (D&C 124:43)
So, what this opportunity in the Nauvoo temple represents is… We’d lost Kirtland; we’d been forcibly expelled from Missouri; we had attached the idea of a center temple where God would come to dwell with His people at a place that would be a refuge that would be preserved by the power of God to that location, but we got kicked out of there; and we went back across the Mississippi to Nauvoo, and the Lord said, “You gonna build a temple in Nauvoo, I’ll command you to do that. You build it; I’ll give you sufficient time within which to do it. And if you go to and you do it, I’m gonna consecrate that spot. And I will make that spot holy to you. And I will make it so that you cannot be moved out of that spot by your enemies. And I will come there, and I will restore to you what has been lost: the fullness. I will give that to you, and I will do it in Nauvoo.” And it didn’t happen. And the flow of events took over.
I wanna read you from Joseph Smith’s History. At the very end of his life—on Saturday, June 22nd, five days before he would be slain—June 22nd of 1844 (you can read this in The Documentary History of the Church at volume 6, page 547)—Saturday, June 22nd 1844 about 9 PM:
Hyrum came out of the mansion and gave his hand to Reynolds Cahoon, at the same time saying, “The company of men are seeking to kill my brother Joseph, and the Lord has warned him to flee to the Rocky Mountains to save his life. Goodbye brother Cahoon, we shall see you again.” In a few minutes afterwards Joseph came from his family, his tears were flowing fast. He held a handkerchief to his face, followed after Brother Hyrum without uttering a word.
So, Joseph received a revelation on June the 22nd of 1844, telling him, “Now, now go to the Rocky Mountains.”
When we have an opportunity to accomplish something with the approval of the Lord, the Lord is going to be the one who ultimately decides where the actual accomplishment will take place. When it takes place, it’s going to be in the mountains, and you needn’t guess which mountains. The mountains are gonna be out here in the West, exactly where the first missionaries were sent to try and find it but were hedged up by the confluence of what was happening in the law and in society and in the management of the Indian tribes in 1831, when they tried to cross and go out West and were told they can’t. Well, if we can’t go out there and find that New Jerusalem city, if we can’t go out there, then we’ll settle here and we’ll take these local Indians, these relocated Indians, and we’ll fetch ourselves a Zion right here in this spot. And the Lord gave a series of revelations in which He said, “If you can do that, you do that. And that is acceptable to me, and that will be Zion. Go to! Have at it!” And then He says, “Here’s why you didn’t pull it off: your jarrings, your envies, your lusts, your contentions. That’s why you didn’t pull it off.” And He has said repeatedly in one of those extraordinarily clever things that the Lord has done throughout history: “Zion will not be moved out of its place.”
Oh I know, I know! I got the answer! The answer is: What is Independence, Missouri? That’s a daily double, and Alex is telling me I’m wrong [laughter]. I just lost everything I bet.
Oh, oh, I know! It’s Nauvoo, and it’s Nauvoo because the Lord changed His mind and said He would accept Nauvoo as a substitute Zion and not move the Saints out of that place if they would do what He said. Wrong again! Wrong again!
“Zion will not be moved out of its place,” which place you know not yet. But Joseph knew it was in the Rocky Mountains, and he intended to go there. And the Lord knew it was in the Rocky Mountains when He revealed that to Isaiah in his prophecy. And Father Jacob knew it when he was prophesying and blessing his son, Joseph.
Now let me give the Lord the latitude that the Lord is entitled to have because of a statement that Joseph Smith made. Joseph said, “Oh, you know nothing more than a baby in a cradle, because the whole of North and South America are Zion.”
K, so if the Lord says, “Yeah, you can build it in Missouri; that’s copacetic. Go for it! Go for it my son!… Oh, big booboo, my son.”
“How ‘bout here?”
“Ok, Ok. Go for it, my son, there!… Oh, big mess, big mess!” Plagues, locusts, starvation; yeah, that’s not good, not good. [laughter]
Time and time again, the location of Zion is approved by the Lord in different spots, precisely because the entirety of North and South America would be an acceptable place to found Zion. But within those general, geographic parameters:
- it must be in the mountains;
- it must be among the natives who were originally here;
- it must be established under the guidance of someone who hails from both the tribe of Ephraim and is a descendant of Jesse (you can read that in the Doctrine and Covenants);
- and it will surely come.
There is absolutely no reason for the Lord to tell you another place to go and pollute if you don’t rise up to bring with you the worthiness necessary to turn, at last, a place into the New Jerusalem:
- where the Lord can come and dwell among you,
- where you can be of one heart,
- where you can be of one mind,
- where there are no poor among you,
- and where you have all things in common;
- where you meet the requirements.
And there’s no reason to assemble you together at any spot. You can do everything that needs to be done preliminarily from wherever it is you dwell at present. And you can prepare your hearts, and you can prepare your minds, and you can begin to understand the difficulties. And instead of judging our failure that went on before, you can rather empathize with the failures that went on before and come to some appreciation for the fact that it’s not gonna be any easier for you than it was for them. It’s not gonna be any less filled with the temptation to be envious and filled with lust and have jarrings and contentions for you than it has been for those that went and attempted before.
The fact of the matter is that we tend to want that Strongman. We tend to want that ruler, that presiding authority. We tend to want someone to take control, precisely because we don’t want to go through the effort that’s involved in the common consent and the common sense of governing ourselves. It is just so much easier to pay and pray and obey than it is to go and to do and to rise up and to be one with our Lord and our God.
Now, we’re out of time. There was one other thing I was going to do, but we can do that happily at any moment. I wanna end this by bearing testimony to you that I use the scriptures because the scriptures are the standard by which you should judge the truth. I use the scriptures because they say the things the Lord would want to have said right now today. I don’t need to appeal to having any authority, because I can read you the scriptures and point you to the things that have already been revealed. I know these things are true. You would not believe me if I told you all I know. And it is not necessary for you to do so. If the words I speak do not convince you, let the scriptures convince you. And if the words in the scriptures don’t convince you, then get on your knees and pray and ask God, who giveth to all men liberally. Do the same thing Joseph did at the beginning to start the ball rolling, because Zion will come. And whether it comes in your day or not is entirely dependent upon you.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.