Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:16:23 — 88.3MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RSS | More
This talk was given near Moab, Utah on April 10, 2016 by Denver Snuffer.
I want to thank those that organized this for the invitation to come. I want to thank the landowners for allowing this to take place on their property, and I want to thank you participants for coming down and spending the time here to be present. I also want to thank Brian [Bowler] for imposing on me and requesting that I come and speak. Let me see if I can do something to add to what has and is going on.
The Savior is extraordinarily positive, and when He speaks negatively it’s at those moments that I want to pay particular attention and give some careful consideration. One of spots in which, in 3rd Nephi, in His visit with the Nephites at Bountiful, He spoke quite negatively, He attributed the content of His pessimistic prophecy to the Father, and noted that the reason why He was stating it was because the Father had told Him to. This is in 3 Nephi chapter 16, verse 10:
“And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you:” is how He prefaces His direful assessment of the latter-day gentiles. “At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts.” Then He goes on from there: ” . [A]nd shall reject… Behold, saith the Father,” this is Christ attributing what the Father has told Him as the source for His message, “I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”
In that list we all can make a self-assessment about a variety of things but the fact that He included within the list of the defects of the last day gentiles, the word “priestcrafts” ought to alarm every one of us. “Priestcraft”, when it gets defined in the Book of Mormon, is something that I think all are tempted to engage in. Peter was equally concerned and in his First Epistle, chapter 5, verses 2 and 3 he wrote:
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over the Lord’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”
It is not appropriate that someone should collect money from the flock nor “lord it over the flock.” Priestcraft is one of those toxic failures of the last day gentiles that we have to guard against it appearing among us as well.
Nephi wrote: “For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.” (1 Nephi 22:23)
Nephi supplies us with a definition of priestcraft:
“He commandeth that there shall be no priestcraft, 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.”
There is something so toxic about the practice of priestcraft that I want to flip the normal approach to this topic and not focus upon how we see it being practiced by others, but to use it rather as a check on what we do and how we approach the gospel of Christ. It is so toxic that if you engage in the practice of priestcraft, of setting yourself up to be the light, seeking yourself to become popular, seeking yourself to get gain and praise, that it interferes fundamentally with your ability to even be of service to the Lord.
Tithes ought not be used to support a man. Tithes ought be used to help the poor and the weak and the infirm. There is “enough and to spare” according to the revelation given to Joseph Smith but only if the purpose for which the tithes are paid are satisfied first; not to enrich men. I would dare not participate in a ministry in which service and sacrifice wasn’t compelled, I wouldn’t dare do that. There’s a hardness that is associated with taking pay for what you do. There is an arrogance that sets you above the flock. It is better to pay than to receive tithes and offerings. It is better to give than to take.
We got an extensive warning. Moroni, reflecting upon what the predicament of the gentiles would be in the last days, in Mormon chapter 8 – and this is Moroni who is talking – beginning at verse 32:
“Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins. O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled. Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.”
He makes no exception for some latter-day church. He makes no exception for some latter-day organization. There may be those who are the humble followers of Christ that are mentioned with some frequency in the Book Mormon but they are never mentioned in a congregational setting. They are never mentioned in an institutional setting. Nor is the gathering that is to take place in the last days ever an institutional gathering. Christ Himself said it would be “one of a city, and two of a family” He did not say, one of an institution. There is no such thing, and the Book of Mormon preaches against it. We are just as vulnerable to that misapprehension as are any other group of people.
It is our relationship to and our connection with God that matters. And you form that, not through me or through some other man, and not through the groups to which you belong. The groups to which you belong are a place to render service. They are a place where you can sacrifice to help others. I don’t care if that group is Methodist, Presbyterian, Latter-day Saint, or one of the fellowships that have been organized. That is of little consequence. You can be a Christian soul wherever you are, serving whoever you happen to be in contact with.
I’m going to talk about Zion, and Zion is going to be gathered. But the gathering of that group will not necessarily come exclusively from any party, group, denomination or lineage. Priestcraft damages the practitioner, I think more so than those on whom he practices. I don’t see how you can destroy equality, and injure and grieve the Spirit by holding yourself up as a light and interfering with the work of the Lord in bringing about Zion, and not suffer the greater loss.
Now I have heard countless expressions of hope for the Second Coming to be upon us soon. I hope to clarify the challenge that’s faced in having Zion established. I know of eight (and I haven’t gone out of my way to look.) These are eight who have imposed themselves upon my awareness. I know of eight; there are probably many more individuals who claim that they are going to establish Zion. They think God called them. They are tired of waiting. And they know what needs to be done from their study. So they’re going to launch out on the project. I have to tell you, Zion is not going to be a human achievement. I hope to make the daunting nature of what it will include a little more clear today.
I know of three who claim, presently, that they are Messiahs. It’s an odd thing, really, all three to make the same claim.
Zion will be God’s work, and in the end it will be His and His alone. He will own it; He will bring it; He will be the author of it, and He is the one who says that He will take credit for it. When it happens, however, it will conform to a pattern.
This is a verse that gets attributed to Enoch, who is in turn quoting a prophecy that was given by Adam. This is the original prophecy given at the beginning of the world through father Adam, who established in the beginning the covenant that God Himself intends to vindicate.
“Now this same priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.” (Moses 6:7.)
That authority gets explained a little more fully when Abraham sought for the blessing that began in the beginning. He describes what it was that he wanted:
“I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and 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, yea, 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 first father, through the fathers unto me.” (Abr. 1:2-3.)
There are some very bright, well studied, Latter-day Saints who think they know what the gospel and priesthood of Abraham was.
I’m here today to declare to you the truth, whether you accept it or not, whether you understand it or not, whether you think you can parse the scriptures otherwise or not. I’m telling you what the truth is today. Abraham sought for the right that came down through the fathers, from Adam, which was the right of the firstborn, which is that priesthood that must be restored in order to bring about the purposes of God is the last days. Abraham chapter 2 verse 11, the Lord says that through him:
“…I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel.”
Abraham’s fatherhood reckons from priesthood. Although the right will continue through the literal seed, it reckons through priesthood. He sought for the right to be one of the fathers.
We’re talking about a time in the last days, prophesied, and repeated by Jacob as his testimony in the Book of Mormon, when the natural fruit is going to reappear upon the earth. Natural fruit is always genealogical; it is always familial.
There is going to come a time in the last days when the Family of God will return again to the earth. “That same priesthood” includes a function that is not well understood. Abraham knew what this was when he said he desired to be a “father of many nations.” He was identifying one of the attributes and one of the roles that necessarily must return.
If you go to Moses chapter 5 there is an incident that takes place in which Mother Eve celebrated because, after the apostasy of son after son, she rejoiced because – well, I’ll read it to you. This is Moses 5:16:
“And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: [now this is her, she conceived, she bare Cain, and she said concerning this son] I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him?”
That is to say, Mother Eve looked at Cain in contrast to those that had rejected the gospel message that had been born by her previously. And Cain, apparently an answer to her supplication to the Lord, came as what she anticipated would be the son upon whom the birthright would be conferred. The one through whom the lineage would continue; the one through whom the government of God would continue upon the earth. The replacement for Adam.
But Cain when he arrived at the age of accountability and beyond, “hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him?”
“And she again conceived and bare his brother Abel. And Abel hearkened unto the voice of the Lord. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (Moses 5:17.)
Now mind you, there is no attempt to set out the chronology here other than by milestones. But Cain had determined to reject the Lord and not hearken to Him by the time the replacement, Abel, was born. And when Cain, who thought it his birthright, found that he could be displaced by his younger brother, as an act of overthrowing the government of God, Cain slew Abel in order to prevent the birthright, in order to prevent the promised Messiah, in order to prevent the work of God progressing through any lineage other than his own. This was an act of treason. This was an act of overthrowing the government of God. This was an attempt to force God to place the Messiah, that should redeem all mankind, into a position inferior to Cain, his father.
But God replace the slain Abel with Seth. And Seth who was the one through whom then the promise would be realized.
As you go through the account in Moses chapter 6, at [verse] 10 and 11:
“…Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his own image, and called his name Seth.”
So in “his own likeness after his own image” when Adam was created in God’s own likeness after God’s own image makes Seth, like Adam, a godly man.
“And the days of Adam, after he had begotten Seth, were eight hundred years, and he (that is [Adam]) begat many sons and daughters.”
There is no indication that any of them were as rebellious as were the descendents of Cain. He begat many sons and daughters. And yet, in the next verses there is only one son who is identified.
“Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begat Enos, and prophesied in all his days, and taught his son Enos in the ways of God; wherefore Enos prophesied also.” (Moses 6:13.)
So although there are many sons and many daughters, there is only one name. And you can follow it through. Seth, “many sons,” all of whom are unnamed other than one — and that one that is named is Enos.
Enos had “many sons,” all of whom are also unnamed other than one: Cainan. And Cainan has “many sons,” all of whom are unnamed other than one; the one that is named is Mahalaleel. And although all of his predecessors had “many sons,” Mahalaleel had “sons.” So the fertility rate is collapsing as we got closer to the Flood. There is only one named son of Mahalaleel and that is Jared. There is only one named son out of all the sons of Jared, and that is Enoch. And there is only one named son out of all of the sons of Enoch, and that is Methuselah.
This is not a genealogy. This is a description of the government of God as it descended down through each generation. So that upon the death of one you then knew who stood next in line in order to be “the father of all, the father of many nations;” the role that is occupied by the head of the human family. It is a priesthood line, in which only one in each generation stands at the head as the father.
This one stands as “the father of all,” and hence Abraham’s desire to become “a father of many nations,” because if he stepped into the line, he necessarily stepped into the role of providing the government of God. Christ is the one to whom all generations belong. He is the Redeemer of all mankind, and as the Savior of mankind He becomes the Father of all.
In Isaiah chapter 9 there is a verse that is dealing squarely with this issue. This is chapter 9 verse 6 of Isaiah:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”
This is a prophecy about Christ coming to restore, in the meridian of time, the government of God in which He, Christ, represented the “Father” of all, as the Redeemer of all, as the bringer again of the holy covenant.
He is prophesied to return with the description provided in the Book of Revelation, chapter 19 verse 16, as “the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.”
In D&C section 76 He explains what His intention is with respect to mankind. He intends to make men:
“[T]hey are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fullness and glory, and are priests of the Most High after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.” (D&C 76:56.)
That’s the intention that He has for all men; that men should become like Him: “kings and priests.”
Zion is a mortal responsibility. Men must cooperate with God for God to be able to bring it. It is not something that heaven is going to provide for us.
When Enoch and his city were established, it was not until after it was established and people had gathered together that the Lord came and dwelt with them. They prepared the place, they extended the invitation, and the Lord came.
Likewise, in the city that was established by Melchizedek, it wasn’t the angels who built his city. He preached repentance; men repented, and as a consequence of having repented Zion was taken up into heaven. Enoch’s Zion fled. Melchizedek’s Zion fled.
The last days Zion will be built not to flee. It will be built as an established beachhead to which the Powers of Heaven will return in order for He whose right it is to govern the earth can assume the responsibility of governing the earth. He intends to overthrowing every other government there is and to establish as the King and as the Prince of Peace, and as the Father of Righteousness, His rule and His reign over the earth once again at His coming.
Joseph Smith described the priesthood that will function in Zion preliminary to the Lord’s return. This is a quote from one of his teachings: “That priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy and stands as God to give laws to the people.” (That’s from The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith on page 322.) In that same talk there is a better elaboration made [by] one of the note-takers. You can find this in The Words of Joseph Smith, page 246. Joseph said: “It is understood by many by reading this chapter [referring to Hebrews chapter 7] that Melchizedek was a king of some country or nation on earth. But it was not so. In the original it reads ‘king of shalom,’ which signifies ‘king of peace or righteousness’ and not of any country or nation.”
What Melchizedek established was a community of peace, and as the one who preached the peace to which the people came he was acknowledged as the prince of peace or the King of righteousness.
At the beginning of the restoration, while Joseph was still alive, there was an abortive attempt to get founded what would necessarily need to be reestablished in order for there to be Zion. In a sermon that he delivered in August of 1843, he said that the fullness did not exist in the church; if it did he wasn’t aware of it, because the fullness required a man to become a king and a priest. Joseph Smith was made a king by anointing the following month on September 28 of 1843. The month before his anointing he explained, “no one in the Church held the fullness of the priesthood; for any person to have the fullness of that priesthood must be a king and a priest. A person may be anointed a king and priest before they can receive their kingdom.” (Wilford Woodruff’ recorded that in his journal on August 6, 1843.) The following month then, 28th of September 1843, Joseph was anointed a king and a priest, and the month after that, on October , 1843, Hyrum Smith was likewise ordained to be a king unto God.
Hold that thought for a moment while we 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 kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God. 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.”
So now we have a paradox. There must be a return of the “same priesthood that was in the beginning,” in which there is a theocratic father or king, but God commands there shall not be one, and if you raise one up then God will destroy him.
In solving the paradox I would suggest we go to the Book of Mormon first, in order to find out exactly how was it that at the time of the Nephites we had successful kings. One of whom is most notable is King Benjamin. We don’t even call him “Benjamin,” we call him “King Benjamin,” because his identity with his role is so linked together that we can’t talk about the man without talking about his status. This is King Benjamin in Mosiah chapter 2 explaining himself and explaining the greatness of the kingship which he held.
“But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me. I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you; Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you— And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day. Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day. Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
This is King Benjamin explaining kingship; one that God recognized and ratified; one that was approved by Him; one that brought about peace in his day.
Christ was born a King. In fact, wise men from the East came inquiring saying: “Where is he that was born King of the Jews?” Because that was His status, that was what the prophecies said of Him. That was the role He occupied. And the person they approached to find out where they might identify the newborn king was the king of the land who knew nothing about the matter, and had to go to the scriptorians to ask them, who after some fumbling came up with “Bethlehem.” Bethlehem of Judea, thou art not the least.
Christ was born as a King, but He explained how He discharged His Kingship. In John chapter 18 beginning at verse 36, Jesus answered. This is when he was on trial for His life:
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
That’s the King. He suffered Himself to be surrendered into the hands of wicked men who despitefully used, abused, beat, and humiliated Him and then killed Him publicly on a thoroughfare where the notoriety of His death would be on public display. No one entering or leaving on that day, the city of Jerusalem, could do so without noticing the humiliation of our Lord. That’s our King.
He explained Himself further in contrasting who He, the King, the Almighty Father, the Wonderful, Counselor, of the end of His government there shall not be a failure of increase, He explained Himself and how He rules to his disciples. This is in Luke chapter 22 beginning at 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: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doeth service.”
The great King came, above all else, to serve. Zion will come. It will come, not because of the worthiness of any of us, it will come because of the repentance of us, and the worthiness of those with whom God covenanted to bring it to pass, including Adam and Enoch and Abraham and Melchizedek. It will come as a consequence of the righteousness of those who went before and with whom God, who cannot lie in a covenant, made a covenant to cause it to happen in the last days. It will surely come.
Mormon wrote his book and had us in mind as his audience. After Mormon finished his book there was one reader, and that was his son Moroni, who buried it. Everything Mormon did he did for this audience today, the last days, the gentiles. As he is finishing up his record – this is in Mormon 8:31 – he talks about us and says:
“There shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.”
There is a right way, and it will be done according to the Lord’s will. And the Lord is actively working to bring that about right now in our day. The potential for Zion and the covenants being fulfilled in our day is as great as it has been in any generation from the days of Adam until now. And yet in all those generations there have only been two successes that the scriptures have captured.
Well, the original priesthood and the original pattern will have to return in order for the last days Zion to exist. The first Zion, in Moses chapter 7 verse 13:
“And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, …so great was the power of the language which God had given him.”
When the government of God is upon the earth in the form of Zion, as it was established by Enoch in his day, then God protects and defends it. God will be the force with which the nations of the earth must contend if they intend to do harm to Zion. Because it is His government, it is His handiwork, and it is an affront to Him to challenge His authority in attacking Zion, hence Enoch’s ability to speak the word of God and to have those that would bring harm upon Zion vanquished.
Hence, further, the reason why, before the Flood, it was necessary to remove Zion, because God cannot destroy the [righteous]. The wicked can destroy the wicked, and the wicked can destroy the righteous. But when Zion is here, the wicked cannot destroy Zion because God is asserting His government. And because the wicked cannot destroy Zion, and God will not do so, Zion necessarily was taken up into heaven. The same thing happened with Melchizedek’s city.
The Lord lamented: “How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and ye would not!” There have been occasions on which it would have been possible to have established Zion, but men would not. When that happens, and men will not, the same rules apply as applied at the beginning. Hence the necessity for removing Moses out of the midst of Israel because through Moses we could have had Zion, but the children of Israel were not interested. Hence the reason why Elijah was taken up into heaven, because Elijah was an opportunity in which it would have been possible for Zion to have been established.
Well, that same priesthood which was in the beginning that allowed [Melchizedek] to establish the city of peace, the city of righteousness, the city that God Himself would defend, necessarily must return. If you look at D&C Section 133 beginning at verse 26:
“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; and 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, 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.”
Heaven will protect the last day’s Zion. It will belong to Him, and therefore God will not allow it to be overtaken or overcome. D&C Section 45 has another prophecy about the last day’s Zion. Beginning at verse 66:
“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. 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.”
When they came to arrest the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane after His suffering, even though He intended to submit Himself, and to be abused and ultimately killed. When they entered the Apostle John records that Christ, despite the ordeal he had just concluded, stood up, confronted them in their arms and said: “Whom seek ye?” And they said: “Jesus of Nazareth.” And He said: “I am he.” And they stumbled backwards, tripped over one another’s feet, and they fell down.
An armed group bearing swords and weapons were intimidated by the Lord identifying Himself. He made no attempt to defend Himself, but had He elected to do so, they could not have taken Him. He went as a lamb to the slaughter because he intended, though the Lion of Judah, to become the sacrificial lamb.
Heaven protected Zion in its first iteration and heaven is going to protect the last day’s Zion. As a consequence of that, the time is going to come when it will not be the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt that people cite as evidence of the power of God. You see, Egypt had to be subdued. Moses was sent to subdue them because Egypt was, at the time, the greatest kingdom, the greatest nation on the earth. Moses was sent to them to establish the government of God. When you confront the government of God against the most powerful nation on the earth, it’s the most powerful nation that must yield the field, and not the Lord.
In the last days Jeremiah prophesied that the time is going to come when the talk about the power of God is no longer making reference to what the Lord did anciently with Egypt. It’s going to be what the Lord intends to do with the last days Zion. This is Jeremiah chapter 16 beginning in verse 14:
“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.”
That will be the reference point to which people will point as evidence of God’s intention to establish His rule, His reign upon the earth, His authority over the nations of the earth.
It is going to come to pass. In your enthusiasm, it would be better to demonstrate the virtue of patience as the Lord brings His work about, than to exhibit the character flaw of impatience and enthusiasm in trying to bring about what the Lord intends Himself to cause to happen because you cannot give birth prematurely to a living Zion, or it will choke and it will die because it is unable to be viable outside of the hands of the Lord. We have to wait on Him.
Just a few random concluding thoughts:
One bit of advice: If you’re going to have a school of the prophets, you are going to need a prophet.
God’s ways are higher than man’s ways. He said this to Isaiah: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Jacob, a prophet who stood at the presence of God, expounded on the meaning of God’s mysteries to an audience that include now us. This is in Jacob chapter 4 verse 8:
“Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.”
In other words, I don’t care if you have a PhD in theological studies, and you are the most adept scriptorian of our age; the meaning belongs to God, it does not belong to me, it does not belong to you. It is not found out by our clever or witty parsing of what it is. In large measure the prophecies have as their purpose to hide from men what God intends to do until God has done it. And then having accomplished what He intended to do, the scriptures confirm that He knew the end from the beginning. But if you could know the end from the beginning you could interfere with the plan of God by going where the prophecies say, when the prophecies say, and interfering with the hand of God in fulfilling it. Even worse still, if your inclination were to priestcraft, if you knew what the prophecies meant beforehand, you could profit from them. The things of heaven were never intended to be given into the hands of men so that they might profit from them.
We are expected to sacrifice for God. A religion that does not require sacrifice is a religion that will not produce faith. If there is one thing that is going to be necessary for the establishment of Zion, it is going to necessarily be faith. You obtain it through sacrifice. You do not obtain it through adoration, you do not obtain it through the praise of men, you do not obtain it by sitting in chief seats, you don’t obtain it by faring sumptuously and administering the wealth that is surrendered to you as if you were God. It belongs to God. It is His. You should go get a job to support yourself if you’re going to administer the tithes and leave the tithes alone.
I know there are verses that suggest that the laborer is worthy of his hire, I know that. I’m telling you it’s toxic. I’m telling you that there are, in the history of mankind, I can think of maybe five men who have lived that would be worthy and beyond corruption in occupying that role. And one of those five was the Lord Himself. Don’t look upon a passing verse as a basis upon which to revoke and to cast aside all of the other many verses, and warnings, and cautions, and prophecies about the abuse of the last days gentiles which largely emanate from the corruption of our religion because of priestcraft.
Priestcraft is toxic, not just to the listeners, but to the practitioners. If what you are saying, if what you are preaching is greeted with wild enthusiasm and it doesn’t get you shunned, then you are probably not saying anything that God would agree with.
God’s purpose is to bring us to repentance. The Lord is exceptionally positive, but He is positive in stating affirmatively the standard that is acceptable to Him. “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake.” He expected us to be misunderstood, misapprehended, assessed very narrowly just as He was, cast out, not to be handed money and to be given a chief seat, to be adored, and to be respected.
Our challenge among ourselves, however diminutive we may seem to be; priestcraft can invade our little fellowships every bit as much as it can invade multi-billion-dollar institutions. There’s no limit on where you can run amiss.
Rest assured that God intends to establish in the last days a Zion in which we will see the return of exactly what was here at the beginning. There will be a return. The reason why they are coming to the children of Ephraim in the everlasting mountains is because there will be a new Jerusalem. They will bring rich treasures when they come because they have records that they themselves are going to need to have translated. They are going to be crowned because the Family of God consists of people who are, in fact, kings and priests. All of that infrastructure has to be put in place by the Lord before His return. Therefore He intends to accomplish this work. When He accomplishes this work, you are not going to find at the top of it a king like the gentiles expect. You’re going to find something or someone or some group who are meek and lowly, who are rather more like our Savior than the kings who ruled during our Savior’s day. You won’t find a Caesar and you won’t find a local potentate; you will find a servant.
There is a parable. It’s just one verse. It’s a very short parable. It moves along, but it’s a response that Christ gave to the question that was put to Him by his disciples asking Him: Tell us what the signs of your return is going to be. He goes through a list of things but he ends with a little parable at the end. Our translation makes it seem kind of morbid so I’m going to substitute “body” for “carcass” because it sounds like what you’re dealing with in the current King James version is morbid, not a living body. He says one of the signs that are going to be of His return is: “Where the body is, that’s where the eagles will gather.” The “body” is the New Jerusalem. The “eagles” are going to be angelic ministrants who are going to come.
There has to be an opening that occurs in order to prepare the way. The opening at this end is going to be handled by someone who has remained behind, and the opening at the far end is going to be the one to whom the assignment was given to open the way for His return; Elijah, the one who was promised.
Now, I want to be really clear. I don’t expect either of those individuals to have any public ministry again. They have a role in Zion, and those who dwell in Zion are going to have some contact with them. The three Nephites are a great example. They, like John, were given a similar ministry to remain around and to administer until the end of the earth. And they did minister. Two of the people to whom they ministered were Mormon and Moroni. They, like ministering angels, ministered to Mormon who in turn ministered to the public. They ministered to Moroni and kept his hope up in the waning days of that dispensation. But they did not minister publicly. John will have a role, but the work of Zion is the work of flesh and blood.
Men have to extend the invitation for God to return so that men who extend that invitation are worthy of His return and the Lord can safely come without utterly destroying all who are upon the earth. Therefore you need Zion, among other reasons, in order for there to be a place and a people to whom the Lord can safely return without utterly destroying the earth at His coming. However small, however diminutive it may be, there needs to be a Zion that extends the invitation for the Lord to return.
Now the good news is that Zion will be preserved. And the even better news is that all of those good people of the earth who live in ignorance but who would’ve accepted the truth if it were brought to them, they will be preserved also. There will be a mission field into the millennium.
But the really bad news is in the laundry list of those whom the Lord intends to destroy at His coming – that is the description of those who are Telestial and therefore cannot endure His presence when He shall come – all of the liars, all of whoremongers, all of the people who have taken our Lord’s name in vain having not authority, all of those who have preached for hire and practiced priestcraft. One of the reasons it needs to be eradicated before you get to Zion is so you’re not ignited like a torch head to the amusement of everyone else that is in Zion. There has to be an end of all that nonsense.
Our Lord was and is meek. When He said: “I am more intelligent than them all,” when He said: I am “the greatest of all”; there wasn’t one whit of arrogance in His announcement of that. What He was saying is: “Please have confidence in me. Please trust what I say to be true. Please recognize I’ve paid a price in order to be able to minister.”
You needn’t respect the messenger, but you must respect the message because salvation is limited in every generation to those who are authorized to preach repentance and to baptize, and if they’re not authorized then it is powerlessness. However good it may make you feel, it is powerlessness.
Well, I’ve covered the things that I was needing to cover. Let me end by saying that I don’t talk a great deal about any of the experiences, visitations, revelations. I don’t talk a great deal about any of that because the concern I always have is, that in the days of Joseph we made some foolishly laughable mistakes. Because when we had a man like Joseph walking among us, it was so easy to take our eyes off of the Lord and put them upon the man. That when Joseph got up to talk to the Relief Society in 1842 he said, “Your minds are darkened because you are neglecting the duty that’s devolving upon yourselves. You are depending too much upon the prophet.” If we don’t learn anything from that past example in failure, then we can expect the exact same outcome. We may get Kirtland, we may get Nauvoo, we may get Salt Lake City, but we will not get the New Jerusalem. We have to learn from the past errors. We have to determine not to repeat at least those. We may make new and inventive mistakes of our own, but at least they will belong to us and not be caused by our arrogance and stupidity in simply repeating what we have seen gone on before.
I don’t care how cleverly you parse the scriptures, God and God alone is responsible for causing them to be written in the first place, and He has a meaning in mind behind them. He has a work that He intends to do that they will vindicate when the work is done.
If you think that you can outthink the Lord, and you can arrive at the right place at the right time, then go ahead and buy some farmland in or around Independence, Missouri, and wait for the burning, because you’re not going to be at the right place. If Independence, Missouri was where the Lord intended Zion to be, He wouldn’t have told them in January of 1841 that He was going to make Nauvoo “the corner of Zion.” It is portable until it is fixed by Him.
Adam-ondi-Ahman is not simply a location that you can find on a map in Missouri. It is the description of an event. The event is Adam in the presence of Son Ahman, Christ. Wherever that happens, that is and will be Adam-ondi-Ahman. So buy all the land you want, build all the bleachers you expect to build. The fact of the matter is that when Adam, the Ancient of Days, returns, there is going to be an orderly process in which a king, a mortal king – it necessarily begins there – surrenders the jurisdiction of the earth back to those who once presided over it, in turn, ultimately back to the Ancient of Days. That’s why he is going to be here. He in turn will surrender it to the Father, the Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father; of the end of whose government, or the increase of whose government there shall be no end.
Christ, when He returns, will have the lawful, the legal right, to possess this earth, to rule it and to govern it. And He will come to govern it. But before that day, groundwork has to be laid. There is a process.
Now, this may seem a little presumptuous and a little full of myself but I’m telling you it’s the case. If you go back to the very first book, The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord through the Veil, and you read everything I’ve written from there until now (and today’s talk, which we’ll get a transcript of up on my website) what you will find out is that I’ve only been giving one talk. Admittedly it’s long, admittedly it fills millions of words in English, but it’s one talk. I’ve been addressing one subject from the beginning until now; it is all one great whole. I’ve talked a little about, and pushed a little further back, understanding about some things related to Zion today. I’m telling you that the scriptures are full of hundreds and hundreds of additional verses describing exactly what I’ve been talking about today. They are all one. They are all covering one great theme. No one can lay it all out but I’ve been giving one long presentation, one long talk, one long dissertation, all of it leading up to this talk and hopefully I’ll be able to talk a little more about where things are going at some point in the future because it’s impossible and even forbidden for me to cover everything at this point. I remain absolutely optimistic in the goodness and the desires of the hearts of you people, and of others, who really do believe in and want the Lord to return again. I commend you for that. He may have put a burden on me, but it’s not for my benefit. I don’t worry about myself. I worry a great deal about mankind, including all of us who are here today and others who are not.
Christ lives! He is the One who redeemed all of us. He has a rightful claim as the Father of us all. In the resurrection we come forth out of the grave as His children, because He purchased with His blood our continued life. We symbolize that when we are baptized by going under the water and coming up again to be born again a new creature in Christ, as a preliminary ceremonial necessary sign that we accept Him. He is real. I bear witness of Him. I have stood in His presence. I have spoken with Him. He speaks in plain humility. He has a very poor student in me, and I don’t say that to be humble, I say that to be truthful. I wish I were better, but in His infinite wisdom He chooses what He chooses, He does it as He chooses, He does it how He wants. I am stuck in the position that I find myself, and you are stuck with me.
Worthy is the Lamb. He came deliberately to offer Himself up as a lamb without blemish. He had the right not to die, and therefore, He had the right to take His life up again, and it’s through that medium that we in turn obtain the right to live again. I bear testimony. I bear witness of Him, and I want to express my gratitude to Him for all that He has and is doing, and for the patience that He has shown with all of us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.