Sunday, June 8, 2014

Vision Two


When it comes to prophecy and the Book of Mormon, there does not seem to be a lot of chatter as to which ones have been fulfilled and which we should look forward to in our time. At least, anyway, anything more than the correlated events we are taught. That is because either we have been told that the prophecies have already taken place or they are way out in some nebulous future in the days when magical things will happen. But as for the moment, all is well in Zion, and we need not look at the promises made in the Book of Mormon, because our leaders are on top of it, and have it covered.

But I would like to show that by closely looking at one prophecy which has supposedly already been fulfilled, and comparing it to modern-day events, it will unravel a completely different picture of what has been, what is to come, and what our current standing REALLY is.

Let’s start with 1 Nephi 13:12-15 –

12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.
Quite simple, right? The Spirit wrought upon Columbus, who came with other Gentiles to America, settled the land and scattered the Lamanites who had dwindled in unbelief. Case closed… or is it? There is one keyword we need to look at which usually goes unnoticed or is given an assumed definition: “captivity.” The common reading is that Columbus/the Pilgrims/the New World settlers were escaping the “captivity” of England or maybe the larger scale of Europe. The monarchs had oppressed the people and the Spirit guided them to a place where they could practice their religions freely.

A closer look at history, however, shows us that it wasn't so much that there was freedom to worship how one pleased in this new land, as it was having virgin soil on which to continue old existing “traditions.” Or perhaps there were new religions created (namely, the LDS Church), which took from the buffet, creating something that appeared unique, but was really just a rearrangement of existing precepts.

But the important thing to look at is how the Book of Mormon defines “captivity” and see if our history qualifies as coming out of it. Just preceding the above-referenced passage in 1 Nephi, we find this:
4 And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church.
5 And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.
6 And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it.
7 And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots.
8 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.
9 And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.
While there is talk of yokes of iron, torture and being bound down, we have to see what it is that is the root of this captivity: the desires for gold, silver, silks, harlots, etc. and a lust for the praise of the world. One might say, “Well, there you go. The settlers were bound to this system of slavery and by coming to the Free World, they were released from it.” But is that really the case? From Wikipedia:

Farmers, planters, and shopkeepers in the American colonies found it very difficult to hire free workers, primarily because it was so easy for potential workers to set up their own farms.[1] Consequently, a common solution was to transport a young worker from England or Germany, who would work for several years to pay off the debt of their travel costs. During the indenture period the servants were not paid wages, but were provided with food, accommodation, clothing and training. The indenture document specified how many years the servant would be required to work, after which they would be free. Terms of indenture ranged from one to seven years with typical terms of four or five years.
Not all were sent willingly. Several instances of kidnapping for transportation to the Americas are recorded and this falls more clearly into the bracket of "white slave". Whilst these white slaves were often indentured in the same way as their willing counterparts it is an important distinction to make. An illustrative example of such a kidnap story is that of Peter Williamson (1730-1799).

Most white immigrants arrived in Colonial America as indentured servants, usually as young men and women from Britain or Germany, under the age of 21. Typically, the father of a teenager would sign the legal papers, and work out an arrangement with a ship captain, who would not charge the father any money.[3] The captain would transport the indentured servants to the American colonies, and sell their legal papers to someone who needed workers.

Add to that the disgrace of slavery which soiled the land here, and I think it would be difficult to convince me that the Gentiles were freed. Rather, the captivity simply relocated to this place. “Well,” one might argue, “we eventually came out of it. Indentured servitude and slavery were ultimately abolished, and this became a free land.”

Perhaps. But if we look at how the Book of Mormon describes the Gentiles’ captivity as a result of desiring money and praise, I would say, “Look around!” Has our society turned away from the system of seeking riches and fame? Do we labor for Zion or for money? Do we have charity, or do we engage in priestcrafts (setting ourselves up for a light so that we get gain and praise of the world)? Do we, like the Savior, offer our provisions free to all men and persuade them to repentance? Or do we consider that one man is more privileged than their brother, and should be rewarded for their genius with a better income or more opportunity to succeed (meaning more money and stuff)?

A response might be, “It is the system of the land. We don’t have a choice but to engage in it to be able to live in this world.” Exactly! Now you see that WE ARE STILL IN CAPTIVITY!! We have never left it. Sure, our “system” is less oppressive than it used to be, and we have taken out the most obviously egregious parts (or perhaps hidden them); yet, we are still made to drink “of the wine of the wrath of [Babylon’s] fornication.”

I would therefore propose that the “man” among the Gentiles has yet to go forth upon the many waters “unto” the seed of Nephi’s brethren, and this same event described in D&C 88:94 has yet to happen:
And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned. And he shall sound his trump both long and loud, and all nations shall hear it.
It seems much easier to retrospectively look at a prophecy to see its fulfillment than to envision how it will look when it does take place. Unfortunately, as a church, we already checked off this particular prophecy by Nephi, so no one has bothered to look into possibilities of its true fulfillment. While it may be difficult or impossible to predict details of what will happen, we can look closely at what we are being told, and hope that a picture, albeit a vague one (seasons of a tree?), is painted for us. Here is what we can say: 

If the captivity of the Great and Abominable Church is our current economic structure (which is embedded into our theology), then at some point, a group of Gentiles will come out of that. It will quickly be made evident to the whole world. 

These Gentiles are originally separated from the seed of Nephi’s brethren by “the many waters.”
The Spirit of God comes down and works upon a man, indicating that it will be a gradual process of enlightenment. 

The man goes forth “unto” the seed of Nephi’s brethren, hinting that THEY are the destination, and the man is seeking them.

Before continuing, I think it is important to note that in reading Nephi, and perhaps other Book of Mormon prophets, we need to be careful to not assume that everything we are told prophetically is linear. In other words, Nephi may be describing a big picture, and each description may be out of “sequence” with another. I’m not sure how these visions work, but they may be less like a book or a movie (a story) and more like viewing an object. If I look at an apple, I wouldn't say, “It is red, and then it is round, and then it has a stem…” etc. I am describing attributes which combined give me a picture of the apple, and can be rearranged if I want. As part of that, I could say, “I took a bite and then it tasted sweet.” There is a sequence of events here, but only to describe the sweetness of the apple and how I came to that description of it. With that in mind, let us continue: 

The “wrath of God” is upon the seed of Nephi’s brethren, and they are scattered and smitten.
The “Spirit of the Lord” comes upon the Gentiles, who prosper and inherit the land.
The “power of the Lord” is with the Gentiles who come out of captivity.
The “mother Gentiles” gather together upon the waters and land to battle against the Gentiles who come out of captivity. 

The Gentiles who come out of captivity are delivered by the power of God (not by the power of their armies. Note that there is no hint of the freed Gentiles fighting) out of the hands of ALL other nations. 

The freed Gentiles prosper, and there is a book carried forth among them.
The book comes out of the mouth of a Jew (who could be “John,” but is probably the Lord Himself). 
Notice also that when the angel is talking about “captivity” to Nephi in a couple of places, there is something interesting which precedes it:
And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.
And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.
In this case, what if we make the “and” in these statements to mean “and then,” as a sequential statement? The first thing here would be that the saints are slain or destroyed AND THEN brought down with a yoke placed on them, bound up, tortured, yoked, etc. Or as the Lord said, “ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage.”
I will skip the points having to do with the Great and Abominable Church, moving to the time when the Book of the Lamb goes to the Remnant. 
  • The book of the Lamb of God goes forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of Nephi’s brethren (doesn't say that it is the polluted version). 
  • After the Book of the Lamb goes to the Remnant, other “books” come forth from the Gentiles to the Remnant, which “convince” the Gentiles, and the Remnant and the scattered Jews that the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. 
  • The “last” records among the Gentiles establish the truth of the first (which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb) and they make known the plain and precious things which were taken away from “these books.” 
Again, it would be easy to say that this has already happened. But take away the single “captivity” card, and the whole deck comes tumbling down. The vision must be rebuilt with other promises and prophecies in mind. Here are some things I can confidently say (even though some may argue my points): 

The Gentiles (us) have not come out of captivity. In this world we are still slaves to the system which seeks gold and things, as well as popularity. I would describe this as the corporate model. The “praise of the world” is nothing more than marketing our “product,” whatever that might be: property, food, clothes, sex, a church, etc. Being praised by the world is akin to being a “leading brand,” and if it is popular, people will give their gold for it. However, there is no getting around this system, even if we do not want to participate. Thus, we are bound with a yoke of iron, forced to engage in Babylon’s priestcraft. The next life apparently can be a darker place even still. There, "no labor can be performed."

The Book of the Lamb, in its corrupted form, was indeed carried by the Gentiles who came to this land; however, neither it nor the Book of Mormon has been presented to the remnant of Lehi’s seed unto their convincing that they are of the House of Israel. We assume that the "Lamanites" are the said seed of Lehi, and that they are the Native Americans. Even so, none have been officially identified, because none fulfill Nephi’s prophecy that they will be convinced. 

Even if that book going to the Remnant is the Bible, and even if they received it, it is impossible for the Bible to convince them that they are of the House of Israel, the covenant people, because those covenants and plain & precious things were removed. The only thing the corrupted book can do is captivate, the very thing the Gentiles who come to the Remnant are said to show how to escape.

Admittedly, there is a critical question raised if we assume that the Gentiles coming out of captivity is a future thing: How is it that the freed Gentiles can be separated by the “many waters” from the Remnant if the Gentiles already possess the Promised Land, mingled with the oppressed Lehi-ites? To offer an explanation, I will point you to what Lehi in his dying days told his son, Joseph:
And now, Joseph, my last-born, whom I have brought out of the wilderness of mine afflictions, may the Lord bless thee forever, for thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed.
Lehi made a point to say that his son, Joseph’s seed would not be wiped out, presumably in contrast to the Nephites, who were doomed to oblivion. Later, Moroni helps us to clarify the significance of Father Joseph, and perhaps the son of Lehi as well:
4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—
6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
Did you catch that? Not only is the story of Joseph of Egypt “a type,” but it is confirmed that the remnant of the House of Joseph shall be built on this land. Now wouldn't it be fun if that statement had a double meaning? Which Joseph are we talking about? Egypt’s Joseph? Or the House of Joseph, son of Lehi? My assertion is that it’s both of them. One is a type for the other. It would be easy for us to conclude that the blood of Joseph, son of Lehi, is preserved along with the Lamanites. Luckily, there is some elucidation from Mormon.
And thus they did dwindle in unbelief and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away. And now it came to pass in this year, yea, in the two hundred and thirty and first year, there was a great division among the people. And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites…
The Josephites were not among the Lamanites; rather, they were one of four groups composing the “Nephites.” Moroni later tells us:
I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father.
We can conclude that the line of Lehi’s son, Joseph, is not preserved through any who fought the final battles of the children of Lehi. They must have left the group at some other point or be "preserved" in some form, even if it is one single man--a branch ready to be grafted back onto the Tree of Life.

If the Gentiles should not at any time hear the voice of the Lord, save it were by the Holy Ghost, what does it look like when one does receive the manifestations of His Spirit?

What did Jesus pray for regarding those who the Father gave to Him and those who believe on their words?

If  the things that the "multitude" heard and understood in Christ's presence cannot be written or uttered by man, how is it that they "do bear record?" (notice the present tense)



I was taken to the top of a great mesa, into the center of a village. Not far off to the left, blue and purple stood the White Mountain, rising into peaks of jet, tipped with glimmering snows, flushed with the rose of morning. Below it there was a wide and rugged shelf that ended suddenly in the brink of a sheer cliff, which made this place that I stood seem completely unapproachable by any invading force.

A group of youngsters assembled underneath an exquisitely carved pavilion, raised off the ground to form somewhat of a stage. I believe they were gathered to take counsel with each other, as prelude to a significant event that appeared to be on the horizon. But rather than serious or worrisome discussion, there was a festive spirit. At an inaudible cue, I heard their young, delightful voices begin to sing in unison:

We are the children of the light
Whose fathers viewed a finer height
But first the sting of sin was felt
Below their brothers’ swords they knelt
And made a vow, in word and deed
That peace alone would be their creed.

Mercy's gift, while undeserved,
Has kept us whole and yet preserved.

We are the children of the night,
Our slumber long, a lengthened plight.
Dispersed, we tarried from our place
Into the void we hid our face.
The law was sealed the word was bound
Until the house of Jacob found.

For signs and wonders we are given
To Israel from the Lord of Heaven.

We wanderers in the shadowed land
Did not despair! For though dark they stand,
All woods there be must end at last,
And see the open sun go past:
The setting sun, the rising sun,
The day's end, or the day begun.
For east or west, all woods must fail,
Revealing light ‘yond leafy veil.

A cry of war blows in the wind.
Shall we hasten to defend?
Nay, Lord forbid. Our lord we trust,
For now our arms have turned to rust.
The blade of steel which once was broken
Is forged anew! It bears the token.
Dead the sword! Its curse and oaths
Become the Word: his wine and loaves.

Let the song begin! We sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, of rainy weather,
Light on the bud, dew on the feather,
Wind on the hill, bells on the heather.
The night is over, we shall not fear.
With light our cover, the Lord is near.
Though ancient, we are children here
Reborn of God, our hearts now cheer!

Next post: Sunday, June 15