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WHAT ABOUT OUR HOPE IN ZION?
Sept 10, 2020
Beginning in 1830, yea and even before, we have looked forward to the promise of Zion. For 190 years we have enjoyed this promise, it has given us a reason to hope for the day of its coming. Today as we sadly look out upon our country engulfed in anarchy, disorganization, and multiple sins, the hope for the coming of that day sinks further and further into the distant future. Yet we have witnessed the work of God's hand here in this land, beginning with the opening of the movement to restore His Church. We have seen in a revelation given through the prophet Joseph Smith Jr in July 1831 the Lord's establishment of the place for the City of Zion. (RLDS) Section 57:1a-b “Hearken, O ye elders of my church saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the Saints: wherefore this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion."
Now this has been taught, read, and enjoyed many times in the past years, but how many of you have realized that it is a fulfillment of a prophecy given many hundreds of years ago? In a prophecy from the Lord given in the days of King David through the Prophet Nathan we find this: 2 Samuel 7:10 “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them anymore, as before time," I have highlighted one word in Section 57 and in 2nd Samuel that connects these two scriptures over a period of many hundreds of years. There are many ancient prophecies fulfilled today, but I have not seen any that are fulfilled with so much physical evidence as is this one. In fact, if this does not turn on the light in your soul it could be because your electricity is turned off.
However marvelous the Restoration movement may have been in the eyes of our forefathers, the result of that work is not so marvelous today. The Church established in 1830 is now broken apart and scattered throughout this nation and yes even scattered around the world. The fullness of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has been corrupted many times to suit different individuals’ views and desires. Each segment contains some truth but is intermingled with half-truth and false ideology. This is the fruit of the adversary, for apparently he made his appearance in those early 1830 days also and was able to plant his tares among the wheat. This should be no surprise to those of you who are students of scriptural history. When the Lord led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and established them in the promised land with expectation of them becoming a Holy, obedient people, the adversary was there also. It is true God does not change; neither does the adversary. Every time the Lord attempts to establish a Holy people, Satan opposes that work. It is no different today, but we find that the Lord has a plan to accomplish His purpose
Jeremiah 31:6 speaks of a time that Saints may awaken: "For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God." This will come about because we do not give up on our hope for that Zion. We believe in the Lord; we believe that He will accomplish His purposes. However, we also acknowledge that there will be opposition. Jeremiah 8:19-20 also tells us there will be problems in Zion at that time: "Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country; Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." Now this becomes important to us who "dwell in a far country" for we are of the house of Israel that has been driven to this far country. To us was given the opportunity and the responsibility of establishing the House of the God of Jacob, the King in Zion, and we have not done so. Thus, the words of the Prophet, "Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? Section 83:8a "And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation."
The Church, and the opportunity to establish that King and Zion, remains under that condemnation because we will not turn back and obey the demands of that revelation. We are held captive by our vain traditions that have failed us in the past and by our unbelief. In this way we have brought upon us the chastisement of our Lord, our God. Let us look to Habakkuk, who is one of the minor prophets, yet has much to say to us: chapter 1:5-6 “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously; for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs." He addresses us as "ye among the heathen," and we are those who were driven from the homeland out into the nations of the Gentiles or Heathens. In speaking to us, he has warned us of the coming of the Chaldeans into our country and of how dangerous they are. I have said many times that it would be the Assyrians (who are descended from the Chaldeans) that would invade this land.
If this is true, there should be scriptural evidence to give us warning. Let us see. Habakkuk said the Lord would "work a work" in our days. Go to Isaiah, 10th chapter, verse12: “Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks." Mount Zion and Jerusalem! That is the USA and Jerusalem, now what is the work that He intends to do to these two nations? Again let us look to Isaiah in chapter 4:2-3 “And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem; When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning." Is this not the work of which Habakkuk spoke? Is it not consistent with this from Psalms 101:8? “I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord." It is a cleansing process, a breaking away from the bondage placed upon God's people found in the 47th Chapter of Isaiah, verse 6 “I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand; thou didst show them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke."
Jeremiah speaks of the same work that Isaiah and Habakkuk have given us as the work the Lord will do in our days. Notice what Jeremiah says in chapter 30:7 “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." When the prophets speak of Jacob, that includes the USA and Jerusalem and all the tribes of Israel, and the time of trouble is now for we are all coming into a time of danger. Going on down to the next verse, we see what the prophet is warning us about. 8 “For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him;" Going on to the last two verses of that chapter we find this that confirms what Habakkuk and Isaiah have been telling us: 23-24 “Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind; it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart; in the latter days ye shall consider it."
Notice what Jeremiah has just said above: "intents of his heart." All that I have written so far is about the intents of the Lord’s heart. Remember what I quoted above from the 47th chapter of Isaiah: ".... upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke." A yoke ties us to a burden, the burden of bondage, or captivity. I like this from that book that has given us much understanding for the past 190 years, The Book of Mormon. 1 Nephi 3:140 “And the angel said unto me, Behold the foundation 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." This is the work of that daughter of the Chaldeans that the 47th chapter of Isaiah which I quoted above tells us about. What really caught my eye in this reference is this: ".... bringeth them down into captivity.” The yoke is the means of capturing us and holding us captive. Jeremiah and Isaiah and many other prophets have spoken about breaking this yoke off our necks. These are the intents of the Lord, for we remember His calling: Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,...." “Liberty to the captives…” that is us, we are the captives. We are the ones that are under this yoke and Jesus Christ is anointed to free us.
Now let us get back to the removing of that yoke, that bondage that holds us captive. Isaiah 10:5-6 “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation..." This tells us who is going to be the one that executes the intents of the Lord "...I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets." The people of His wrath are the wicked of the land of this nation and Jerusalem, and we are that hypocritical nation. It doesn't matter whether it is heavy snow in the mountains, or wet muddy and steep hillsides, the dangers of snow or landslides exist, and once they start, they will not stop until they are finished. So, it is with the work of God's hands. Once it starts, it will not stop until it finishes the intents of His heart. While we, as a people, have centered our thoughts on the salvation of mankind, we have failed to understand the intent of the Lord. This is the intent of the adversary, to keep our understanding under his control. This is the result of the "yoke" laid upon the ancient people with whom God has made covenant. (see Deut 26:16-19) For several hundred years, beginning with the reformation movement, the prevalent concern in Christian theology has been "salvation." This has distracted us from understanding what it is the Lord wants to accomplish.
Let us take a look at the desired purpose the Lord has tried to accomplish with His people, Israel. Isaiah 5:1-2 “And then will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; 2 - And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes." When the Children of Israel had been down in Egypt, in bondage, for over 400 years, the Lord took Moses and led them out of bondage and planted them in the promised land. He had made covenant with them and had given them His laws. Psalms 147:19-20 “He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord." His desire was that they would become a Holy Nation, that they would produce "grapes," but they produced "wild grapes." They became a rebellious people. In like manner, in the early 1800's the Lord called upon Joseph Smith Jr to bring forth not only the Book of Mormon, but also His Church in a land filled with descendants of ancient Israel. It was a very fruitful land and had been fenced with borders. The stones of opposition had been cleared away, England, France, Spain, Mexico. He had planted it with the Choice vine, Children of Israel, established His Church and desired that it produce "grapes" but they followed in that same path of the ancients that had become rebellious, and they produced "wild grapes."
Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;" Woe means: great sorrow or distress.
So we are right back to Isaiah 10:12 “Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks." The Lord has already begun His "whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem." Yea even the landslide has begun to move. Are you prepared? You have been warned. In a revelation given Nov 1, 1831, Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants: 3b “Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; and the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth; and the arm of the Lord shall be revealed;" I think the best words of advice are found in this from Isaiah 17:7-8 “At that day shall a man look to his Maker, his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made........... " Amen
THE DAY AFTER THE TOMORROW
It would be thoughtless on my part to lay before my Brothers and Sisters a look ahead of what the tomorrows may bring, without also giving you a look at what preparations need to be achieved to enable us to withstand the tribulations that yet lie before us. Being aware of the fact that the Lord knows all things past, present, and yet to come, I understand why in November 1831 He gave the warning in Sect 1 of the D&C: 3a-3b “Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear; prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; and the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth; and the arm of the Lord shall be revealed;" In this section also He says the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the rebellious and the wicked without measure, therefore there is the need to prepare.
Psalms 91 gives us a promise of protection: 3-7 “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee." The first question that should come into your mind is who is to receive this protection? The first section quoted above from the D&C tells us that the warning goes to the ends of the earth, and to all who will hear, but this promise from Psalms 91 is no so outgoing. Notice the first verse: 1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Seeing this we need to understand the "secret place of the Most High"
Since I favor the teachings of Peter and Paul, my first inclination was to turn to 1 Peter, first chapter and look at what I find. 3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." When we think of salvation, sometimes we tend to generalize the term thinking mainly on the promise of resurrection, without due consideration of the "lively hope" Peter mentions. We need to look also to the promise of an inheritance, which is a gift provided for us by the Lord Jesus Christ, that does not fade away, as long as we remain faithful. Notice also that this "gift" is incorruptible and undefiled. No one can take this gift from us as long as we keep our faith and trust in the Lord. What a wonderful position to be in with the Lord.
Now also we see this from Paul in the Book of Ephesians, 2nd Chapter: 4-6 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;" All of these blessings mentioned above hinge on some very important principles; those of faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those authorized to do so. Again, we often treat these principles casually, maybe not at the beginning of our conversion, but as time moves on these can become qualifications we have complied with and later we tend to set them aside. Actually, faith and repentance are ongoing principles we need to exercise daily. By keeping these two principles active by daily practice, we maintain those "heavenly places" and "inheritance incorruptible," that the Lord has provided for us.
Mankind has some bad habits, and going slack on the spiritual side of our life as we struggle with our physical side is one of them. The Lord said in Revelations 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." While we may be really "hot" when we are first converted, as time goes on and we think we become self-sufficient in our physical needs, we can tend to become "lukewarm" and our attention can be drawn away from the Lord to some degree. I think in many ways the next verse describes many people well. 17 “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked;"
While we do not always think of ourselves as being rich, yet in good times we do not look to the Lord as strongly as we do when the times are bad. Wretched, miserable, poor, and naked; is not a common condition we find ourselves in since we live in a country which has much to give, but blindness we find abundant in these days. In many ways we bring about that blindness by our stubbornness to hold on to principles of man that have failed us. Traditions that lead us to follow the same crooked path that our forefathers followed. This has been the history of all Israel over the many generations since they were brought out of Egypt.
We can remember that they followed Moses out of Egypt, but they carried with them the gods, Molech and Chiun, gods they had worshiped while in Egypt, and the Lord was not happy about that. We face the promise of tribulations revealed to us from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. We want to prepare as much as we can for these times. We can store up food, water, and material things, but what is more important is that we want to be included in "the secret place of the Most High." Because of our blindness and traditions, we fail many times to recognize the plain and simple truth that is before us. Jesus said in Matt 7:23 “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The "straight and narrow." How many times have we been taught that this is the way to go? But it is hard to "go" when one does not understand, where, how and when. How do we enter the gate if we do not understand what that gate is? Jesus said in John 7: "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheepfold." I like also this from 2 Nephi 6:81-82 “Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel: and he employeth no servant there: And there is none other way, save it be by the gate, for he cannot be deceived; for the Lord God is his name.”
How do we open the gate? You first have to knock, then He opens the door to you. But to enter you must be of the "sheepfold" and He cannot be deceived. Well are not those principles that we mentioned before the means to become one of His children? Yes, Yes, but it requires a completeness of those principles to become His. I think the reason that "few there be that find it" is that we fail to understand what is required. Isa 53:10 “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand." In the fascination with the Gospel in the New Testament, we often fail to notice many precious bits of knowledge in the Old Testament, and this is a special one. What that which I have highlighted says is simply this. When you, not the whole world, but YOU make His sacrifice an offering for YOUR sins then you become His seed, or children. When you feel the guilt of your hands pushing the crown of thorns down on the Lord's head, or your hand holding the nail or swinging the hammer that drives the nail down through His hand then you become one of the "sheepfold." When you humble yourself to this point then you are subject to receive the baptism of fire.
To dwell in the “secret place of the Most High" requires us to become fully committed to the celestial law of God: Matt 22:36-38 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." As we strive to prepare for that which is to come, we knock on the door, but to enter into that straight and narrow way, that heavenly place, that secret place of the most high God, we must meet the requirements. If there were no requirements, there would not be a gate keeper, but there is a gate keeper and therefore there are requirements. Set before us are the qualifications, and if we love the Lord with all our heart they are easy to meet, but if we choose to try to side step some of His law, or make it a part time event, then we may become disappointed. The Lord would be disappointed also.
Joseph F. Smith
A LOOK AT TOMORROW
In these trying times, it is of interest to most people what tomorrow will bring, and while I do not claim to see into the future sufficiently to describe clearly what is coming, I know some people of the past who did. The Lord gave to the prophets of the Old Testament the ability to see into our day and the days yet before us. I want to explore a few of those old prophecies in order to put together a picture of what may lay ahead for us. We find first in a psalm of King David a promise of a cleansing that is to take place in the USA, land of Zion; the land upon which the Book of Mormon tells us the Holy City, the New Jerusalem will be established. Psalms 101:8 “I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord."
We can add to David's promise something from the prophet Isaiah which supports his statement of a cleansing effort. Isaiah 4:2-3 “And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem; When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning." This not only supports David's statement, but adds the nation Jerusalem to this picture, which is in accord with Zechariah 4:14 “Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand before the Lord of the whole earth."
The two branches of the Olive tree of the twelve tribes of Israel with whom God had made a covenant, which had become divided around 970 BC thus becoming what Nephi described in the following: 2 Nephi 12:59 “Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?" So, being a witness that He is God will require us to deal with both branches.
The terms "destroy" in Psalms 101:8, and "..by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning" in Isaiah 4:2-3 makes me think of a violent time. Let us look at this from Isaiah 10:3-5 “And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation." Clearly here the Lord is angry, and when He talks of a desolation and a visitation, we wonder who he is talking about. So notice what the prophet says in the 6th verse: "I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets."
This nation, the United States of America, contains the largest accumulation of the blood of ancient Israel. It was to this nation God turned to restore His Church in 1830. It was in this nation that the Lord delivered the Book of Mormon that tells us of the ancient inhabitants of this land, and how they are descended from Joseph who was sold to Egypt, making them Israelites also. To that restored Church was given several responsibilities: To establish the land of Zion. To build the "House of the Lord" in that land of Zion. To carry the Book of Mormon to the descendants of Manasseh, the American Indian. To push forward the cause of Zion. As I view it, this work has been poorly done. In fact, the Church came under condemnation as early as 1832 (see Sec 83:8 RLDS) and from that date one can see a downhill slide that ended up in Nauvoo Illinois with the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr and his brother Hyrum. The saddest part of this is that this Church was to be an example to the people of this nation. It was to bring forth a Holy people. Isaiah 26:18 “We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; ....." When we view the immorality and greed of this nation, It seems we have become a "hypocritical nation"
We know that God, speaking through King David and His prophet Isaiah, has said He would cleanse this land. Remember this would include the US and Jerusalem too.
So, let us look at this cleansing process. Again in the words of the prophet Isaiah we find this: Isaiah 10:12 “Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks." Here we read about the king of Assyria, and the question might rise as to what that king has to do in this situation, and also in this modern day. Who is this Assyrian?
Ancient Assyria was a kingdom made up of Arabic people, descendants of Esua and Edom, and the Canaanite people who were driven out of the land promised to the twelve tribes of Israel. It appears that the descendants of those people are the ones the Lord is going to use to cleanse these two nations, the USA and Jerusalem. If this be the case, there should be some prophecies telling us about it. Let us turn our attention to Ezekiel 35. Here we find the Lord speaking to a "Mount Seir" which we find in Gen 36 is made up of: 9 “And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir;"
When the Children of Israel moved into the Promised Land and began driving out the people of the land as the Lord directed, they bypassed the land of Mount Seir. Later on, Seir fought against the Israelites. Here we see the Lord at a time when He is angry with Mount Seir, and my first thought was that it was because they had fought against ancient Israel. However, let’s look at something I find in these verses: Ezekiel 35: 2-4 “Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it, And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord."
Now this could have occurred in ancient times, but perhaps there is more to consider in Ezekiel 35:5 “Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end;" The Children of Israel had received the Law of the Lord before they entered the Promised Land. In that law, as found in the Book of Leviticus, they were given the statutes and judgments of the Lord, His laws. They were promised a blessing if they obeyed, and a punishment if they did not obey. We find in the 26th Chapter of Leviticus: 27-28 that if they would not obey: “And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins."
Philosophers and Theologians over the past many years have come up with their theories of what this “seven times” means, and most agree that it is seven years of days and count a day as a year. A time in prophecy is calculated as 360 days as was used in the calendar of their day. So if we take 7 times 360 we end up with 2520 years that the Lord will chastise the Children of Israel for their disobedience and iniquity. They were given a period of time to obey in which, at times, they were blessed, and, at other times, came under chastisement. As before stated, in 970 BC they had become divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah as they stand today. The next question is when did the 2520 period of chastisement start?
Let us look first at the kingdom of Israel. After their separation from the Kingdom of Judah in 970 BC they enjoyed approximately 250 years of self-government. Then in 720 BC they were overthrown by Assyria and driven out of their homeland. From 720 BC, before Christ; if we begin the punishment at that date, it will extend beyond the years after the birth of Christ. So, we must subtract the 720BC from the 2520 years and we come to the end of the period of disfavor or chastisement as 1800AD. This then becomes the time that their iniquity had an end; It was in the 1800s this country began to prosper, and began to move from a pioneering people into an industrial age, and as we look back on that time we can see that it was brought about by God's favor. When the judgment was removed from the shoulders of the kingdom of Israel, this nation became the most blessed nation in the whole world, endowed with divine favor and protection.
Now let us look at the kingdom of Judah. After the separation in 970 BC Judah maintained their national government up until 600BC. At that time Babylon overthrew the kingdom of Judah, and from that date Jerusalem came under the dominion of Gentile nations. Now let us subtract 600BC from the 2520 years of God's disfavor and see where we come out. This will end up in the 1920s, which is very interesting, because in 1917 General Allenby of the British army drove the Turks out of Jerusalem and Jerusalem was no longer under a Gentile rule, and so it stands today, a free and industrious nation. This is the time that their iniquity had an end;
Now we have found that 1800 and 1920 is the general time of the end of the disfavor of God towards the kingdoms of Israel and Judah brought about by their disobedience. If we look upon those people now, we can see that after these dates they began to enjoy God's favor. The kingdom of Israel here in this land, the United States of America, has been well blest of the Lord, even to becoming one of the wealthiest nations of the world today. Since 1920 the Jews have been able to return to their homeland and have also been blest of the Lord, in that even in the midst of those that would destroy them, they have been able to endure as a recognized nation of today’s world. And since the days that the rains have been returned to Jerusalem, they have been a highly productive land.
Yet it seems that even when we have been so well blest, we have also fallen back into the habits of our ancestors, and have again begun to lose God's favor, to the point that requires a cleansing.
In Psalms 101 The Lord said He would destroy the wicked of the land. In Isaiah, 4th Chapter, the prophet said that after the judgement and burning, the only ones remaining in this nation, Zion, and Jerusalem would be those that are worthy to be called Holy. To accomplish this, the prophet Isaiah says in Chapter 10:5 that He will use the Assyrian as the "rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation." Now let us go back to Ezekiel 35 and read again that 5th verse: "Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end;" I notice that the prophet not only mentions the end of their punishment for their iniquity, but also mentions " ...in the time of their calamity..." Now this brings us another period of time to consider.
Calamity: An event that would cause great distress, or a disaster. I am reminded of verses from Jeremiah Chapter 30: 4-8 “And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace, Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him;”
Compare that with this from Isaiah 10:24-25 and 27 “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian; he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction." 27 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing."
I have shown a time of the ending of disfavor in the sight of the Lord and a time of Calamity. The ending of disfavor, the time of blessing, extends from 1800 through 220 years up to the present day, which appears to be the beginning of the “time of calamity,” the time when the Lord becomes angry with the Assyrian people, because they will “shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword" in the “time of calamity” after the “time of their iniquity” had ended. The characteristic way the Arabic people treated their Israeli enemies in ancient Egypt was to preserve the lives of the useful learned, and behead the rest, stacking the bodies at the side of the road.1 It would be much the same today.
We find in Ezekiel 35 an angry voice of the Lord that purposes a destructive punishment upon this Assyrian people, and we want to know why. 3 “And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate."
In the following verses 9-12 He tells how that punishment will be dealt out, and He shows the reason. “I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the Lord was there; Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord God, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy, which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee. And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume."
We see now that this is the Assyrian of Isaiah Chapter 10. It is also the nation in the hand of the "beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" of Revelation 11. It is also the people who we find in Isaiah 10:24 “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian; he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt."
The manner of Egypt is bondage. This is what is meant above when the Assyrian says, “..They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.”
We can only imagine the conditions we might experience at the hand of such a people; however we are also told in Isaiah chapter 10 not to fear the Assyrian. 25 “For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction." It’s apparent we will go through a time of cleansing, as told us in the warnings given us through the revelations of the 1830's. Therefore, it is important that we begin to prepare spiritually as well as physically, to enhance our relationship with our God.
Joseph F Smith
1. Outline of History: H. D Wells - Volume 1
Introduction to the following two articles
There are questions that are in the back of the minds of many who are set up as servants of the Lord. Questions that continue to test our faith. Questions we have not been able to answer to our satisfaction. The failure of the Restoration, and the Churches thereof over the years should tell us that something went wrong, not just one thing, but an accumulation of errors or transgressions. The fault in all transgressions is derived from disobedience to the command of God in one way or another. As we believe we are very near the days of tribulation, should we not be interested in clearing away the traditions that have failed us? Shouldn't we be seeking to turn away from mistakes and misleadings, and strive to obey Gods commandments?
WINE OR GRAPE JUICE #1
June 28, 2020
This has been a controversy within the Restoration movement for the past one hundred years or more. Many are the reasons to use unfermented juice as opposed to fermented wine, and these reasons are important for us to understand. There are also good reasons to use fermented wine as given in the Bible and Book of Mormon. In this article I want to review some of the information that has been and is now available for man to consider that we might more perfectly follow the will of God. As is the nature of man, many times loose lipped ideas evolve into traditional thinking which can overshadow the will and word of God. Learned men have developed a theology of the use of the word “wine” in the Bible and Book of Mormon as being unfermented grape juice. Many books have been written on this subject and have been accepted as the basis for the use of unfermented grape juice in the Sacrament Service. I understand that some people tend to become addicted to alcoholic beverages, and so there are those who believe we need to protect all mankind from this habit. I also understand that this is a person’s choice. Man has the option of abusing any of the blessings God has given us for our benefit. It may be wine, alcoholic drinks, food, our relationships, clothing, jewelry, our home, car, lifestyle, and many other blessings that can consume our devotion. But it is our choice.
Let us first consider what is written in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, which I believe is the Word of God. It is from these scriptures that we are told to seek the way of salvation. Jesus said in John 5:40 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me." So, let us look at what this word of God tells us. In the 26th chapter of Matthew the Lord gives us an example of how we are to practice the Lords Supper. 22-25 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and brake it, and blessed it, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I give a ransom for you. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it. For this is in remembrance of my blood of the new testament, which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins. And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall observe to do the things which ye have seen me do, and bear record of me even unto the end." There are several explanations, or suggestions that what is said, does not mean that the cup contained fermented wine. One person said that it could have been new wine. Yes, that could have been the case, however we find that in Acts 2:12-15; "And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words; For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” By this we see that "new wine" is also an intoxicant. A German winemaker describes "new wine" as “Federweißer,” a partially fermented alcoholic beverage made from grapes." (search new wine in Google)
This would explain why the men in the Acts 2 chapter would suspect the Apostles of drinking "new Wine" for the partially fermented wine would be more desirable in the earlier part of the day than the hard stuff that they would normally drink in the evening before going to bed. This would also be compatible with the following from Zechariah 9:17 - “For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids." There is something else of interest also in the 26th chapter of Matthew: "And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall observe to do the things which ye have seen me do, and bear record of me even unto the end." Here God has given a commandment that we do as He has done. So then, do we obey this commandment of God, or do we obey the theologies and precepts of man. Again, this is our choice. We find also the same commandment in 3 Nephi 8:30-39 - “And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread, and break and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples, and commanded that they should eat. And when they had eaten, and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude. And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples, Behold, there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread, and bless it, and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name. And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread, and blessed it, and gave it unto you. And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shewn unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father, that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me, ye shall have my Spirit to be with you. And it came to pass that when he had said these words, he commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup, and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude, that they might drink of it. And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it, and were filled; and they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled. And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them, Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you"
From the above we find that in the Book of Matthew we are commanded to use one cup and the emblems should be bread and wine. To alter or ignore the commandment, and to change the emblems would be averse to the will and command of God. One might wonder what would be the consequence of such an action. Would God overlook it? I don't think so. I recall an incident in the old testament where two priest disobeyed the directives of the Lord and Lost their lives. Lev 10:1-2; “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord." In these last days do we really want to tempt the Lord on this issue by choosing the precepts of men over the command of God???
I invite you to read also: WINE OR GRAPE JUICE #2
WINE OR GRAPE JUICE #2
June 29, 2020
As I prepare this portion of the article, I am going to try and show the results of altering the command of God as it pertains to the Sacrament emblems. The question of wine or grape juice has been a dividing sore for many generations of the Restoration movement. Sometimes when we have a sore muscle, we tend to give it time to heal. This issue is not a sore muscle. It is an issue that needs to be directly dealt with carefully, for time does not make it heal itself. Remember the parable of the man who sowed good grain in his field and the enemy sowed tares while he was asleep. Sometime in the early days of the Church the enemy found them asleep and planted this tare in the field of the Restoration. I do not know when it was planted, but it has, over the years, born evil fruit, that of division and contention. When a statement is made by someone, it may lay in question until, by events later on, it is proven true or false. I believe I have just such a situation to show you.
When I and another Brother answered the call to meet with Mauricio Berger and his group in Brazil, we were given the words of Moroni. True we were given these words in bits and pieces, and later on I saw changes made, and phrases twisted to suit someone's desires. Yet there were some other statements made that proved true. Let's consider a statement in the Words of Moroni that I believe is relevant to our discussion. "Verse 5.........”And they deliberately took contrary paths from those who, through me, were restored through Joseph Smith Jr; prophet and legislator of the laws and ordinances of the restoration, with the purpose of being the same from the beginning of time until the end of this last dispensation, among which, the sacrament, in whose changes imposed to it's ceremony, symbolism, prayer, and reverence invalidate the gift of the Holy Spirit in all the remaining/remnant churches of the restoration and with all the very priesthood of the Son of God." This phrase: "the purpose of being the same from the beginning of time until the end of this last dispensation," indicates that there was to be no change in the sacrament procedures. No change in "ceremony, symbolism, prayer, and reverence" yet as we continue the study, we find that there were changes made. In Verse 28 of the Words of Moroni “................Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; which remained in the way determined by Me the Lord by revelation which I gave to Joseph and Hyrum Smith in relation to linear succession, until the second generation of the offspring of my chosen servant began to modify my gospel
The "offspring of my chosen servant" was Joseph the third, and the "second-generation" would be Frederick M. Smith. This generation apparently "began to modify my gospel." History may reveal a gradual change beginning in this second generation. At this time, I have no desire to research the changes, but history does reveal there were changes made. From the Herald we find a statement by Joseph III on May 1, 1870 in which he describes the situation with the Sacrament at that time. "Perhaps a few suggestions and plain teachings respecting the ordinance may not be amiss, during the divided opinions of the many who have superficially thought upon it.” Apparently, there were those who at that time were trying to introduce the use of unfermented grape juice into the ordinance. Joseph III made several comments concerning the ordinance, its make-up and procedures. Two of these are pertinent to our study.
"The emblems should be prepared beforehand, and should be good sweetbread, and the pure wine of the grape, if wine is used. When wine is used it should be made by the saints of the pure juice of the grape. Water, or water poured upon raisins, and then expressed, may be used in the place of wine, when wine cannot be had."
I have highlighted two words above, and I want all to understand the meaning of them because many learned men, apparently, do not understand these two English words. "Wine": an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice: and this word: "Made" past participle of make. Make:1 form (something) by putting parts together or combining substances; construct; create: ...| baseball bats are made of ash. • (make something into) alter something so that it forms or constitutes (something else): buffalo's milk can be made into cheese. • compose, prepare, or draw up (something written or abstract): she made her will. • prepare (a dish, drink, or meal) for consumption.
The word "make" and “made,” the past participle of that word, is used in many different ways. Yet we can see that Joseph III, the direct descendant of Joseph the Prophet and his wife Emma, carrying the authority of the Lineal Priesthood made it clear in this time of contention that the pure juice of the grape was to be "made" into "wine" by a process of fermentation. In the Words of Moroni, which I referenced earlier, was the statement that the second generation after Joseph III "began to modify my gospel," and as I have shown above, the Sacrament emblems in 1870 were to be prepared in the manner shown. Yet history shows that it did not remain the same. Somewhere in the early 1900's, wine and the one cup were supplanted by grape juice and multiple cups. The ordinance of the Sacrament was changed.
Was this the only change? No, remember the words given in the Book of Mormon to be used in the baptism of those who came to Christ and believed? 3 Nephi 5:25 “And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." The words of Christ were changed from "Having authority" to "being commissioned," Well one person said "it means the same thing." Maybe, but was the change commanded by Christ? Who has the authority to change the words of Christ? What is the consequence of changing the command of God?
Lev 10:1-2 “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord." I don't have information concerning the consequence of changing the baptism words, but when I think what the words of Moroni tell us of the changing of the Sacrament ordinance - it makes a chill run up my back. "..... the sacrament, in whose changes imposed to it's ceremony, symbolism, prayer, and reverence invalidate the gift of the Holy Spirit.
My father was born in 1880. when he was a small boy about the age of 6 or 7 his younger sister, my Aunt Coral, came down with an ailment that was going around at that time. A doctor was called and attended the child but was not able to help, and the child died. My grandmother took the child in her arms and would not give her up and held her until my grandfather and Joseph III came and administered to the dead child. Upon the anointing of oil and the laying on of hands by men who carried the power and gift of the Holy Ghost, the child came back to life and lived many years. Where did that power and gift go? Why is it we do not see that today?
So once more I’ll say that these are questions that are in the back of the minds of many who are set up as servants of the Lord. Questions that continue to test our faith. Questions we have not been able to answer to our satisfaction. The failure of the Restoration, and the Churches thereof over the years should tell us that something went wrong, not just one thing, but an accumulation of errors or transgressions. The fault in all transgressions is derived from disobedience to the command of God in one way or another. As we believe we are very near the days of tribulation, should we not be interested in clearing away the traditions that have failed us? Shouldn't we be seeking to turn away from mistakes and misleadings, and strive to obey Gods commandments?
THE ANOINTED ONES OF ZECHARIAH CHAPTER 4
This will be a study of the importance of the Kingdom of Israel, and the Kingdom of Judah. At the same time, it will give us an understanding of the importance of the United States of today, and Jerusalem, for these two nations represent the largest portion of the descendants of the tribes of Jacob. When we speak of the importance of these two nations, it is because of what God has said about them.
Isa43:1 “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine."
I highlighted those last three words because they establish the very reason these two nations are important. They belong to God. What about other nations? Notice this from Psalms 147:19-20 “He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord."
The tribes of Jacob were chosen by covenant as we can see by the following. Deut 26:17-18 “Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice; And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments;"
I will add here another verse from that reference as it sheds light on the reason for the Lord choosing these tribes of Jacob. Deut 26: 19 “And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken."
The Lord did not choose them because they were more perfect, but rather He choose them to become more perfect in order to do a work for Him, that in time they would become that city set on a hill that Christ spoke of in the book of Matthew, but that is another study.
Again speaking of Jacob: Isa 43:10-12 “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you; therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God"
Notice that in three statements of what I have covered so far that God is claiming Jacob as His. 1. He is saying to Jacob, "thou art mine." 2. God has avouched Jacob "to be his peculiar people" 3. God has chosen Jacob to be "His witnesses". And they are to testify: that "that I am God."
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord," And what is their testimony? That He is God. A testimony is only of value when one can hear it, see it, or read it. Where do we find this testimony that says He is God? We find it in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. And what nations publish and promote these testimonies? Is it not primarily the United States and Jerusalem? These are the centers from which the word of God comes, which testimony states that He is God. Can we understand then, that in our day and time the two witnesses are the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel, which is today Jerusalem and the United States?
From the Book of Mormon, we find the same information as we found in the Bible. 2 Nephi 12:58-61 ”Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together, the testimony of the two nations shall run together also."
Now that we have identified the two witnesses let’s see what Zechariah has to say about them. Zec 4:1-3 “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof; And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof."
We find further description of what he saw in the following in Zec 4:11- 14 “Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13 “And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand before the Lord of the whole earth."
The 11th Chapter of Romans describes Jacob, or the nation of The Children of Israel as a tame olive tree, however we find in 1 Kings 12:16 “So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel; now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed into their tents." Ten tribes left the tribe of Judah, which had been the ruling tribe of the Children of Israel and established the Kingdom of Israel. Essentially dividing the "olive tree" into two olive trees. This occurred around 970 BC. So, we end up with the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel.
The oil is the worship and testimony of the two trees or the two nations.
An interesting note here for those who have studied the Book of Mormon, is found in the 17th verse of 1 Kings 12:17 “But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them." This is why Lehi and Nephi and their families were found living in the Kingdom of Judah in Jerusalem in 600 BC, while they were descendants of Joseph and of the tribe of Manasseh and would have normally been found in the separated Kingdom of Israel.
This answers the age-old question about the identity of the two anointed ones.
Joseph F Smith
Feb. 21, 2020
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
Joseph F. Smith
April 20, 2020
As I grow older, many times I stop and look back on my life. The memories are mixed – some good and some not so good. I marvel at the grace of my Savior who bore with me and nurtured me, not because of what I was, but in spite of it.
I was born and raised on a farm in the Ozarks where there were fun times but also hard times. It was an era when almost all work was done by hand. I can remember the first tractor we had. My older brother and my father built it out of an old Model A Ford. We put our hay up in the summer with a pitchfork. We had 20-25 head of Jersey milk cows which we milked by hand every morning and every evening. I started milking when I was 6 years old, and by high school age, I milked 7 Jerseys, fed the stock and caught the bus by 7:15 in the morning for 4 years.
There were fun times too, like Sunday church picnics, 4th of July, summer days swimming and fishing, hunting in fall and winter. Through all this I developed a carefree attitude. I did not put too much interest in the reality of responsible life. Once a lesson was learned, it was soon forgotten, as I looked with expectation for what the next day would bring.
This carefree attitude soon fell over into the religious part of my daily life. I had been brought up in the Temple Lot Church of Christ. I had an excellent mother and father and was well instructed in the pathway of righteousness. I was willing to walk in that pathway, but as I grew older I began to see those who were supposed to be good examples doing things that were not in accord with the word of God that I had been taught. Many times, I witnessed the contention and confusion in the Restoration movement. I became discouraged, picked up my books, and left the Church for the “wise ones” to handle. I decided I would go out and live my life my way. This was a big mistake.
Having spent nearly 3 years in the army during the Occupation of Europe, I returned home, and shortly thereafter I married a fine Baptist lady, frankly a gift from God that I did not deserve. She became my anchor, for without her, I would have gone so far astray I could have never been reclaimed. I had already entangled myself in Satan's web of sin, and the ensuing years did nothing to improve my careless attitude.
There are times in life, when the training received as a young child begins to awaken one's senses to reality. In my case it was as if a hand knocked on the door of my memory and woke me out of my careless sleep, then picked me up out of that web and set me on my feet. Oh yes, there still were strings of the web clinging to me that I had to cut away. On repentant knees I struggled to find again the peace I had cast aside so carelessly. It took a while, but finally my heart was broken, my spirit contrite, and the Lord put me to work in 1995 at the Waldo Church in Independence Missouri.
Early in my life I had been taught about Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, and why He had to suffer. I had also been taught about the Sacrament and how partaking of the emblems was a means of renewing that covenant we make at the waters of baptism and at receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Many times in my life as I partook of those emblems, I knew that they represented the flesh and blood of Jesus that had been sacrificed for my sins, but I had not faced the full reality of his dying for Me.
One Sunday as they were preparing the emblems, I experienced a vision in my mind - in my mind's eye, so to speak. I saw the crown of thorns pressed down on the head of Jesus. I saw the thorns gouge the flesh of His head and blood drops appear. I saw something else. I saw the hands that pushed the crown down, and they were my hands. My heart broke as I realized my sins had caused this to take place. I wanted to cry out to take away the crown of thorns. And then a voice came into my mind, and it said, "Your sins are forgiven."
For a moment, I fell back in peace. But then I saw the whip as it struck the Master’s back. Then I felt the wooden handle of that whip in my hand, and again my heart was broken as I saw the stripes of that whip draw blood from His back. As I sat in sorrow, again the words came, "Your sins are forgiven."
Then as my heart was just beginning to lift up again in relief, I felt the cold iron of the nail in my left hand, and the weight and wooden handle of the hammer in my right hand. As my hand placed the nail in the palm of the Lord’s hand, and the hammer came down upon the nail, I saw the arm flinch from the pain. A river of tears broke forth from my eyes. I cried out in my mind, “My sins have done this,” and once again the words came, "your sins are forgiven.
As I look back on my life, I begin to realize what Nephi meant when he said in 2 Nephi 3:32-34, “My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about because of the temptations and the sins which doth so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted." Yes, My God is awesome.
As a young boy in Sunday School, we leaned the 23rd Psalm, and the first few lines now mean so much more to me.
1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Yes, He restoreth my soul. Isa 53:10 “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
I am of His seed. I am a child of God. Praise Him..........
Joseph F. Smith
TO THE SAINTS ABROAD
Joseph F. Smith
I bring to you the words of Moroni to call your attention to what we were called to do here in the land of Zion, or Missouri.
"The restoration of my Church, therefore, does not require you to found a new organization, but I have redeemed the principles governing that which had been spiritually restored in its fullness by the hand of my servant, Joseph Smith Jr., in a church without walls, founded by stones living on this foundation stone and supported by the columns of protection of truth, to which a remnant sense of the 'ORIGINAL CHURCH' must burn within you, this being your legacy in common, what zeal to ascend to heaven as never before first seen on earth, in whose spirit of every member of it, is imbued with the sole purpose that builds the foundations of that organization, the fullness of the administration of my gospel among the children of men.”
Various individuals can gather different views from this portion of Moroni’s words, however I would like to bring to you what I glean from them.
"… a remnant sense of the 'ORIGINAL CHURCH' must burn within you." This brings to my understanding the necessity to go back to the original Church of the 1830's and to realize not only the structure, but also the call to duty given them of the Lord. Two of these calls were to carry the message to the Lamanites, or the Indian, and to locate the Land of Zion and build the House of the Lord therein. The one doctrine they were to promote or preach was the Gospel of Repentance. The Gospel of Repentance includes the principles of the Doctrine of Christ as listed in Heb 6:1-3 "Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. Of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And we will go on unto perfection if God permit."
This then should become our slogan; Repentance, until we do make a change in our directions. The House of the Lord established in the land of Zion was to be the gathering place, and the center from which the Lord would reach out to the scattered sheep to bring them into the Holy City the New Jerusalem. To enable the early Saints to do this work they were called to become one. What the Lord wanted was a team working together in unity. Therefore, He gave the command to institute the law of consecration, which would bring about the brotherhood needed to accomplish the work laid out for them. This the early Saints did not like, for this law would seem to deprive them of their individuality and would create one body. The one body is what the Lord wants and has wanted for many generations. We can see from history what the Lord can do with a people when we become one body. Look at the battle of the city of Jericho. The children of Israel were given a commandment on how to march around the city. They obeyed the command and marched around the city in one body and the walls came down.
Again we read from the words of Moroni: ".....had been spiritually restored in its fullness by the hand of my servant, Joseph Smith Jr…” so this shows that which has been restored, and we are called to pick up that work and move forward the cause of Zion. In order to do this work we must embrace this admonition also from the words of Moroni: "…in whose spirit of every member of it, is imbued with the sole purpose that builds the foundations of that organization, the fullness of the administration of my gospel among the children of men." We have begun to build the foundations. Now we must bring forth the administration of His Gospel, that is teaching and preaching the Gospel of Repentance until we become one body; a team of brotherhood concentrating our effort to accomplish the very work that the early Church laid down. The Children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness, we have spent 185 years in the wilderness of confusion, contention and division. How much longer must we wait to answer the call to labor in God's Vineyard?
A TIME OF TROUBLE
April 11, 2020
Joseph F. Smith
I do greet you this day in the name of Jesus Christ. I am looking out on a beautiful day today. We have sunshine and 70-80 degrees. After many days of clouds and cold rain, this is a blessing. From January through even now in April, with Covid-19 seeming to run so violently, we yearn for a ray of hope; restricted to our homes, almost overcome with "cabin fever." It was in February when this virus began to get really active. My thoughts back then ran to the scourge the scriptures speak about, and I wondered if this was the time (Isa 28:18) "when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it." Also this from the D&C Sec 45:4d; "and in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; and there shall be men standing in that generation that shall not pass, until they shall see an overflowing scourge, for a desolating sickness shall come over the land;"
I do not know the end of this malady, but if nothing else, this should be an awakening, an eye opener, as to our condition in our relationship with the Lord. This relationship has become somewhat dead over the past hundred years. Time and again the Lord has reached out to us, but we were too caught up in our own understanding and would not hear. I am reminded of this from 2nd Nephi 13:11 "And again: It sheweth unto the children of men the straightness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them." We sing the song "The Old, Old Path." Remember especially the words of the chorus: "In this old, old path, made strangle sweet, by the touch divine of His blessed feet." Yes, He set the example. He showed us His love for all mankind, even to the point that He gave his life for us. Now He has asked us to put the Love of God in our hearts and love one another and become one. For 185 years we have refused to do that.
I cannot think of this situation without scripture popping up in my mind. We continue to resist the command to become one, even in the face of this from D&C Sec 38:6a (RLDS). "Behold, this I have given unto you a parable, and it is even as I am: I say unto you, Be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine." Also this from John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
It is as if we are saying, "No we do not want to do this because we are individuals and cannot accept those who are not like us. We have come to the point that WE have determined the correct path, and unless you are interested in walking with US we cannot have anything to do with you. Again the scriptures pop up. D&C Sec 1:3c-3e "and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; for they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; they seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall."
How long, Oh Israel, will you continue under the condemnation of these and other scriptures? How long will you continue to let your soul be drug down to the depths of Hell by that evil spirit that holds you in his grasp? How long will you let your pride and arrogance destroy your opportunity for eternal life? Yes, How Long? Jesus walked down that old path giving His life for us, what will you give? What has He asked of you? Is it not a broken heart and a contrite spirit? Do you know what is meant by this contrite spirit, this broken heart? It means that you are willing to be subject to His will. It means that you are willing to obey His commandments, as it is stated in sect 83:8b "...not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written,"
Isa 52:1-3 "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money."
Joseph F Smith
Move Forward or Sit Idle?
In a show of confidence, Joe Namath, the quarterback for the New York Jets, made a brash statement during a news interview. It was about the game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Jets in the 1969 Superbowl #3. During the interview, a man in the back of the room asked Namath if he thought the Jets could win over the Colts. Namath said he guaranteed they would win, and the jets went out and did exactly that.
My reason in bringing this up is to call to your attention the example of the confidence one can have in their ability. What about the confidence/faith we claim to have in the Lord. We are quick to respond that there is nothing the Lord cannot do, and I agree, yet we have before us the promise given 185 years ago that He would bring forth the City New Jerusalem and Zion. Where is it? Why is it not here? Oh I have heard the words, "Zion will come in the Lords time" and "It is not time for the establishing of the House of the Lord in Zion," or words to that effect. I recall the words of Haggai 1:4 “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?"
With the breakup of the Reorganized Church and the many Restoration Branches springing up, and the organization of some of them into one body here, and another body there such as the JCRB, the Remnant, the Council of Restoration Elders, the Community of Christ, the Temple lot Church of Christ, and many various independent branches. Of all of these, which ones are making positive moves to bring about that promised Zion? None. Instead they are building their own organization, setting men in High sounding positions, talking about Zion, teaching about Zion, resting their peoples in one form of complacency or another, saying “We have an agreement with Heaven, we are safe in the arms of Jesus Christ, for we have been baptized.” Isa 10:3 “And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?"
You may rely on the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins committed, but how will you answer for work undone? What will be your excuse for not repenting and going back and doing what is required to come out from under the condemnation of section 83:8a.“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation. 8b “And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written, 8c. that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father's kingdom, otherwise there remaineth a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion; for, shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay."
Wake up Oh Israel of the last days. Awaken from the dream that the traditions of the past, that have failed you this far, will yet carry you through. That dream is a nightmare. Traditions that have failed you in the past will not rescue you now. A scourge and a Judgment is soon to be poured out upon you, and you have some notion that because you have been baptized you need to do no more. Obedience; that is the key to your physical and spiritual salvation. Obedience to the commandments of God, including those directions included in section 83:8. Do you think that by ignoring those directions and remaining in condemnation that perhaps the Lord will forget about it? Or perhaps you do not believe the revelation that put the Church under condemnation is true. Somewhere you must make a decision, and each decision results in a consequence. Consider your decision carefully.
Again the words of Haggai call my attention to the time and condition of the work of establishing The City New Jerusalem. "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" That is a remarkable question today, for we have procrastinated all these years in this work assigned to the 1830 restoration movement. Yet we do live in our “ceiled houses” warm and comfortable, well fed, without a lot of care - while the House of the Lord that was called for in Section 94 still is not built. The place that was to be established for the perfecting of the ministry is not. Therefore the ministry is not perfected, and now, how can the Saints be brought to perfection? Jer 18:9 “And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 “If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will withhold the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them."
What say ye Saints of latter days, are we guilty? Yes, "what will ye do in the day of visitation?" How will you answer the Lord for work undone?
TO THE APOSTLES
RESTRUCTURED CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
OF LATTER DAY SAINTS
There is need for a statement of information for the Apostles. You stated that when you read "bring forth my church out of darkness," you see the entire globe" I see the entire globe also, but I have been involved in the construction of buildings over the years, and I have full understanding that all things built require a foundation. This is the purpose for Zion and the Temple. Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:2 "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
Zion and the Temple is the foundation upon which the following is established: Isaiah 2:2 "And it shall come to pass in the last days when 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;...." This is the center of the government of the Lord: Isaiah 9:6-7 "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, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.' Of the increase of his government and peace there is no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever."
We find the promise to us in Revelations 12:3. "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God and his throne." Therefore our work is to begin the formation of that foundation, while Brazil's beautiful work, as originally stated by Brother Mauricio Berger, is to prepare a people and bring them forth out of the South-land to help us build the physical Temple.
The work in which we are to be engaged must be based upon a solid foundation. Isaiah 28:16 "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, 'Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste."
Holden is just our core of operations and therefore needs to be strong. Yes, I do feel it is my duty and the duty of the entire ministry to protect His sheep that have been put into our hands. This is why I feel that we need to shut out the confusion of Brazil, for we have enough of our own here at home. The thrust of our effort must have a solid backing and that comes from those who support the organization, which are mainly Holden Branch and a few scattered members.
We are on the edge of a very exciting period of time in the history of the work of God's hands. Just this morning I read this from the Book of Mormon: I Nephi 3:213-216 "Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God, 'for the time cometh,' saith the Lamb of God, 'that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men -- A work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other, Either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity and also unto destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.'"
We read these promises, we teach them also. Why is it that when the Lord begins to bring them to pass, we step back with doubt? I proclaimed from the very start of this movement that this time God is going to win. I believe this to be true with all my heart. The Lord spoke through Joseph Jr. and made it clear to all, that if we are not one we are not His. That oneness is lacking in the ministry of this Restructured Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
While the effort abroad is desirable, the ground work first must be accomplished; the laying out and forming of the foundation. When we realize this and begin to work in that direction we will become more in God's favor.
This is my vision. It is a great work that we have been invited to share. We are to be a team, one unit; there is no room for heroes or glory hunters. Individual seeking of pride and fame is a drag to a team. The pride and glory belongs to the Lord so let us render to Him that which is His, and let our joy be in the service He has called us to.
Joseph F Smith
AS THE WORD SAYS
August 23, 2019
I have heard that in the desert there are visions that appear, yet are not as we see them. These are called mirages or optical illusions. We see them, and we want them, but when we get to where they should be, they’re not there. In the prophecies from the Old Testament we find many things we can apply to our view of today’s issues, but upon investigation we find many mistaken views. Perhaps that is because we understand them according to the way we want them to be.
Recently there was an article distributed about the 4th Chapter of Zechariah in which the theory was presented that the anointed ones were Joshua and Zerubbabel. First we need to get a clear understanding of the meaning of the word "anointed." The best description I can find to be used in this situation is this: to ceremonially confer divine or holy office upon (a priest or monarch) by smearing or rubbing with oil. Was this done in the time of Zerubbabel and Joshua? I don't know. I do know that there was a divine conferring of something very important upon some other people that we need to take into consideration.
Deut 26:17-19 “Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice; 18 And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; 19 And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken."
In the 11th chapter of Romans the children of Israel are represented as an olive tree. Then in 1 Kings 12:16-19 “So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel; now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed into their tents. 17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day."
Here we see that Israel became two branches of the original tree. The covenant God made back in Deuteronomy is still the same and now is directed at two separate bodies of the tribes of Israel. 26:19 “And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken." These two bodies became known as, The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. Going back now to the 4th Chapter of Zechariah let us consider something important.
Zec 4:12-14 “And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand before the Lord of the whole earth." There is much to talk about in these three verses, but let us consider first this: “two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves” The two olive branches are the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. What then is this golden oil? We read in the book of Jacob the parable of the olive tree, and what is the Lord wanting to produce? Is it not good fruit? And what is that fruit? Is it not sanctified souls?
Consider this: Eph 4:13 “Till we, in the unity of the faith, all come to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;" Remember this from Acts of the Three Nephites in the Sealed book. 11:1 “Now, brethren, listen to this premise: We cannot think of any more intimate and stronger union than that between God and His Son, the Messiah. ...............And, by merit obtained by His blood, shed for our benefit, He extends to us sinners the invitation to this same sonship with the Father, through adoption;...."Isn't this the stature of the fullness of Christ?
Remember what has been read and preached to you many times in the past 180 some years. Matt 5:15-18 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor, wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall thenceforth be good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Therefore, let your light so shine before this world, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Guess what. Who do you think this was addressed to? Jesus was speaking to Israelites and Jews when He was in the Holy Land. He was talking to the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. What did He ask them to do? "Therefore, let your light so shine before this world," Why? Why did He want you to “let your light shine?” To be an example: “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." That by seeing you who have attained "the stature of the fullness of Christ;" others may desire to also seek that high and glorious condition.
So we see that these two nations are the two Olive trees that are charged to fulfill the work of producing the Golden Oil that is to be emptied into the golden candlestick of Zechariah chapter 4. They are as Nephi said of them: 2 Nephi 12:59-61 “Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together, the testimony of the two nations shall run together also." Thus these two kingdoms become the anointed ones of Zechariah 4:14. “Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand before the Lord of the whole earth."
Wheat & Tares
Matt 13:22-25 “Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while he slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it tares?”
IN MY OWN WORDS
It seems that every time the Lord has begun a new work, or even a renewed effort, the adversary manages to plant some seed , and it is not long before the tares appear. When we were in Brazil we were given specific instructions pertaining to the bringing forth of the Church. I was told that I was not to raise up a new Church, but was to reconstruct the original church that was delivered to Joseph Smith Jr in 1830. We were to bring forth the original Gospel as was delivered to the prophet at that time, which includes the covenants and commandments that were given in the beginning of this movement.
These instructions were the Words of Moroni, the angel that had delivered the Plates to Mauricio. These words were in printed form, but were given to us in sections from time to time. We here in the land of Zion have tried to work as closely as possible to those instructions. There were some restriction that we could not satisfy exactly, and we had to deviate somewhat. For instance: All things were to be done by the 8 witnesses with them working in unity. We could not do that as two of the witnesses did not want to follow the instructions as given, but rather wanted to use this work to “reboot” the RLDS. This was in essence a seed sprouting and it eventually bore fruit.
There were 6 of the witnesses to the plates that agreed to move the work forward, whereupon we called for an assembly and conference and began to reconstruct the Church according to the instructions given. In December of 2018 we restored to the ministry the priesthood authority that had been lost. In February the Lord called out 7 Apostles, and one Patriarch, and on April the 6th of 2019, We ordained the called Apostles and 2 Patriarchs, one having been called before. At that date we set the “Restructured Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days” in order and began to move the work forward towards the hope and desire of the Saints for 185 years, that hope being the Holy City of God, the New Jerusalem in the land of Zion.
We have done our work in truth and righteousness, for we believe in the words found in the Inspired Translation of the Bible, Gen 7:70 - And righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare; an holy city......” We are also aware the adversary has not been asleep and has enticed those in the beginning of this work to deviate from the words of God that were given by the Angel Moroni, and to try to create a parallel organization to lead astray those whose hearts are not set on a demand for truth.
The seeds have been planted, and now the tares begin to bring forth fruit in the form of enemies of the work. These are those that are led astray into fields of darkness and confusion, not maintaining hold on the rod of Iron which is the “words” of God. From time to time these comes forth among us in the form of individual Saints with a desire to further the work of God, yet not having eyes to see the purpose of the Lord because their personal agenda has blinded them, or they have partaken of temptation provided by the adversary which is only half truth. They become enemies of the work of the Lord.
While we oppose those that would cause confusion in the ranks of the faithful Saints, we remember the words of the Apostle Paul: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”( Eph 6:12 ) Yet the duty of the ministry is to protect those children of the Lord that are in our care. Therefore we oppose the individuals that would enter into the midst of the Saints and cause confusion. Even though we do not hate the person, we must oppose the wayward spirit that guides them. We have been warned to be aware of those that would disrupt the family of God. Romans 16: 17-18 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
While we are not permitted to uproot the tares because we would also uproot the wheat, we cannot allow them to flourish in our midst. Therefore we must resist their growth and prevent them from bearing fruit. This we will do, God giving us discernment and direction. In our heart is the cry “onward to Zion” to the City prepared of God for the gathering of His Children. We look to Zion the beautiful, the hope of many generations.
Joseph F Smith
In Our Hand
A Pearl of Great Price
Brother Joseph F. Smith
August 22, 2019
Eze 7:20-22; “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein; therefore have I set it far from them. And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it. My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place; for the robbers shall enter into it and defile it.”
Editor’s Note: Brother Joseph told me to include this in his article here. Usually I just check his grammar, but the verse above perplexed me. Maybe it does you too. I read it many times and realized something. That first line above is talking about two different things – “beauty” and “ornament.” “Beauty” is an intangible thing and “ornament” is tangible. But the whole verse is talking about a place. The “beauty” of a place like Zion would be intangible spiritual qualities like peace and safety while the “ornament” would be the tangible location – the place. Later in the verse, the word “it” is used a few times. At first the word “it” talks about the beauty. Then “it” is talking about the place. See the start again below with the whole article:
Eze 7:20-22; “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it (the beauty) in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein; therefore have I set it (the beauty) far from them. And I will give it (the place) into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it (the place). My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place; for the robbers shall enter into it (the place), and defile it.”
Early in the Restoration of the Church they were told about a special place, and when we read the above verse from Ezekiel about a “secret place,” we begin to wonder what this place is. In Second Samuel we find a prophecy that foretells a special place. 2 Sam 7:10; “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them anymore, as before time,”
Notice that I have highlighted the words “appoint a place,” for it is important that we realize that this is the work of God's hands. Now notice this from the D&C: Section 57:1a-1b; “Hearken, O ye elders of my church saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the Saints: wherefore this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”
Here we see a prophecy being fulfilled that was given hundreds of years ago. In it we find that this place is to be used for the “gathering” of the Saints. This would therefore be a special place. In fact we find in another section of the D&C that it has a special purpose. Section 45:12c; “and with one heart and with one mind, gather 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;”
In our search for understanding of the secret place mentioned above, in the 7th chapter of Ezekiel, we have so far found that the Lord appointed a special place for the gathering of the Saints. It is a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the gathered Saints. Also we find that it is the place for the city of Zion, the City New Jerusalem. If it is to be a place of safety, will it not have to come under the protection of God? If it is under God's protection would that not be in agreement with this from Psalms 91:1; “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
If we conclude that Zion is the secret place of the Lord, what then is the question we would expect to hear? The New Jerusalem and Zion is no secret for the whole world knows about Zion, as it is mentioned many times in the Bible. Well yes this is true, but most Christian Churches believe that Zion was Jerusalem in David’s time, and that it will be in the land of Judah in the end times, or some variation of that theology. Then also some will say it is no secret place, for all the Restoration Movement knows about the “New Jerusalem and Zion” mentioned in the book of Mormon. Yes this is true, but how many understand the purpose and reason for the City New Jerusalem? And how many believe it? How many are working to bring forth the beauty of that City and that Zion? Who is putting forth the call to that Zion, and who is physically obeying the following from the D&C 58:3c; “and also that you might be honored of laying the foundation, and of bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand;.....”
The concept of Zion and the establishing of that city New Jerusalem has been with us for at least 180 years, and the Restoration has done nothing with it, and is now doing nothing with it. They do not want to do anything with it, for to do so would require confessing to the condemnation found in section 83 of the D&C 8a-8b; “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written,”
The former commandments. This would include the Law of Consecration, as recorded in the Book of Commandments which will create the beauty of eliminating poverty. It requires total commitment, the entering into and acceptance of the United Order. This was a form of tithing given in the beginning of the Restored Church. When they would not obey this Law, tithing as a tenth was given in 1838. Even today, most of the fragments, groups, organizations coming out of the Restoration do not want to obey the Law of Consecration. There is however one organization which has taken the promise of Zion to heart and is beginning to move into the directives given to Joseph Jr. This is the Restructured Church of Jesus Christ of Latter days.
In March of 2018 eight of us went to Brazil. There we were blessed with the opportunity to handle the Gold plates of the Book of Mormon along with a very moving experience with the Spirit of God. Mauricio Berger, a native of Brazil, working under the direction of the Angel Moroni, gave us that honor in his home for which I am grateful. Also we were given instructions for the work here in the land of Zion. Among those instructions was the directive to reconstruct the original Church that was given in the beginning of the 1830 Restoration movement. Upon our return there was some disagreement about the reconstruction procedure which resulted in six of us deciding to begin following the instructions as given by the Angel Moroni.
As we considered the Solemn Assembly and conferences, we needed a place to hold these meetings. Our natural desire was Independence Missouri, as this has always been considered the center place. This would require money and we did not have an abundance of that resource. I knew of a branch of the Church of Christ Restored located at Holden out on Highway 50, East of Lee's Summit that had a building big enough to handle the meetings. I presented our situation, and the purpose of our work to the Pastor. Upon his discussions with the members there, we were given a hearty welcome. Over a period of twelve months this has become our operating headquarters.
What becomes interesting is how these things have played out. It is apparent that Jackson county and Independence was designated to become the gathering place for the Saints. The place of safety, the city of refuge, virtually the secret place, the place where God would protect His people.
Let us look again at Eze 7:20: “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it (its beauty - the intangible characteristics - peace, refuge, safety, etc.) in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein; therefore have I set it (the beauty) far from them.
In reading the first line I am reminded of the following from Isa 28:1-4; “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet; And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower…........”
Again in Eze 7:21-22; “And I will give it (the ornament - the tangible thing or place) into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it. My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place; for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.” See Ezek 16: 10-15 for more.
What this says to me is that, Independence, the center place for Zion, His secret place for the protection of the Saints has become polluted, and the Lord does not want the beauty of His Church restructured there. So we were moved out of Jackson County, as the Holden Church is in Johnson County. It is there we are situated today. Praise God.
Joseph F. Smith
THE RELIGIOUS WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE TODAY
As we look around us today we see many interesting aspects of human nature. Growing up on a farm where we had a small herd of cattle, I was privileged to witness the nature of those cattle. There was always the push and shove for the front of the herd to get to the feed trough or the open gate, but as to the real head of the herd, that had to be decided by the one who had the most clout. There was the claim to the head; to who was the boss, with each one showing their strength. I see the same in the nature of mankind.
I note this from Isaiah 44:5, “One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” So as we look out into the world of religion, what do we see? Many Churches each claiming to be number one, the head of God's work, the one that has the answers, and we find this also in the Restoration. Remember in the past history of the restoration movement there was always and is now the question of authority.
There are those who lay claim to authority today, that date their claim back to the past history of the Restoration, and there are those who claim authority from other sources. Regardless of from whence they feel they have authority, as they begin to build foundations, they are faced with this God-given rule: To set in order the House of God, the foundation must be built on truth and righteousness. Those who build on falsehood and misinformation, or disregard the word of God found in the scriptures, as is found in many of the world churches; they are like people who live in glass houses: they shouldn't throw stones.
Here in the land of Zion we have been given a “little Kingdom of God” as stated in a recent revelation. How precious a gift this has become, as we have begun work to bring it to perfection. The authority to perform this labor has been given and recognized by the Lord, therefore that question has been answered. In fulfillment of the directives given in Brazil that were received from the Angel Moroni, we have put together a restructured Church after the pattern of the one given to Joseph Smith Jr in 1830, which Church failed to accomplish the work of the Lord assigned to them. Thus it became necessary for the Lord to set His hand a second time to gather His people (see Isaiah 11:11). This work we are doing now is the beginning of the move to establish Zion and the City New Jerusalem. This then, is a second invitation to the wedding feast when the bride is prepared for the return of the bridegroom, which will take place in that city of Zion when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
In the first invitation of 1830 many found reasons to be excused, one had bought a team of oxen and had to prove them. Another had purchased a farm and had to check it out. Another had just married a wife and she did not approve of “Mormons,” so he asked to be excused. What I am saying is that the cares of their lives turned their hearts away from the Lord, and so they did not hearken to the Lord's directions. The seeds of contention and controversy were planted by the adversary early in the Restoration movement. They grew quite well, and those “tares” are with us today.
Now we have put together this Restructured Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days with a Prophet President of direct lineal descent, Apostles, Patriarchs, Elders, and Priests. We are implementing the pristine elements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as delivered to Joseph Smith Jr. in the beginning of the movement. We are preparing the pathway to that Holy City, New Jerusalem in the land of Zion. When the time comes, and Saints begin to seek that pathway, it will be ready. We invite you to lay aside your reasons to be excused and come and join with us in this work. It is a special work for we are also preparing the wedding feast: “yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail; yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited.” (D&C Sect 58: 3d RLDS)
Joseph F, Smith
April 7, 2019 – Peter Gould’s Covenant
Isaiah 65:23-24 Concerning the promises of God to his people who answer his call to arise and heed his voice in the 2nd invitation and gathering of Israel:
“23 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
Today I would share the words of the covenant made yesterday (06 April 2019) in the ears of the people of the Lord, for so it seemed good to me and to the Holy Ghost.
Several weeks back brother Joseph made known to me that he had petitioned the Lord that I might be appointed by the heavenly throne as his counselor. I made known to him, in return, that the Lord God had ALREADY responded to that plea and placed that burden – nay delight – upon my heart that I should so do. After this call was brought forth on April 6, 2018, having such witnesses I could not fail, because of the grace given of the Lord, but to respond - as it were: “here am I…”
In preparation for the appointed hour that I should receive this divine approbation, the Holy Spirit moved these words of covenant to be made before the congregation and the Holy Priesthood of the Lord:
Hear now the words which I am instructed by the Spirit to speak to you in the ears of all these witnesses – even the words of my covenant – to you – to this body – and to Almighty God:
Heretofore you have had the treasured spot in my heart as a dearest of friends and brothers; Henceforth I count you also as though you were a father.
As my grand-sire Leon Arthur Gould labored to serve your grand-sire, Alexander Hale Smith, as a secretary and co-laborer, so will I labor to serve you as a counselor and co-laborer.
Where you send, by the Spirit, I will go; and where, by the Spirit, you direct me to stand, I will stand.
In persecution I will be a shield.
In slanders I will stand to your defense.
In correction, I will speak but ONCE (that I do not burden you with my over-abundance of words). And then I will leave the burden in our Lord’s hands, thereafter in mighty prayers and supplications – For so the Lord has counseled me this day that you may know I will not badger nor berate, that if I should speak for your correction, you will know that I have already pled before the throne of heaven to know there is no other way; and you will know, when that day comes, as it inevitably will, that I and the Lord mean those things only for your best good.
I was then instructed to ask: “Are you brethren of the High Priesthood content in spirit with this, my covenant? If so, please stand.” - They assented in one accord.
Then I was caused to ask: “Brother Joseph are you content with this covenant and will you receive it? If so, please declare before this people by saying “I will.” - Brother Joseph stood and declared thus: “I will,” “I will,” “I will.”
The Lord then caused that I ask: “And you, O saints of the Most High, are you content with this covenant of service? If so, please stand and sing with me the Doxology “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow…” - The brethren did so in one assent – and so the portals of heaven rang – and the heavens echoed “Amen.”
Joseph F. Smith
The Future of the Restoration
February 6, 2019
After the death of Joseph and Hiram Smith in 1844, the Restored Church broke into different segments. Most saints do not realize that many divisions in thought and theology existed for several years before their deaths. Those controversies were controlled by the power of the office that Joseph held, but at the removal of the prophet, things began to pull apart. The Restoration began dividing, separating to some extent along the lines of the differences in thought and theology that were developing among the saints. Over 20 different factions or branches of the original Church emerged. This history reminds me of Isaiah’s prophecy: “For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches” (Is 18:5).
Just as the restored gospel was taking root and the Holy Ghost was transforming the lives of those who both heard and obeyed it, the Lord promised to prune His vineyard. Why would He cut off the ripening fruit? It is because spoiled fruit began to appear among the produce of the Holy Spirit, which yields “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5:22-23), the righteous deeds that adorn the Holy City set on a hill. That spoiled fruit needed to be removed.
Jeremiah predicted this pruning: “And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will withhold the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them” (Jer 18:9-10 ). The kingdom of which Jeremiah prophesied is the kingdom that was delivered to the Restoration. In September 1830, the Lord told the infant Church, “Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom” (D&C 28:2b). Receiving the kingdom and holding the keys by which it can be opened is not sufficient. Righteousness must follow. If not, the kingdom would be pruned “if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice.” Did the early saints disobey the Lord’s voice? Our history is filled with accounts of disobedience.
The saints failed to purchase the land of Zion as the commandments specified. Few consecrated to the bishop. He was only able to purchase 2000 acres. Some bought lands by themselves. They also ignored the command to build the Temple, and did not raise the "sufficient men" for Zion’s camp. In short, they did not obey the commandments and sometimes changed them to suit their desires. They were guilty like ancient Israel was: “They obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedest them to do; therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them” (Jer 32:23).
Evil came upon the Restoration just as Jeremiah predicted. Our Lord withheld the good. What was the good that He promised, the good He withheld? “With one heart and with one mind, gather 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.” (D&C 45:12c-d). The saints, America, and the world lost the glory intended for the land of Zion, as a frontier city of holiness could have grown into a righteous metroplex, influencing the world.
The Lord intends to bring the kingdom to perfection. We can see this in the original framework of the organization of His church in Jerusalem: “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12). This same ministry was returned with the restoring of His church in 1830. The Lord hoped to perfect that ministry in the house that He commanded to be built in the land of Zion: “I, the Lord, require at their hands, that there may be an house built unto me for the salvation of Zion; for a place of thanksgiving, for all Saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of-* the ministry, in all their several callings, and offices; that they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry; in theory; in principle and in doctrine; in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you” ( D&C 94:3b-d). A divinely prepared priesthood armed with the fullness of the gospel contains the power to transform believers in holy saints equipped to live together in righteousness.
The church, our nation, and the world would be in a different condition today if the saints had built that house. Instead, the saints were driven out of the land of Zion, and eventually out of Missouri. Has their failure destroyed the work of the Lord? I don't believe so. In the last few issues of our newsletter, I have shown that the Lord promised to cut out a stone, which would break apart Babylon: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” (Dan 2:34). Daniel added that it would become an everlasting kingdom: “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan 2:44).
This event will happen when an enemy army attacks America. Its invasion will destroy the wicked and cleanse the land. David prophesied, “I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord” (Ps 101:8). Isaiah also described it: “It shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem; when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Is 4:2-3). Note the promise that all those remaining “shall be called holy.” People will be made holy by the transforming power of the Holy Ghost that comes by repentance, baptism of water and of the spirit. When properly done through the priesthood of that kingdom, which was restored in 1830, they become a child of God. They come to their Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, willing to hearken to His voice and abide His commandments.
Desert of Confusion
November 21, 2012
As we struggle to prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we find ourselves in the midst of a desert—a desert of confusion. Perhaps we bring this on ourselves; nevertheless it holds us in an unfruitful condition. We are not forwarding the progress of that Restoration movement, nor are we bringing forth the promised Zion. We are specifically called to build up these two things. These are the movements of God and we are told to push their causes forward. So let us look at the problems we face and see if we can find solutions that will free us from this stagnant condition.
In every philosophical movement there is a core or principle that presents the desired goal and a means to achieve it. Take for instance my Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey is the core or the principle around which this meal is built. The potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, hot rolls, vegetables, and so forth, are trimmings added to enhance the meal—to bring satisfaction to those who partake of the feast. Those who prepare the meal can destroy the event by burning the hot rolls, making watery gravy, forgetting the cranberry sauce, adding too much salt, or not enough, and letting the meal get cold before presenting it to the guests. Or, they can become overly concerned about the trimmings and improperly prepare the turkey—maybe forget to cook it.
The Restoration of the Kingdom of God has a core purpose around which the Church can be built. This core or principle can be stated in several steps. First, we were directed to declare repentance and to establish the principle of baptism, and the means of receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Then, we were directed to purchase the land of Zion and to begin to push forward the establishment of that Zion. In August 1831, Joseph and others laid the foundation for the Holy City— the appointed place that was to be established as the New Jerusalem. This will become the center of the House of the God of Jacob—the spot from which the Lord will rule this New Jerusalem in the land of Zion. We agree on these principles. Regardless of which portion of the Restoration and which fellowship in which we worship, we agree. Why not work to further the saints’ togetherness and declare the Restoration principle to the world in which we live?
Like the Thanksgiving dinner, we, as members of the Restoration, became carried away in preparing the trimmings. We allowed ourselves to forsake our instructions—how we were directed to accomplish our work. Some even designed and chose their own philosophy. Then, we began judging each other and dividing over such things as who has the right to lead, who has the authority, who was teaching the right philosophy, what is the right way. We did these things without listening to the voice of the Lord or to the directions that He had given. Have we hearkened to spirits that were not of the Lord or did not conform to the scriptures? Spirits that did not come from the Lord, but rather from the hearts of desirous men? Spirits that led us away from the purposes set forth in the beginning? Spirits that gave us substitutions for the real thing? In the middle of our disagreements, separation and confusion, the adversary has gained influence among us.
I believe the only way we can prepare for the coming of Christ—to be found with sufficient oil for our lamps—is to begin to be obedient to the directions we have received. The Bible, Book of Mormon and Latter-Day revelations tell us what type of person we should be. We must all begin to walk in the path of righteousness laid out for us to follow. We must hearken to the voice of the Lord from the scriptures and from latter day revelations.
History reveals that God’s people, who do not follow His directions, end up rejected and will receive chastisement. Ancient Israel, both the Kingdom of Israel, and the Kingdom of Judah, became disobedient and rebelled against the Lord. They were driven out of their homeland and scattered throughout the world. We worship the same God that they worshipped, should we not expect the same judgment? In fact, does not the Book of Mormon give us warning that if we do not walk in His righteousness, we will suffer His chastisement?
Ether 1:31 “And now we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise, and whatsoever nation shall possess it, shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fullness of his wrath shall come upon them.”
Ether 1:34 “And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God, that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fullness come, that ye may not bring down the fullness of the wrath of God upon you, as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.”
Ether 1:35 “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it, shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.”
As a young boy growing up in the Ozarks I enjoyed listening to many local churches as they would have their “sing fest.” They had some very good singers, and some songs with very factual verses. One I particularly remember was entitled: “What would you give in exchange for your soul.” That is a good question for us today. What would you give up to walk in God’s pathway of salvation? How humble and obedient would you willing become to secure a residence in this land of freedom of worship? How much effort would you put forth to establish Zion, God’s Holy Mountain? Think about it…..
Joseph F. Smith
November 21, 2012
Half the Picture
November 4, 2017
There is a lot being passed around by some who have half the picture. This is my fault, for I did not make the whole story clear in my testimony this past Sunday. If I had tried to do so it would have taken much more time. If we will remember, the Lord said through Joseph Jr. that if this people would not do the work He has asked them to do, He would raise up a people who would.
Consider, we have used up 180 some years and the City New Jerusalem is not established, nor do we have Zion. With the division and contention we see in the branches where are we to find a people who will work together to do His purpose? “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, …” (Isaiah 11:11) “But behold, there shall be many at that day, when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are the house of Israel; …” (2 Nephi 12:42 [RLDS])
He is setting His hand the second time because we have failed to do His bidding, and we have rested more on the arm of flesh than on the words of the prophets and the words of the Lord contained in the revelations. In this event let me testify to all that the whole trip and the events that transpired were arranged and directed by the Lord. I knew before I went to Brazil, that I would baptize some, I did not know how many. I also knew who I was directed to ordain to the priesthood.
There are always questions when something new comes up, especially when it involves changes in our organizational theory and understanding. This event where the Lord is setting His hand the second time for sure cast questions upon our present purposed process, but perhaps with prayer and repentance we can receive the word from the Lord one way or the other.
Make sure the answers come from the Lord. Perhaps it would be best to hearken to the advice of Gamaliel “And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)
Joseph F. Smith
April 6, 2018
Recently I have dealt with prophecies that foretell of tribulation and chastisement that is to befall, both this nation and Jerusalem. The warnings are not confined to the three main prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, but is also included in the minor prophets. Also we find that the Lord spoke through our latter day prophet, to give us warning to prepare for the time that is just before us. [Ezek 33:6] But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. Now perhaps I am not designated to be a watchman, but having been given insight into what the Lord has planned, I feel it is my duty to warn the Saints. That is what I’ve been trying to do. Lets look for instance at one of the prophecies that Isaiah has given. Most of Isaiah’s prophecies are directed at us, for we contain the blood of ancient Israel, and are subjects of the covenant the Lord made with all of Israel. Isaiah began his prophecies around 700BC, the Northern Kingdom called Israel had already been gone at least 20 years before, and Judah was already in trouble. So the many prophecies directed at the people of Israel are directed to latter day Israel. Lets look at one……….
Isa 5:1 And then will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
It does not require a lot of imagination to fit this United States into this prophecy. We have borders and oceans that form fences, He did cast out England, France, Spain, and Mexico, stones of obstruction, and planted the choicest vine Israel, Restored His Church , the tower, and sent His priesthood to harvest the grapes. The Restoration produced wild grapes. Thus our condition today.
In sect one of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord speaking through Joseph said this: [Sec 1:3a] Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear; [Sec 1:3b] prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; and the anger of the Lord is kindled, and His sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth, and the arm of the Lord shall be revealed.
What is to come? Going back to Isa 5th chapter, verse 4-6: "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes. And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard; I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down; And I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it."
To prune and dig in a vineyard is to cultivate in a manner to bring forth a good crop. Without cultivation, briers and thorns will come up. Without the effort of the priesthood, Saints will fall away. Priesthood without divine assistance would be worse than a unlearned husbandman in a vineyard. No divine assistance would be as destructive to a Spiritual vineyard as the lack of rain to a physical vineyard. If the Lord takes away the hedge, or boundaries, and breaks down the wall, (our protection), we shall be wasted. "That all that will hear may hear;……. prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come."
The way to prepare is through repentance, turn away from those old habits and traditions and return to the Lord in truth. Come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I know this is old food, this is old ideas, but it is the only way you can find favor with the Lord. I am not talking about the Sunday School brand of repentance or righteousness. I am talking about making God a reality in our lives. That repentance is not just something that we talk about in Church. It becomes a reality in our lives also. We need to be on our knees seeking God’s favor.
Psalm 91:1-8: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
JOSEPH F SMITH
Why Has Zion Languished?
April 15, 2018
In Missouri’s Ozarks there are many places where water springs out of the rocks in the side of a mountain. The water is crystal clear and usually very cold. As the current flows down the waterway, it mingles with other sources of water and eventually picks up soil and other contaminants. The stream gradually loses its purity and becomes dingy.
The Restored Church followed a parallel course to an Ozark spring. Truth sprang out of the ground in purity and righteousness descended from heaven in splendor, but as man began organizing and administering the work, vanity and pride began clouding it. By September 1832, the Church had become sufficiently contaminated that the Lord placed it under condemnation: “Your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation” (D&C 83:8a.)
When I first read this divine indictment, I was surprised at the words “unbelief” and “treated lightly.” Doubt and disinterest rise from people’s vanity. As I researched the history of the Church, I began to realize that arrogance and unbelief gave birth to apathy and disobedience. People grew slack in keeping the commandments of God. Sometimes they became outright rebellious. In June of 1829, Joseph Smith, David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery treated lightly the command to select those who were to become Apostles. It was neglected until 1835. Then the decree was changed to include Martin Harris in the selection committee contrary to the original commandment. This is but one example of how people revised and reinterpreted God’s revelations to fit their understanding.
I would like to think that those men, who enjoyed such sublime and extraordinary spiritual experiences, did not recognize the adversary’s influence among them. We find a parallel in the Old Testament: “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev 10:1-2). God gave directions about how to use the incense, but these two priests chose to offer it differently. They mingled their understanding and preferences with God’s revelation. In so doing, they altered His commandments and changed His ordinance. The result was death.
If the early Saints had better understood the Old Testament, they might have better prepared themselves to endure the temptations that erupt from pride and insolence. Jeremiah foresaw this trouble that has befallen latter-day Israel. He bewailed ancient Israel’s captivity while prophesying the expulsion of present-day Israel: “How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!” (Lam 2:1). Jeremiah’s phrase “covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud”evokes a similar phrase from the cited revelation to the Restored Church: “Your minds in times past have been darkened” (D&C 83:8a).
Jeremiah also lamented, “cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel.” What does the phrase “beauty of Israel” mean? Consider the Lord’s promise for our time: “Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own 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, and it shall be called Zion; a New Jerusalem” (Gen 7:70). God established His nation and inspired its Constitution to birth a government that guarantees liberty to all. That freedom was necessary to facilitate the Restoration. Its primary purpose is to bring forth Zion, that city New Jerusalem. Attached to that goal is the gathering of God’s scattered people. That latter-day glory is the beauty of Zion and the gathering of the righteous to it. While the Restored Church made several incomplete attempts, the it has failed to accomplish either. The Lord has cast down its beauty. Why?
The answer lies in one of Isaiah’ prophecies: “Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (Is 18:1). The term “land shadowing with wings” is clearly understood by Latter Day Saints to refer to the lands of North and South America. The verse begins with the word “woe,” which means great sorrow, misery and trouble. The fourth verse adds, “For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest” (Is 18:4). The Lord is revealing that He will take a break from the latter-day work and consider the situation. That He will pause for a time is illustrated by the dew in the harvest. When dew rests in the harvest, reapers must stop until things dry out.
The next verse states, “For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches” (Is 18:5). The “bud”represents them Restoration movement. It is perfect when the flower opens up.The scripture continues with “the sour grape is ripening in the flower.” The “sour grape” would be the fruit of the flower. In the Restoration movement, it would represent the growth of the Church. Since it says “sour grape,” it means a fruit the Lord does not like. As we study the history of the Church, we see that after September 1832, the Church begins a downhill slide. For instance, the Saints were driven out of the Land of Zion in the very next year, 1833. In winter of 1838-39, the Saints were driven out of Missouri. In 1844 Joseph and Hiram were killed and in the next few years the Church began to break apart.
That division has continued to our day and the saints have scattered, fulfilling the prophecy: “He shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.” During all this time, the heartfelt effort by many to stem the tide has failed. It continues today. It must stop. The Lord is calling the Saints to come together and build up a people who would be acceptable to Him, but we have not obeyed. How long O Israel will you be content to languish away in the foolishness and vanity of man?
JOSEPH F. SMITH
April 16, 2018
“Oh Lord my God! My heart is grieved, my soul is fallen deep in sorrow for my people here in these last days. We stand on the brink of a disaster the like of which we have never seen, and very few are prepared for this day of visitation. We cannot present ourselves before you as being guiltless, for our sins are great. In the flash of promise that comes to us in this bountiful nation we tend to follow our own leading’s, neglecting thy words and directions. The learning and technology of our day tends to lead us off into paths that are not of your presentation or desire. The events of our day occupy our time so much that we forget to study and learn the work of thy hands. We seem not to remember the faith and obedience of Moses and Aaron, as they led the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. The people whom thou hast chosen above all other peoples to be thy people. They did not come out without trials and tribulations, but with sufferings they were led to the Mountain where they received thy law, which many would not accept. They began their rebellion, and from that day forth tends to be a stubborn and stiff necked rebellious people.
It seems we also have forgotten the faith of Daniel in the Lions den; of the faith of the three Hebrew children and the furnace of fire and their refusal to acknowledge a false god. We do not teach much about these things today, yet this is the type of faith we need. Hast thou forsaken thy priesthood that thy light no longer is shed upon them as in the beginning of this Restoring of thy Church? From the very beginning of this work of thy hands, our forefathers faced the power of the adversary. A power that is mightier than men who are without your favor and guidance. So it was that they were led astray, and the results of the pitfalls into which they fell, still has its effect upon us. I, for one, acknowledge the failures of our forefathers, and willfully repent not only of their failures, but of mine also in that I have not worked hard enough to turn my brethren and sisters to the realization of what is needed to again come into sufficient favor, to again receive Your guiding hand. I beg in the name of Christ for you mercy, for your grace, that we be not cast off forever, for thou art the only God too whom we can call that will answer and save. I give all praise and glory unto you the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and the God of all the earth.”
Joseph F. Smith
Written 04.2016/ Posted 04.16.2018
TO ALL WHO LISTEN TO TRUTH
January 23, 2020
Gen 7:70 “And righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own 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, and it shall be called Zion; a New Jerusalem."
Righteousness and truth make up the foundation upon which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is based. Jesus is the epitome of that truth and righteousness. The other side of the picture is lies and falsehood, and the first liar, Satan, is the example of that. Rev 21:8 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." Proverbs 6:16-19 "These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him; A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
From the reference above we see some of the things the Lord hates - liars, wicked imaginations, false witness, and we see the eventual end of those that do these things. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Law of God will not tolerate those who practice these things, nor will the Lord work with them. The flooding of the earth with truth and righteousness promised in the book of Genesis is designed to eliminate those who practice these characteristics. Therefore in the movement with which we have become involved in these last days, we also cannot allow those evil characteristics to exist among us.
We have seen the gradual infiltration of those evil characteristics into the work in Brazil, bringing corruption to what, in the beginning, was of divine nature. Because of that, we can no longer have confidence in anything coming from that organization.
Furthermore, without my consent they have used my name to further their falsehoods. They have even woven lies around my name by claiming I had a ring of my Great Grandfather’s that I used to identify the validity of the plates. Lies and misinformation is not the work of God. What was once an opportunity to do a marvelous work for the Lord has become a parallel to the path which Cain traveled when he chose to serve Satan rather than God.
Therefore it is with great sadness but also indignation that I must say, there is no way I can any longer associate myself with Mauricio Berger and his work in Brazil.
Joseph F Smith
NATURAL BIRTH OR A "C" SECTION
January 23, 2020
A natural birth is the safest for both mother and child. A “C” section should only be used when there is no other way. It is hard on both. What does this have to do with For the Cause of Zion?
The Gospel was restored, and the commandment to establish Zion as a tower of safety for the salvation of the Saints, was given for the express purpose of preparing the people of God against the day of tribulation when adversity and hardship will bring about much distress and affliction.
Without regard to those commandments we have procrastinated this work, for we have not taken seriously the warnings of the prophets, and have not prepared the Holy Place. Now we find we are at the threshold of the days of tribulation. The Daughter of Zion, today’s Bride of Christ, has not delivered herself of a Holy seed and will soon be as a woman in travail in her endeavor to bring forth a righteous child, a Holy People prepared to serve God. We have, so far, failed in the work we have been called to do.
The second chapter of Isaiah, and the forth chapter of Micah, both speak of the establishment of the "House of the God of Jacob." This House is presented as being an example to all the world as is shown by the declaration found in the next verse: "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths;”
To attempt to fill this House of the God of Jacob with other than a Holy People would be the crown of foolishness, which brings us to understand the work we have failed to do, and that is to bring the Saints, the body of Christ to perfection.
In August of 2018 a few branches came together and called for a Solemn Assembly and a Conference, to determine if there was sufficient interest in pushing forward the cause of Zion. For those that do not know, Zion is God's Holy Mountain. We were well aware of the blessings promised to those who would strive to bring forth Zion in these last days as found in 1 Nephi 3:187 “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost;”
We did seek that gift and power, as we were experiencing the difficulty the Jews encountered as they returned from captivity to build the Temple in Jerusalem which made us remember the Prophecy of Haggai and how well it fitted us today as it did those in Jerusalem. "Haggai 1:2 “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built. 3 Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?"
Years ago, when we did not have so much pavement, there was a car stuck in a mud hole. The man who was driving set his wife to drive and he and his young son were out pushing. There was a group of several men standing there watching who offered no help, for there was mud to walk in and mud flying from the spinning tires. But the only way to get that car out of the hole was to be willing to deal with mud.
Well, well, well, what do we have today? Yes, there is mud flying all around those who are working to bring forth the Zion of these Last days. If you were to join, you would get splattered. Yes, you have your traditions and the gift of the Holy Ghost, but do you have the power of the Holy Ghost promised to those who seek to bring forth Zion? A promise is honored when you do what is required. Are you standing and watching, keeping your clothes clean?
Beyond any doubt, those of us who are dedicated to this work to bring forth a Holy people worthy to establish Zion, have met much obstruction. Satan does not want this movement to be successful. Many who began this work have chosen to go their own way, and this is their privilege. I hope they have made their choice carefully.
As we realize the work of God's hands in the hundreds of years past when He brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt, and set them in the promised land, we know they were expected to worship and obey Him. But that expectation met with disappointment, and He ended up scattering them throughout the world. Then in 1830 the Book of Mormon was first brought forth, and again His people were expected to worship and obey Him and establish a place in which to gather His scattered peoples. But they did not do that, so again the expectation was not met.
Therefore God had to set His hand the second time, (see Isa 11:11). This is to be the last time. The second invitation is here now and we are answering that call.
The Lord has given us positive assurance that this time He will win.
He will do it with us or without us - the safest way or through a “C” section - the adversity and hardship of tribulation - used when there is no other way.
Joseph F Smith