Question: when does destruction come from the Lord?
Answer: only when a people has rejected every word of God.
Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it. (1 Nephi 17: 35)
Why the Lamanites were never destroyed
The Lamanites, despite their many years of wickedness, never rejected every word of God. There was always some commandment that they obeyed and it was for this reason, and this reason alone, that they were continually spared, although they were cursed for their disobedience to the commandments of God. Said Jacob:
Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.
Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator? (Jacob 3: 5-7)
Even at the end of the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations, when both had turned from their righteousness and rejected the gospel, the Lamanites were not ripe to destruction, like the Nephites, because they still obeyed something that had been given to them by the Lord.
Lehi prophesied to the sons and daughters of Laman and Lemuel the following:
But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.
Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.
Wherefore, because of my blessing the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, he will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever.
And it came to pass that after my father had made an end of speaking to the sons and daughters of Laman, he caused the sons and daughters of Lemuel to be brought before him.
And he spake unto them, saying: Behold, my sons and my daughters, who are the sons and the daughters of my second son; behold I leave unto you the same blessing which I left unto the sons and daughters of Laman; wherefore, thou shalt not utterly be destroyed; but in the end thy seed shall be blessed. (2 Nephi 4: 5-9)
Once the Lamanites were all converted to the Lord, they never fully departed from it. There was always some part of it they kept. As a result, we have the descendents of the Lamanites with us to this very day.
Why the Nephites were destroyed
Whenever the Nephites rejected the word of God, they tended to reject the whole of it. At the end of their civilization, they had broken every commandment except one. The first three chapters of the book of Mormon explain that the Nephites were an exceedingly wicked and damned people, full of abominations, yet the Lord still preserved them. It was only when they broke the last remaining commandment of God, namely, to not invade the Lamanites, that the Lord allowed the Lamanites to wipe them off the face of the land.
When the Gentiles will be destroyed
But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come. (D&C 84: 41)
The Nephites and the abridged history we have been given of them were to serve as a lesson to both the Lamanites and the Gentiles of the latter-day. The Lamanites, of course, would remain cursed right up to the moment they received the gospel from the Gentiles and then they would blossom as the rose and never turn from it. But the Gentiles would receive the gospel and, like the Nephites, eventually turn altogether from it. This is why is it prophesied that the Gentiles will be destroyed at some future day.
And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them,
Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them? Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me. I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken. And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.) Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof. (JST Matt. 21: 50-56)
The apostate Mormon Gentile church and the doctrine of destruction
There are many among us today who recognize that many things are not right in the Mormon church. There are some that believe that the church went into apostasy during the times of Joseph Smith, for failing to build the Nauvoo temple in the appointed time. Others believe it became apostate after Joseph’s death. Others, after plural marriage was phased out. Others, during the administration of this or that church president. Still others, when the blacks were given access to the priesthood. And even fairly recently, others see the temple changes of 1990 to be an indication of the apostate nature of the church.
Because of these many perceived apostasies, there are those among us who are patiently waiting for the Lord to clean out His house and for destruction to come upon the latter-day saints. Some have left the church already, thinking its doom is near and all is lost.
Like the ancient Nephites and Lamanites, the Mormon Gentile church has been in a state of apostasy pretty much since its inception. Nevertheless, just as the Lord preserved the Nephites and Lamanites until they had rejected every one of His words, so the Lord will preserve the Mormon Gentile church as long as they continue to obey even one single commandment that He has given them.
The Nephites and the Lamanites, even in their times of wickedness, were still the Lord’s people. He never altogether rejected them until they altogether rejected Him. The same principle applies to the Mormon Gentile church. It is still the church of God, even in its condemned (or damned) state. The church of God has not been rejected, not during the time of Joseph Smith nor any time since, up to and including today. Nor will it be rejected at any time after today, until the church altogether turns from the Lord.
This is why the Lord says:
Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; and if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.
But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. (3 Nephi 27: 9-11)
The church of God can be built upon the gospel of Christ, and if so, the Father will show forth his own works in it; or, the church of God can be built upon the works of men; or, the church of God can be built upon the works of the devil. All three scenarios are still talking about the church of God. The church does not cease to be the church of God because it is built upon the works of men or upon the works of the devil. It is still considered God’s church, just as the Nephites and Lamanites were considered God’s people even in their states of wickedness. As long as the church of God is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, and does not reject every word of God, it will still have joy in its works for a season. Rejection and destruction of the church will only come to it when it has altogether turned from the Lord, rejecting every word of God.
We, the church of God, are still in the mercy phase and the Spirit is still striving with us. Yes, it is true that we are in a state of apostasy, but we are still not ripe in iniquity and have not, yet, been altogether rejected, although we have been cursed (or condemned). This means that we have not, as yet, broken every single commandment we have received.
May I suggest a sin that signals impending destruction?
The day may come that Mormon Gentiles are routinely or systematically breaking nine of the Ten Commandments. The day may come that no Mormon worships the Lord God Almighty anymore, but instead lifts up men called prophets, seers, revelators, apostles, general authorities, bishops, stake presidents, and other leaders. The day may come that no Mormon keeps the sabbath day holy, or honors his father and mother, or refrains from killing. The day may come that all Mormons take the name of the Lord in vain and commit adultery and steal and lie and covet all that is their neighbor’s. But if and when that day comes and all these nine commandments are broken by the whole of the Mormon people, it will still be a day a mercy for them and the Lord will still preserve them and not reject them as a church, nor bring upon them destruction, as long as they refrain from breaking the tenth.
But the moment they break the tenth commandment, even if the others have not yet been broken, that will be the day that destruction will loom over them. For there is one commandment that when broken leads to the breaking of all commandments: the making of graven images and bowing down to them.
Idolatry, the sin of destruction
Now, some may take issue with me and claim that the Mormon Gentiles already practice idolatry. To answer this charge, let’s look at the first two commandments.
The first commandment is: thou shalt have no other gods before me. When we put anyone or anything before God, we break the first commandment, not the second. Breaking the first one consists of devoting ourselves to people (leaders, celebrities, etc.) or things (material possessions, money, etc.) or pleasurable activities (sports, sex, drug use) or ideas and concepts (politics, science, fame, etc.) more than we devote ourselves to God. There is a tendency to label this devotion as idolatry. For example, we say that the celebrity is our idol, or we idolize our leaders, or money is his idol, etc. But this is all just figurative expression. Such behavior doesn’t literally break the second commandment, though it does literally break the first one.
The second commandment is: thou shalt not make any graven image and bow down and serve it. This is literal or real idolatry, or the worship of an idol, meaning a graven image. This commandment is kept to this very day by the Mormon Gentiles. And as long as it is kept, the Mormon Gentiles will not be destroyed.
It is idolatry (the real kind) that brings destruction. (See Alma 50: 21 and Ether 7: 23.) It is the gateway sin, that facilitates and brings about the commission of all other sins. Every civilization that has been destroyed by the Lord has practiced idolatry.
Real idolatry is coming back
At some point this sin will be introduced among the Mormon Gentiles, as well as among the Gentiles at large. When the Lord sends the Lamanites forth against the wicked Gentiles, He will send them among a people whose land is full of graven images (see 2 Nephi 12: 8).
Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots; and I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds; and I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers; thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands; and I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities. (3 Nephi 21: 14-18)
In the preface to the Book of Commandments, the Lord prophesied of a day to come in which idolatry would be widespread:
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; 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. (D&C 1: 11-16)
LDS typically interpret the above verses as referring to the non-members of the time of Joseph Smith, but this is a prophecy of the future, which is why the Lord starts it by saying, “Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come” and “the arm of the Lord shall be revealed” and “the day cometh …that they..shall be cut off from among the people,” etc. These are all future references, or references to a future day. When the Lord says “for they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant,” He is not speaking of the people who lived in 1831, when the revelation was received, but of the people who would be living during that future day of the fulfillment of the prophecy.
The people that the Lord is talking about is a people that will have received the ordinances of the gospel and then will have strayed from them, and will have entered into the everlasting covenant and then will have broken it. In other words, this prophecy is pointing to the Mormon Gentiles of a future day, a day way past 1831. Of particular note is that this wicked people will be practicing idolatry. Not figurative or symbolic idolatry, which is the charge often laid to the church today, but actual or real idolatry, meaning that they will bow down and serve graven images made with their own hands. The people living during the time of Joseph Smith did not do this.
It is for this reason (idolatry and all the sins it introduces) that this future people of the Lord (having received the ordinances of salvation and the everlasting covenant) will be cut off.
Because the Lord knew that the Gentile Mormons would one day begin practicing idolatry, He gave commandments to the elders so that this sin of destruction would not be found among them.
Let the residue of the elders watch over the churches, and declare the word in the regions round about them; and let them labor with their own hands that there be no idolatry nor wickedness practised. (D&C 52: 39)
The instinct to worship
Mankind has a natural tendency or instinct to worship. This instinct appears to be tied to what happens in the heavens, among the planets. When the planets are active, all mankind feels the urge to worship something, anything, in fanatical devotion. This urge is basic or fundamental, as basic as the sexual urge. It is a part of our natural state of existence.
In all ages of the world in which the heavens were active, it has ever been the devil’s strategy to take the urge to worship and lead it in the wrong direction by introducing idolatry. However, the current age we live in is different. This is the scientific age, the age of reason, the day of the intellectual man. And the skies are asleep. As a result, the instinct to worship does not pull on us as greatly and so the devil has changed strategies. Now, instead of diverting our urge to worship towards idols, he uses his influence to suppress it altogether.
The devil’s new strategy has resulted in what we see today: atheists, agnostics, intellectuals, left-brain dominant society, etc. The suppression of this basic urge has many people breaking the first commandment, but not the second. The breaking of the first commandment never, ever reaches the level of devotion that occurs with idol worship. No one literally prays to the celebrity or leader they “idolize.” No one literally bows down before their money and worships it. No one literally treats any of the people, things, concepts or causes they devote their time, thoughts and energy to as real gods. This is because the devil inspires modern man to suppress our worship instinct.
At some point the heavens will begin to wake up again, and when that happens, our instinctual urge to worship will also begin to wake up and pull strongly on us. At that day, there will be no more atheists, agnostics, etc. All will be believers in some form of god and will have a desire to worship something. This is because human brain cycles are tied to the cycles of the heavenly bodies (planets, sun, comets, etc.) The devil, then, will no longer inspire men to suppress their instinctual urge to worship, because he will have no power to do so, for the urge will be too strong to suppress, and so he will go back to his old strategy and re-introduce among the people of the world the sin of idolatry. At that point graven and standing images will be had everywhere, for there will be a real market for them. Idols, in those days, will be the biggest selling items around, to fill the need that people will have to worship something.
Worship is not what we do
Worship entails a level of devotion that is just not had among our modern society. The Lord defined worship best:
Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. (D&C 4: 2)
The instinct to worship is the urge to bow down before something and serve it “with all your heart, might, mind and strength.” It is total and complete devotion to something. Such level of devotion, when directed towards God, pleases Him. This is the very reason why we have been given this instinct. When it is suppressed, God is offended and withholds the abundances of the manifestations of the Spirit. The sin we are guilty of, then, is in not using the instinct God gave us. But when it is not suppressed but instead is directed towards dumb idols, God becomes jealous and His anger is kindled, unsheathing the sword of destruction. Now our sin is in perverting the use of a God-given instinct.
The urge to worship is so very strong (when the planets are awake), that man will go to almost any length to please and gain favor of the object of his worship. So, on the one hand we have righteous men and women willing to die instead of denying the one true God, and on the other hand we have wicked men and women sacrificing their own children to dumb idols. It is because of the extremely strong pull that the worship instinct has upon mankind that idolatry becomes the gateway sin to all other sins. People will lie, steal, cheat, covet, commit adultery, kill and commit every other form of wickedness to gain favor of their idols.
Don’t be deceived
The Lord will not outright destroy this church without first sending messengers to preach repentance to it. If we start hearing a message of “repent or be destroyed” from any quarter, as long as the church is not engaged in idolatry you can know of a surety that the messenger is not sent from God. It is only when His people are ripening in iniquity, meaning that they are beginning to break every commandment, that He will begin threatening them with destruction. However, even if no messengers are sent, if you start to see real idolatry among the church, know that destruction looms on the horizon and that the Lord will soon be sending messengers to threaten the people. All of this is according to the principle and doctrine of destruction, as I understand it.