The Meridian of Time


Note: This post assumes that our current BC/AD reckoning is accurate and also uses D&C 20:1 as an exact frame of reference.

The Meridian of Time is a 70-year span (the generation of the Lord) that began on 11 April 2 BC* and ended on 11 April 68 AD. It was initiated by the angel Gabriel when he appeared to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, in the temple on 11 April 2 BC. (See Luke chapter 1.) Nine months later, in January of 1 BC, John the Baptist was conceived. Six months later, in July of 1 BC, Jesus was conceived. Three months later, in October of 1 BC, John was born. Six months later, on April 6th, Jesus was born. 33 years and three days later, on Friday, 9 April 33 AD, Jesus died on the cross. Two days later, on Sunday, 11 April 33 AD, Jesus was rose from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the mid-point

Abinadi and Alma both give the mid-point of Earth’s existence as the resurrection of Jesus:

And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ—for so shall he be called. (Mosiah 15:21)

And behold, again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrection, a resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. (Alma 40:16)

Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but it meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ.

Now, whether the souls and the bodies of those of whom has been spoken shall all be reunited at once, the wicked as well as the righteous, I do not say; let it suffice, that I say that they all come forth; or in other words, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ.

Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven. (Alma 40:18-20)

Everything is divided in half—half before Christ’s resurrection and half after Christ’s resurrection. This means that there were 4000 years from the Fall of Adam to the resurrection of Jesus, and there will be 4000 years from the resurrection of Jesus to the end of the Earth.

Half and half

The first half of the Meridian of Time, occurring before the resurrection of Christ, is a 35-year period stretching from 11 April 2 BC to 11 April 33 AD. These first 35 years of the Meridian of Time make up the last 35 years of the 4th thousand years.

The second half of the Meridian of Time, occurring after the resurrection of Christ, is a 35-year period stretching from 11 April 33 AD to 11 April 68 AD. These last 35 years of the Meridian of Time make up the first 35 years of the 5th thousand years.

Jesus came multiple times during the Meridian of Time

First He came in the flesh with His birth. Then He came after His death with His resurrection. Then He appeared multiple times to the Jews, and also to the Nephites and the Lost Tribes of Israel. Thus, the Meridian of Time doesn’t constitute a single point of time, such as a single day, but a period of years in which the ministry of Christ among the tribes of Israel takes place. The mid-point of that ministry, though, is His resurrection from the dead.

2 BC

Among the Nephites, the start of the Meridian of Time was also, as among the Jews, a notable occurrence, with more angels like Gabriel appearing. The 90th year of the reign of the judges corresponds to 2 BC in our yearly reckoning.

But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled. And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled. (Hel. 16:13-14)

Our reckoning vs. God’s reckoning

We reckon from the birth of Christ, but God counts the years from the Fall of Adam, putting everything in thousand year divisions. As the resurrection of Christ occurred 4000 years after the Fall of Adam, we can use an AF (After Fall) system to reckon the years. So, on 11 April 1000 AF (2967 BC), the 1st thousand years ended. On 11 April 2000 AF (1967 BC), the 2nd thousand years ended. On 11 April 3000 AF (967 BC), the 3rd thousand years ended. On 11 April 3965 AF (2 BC), the Meridian of Time began. On 6 April 3966 AF, Jesus was born. On 9 April 3999 AF (33 AD), Jesus died on the cross. And two days later, on the Fall anniversary (the real new year), on 11 April 4000 AF (33 AD), Jesus rose from the dead. 35 years later, on 11 April 4035 AF (68 AD), the Meridian of Time ended.

Moving forward

On 11 April 5000 AF (1033 AD), the 5th thousand years ended. And on 11 April 6000 AF (2033 AD), the 6th thousand years will end.

The current date in AF

Today’s current date is 7 October 5983 AF (2016 AD.) There are about 16 ½ years left until 11 April 6000 AF.

The 7th thousand years

There are seven thousand years of the Earth’s temporal existence, but there are eight thousand years total. The Great Millennium is not counted as part of the temporal existence because there will be “time no longer” (Rev. 10:6 and D&C 88:110) and it will be like the endless, or eternal, state that existed before the Fall.

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. (2 Ne. 2:22)

So, the 7th thousand years begins on 11 April 6000 AF (2033 AD) but less than 50 years later the Millennium begins and goes on for 1000 years. After the Millennium the 7th thousand years resumes and goes on for “a little season” (Rev. 20:3 and D&C 29:22—a little more than 950 years) and then comes “the end of the earth” (D&C 38:5 and D&C 88:101.) This brings the total tally of years to exactly 8000 with the Fall beginning it, the resurrection of Christ as the mid-point and “the end of the earth” as, well, the end.

Hopefully with this post the mystery of the Meridian of Time has now been cleared up.

P.S. Today (7 October 5983 AF/2016 AD) is this blog’s 9th birthday. It was born on 7 October 5974 AF (2007 AD.) Happy birthday, LDS Anarchy!

*Footnote—This post was corrected on 12 October 2016 to reflect the understanding that Jesus lived 33 years and three days:

And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land. (3 Ne. 8:5)

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Nothing From Without Can Defile You


there is nothing
from outside of a person
that upon entering into them
could possibly defile them
but
the things which come out of them
those are they that can defile
if any have ears to hear
let them hear

Mark 7:15-16

Well, how does this sway with our understanding that the body is a “temple of God” and that by consuming tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs we’ll “defile” that temple of God [which we are]?  Jesus said:

do you not perceive
that whatsoever thing from the outside
that enters into a person
cannot possibly defile them
because it does not enter into their heart
but enters into their belly
where it goes out into the toilet
making all foods the same

and he said

that which comes out of a person
that will be what defiles them
because from within
coming out of the heart
proceed all of one’s evil thoughts
adulteries and fornications
murders
thefts
covetousness
wickedness
deceit
lasciviousness
an evil eye
evil speaking
pride
foolishness
etc.
all these evil things come out of the body
from within
and these are what defile a person

Mark 7:18-23

What goes into the body goes right back out again.  The more important thing that Jesus was worried about is what comes out of the mouth — because our words betray the condition of our heart, and that’s the thing that makes our “temple of God” clean or unclean [not the food/drinks we consume].

Peter was told in a dream:

that which God has cleansed
thou shalt not call unclean

Acts 11:8-9

And what has God “cleansed”?

and God
having made peace through the blood of his cross
by him
to reconcile all things unto himself
by him
whether they be things in earth
or things in heaven

Colossians 1:20

Worrying about outward observances, such as “appropriate” foods and drinks, is worrying about making clean the outside of the cup and the plate — when what we’ve been called to do with the liberty given to us by Christ is to invest our efforts in making sure the inward part isn’t full of ravening and wickedness [Luke 11:37-40].

The liberty we have in Christ is the confidence that “all things are clean unto you” [Luke 11:41].  No food or drink that enters into your “temple of God” [meaning your body] can defile it.  What “defiles” that place is what occupies the attention of your heart:  the thoughts you entertain, the fantasies you imagine, the motivations/drives you act from, etc.  And that is shown by what comes out of your mouth:

a good person
out of the good treasure of their heart
brings forth that which is good
and an evil person
out of the evil treasure of their heart
brings forth that which is evil
for the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart

Luke 6:45

So we must beware of any “false brethren” who’ve gotten into the midst of the church of Christ unawares, who detest this liberty which we have in Christ Jesus — seeking instead to “bring us into bondage” with doctrines and commandments that aren’t from our Lord [Galatians 2:4].  We must be free to “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” [Galatians 5:1].

I know
and am persuaded by the lord Jesus
that there is nothing unclean of itself
but to one that believes a thing to be unclean
to them alone is it unclean

for the kingdom of God is not about food and drink
but righteousness and peace
and joy in the Holy Ghost
for he that
with these things
serves Christ
is acceptable to God
and approved by others
let us
therefore
follow after the things which make peace
and things wherewith we can edify each other
instead of worrying about food
which does not affect the work of God
all things indeed are pure
it is only evil for one who eats with offense

Romans 14:14-20

And what is this liberty for?  To consume all the booze we want simply because “it’s okay to drink wine“?

brothers and sisters
we have been called unto liberty
only do not use this liberty to serve your fleshly desires
but rather
by love
use it to serve one another
for all of the law is fulfilled in one word
even this
LOVE

Galatians 5:13-14

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Re-assignment of Parentage


In 2009 I received a revelation which dealt with the doctrine of re-assignment of parentage.  I told a few people privately and, as expected, no one believed it.  Unfortunately, I also got kind of a backlash from its private release, in which some denounced it as “of the devil,” while others said I was just a lunatic.

After I received the revelation, I believed it at once—(for all my revelations are true)—but then, upon pondering it afterward, I decided to see if there was scriptural precedence for it.  So I pulled out the scriptures and started searching.  Sure enough, this doctrine was written all over the freaking place.  In particular, this scripture stood out:

¶Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother,

Woman, behold thy son!

Then saith he to the disciple,

Behold thy mother!

And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.  (John 19:25-27)

In this case, the disciple received a new mother, and the woman received a new son.  Neither was biologically related, yet there occurred a re-assignment of parentage. I thought, “Okay, good.  When I tell people this revelation, and when they inevitably refuse to believe it, surely they will ask me for scriptural ‘proof’ that the doctrine is sound, so I’ll just turn to this passage and expound the doctrine to them.”

Unfortunately, instead of hearing the revelation and then asking questions concerning it, about its doctrinal basis and so forth, people just got offended by it, passed judgment upon me, and not a single one of them ever asked me to expound it.  Instead, they merely pondered it and then came to their own (unscriptural) conclusions based on their own false assumptions, without consulting with either the scriptures or myself.  I suppose this was to be expected, as I have a tendency of convincing people of my way of viewing things if they reach for the scriptures to try to prove me wrong, so the unspoken rule is that the scriptures are never to be consulted whenever I’m involved in any controversy.

Anyway, so 6 years have gone by and I’ve never explained the doctrine to anyone.  However, earlier this year I was contacted by email by one of the readers of this blog, who, after reading some of my writings about the Josephite restorer, was beginning to wonder whether this man might be himself.  He detailed many interesting facts about his life in his emails to me, one of which in particular caught my attention.  Now, I received his emails through my cupholder account, which I no longer have access to, so I’m just going on memory here, which might be off.  If he still visits this blog and reads what I write, according to my memory, and if it turns out my memory is wrong, he can correct me.  But, if my memory serves me right, I recall that he wrote in his emails that he was given a patriarchal blessing in which he was told he was of the tribe of Ephraim, but then he got an emendation of the blessing, and his tribe was switched from Ephraim to Manasseh.

I did not tell him of this revelation I received in 2009; but, as I have “two sets” of scriptures—the canon the standard LDS uses and my own personal “canon” of revelations—I could not help but compare what he told me to what the Holy Ghost told me in 2009.  The switch from Ephraim to Manasseh is the re-assignment of parentage, from one father (Ephraim) to a different father (Manasseh).

Now, re-assignment of parentage is what the gospel is all about.  Sin and death cuts us off (disinherits us) from God the Father, but, through the atonement and resurrection of Christ, and on condition of faith and repentance, we are allowed to become restored to the Father, through the re-assignment of parentage, Jesus Christ becoming our new Father.  In this way, we still inherit the blessings we lost through death and disobedience.

If we continue to rebel against God, again we get re-assigned parentage, the devil becoming our new father.  If we repent and exercise faith, we Gentiles get re-assigned parentage, Abraham becoming our mortal father, through whom we inherit the promises.  And so on, with each of the 12 tribes of Israel.  All of this is the doctrine of re-assignment of parentage.

Even in a contemporary setting, this doctrine plays out.  For example, if we adopt children, who are not literally our seed, they may be sealed to us for time and all eternity, as if they were our literal seed.  Thus they get re-assigned new parents, for this life and the next.

Okay, so recently I was thinking about what this man wrote to me about his switch from Ephraim to Manasseh, and I wondered about the Josephite, whether some kind of re-assignment of parentage would indeed take place for him, like what happened to this man.  The lineage of the Josephite is of three kinds: Gentile, Lamanitish and Josephite.  (My understanding is that he was raised as a Gentile, so I will count that as a “lineage.”)  Then, I suppose, when he gets into the church of God (the Mormon church), the Lamanitish lineage would manifest.  After all, the Nephites, when they self-destructed, were assimilated into the Lamanites (those Nephites who remained alive, that is), so they became Lamanites, and this Lamanitish lineage has stayed strong for more than a thousand years.

But then at some point this guy is going to have the Nephite part of him manifest, right?  And when that part of him starts to manifest, might there not be a corresponding lineage switch?  In other words, while he is still in “Lamanite-mode,” his parentage consists of these parents, but when he goes into “Nephite-mode,” his parentage changes to those parents.  It all corresponds to the level of faith exercised.  It takes a certain level of faith to go from unbelieving Gentile to believing LDS (re-assigned into the house of Israel as a “Lamanite.”)  And it takes an even greater level of faith to go from a believing LDS “Lamanite” to a bona fide Nephite.  When any of these levels of faith are manifested or exercised, God changes the lineage accordingly, to match that faith.  Thus, the Josephite will journey from Gentile, to Abrahamic covenant (through baptism into the church of God), to Lamanite (starting to suspect his lineage), to Nephite covenant, as a full blown Josephite.

Thus, it seems to me entirely possible that we are going to hear of some kind of re-assignment of parentage from this guy, such as what this blog visitor wrote to me about, or perhaps like what happened to that disciple of Jesus.

P.S.

Do not ask me about the revelation.  I am not going to release it in any form publicly.

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We are all the Rich Young Ruler


I wanted to express my heart as it pertains to something I’ve heard from LDS leaders previously — specifically because I heard it just heard it again from a member of the quorum of the 70 during this most recent General Conference.

It concerns a false interpretation of the story given in Matthew 19:

and behold
one came and said unto Jesus

good master
what good thing shall I do
that I may have eternal life?

and Jesus said unto him

why do you call me “good“?
there is none good
but one
and that is god
but
if you want to experience eternal life
then you must keep the commandments

he said unto him

which ones?

Jesus said

do not take life
do not cheat on your spouse
do not steal
do not speak falsely
honor your parents
love your neighbor as though they were yourself

the young man said

all these things have I done since my youth
what else am I lacking?

Jesus said

if you want to be perfect
go and sell all that you have
and give to the poor
then you will have treasure in heaven instead
and then come and follow me

but he went away sorrowful after hearing that
because he had amassed great wealth

This is a scripture with an obvious interpretation:  namely that if we want to follow Christ, we must first sell all of our material possessions and follow after Jesus.  And because of that, it’s something that has always been interpreted by modern men to have “some other” application that “doesn’t apply” to us today [just so we can get away from addressing what it really means for us as a society today].

Most recently, I heard Larry Lawrence [of the Quorum of the Seventy] teach false doctrine to the saints of Christ as it relates to this topic.  He said:

Let’s consider the New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.

When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?

Jesus answered immediately, giving counsel that was intended specifically for the rich young man.  Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”

What Lack I Yet?

Note the part I bolded from Elder Lawrence’s talk he gave to latter-day saints.  The human inclination is to read this story and ass-u-me that the counsel that Jesus gave applies only to that man in question.  The proper position that a man of God would take is to let that scripture prick conscience of the people and convict us of sin, insofar as we withhold our surplus from the needy, impoverished, and destitute.

I want to state, unequivocally, by the power of the Holy Spirit which is in me — that the counsel of Jesus given to the rich, young man in Matthew 19 was not “intended specifically for the rich young man” — this is false doctrine, and what Jesus said is true for all people who want to truly follow Him.

It is true for each-and-every one of us — that if we want to experience eternal life, then we must cease to covet the abundance we have and be free-and-willing to share all that we have with the needy, impoverished, and destitute.  And, if we are not willing, then we will find ourselves with the rest of the “rich men” — in hell lifting up our eyes, being in torment.

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New Thoughts on Faith


“Take no thought”:

In the New Testament, Jesus uses the phrase “take no thought” to describe a condition of faith.

no person can serve two masters
for either they will hate the one
and love the other
or else they will hold to the one
and despise the other
you cannot serve god and money
therefore
I say unto you
take no thought for your life
what you shall eat
what you shall drink
nor thought for your body
what you shall wear
is not your life more than food
and your body more than clothing?

o ye of little faith
therefore
take no thought
saying

what shall we eat?

or

what shall we drink?

or

what shall we wear?

for the gentiles seek after all these things
but your heavenly father knows that you have need of all these things
so seek ye first the kingdom of god
and his justice
and all these things shall be given to you
therefore
take no thought for your next day
for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself
the business of today is sufficient

and

take heed and be on guard
for they shall deliver you up to councils
and you shall be beaten in the places of worship
and you shall be brought before political rulers because of me
as a testimony against them in the day of judgement
at the time when the gospel has been made known among all the nations
but
when they shall lead you
and deliver you up
take no thought beforehand
about what you will say
neither premeditate
but whatsoever she gives you in that moment
that shall you speak
for it is not you that will speak
but the holy spirit who is with you

In this view, we are to mimic nature — where the sparrows and the lilies go about their activities without spending effort worrying about obtaining what is needed.  It is an act of faith, in Jesus’ sermons, for a disciple to make no prior arrangements for something, but to trust wholly in God to meet the need when it arises.  In fact, taking thought would show that the person must not have trusted God to provide.

In contrast, Alma uses the phrase “take no thought” to describe a condition of NO-faith.

behold
as the tree begins to grow
you will say

let us nourish it with great care
that it may get root
that it may grow up
and bring forth fruit unto us

and now
behold
if you nourish it with great care
it will get root
and grow up
and bring forth fruit
but if ye neglect the tree
and take no thought for its nourishment
behold
it will not get any root
and when the heat of the sun comes and scorches it
because it has no root
it withers away
and you pluck it up
and cast it out
now
this is not because the seed was not good
neither is it because the fruit thereof would not have been desirable
but it is because your ground is barren
and refuse to nourish the tree
therefore
you cannot have the fruit thereof
and thus
if you will not nourish the word
looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof
you can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life

In this view, we are to mimic agriculture — where the farmers who cultivate nature expend their effort in the hope that they will be rewarded with an abundant harvest.  It is an act of faith for a disciple to make the effort towards something even when its results are not immediately evident, and not to passively wait for someone to just drop what you need in your lap.  In fact, in Alma’s sermon, taking no thought would show that the person must not have trusted very much in the thing they were hoping to attain.

This is the same view on “taking thought” and its relationship with faith that God communicated to Joseph Smith.

behold
you have not understood
you have supposed that I would give it unto you
when you took no thought save it was to ask me

God then gives him a description of the kind of premeditated effort that a disciple should invest in the matter, as an act of faith, before a revelation as to the truth of something can be obtained.

 The Language of a Science:

I have long thought of “faith” as a state of mental acceptance of a claim for which the physical evidence is either not there or is forthcoming.  As in,

now
faith is the substance of things hoped for
the evidence of things not seen

It’s been, to me, a possession that one can either have or not have.  I’ve since changed the way I view faith — to more of a description of an active process of discovery and progression.  Akin to the scientific method, which uncovers truth and is always conditional, faith is the activity of:

  • taking a proposition
  • holding it to be true in your mind
  • experimenting in your life as if that were true
  • making conclusions about its truth based on the results

Alma’s sermon differs from Jesus’ sermons because he is using the language of the sciences, rather than the language of a theology.

  • awake and arouse your faculties
  • experiment upon my words
  • try the experiment
  • your faith is dormant
  • a particle of faith
  • because it is discernible
  • your mind doth begin to expand
  • O then, is not this real?

Alma is talking about a physical process by which a particle is implanted into your mind and produces the observable effect of enlarging it.  He goes so far as to call it an experiment — one in which you have to arouse your physical senses to make real conclusions about things that are observable.  Furthermore, this process is, in principle, never-ending — subject to continual expansion at each new horizon.  Once you have achieved results in one thing, you’ve got to reapply your faith to a new thing — or else it all falls dormant (or becomes at rest).

So,

yea
a person may say

you have faith
but I have thought

then show me your faith without taking thought
and I will show you my faith by taking thought

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Master, Master, We Perish


I will go down with this ship:

now it came to pass
on a certain day
that he went into a ship with his disciples
and he said unto them

let us go over
unto the other side of the lake

and they launched forth
but
as they sailed
he fell asleep
and there came down a storm of wind on the lake
and they were filled with water
and were in jeopardy
and they came to him
and awoke him
saying

master
master
we perish

then he arose
and rebuked the wind
and the raging of the water
and they ceased
and there was a calm
and he said unto them

where is your faith?

and they
being afraid
wondered
saying one to another

what manner of man is this!
for he commands even the winds and water
and they obey him

Taking this story as a metaphor for one’s life, it goes like this:

  • Jesus has a mission for you
    [let us go over unto the other side of the lake].
  • You are obedient to him
    [and they launched forth].
  • His mission leads you into harm and peril
    [but as they sailed … there came down a storm of wind on the lake and they were filled with water and were in jeopardy].
  • He is not all that concerned about that
    [but as they sailed he fell asleep].
  • You will have to either rouse him — or fix it yourself
    [and they came to him and awoke him — where is your faith?].

Wait, what?  God will lead you into peril and jeopardy and then leave you there so He can take a nap?  Yes.  And if you don’t have the faith to either fix it yourself or to cry out to Him, then He will keep on napping — while the situation drowns you.  Having let the Lord of the Universe into the “ship” of your life and being obedient to His directions will grant you zero security that your travels will be safe.

And it wasn’t just the 12 disciples:

Lehi’s vision of the tree of life did not begin with “a large and spacious field” in which he “beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.”  No, it starts ominously with:  a dark and dreary wilderness,

and it came to pass
that I saw a man
and he was dressed in a white robe
and he came and stood before me
and it came to pass
that he spake unto me
and commanded me to follow him
and it came to pass
that as I followed him
I beheld myself
that I was in a dark and dreary waste
a
nd after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness
I began to pray unto the lord
that he would have mercy on me
according to the multitude of his tender mercies
and it came to pass
after I had prayed unto the lord
I beheld a large and spacious field
and it came to pass
that I beheld a tree
whose fruit was desirable
to make one happy

You see, we begin our story in a miserable place, a dark and dreary wilderness.  Then, all is well, a man in white appears and commands us to follow him, presumably to deliver out of this situation.  And instead, we are led into an even worse situation, a dark and dreary waste.  Thanks a lot Man-in-White.  Then he just leaves us there — to wander in the depths of despair and depression.

And there’s where the story would’ve ended had it not been for Lehi’s impulse to begin to pray unto God for mercy and deliverance from the darkness.  It’s only then that we can find ourselves in the large and spacious field with the fruit of happiness and family togetherness.

God isn’t troubled by your bothers, unless you can be bothered enough to trouble Him:

and he spake a parable unto them
to this end
that people ought always to pray
and not faint
saying

there was in a city
a ruler
who didn’t fear god
nor care about people
and there was in that city
a widow
who came unto him
saying

give me justice
and stop my oppressor

and he would not
for a while
but afterwards
he said within himself

though I do not care about god
nor respect any person
because this widow troubles me
I will exact justice for her
lest by her continual coming
she tire me out

and the lord said

ponder what the unjust ruler said
and shall not god avenge his own elect
who cry day and night unto him
when he has patience with them?
I tell you that he will grant justice for them speedily

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Re-Post of “The Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon–Part 1” and “Malachi and Isaiah in Third Nephi–Part 2”


I came across these first two parts of a three part series by Corbin Volluz back in 2013 and was very impressed. So impressed, in fact, that I think I ought to re-blog them here on LDS Anarchy. I don’t have the author’s permission to re-blog and I didn’t see a re-blog button, but I’m doing it anyway. The original articles were found on the Rational Faiths blog, here and here. Okay, here is the re-post:


The Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon–Part 1

Oct 08, 13The Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon–Part 1

When I was a missionary, it was customary to introduce the new investigator to the Book of Mormon by inviting them to read the appearance of the Savior to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 11.  I remember being concerned whenever this invitation was given that the investigator would continue reading into 3 Nephi 12-14 and realize that the Savior teaches the Nephites essentially the Sermon on the Mount from the King James Version of Matthew 3-5.  I knew that if the investigator started asking questions about this, I would not have a satisfactory answer.  King James Version

In the many years since my mission, I have read most of the apologetic literature dealing with this issue, and while I have learned a number of helpful things along the way, none of the arguments have satisfied me as to why the KJV Sermon on the Mount is in the Book of Mormon.  As readers of the BOM are aware, the SOM comes at the beginning of Jesus’ teachings to the surviving Nephites, though his teachings continue for thirteen more chapters through 3 Nephi 27.

I was unable for a long time to come to grips with the fact that the presence of the KJV SOM in the BOM is an indisputable indicator of its modern production.  I was so busy whistling past the graveyard and looking at other things (things that were more faith promoting), that I didn’t have to.  But always in the back of my mind the issue lurked.  And the natural result was a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

Eventually I was able to admit the obvious—that there is simply no good reason consonant with total and complete BOM ancientness for entire chapters of New Testament KJV to appear in its pages.   This admission on my part had a two-fold effect: (1) It allowed me to finally let go the hopeless effort to explain it away in a manner consistent with the BOM being completely ancient, and resolved the cognitive dissonance I had long been experiencing; and, (2) It liberated me to actually look at the KJV passages in the BOM.

This was huge for me.  Before this, I had been so busy being afraid of the KJV passages that I had not allowed myself to read them closely and see what they had to say in the BOM.  It allowed me the freedom to ask questions about the KJV passages, most important of which for me was, “Are the KJV passages just filler?”  And, if not, “What does the BOM actually do with the KJV passages?”

Once I got to the place where I could allow myself to ask these questions, I began to see that not only were the KJV passages not filler, and that the BOM was in fact “doing something” with them, but that what the BOM was doing with the KJV passages was complex and remarkable.

Here I will begin the first of an expected three-part article examining what the Book of Mormon actually does with the Sermon on the Mount.

It is easy to see this three-chapter sermon as an undigested lump sitting there like a doctrinal island with no connection to the teachings that follow.  A closer reading, however, shows that the Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi is far from filler.  Instead, it serves as a foundation text for the rest of the Savior’s teachings, and we find threads of it woven into the warp and woof of what Jesus declares thereafter.

1. The SOM’s teaching that salt that has lost its savor is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men (12:13) is applied to the fate of the Gentiles who reject the gospel: “I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.” (16:15)

2. The SOM’s teaching that “I give unto you to be a light of this people” (12:14) is applied by Jesus later to his Nephite disciples: “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the house of Joseph.” (15:12)

3. The SOM’s admonition to “let your light so shine before this people” (12:16) becomes Jesus’ Nephite teaching to “hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.  Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.” (18:24)

4. The SOM’s teaching that Jesus “is not come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil” (12:17) is echoed to the Nephites: “Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled.” (15:6)

5. Similarly, the SOM’s teaching that “in me (the law) hath all been fulfilled” (12:18) is expanded upon when Jesus tells the Nephites he is the one who gave the law of Moses and that “the law in me is fulfilled.” (15:4-5)

6. The SOM’s statement that “I have given you the law and the commandments” with the injunction that “ye shall believe in me” and “keep my commandments” to “enter into the kingdom of heaven” (12:19-20) is reiterated later as Christ identifies himself as “the law” with an injunction to “look unto me, and endure to the end” and “keep my commandments” in order to have “eternal life.” (15:9-10)Sermon on the Mount

7. The SOM’s declaration that “old things are done away, and all things have become new” (12:47) is picked up later when the Nephites do not understand this saying, and Jesus says, “Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.” (15:2-3)

8. The SOM’s admonition that “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your
Father who is in heaven is perfect” (12:48) is echoed at the end of Jesus’ ministry to the Nephite disciples, “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (27:27b)

9. The SOM’s warning against using “vain repetitions” in prayer “as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (13:7) finds application in the Nephite disciples’ prayer to God, “And they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.” (19:24b)

10. The SOM’s pattern of prayer set by Jesus—“After this manner therefore pray ye” (13:9a) finds application when Jesus tells his Nephite disciples, “And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church.” (18:16a)

11. The SOM’s instruction that “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him” (13:8b) is recalled later when Jesus says, “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” (18:20)

12. The SOM’s axiom that “every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (14:8) is replicated in Jesus’ words to his Nephite disciples, “Therefore, ask, and ye shall received, knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (27:29)

13. The SOM’s injunction to “enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (14:13-14) finds renewed application to the Nephite disciples—“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work.” (27:33).

14. The SOM’s teaching that “whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock” that when the rains fall, etc., “it fell not,” but the one who hears and does not do these sayings is likened to a man who built “upon the sand” and his house “fell, and great was the fall of it” (14:24-27) will be repeated and amplified to the Nephites—And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.  But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rains descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.” (18:12b-13)

15. This same teaching in the SOM (14:24-27) is found in the mouth of Jesus shortly before he gives the SOM (12-14) where he says, “And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.” (11:40).

16. The SOM’s string of beatitudes (“blessed are ye”) statements (12:1-11) is bookended with a beatitude promised by Jesus to his disciples if they will follow his gospel—“Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” (27:22)

Though not intended to be exhaustive, this list of 16-entries indicates that the SOM given in 3 Nephi 12-14 is not just filler, but literally (and literarily) permeates the balance of the Savior’s teachings to the Nephites.

Further, the SOM teachings are not simply reiterated, but are often amplified and clarified in subsequent Nephite exposition.  For example, the SOM injunction to “let your light so shine” (12:16) is expanded upon to the effect that the “light” is Jesus himself. gold plates in stone box(18:24)  The SOM’s teaching that in Jesus is the law “fulfilled” (12:18) is not just quoted later, but additional information given that Jesus is the one who gave the law to Moses in the first place.  (15:4-5)  The warning against “vain repetitions” in prayer (13:7) is amplified by showing that the Nephites avoided this because “it was given unto them what they should pray.” (19:24b)

Keeping track of the SOM threads during the balance of the Savior’s Nephite ministry, and using them in context and with additional elaboration, is no mean feat.  It introduces an unexpected complexity and beauty into this section of the Book of Mormon.

But this isn’t all.

The next two articles will be devoted to showing additional layers of complexity in this narrative; a complexity that, like layer after layer of varnish, makes the resulting composition shine.


Malachi and Isaiah in Third Nephi–Part 2

Oct 14, 13Malachi and Isaiah in Third Nephi–Part 2

My last article showed how three chapters from Matthew (the Sermon on the Mount from Matt. 5-7) are quoted at the beginning of Jesus’ Nephite ministry, and thereafter incorporated into his teachings approximately 15 times.

Bookending these three New Testament chapters at the outset of Jesus’ ministry are three Old Testament chapters at the conclusion, being Isaiah 54 (3 Nephi 22) and Malachi 3 and 4 (3 Nephi 24 and 25).  Why these three chapters? Upon examination, it turns out that these three Old Testament chapters are no more “filler material” than the three New Testament chapters, but are contextualized primarily within the framework of Jesus’ preceding acts and teachings.

We know Jesus was concerned the Nephites have a record demonstrating that prophecies relating to his post-resurrection appearance were fulfilled.  This is why he is eager to have included the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophecy that the dead would rise from their graves (3 Nephi 23:9-13).  Similarly, several passages from Malachi serve the same purpose—to show that prophecies previously given were fulfilled at his coming.St. Malachi

1. The Lord Comes to His Temple—Right out of the box, Malachi 3:1 (3 Nephi 24:1) is quoted regarding the prophecy that “the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.”  As keen as the Nephites were on likening the scriptures unto themselves for their “profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23), it is almost certain they saw the fulfillment of this prophecy when the resurrected Lord came to his temple in Bountiful (3 Nephi 11:1).

2. The Messenger of the Covenant–In the same passage from Malachi, the Lord is described as “the messenger of the covenant.”  Jesus’ Nephite teachings are replete with references to the covenant of which he is the messenger:  “I am he who covenanted with my people Israel,” and, “The covenant which I have made with my people.” (3 Nephi 15:5, 8).  Many other references to the “covenant” are found in 16:5, 11, 12; 20:12, 19, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29 (x2), 46 (x2); 21: 4 (x2), 7, 11, and 22.  These twenty references to the “covenant” demonstrate the thematic quality of the concept; a theme that is capped off and tied into scripture by Malachi 3:1 quoted at the end of Jesus’ ministry.

3. Destructions Accompanying Appearance of the Lord at his Temple—The next verse in Malachi (3:2; cited at 3 Nephi 24:2) asks, “Who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth?” and adds that “he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.” This indicates an appearance accompanied by destruction that all do not survive. 3 Nephi 8-9 describes the destructions immediately preceding Jesus coming to his temple in Bountiful, which many were not able to “abide.”

4. Treading Down the Wicked–Malachi 3:2-6 (3 Nephi 24:2-6) details the calamities to the wicked associated with the Lord’s coming, which is picked up in Malachi 4:1-3 (3 Nephi 25:1-3). Malachi 4:3 is particularly grisly: “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.”

Stain Glass IsaiahThis saying links backward to 3 Nephi 16:15 where Jesus says, “I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them and shall tread them down, . . . and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.”  It also links backward to 2 Nephi 21:12 where Jesus says that the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles like a young lion “who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces and none can deliver.”

We also read of several cities burning to the ground, together with their wicked inhabitants, prior to the Savior’s coming.  These are the cities of Zarahemla (8:8) and its inhabitants (9:3), Jacobugath and its inhabitants (9:9), and the cities of Laman, Josh, Gad and Kishkumen (9:10).  The wicked citizens of these cities burned to the ground were literally reduced to “ashes under the soles of your feet,” as prophesied in Malachi 4:3 (3 Nephi 25:3).

5. Turning the Hearts—Malachi 4:6 (3 Nephi 25:6) contains the familiar prophecy regarding Elijah coming to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.  Once again, although this prophecy is generally seen by modern Mormons as having fulfillment in the end-times, the text indicates the fulfillment occurred during Jesus’ visit, and would likely have been seen this way by the Nephites.

Immediately after this verse is quoted, Jesus turns the hearts of the fathers to the children: “These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.” (3 Nephi 26:2)  Mormon seems to understand this as he comments that he has written the “lesser part” of what Jesus taught the Nephites “to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles.”  (3 Nephi 26:8).  In other words, the additional scriptures provided by Jesus and also his teachings were recorded with the specific “intent that they may be brought again” unto their descendants, or children—the “future generations.”

Jesus addresses the same theme prior to the quotation from Malachi, telling the Nephites that “when these works . . . shall come forth . . . unto your seed, . . . it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 21:5, 7).  (Note that in this passage, the theme of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children from Malachi 4:6 is interwoven with the covenant from Malachi 3:1.)

Having turned the hearts of the fathers to the children, Mormon next records how Jesus turned the hearts of the children to the fathers, describing how Jesus “did teach, and minister unto the children of the multitude, . . . and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things. . . “ (3 Nephi 26:4).  A similar scene is described two verses later, Christ among the Nephiteswhich contains the entirety of information given regarding what happened on the third day of Jesus’ visit (3 Nephi 26:16).

In his teachings, Jesus earlier reminds the Nephites that “ye are the children of the prophets” (20:25) and turns their hearts to their prophet fathers by not only reminding them they are part of the Abrahamic covenant, but also by quoting the three Old Testament chapters at the end of his recorded Nephite ministry.

6. Tithes and Offerings—Malachi 3:8-12 recites the well-known admonition to bring all the tithes and offerings into the Lord’s house that there may be meat (i.e., “food”) there, coupled with the blessing of the windows of heaven opening, and plenteous crops so that none need go hungry.  Malachi verseThis is of interest because some sort of communal law such as that of “tithes and offerings” was instituted by Jesus among the Nephites, for we read in 4 Nephi that “there were no poor among them.”  It would seem this was important for the Nephites in order to lay the basis for their communal society which was stable enough to endure for 200-years, and accounts for why the Savior thought it important to have this scripture added to the Nephite records immediately prior to their embarking on this happy two centuries of their history.

Those who follow Malachi’s economic plan are promised that “all nations shall call you blessed” (3 Nephi 24:12), a promise which is fulfilled upon the Nephites for 200-years after Christ’s visit; in fact, they are called “blessed” three times, a symbolically significant number associated with the heavens or the divine: “And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered . . . (4 Nephi 18).

In a similar fashion, Jesus admonished the Nephites that there should be no disputations or contentions among them (3 Nephi 11:28), a status used three times to describe the Nephite society after he departs: 4 Nephi 2 states “there were no contentions and disputations among them,” 13 states “there was no contention among all the people,” and 15 says “there was no contention in all the land.”

7. The Gathering and Restoration of Israel—The third Old Testament chapter quoted by Jesus at the end of his ministry is Isaiah 54, found in 3 Nephi 22.  It is repetitive and poetic (as only Isaiah can be), but the primary message is that Israel, though scattered and downtrodden in the past, will ultimately be restored and victorious over their oppressors.  “Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles,” we read in 3 Nephi 22:3.  The crux of the entire chapter is synopsized in 3 Nephi 22:7—“For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.”

The gathering and restoration of Israel (with an emphasis on the Nephites and Lamanites) is a major theme of Jesus’ teaching prior to the citation of Isaiah 54 in 3 Nephi 22, and is the main thrust of chapters 16, 20 and 21.  Perhaps it will be sufficient to make the point to cite here to salient portions of the chapter headings:Prophet predicting the future

Chapter 16—In the latter days the gospel will go to the Gentiles and to the house of Israel—The Lord’s people will see eye to eye when He brings Zion.  (Verse 16 has Jesus promising the Nephites to “give unto this people this land for their inheritance.”)

Chapter 20The remnant of Jacob will come to the knowledge of the Lord their God and will inherit the Americas—Others of the Lord’s people will be gathered to Jerusalem.

Chapter 21Israel will be gathered when the Book of Mormon comes forth—Israel will build the New Jerusalem, and the lost tribes will return.

In this way we can see the quotation of Isaiah 54 in 3 Nephi 22 as the capstone of Jesus’ lengthy and detailed teachings to the Nephites regarding their gathering and restoration in the last days.

Conclusion

We have seen that the three Old Testament chapters included by Jesus at the end of his ministry are, like the Sermon on the Mount given at the beginning of his ministry, not mere filler, but are fully contextualized in both the deeds and teachings of Jesus among the Nephites.

But whereas the New Testament chapters are primarily “brushed forward” into Jesus’ subsequent teachings to the Nephites, the Old Testament chapters are primarily “brushed backward” onto the prior teachings and deeds of Jesus among the Nephites.

Think about this for a minute.  It is one thing to incorporate the Sermon on the Mount into subsequent teachings.  It is another thing to have deeds and teachings come first only to be capped and referenced by Old Testament chapters at the end.

But it is another thing entirely to do both at the same time, brushing forward from the New Testament chapters at the same time as brushing backward from the Old Testament chapters.  And yet this is precisely what the author of Third Nephi does, raising the degree of complexity in the text to a much greater order than either standing alone.

This pattern calls to mind a phrase from Kipling’s poem, The Law of the Jungle:

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back –
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Akela

In the third and final installment, I plan to show that the text of Jesus’ Nephite ministry, already remarkably complicated, is made even more complex by the superimposition of a literary structure over the whole, within which the simultaneous “brushing forward” and “brushing backward” takes place.


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