3 Nephi 16: 10 as a sequential prophecy

This should be straight-forward, see title above. The dates provided are for convenience, but don’t represent absolutes. For example, while 1890 is used as a marker for the end of polygamy, the practice continue for around 20 more years in secret. Likewise, arguments over succession did not end (and have not) with the RLDS church. The dates chosen simply represent (as I see them) significant milestones. History as we know is very complex.

3 Nephi 16:10

And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

  1. Filled with all manner of lyings/deceits/mischiefs/hypocrisy (1833): After being driven out of their would-be Zion, the Lord declared “concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance – I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions . . . Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.” (D&C 101:1-6)
  2. Murders (1844): Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were betrayed by intimates and killed by a mob.
  3. Priestcrafts (1844-1860): Following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, several members of the lds church set themselves up as lights during the succession crisis, prominently Brigham Young, Sidney Rigdon, James Strang, and later (in 1860) Joseph Smith III.
  4. Whoredoms (1852-1890): Contrary to counsel in the Book of Mormon, Brigham Young made polygamy official doctrine of the church and a requirement for exaltation.
  5. Secret abominations (1959-): The lds church, starting in 1959, ceased disclosing its assets. As a result of the “secret” aspect of this one, I don’t think we can make any pointed criticisms. How much did something like City Creek cost? Maybe just a fraction of the billions and billions spent on charitable giving? Maybe far more? Who knows?
  6. Reject the fulness of my gospel (?): What is the fulness of the gospel? What would it require to reject it? Could it have happened recently? Is it eminent? Perhaps, the (real) sealed portion or the record of John comes out and the lds church rejects it, because it didn’t come through the Lord’s mouth piece.
That and Depends.

Any other book

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (HC, 4:461)

I’d assume that includes the ‘Teachings of the Presidents of the Church’ manual series and the Ensign periodical, no?

Turning Hearts

The Old Testament ends on a cryptic note. Nephi/Moroni adapted the prophecy with some changes:

“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be burn as stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up for they that come shall burn them, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”

In the adapted prophecy, the fathers no longer “turn to the children.” The work is exclusively confined to the children. The fathers, that our hearts must turn to, are those that received promises. I won’t claim to know what it means to “turn hearts.” But the identity of the fathers seems important to establish. I can see three potential readings.

1. The fathers as biological, direct ancestors.

The prophecy requires that the fathers have received promises (from God, I presume). For a traditional lds reading to be correct, it means that just about every one of our immediate ancestors received promises from God. Perhaps they received these promises prior to the foundation of the world. Or have received them after death, promising deliverance from their captivity.

In this reading, our hearts turn with pity to our damned fathers. In a letter, Joseph Smith seemed to interpret the prophesy this way and suggested baptism for the dead as a the mechanism to accomplish of turning our hearts:

the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other–and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time.” (D&C 128:18).

There are additional quotes from Joseph Smith that give credibility to the tradition lds interpretation.

2. The fathers as the patriarchs of scriptures.

This is an interpretation championed recently by a certain someone. If we were looking for fathers that received promises from God, then the scriptures seem to point to individuals such as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Lehi, and Nephi. We have a clear record that promises were made to these fathers.

One of the intentions of the Book of Mormon “is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever” (Title Page). There is adequate evidence that covenants and promises of the Lord are synonymous.

There is also evidence that Joseph Smith taught this:

Now for Elijah: the spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is that ye have power to hold the keys of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers, and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the Kingdom of God on the Earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the Kingdom of God, even unto the sealing of the hearts of the fathers unto the children and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven . . .

I wish you to understand this subject for it is important and if you will receive it this is the spirit of Elijah: that we redeem our dead and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven . . .

The doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows: if you have power to seal on earth and in heaven, then we should be crafty. The first thing you do – go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory.” (10 March 1844, Wilford Woodruff journal).

Joseph Smith doesn’t discount our dead “fathers” as unimportant, but emphasizes that the fathers we need a connection to are in heaven and in eternal glory. This comes two years (1844) after the earlier letter (D&C 128; 1842) and may reflect added light on the subject. Light which, unfortunately, seems lost in lds discourse. If the fathers are in heaven currently, it is likely that they were the saints raised with Christ in the resurrection (Matthew 27:52).

3. The fathers as the Jews.

This may seem like a less likely interpretation, but I think it is worth exploring. In 1833, the following prophecy was given. It has been left unfulfilled, so it will be interesting to see how it will play out, considering the church no longer has a School of the Prophets (besides BYU, of course).

That thereby they [either the First Presidency or School of the Prophets] may be perfected in their ministry for the salvation of Zion, and of the nations of Israel, and of the Gentiles, as many as will believe; that through your [Joseph Smith] administration they may receive the word, and through their [First Presidency or School of the Prophets] administration the word may go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then, behold, and lo, they [the Gentiles] shall turn unto the Jews.” (D&C 90:9)

It is possible that the Gentiles turning to the Jews, is a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy. Paul used the Old Testament analogy of the grafted branches to help early Genitle Christians understand their relationship to the house of Israel in Romans 11:

Hath God cast away his people? God forbid . . . God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew . . . For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches . . . Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee . . . For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

Jacob/Israel, as a people, have received a covenant or promise from the Lord. We are grafted into that house, so in a very real sense they are fathers who our hearts will (and must) turn to. “The Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel . . . realize and know from whence their blessings come.” (Mormon 5:10)

Conclusion

It may well be that there are three levels of interpreting Malachi’s prophecy. Those levels do not need to be mutually exclusive. I would order them this way:

1. Our hearts must turn with sympathy to our fathers in captivity, who may have received the promise of deliverance from the bondage of spirit prison. They have been cut down with neither root nor branch. We must seek to recover them.
2. Our hearts must turn with appreciation to the Jews/the House of Israel, who have received a promise of restoration and deliverance. We must be grafted into that tree.
2. Our hearts must turn with desire to receive the same blessings as the fathers in eternal glory. They are the roots of the tree which God has planted. We need to recognize their primal importance in the family of God.

The idolatry fantasy

An idol, a pleasant image –

It’s comforting to believe that every decision

comes straight from the top brass. It deflects

the potential for throwing stones at old men

with brittle bones. To me, however, I find

no comfort knowing that the average member

of the neo-catholic church still believes that

every decision is made, every manual is written,

every memo is penned, every policy is enacted,

every housing project vetted by fifteen men.

The amount of work we ascribe to fifteen men

is simply impossible, for an organization this

large and complex. Even if they are prophets all,

we still practice idolatry by believing a fantasy

where they have total control over all things

that come out of the mormon church. It’d be

stupid to hold President Obama responsible for

every word on his teleprompter, every piece of

legislation passed in congress, every action of

his cabinet, every choice of carpet in federal

buildings. But that is the sort of idolatry fantasy

mormons engage in. You can’t criticize anything

when they believe quite literally everything

originates from their omnipresent “brethren.”