Sunday, January 31, 2010

ZION: The New Testament (Matthew to Revelation)

THE NEW TESTAMENT (Matthew to Revelation)

It is worthy of note that in all the books of the New Testament we have a total of only seven references to the word Zion. Two of those are quotations of Isaiah's and Zechariah's prophecies about the Messiah who will come sitting on an ass. (See Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9).  As we have mentioned already, when the word appears in the text it is rendered "Sion," the Greek translation of Zion.

JST Matthew 21:3-5

These verses are the fulfillment of the aforementioned prophecies about the Messiah. Think of its significance. Jehovah, the unembodied spirit of Christ in his role as the God of the Old Testament, inspires his prophets to write the prophecy, then he fulfills it when he comes in mortality. The multitudes turned out during the Passover celebration to hail Jesus Christ as the Messiah, to literally fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy. His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was an honor accorded only to kings and conquerors, yet less than a week later he was crucified by evil conspirators then resurrected as he had prophesied to complete the atonement.

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy king cometh unto thee, and he is meek, and he is sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass.
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them; and brought the colt, and put on it their clothes; and Jesus took the colt and sat thereon; and they followed him.

John 12:15

This is John's account of the same fulfillment:

Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.

Romans 9:31-33

Much could be said by way of commentary concerning the central message of Paul's letter to the Romans. (See the author's earlier post, "The Impossible Gospel of Jesus Christ," for example). Let this much suffice --  Paul was writing to members of the church at Rome, hoping to persuade them that their dead works of righteousness were not sufficient for salvation. He was pointing out the necessity of faith in their Savior's redemptive grace. Uninformed but sincere "born again Christians" today contend they are saved by grace only, based upon Paul's assertions that works are not sufficient to save. Properly understood, the doctrine of grace and works is a companionship that works together like opposing blades of a pair of scissors, not a debate between conflicting doctrines. Good works are the natural outgrowth of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Good works without the Spirit to guide and direct cannot save, neither can empty professions of faith that do not grow into good works. Both are essential, and one without the other voids salvation. Faith comes first, "lest any man should boast" of his good works, then come the works growing out of companionship with the Holy Ghost.

Many members of the Church today think that their multitudinous good works as set forth in endless checklists and goals (real or imagined) will save them, forgetting the necessity of demonstrating their faith by walking by the light of the Holy Ghost. Some well-meaning leaders in the Church at the local levels seem to be trying to take the place of the Holy Ghost in our lives by prescribing a cradle-to-grave formula for salvation that is really only a contemporary hedging up of the path of salvation similar to the Pharisaical tradition Christ so openly condemned. Some modern-day saints by putting their works first, hoping thereby to somehow prove themselves worthy of the grace of God or the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, may be even more offensive than the smooth-faced hypocrites who assert they are saved by grace alone. Thinking we must first prove to be worthy of Christ’s grace is a little bit like trying to cure yourself of cancer before you go to see the doctor. It’s silly and Christ as the Great Physician is the only one who has the cure.

The message of Paul in Romans, like all timeless scripture, is a valuable record for us today. If we could only come to agreement on this fundamental doctrine with the rest of the Christian world, the Church would reap an incredible harvest of converts. Nominal “Christians” are offended by our emphasis on works, and we are so uncertain of the doctrine of grace that it is seldom even mentioned in our meetings.

Lest we digress too far, this passage is Paul's caution to those who had joined the church at Rome, having accepted baptism after living the law of Moses. He warns that living the law is always a stumblingblock for faith in Christ if the law becomes the object of faith. Faith in the institution of Judaism, rather than faith in the Messiah, is precisely the reason the Jews were the instrument of Christ's death on Calvary's cross. Let us beware and take care, lest the same folly overtake us in our day.

But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (See Isaiah 8:14).

JST Romans 11:25-27

Paul explains that the blindness and callousness of the Jews because of their steadfastness in holding to the law of Moses will prevail until the fullness of the Gentiles is come. That we are living at the end of the times of the Gentiles should be obvious now that the fullness of priesthood blessings is available to all God's children without restriction. The JST makes a slight change in verse 26 – then replaces so.

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 fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
And then 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.

Hebrews 12:22-29

Paul unfolds to our view in these verses the glories of the exalted saints who comprise the church of the Firstborn. (See D&C 76:50-70; 92-95).  In preceding verses he speaks of Moses as the type and shadow for all those who seek to see God, and cautions against being an "Esau," one who for a morsel of meat fornicates with false gods and sells his birthright as a son of God eternally. He also speaks of the Lord shaking down Babylon, removing those things which are shaken so the things that cannot be shaken will remain. Again, the theme of Babylon's ultimate demise is a common one with all the prophets. Despite the warnings, however, it's so hard not to love Babylon's carnal comforts.

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (see TPJS, 325, where Joseph Smith teaches that the spirits of just men are made ministering servants to those who are sealed up unto eternal life. He says these matters of revelation may be known only by answer to prayer),
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire.

JST 1 Peter 2:6-9

Peter explains that Christ is the chief cornerstone in Zion, and he is the stone the unbelievers always reject in building their eternal soul while here in mortality. We who have the fullness of the gospel must accept him as our Redeemer, and build upon the rock of our salvation. Joseph Smith made alterations in these verses in the JST.

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Unto you therefore who believe, he is precious; but unto them who are disobedient, who stumble at the word, through disobedience, whereunto they were appointed, a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.
For the stone which the builders disallowed, is become the head of the corner.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (See also Exodus 19:1-6 and Deuteronomy 7:6).

Revelation 14:1

John sees the culmination of events leading to the Savior's appearance on mount Zion with the 144,000 to whom he makes earlier reference in Revelation 7.

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.  (For more detail on the 144,000 see D&C 77:10-11).

It is satisfying to conclude our scriptural tour of Zion through the Bible on this significant and timely subject, but we need to expand the topic further to expand and deepen our awareness of how these high priests relate to our subject matter of Zion.

The writings and sermons of the Prophet Joseph Smith are replete with his admonitions and encouragement for us to be included among that great priesthood host of 144,000, and he links the admonition to become one of this vast priesthood host to “making our calling and election sure.” He said:

There will be 144,000 saviors on Mount Zion, and with them an innumerable host that no man can number. Oh! I beseech you to go forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure. . . (TPJS, 366).

Let us now enquire as to our current understanding about the one hundred forty-four thousand high priests, twelve thousand from each tribe of Israel. There is a symbol here of completeness, since 144,000 is a multiple of 12, a symbol as a number that represents complete, whole or finished.  Which tribes will literally be involved? What does it mean that they are “sealed?” What does it mean to have “his Father’s named written in their forehead?” How are these high priests related to the inheritance of lands promised to Abraham? What is the timing of this event in relation to their initial sealing as revealed in Revelation 7? The answers to these and other questions will be considered before moving on.

Let it be remembered that Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel, had four wives and twelve sons. (See Genesis 29:28-35; 30:1-24). He was the covenant son of Isaac, who was the covenant son of Abraham. The family also had a daughter (a fact seldom referred to) whose name was Dinah. The wives of Jacob are listed in their marriage order below, along with each of the children and their respective birth orders. The two bolded sons listed in red, Reuben and Joseph represent the transfer of  the birthright covenant blessings:

#1 Leah
1. Reuben
2. Simeon
3. Levi
4. Judah
9. Issachar
10. Zebulun
13. Dinah (girl)

#2 Rachel
11. Joseph
12. Benjamin

#3 Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaid)
5. Dan
6. Naphtali

#4 Zilpah (Leah’s handmaid)
7. Gad
8. Asher

With respect to the Abrahamic Covenant and the natural heir to their father, Reuben the firstborn was the covenant son. However, Reuben forfeited his inheritance by committing adultery with Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid. Jacob referred to the incident in the patriarchal blessing he gave to Reuben. (See Genesis 49:3-4).  By virtue of the ancient law of “primogeniture” the birthright then passed to the firstborn son of the second wife, Joseph (even though Joseph was eleventh in birth order) rather than to Simeon the second born son of the first wife as one might suppose. Once again, this fact is clearly spelled out in Joseph’s blessing from his father. (See Genesis 49:22-26).

When Ezekiel sees the eventual inheritance of the sons of Israel in and around Jerusalem in that forthcoming millennial day (see Ezekiel 48), we discover that Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, have received their father’s double portion. The double blessing seems to have come as a result of Joseph’s having saved his father’s entire family when the famine in Canaan drove them to Egypt. Joseph Smith explains how Jacob conveyed this double portion to Joseph in these verses from the Inspired Version:

And now, of thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt, before I came unto thee into Egypt; behold, they are mine, and the God of my fathers shall bless them; even as Reuben and Simeon they shall be blessed, for they are mine; wherefore they shall be called after my name. (Therefore they were called Israel.)
And thy issue which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance, in the tribes; therefore they were called the tribes of Manasseh and of Ephraim.
And Jacob said unto Joseph when the God of my fathers appeared unto me in Luz, in the land of Canaan; he sware unto me, that he would give unto me, and unto my seed, the land for an everlasting possession.
Therefore, O my son, he hath blessed me in raising thee up to be a servant unto me, in saving my house from death;
In delivering my people, thy brethren, from famine which was sore in the land; wherefore the of thy fathers shall bless thee, and the fruit of thy loins, that they shall be blessed above thy brethren, and above thy father's house;
For thou hast prevailed, and thy father's house hath bowed down unto thee, even as it was shown unto thee, before thou wast sold into Egypt by the hands of thy brethren; wherefore thy brethren shall bow down unto thee, from generation to generation, unto the fruit of thy loins for ever;
For thou shalt be a light unto my people, to deliver them in the days of their captivity, from bondage; and to bring salvation unto them, when they are altogether bowed down under sin. (See JST Genesis 48:7-12).

So the list of the future family land distribution is adjusted somewhat in Ezekiel’s vision to include the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh in place of Joseph, and looks like this:

1. Dan
2. Asher
3. Nahtali
4. Manasseh
5. Ephraim
6. Reuben
7. Judah
8. Levi (Levites are intermingled with all tribes)
9. Benjamin
10. Simeon
11. Issachar
12. Zebulun
13. Gad

It is this proposed distribution of land inheritances, of course, that gives rise to the modern disputes between the Jews living in the State of Israel and their Muslim neighbors. The Jews claim the land in and around Jerusalem by inheritance, while the Muslims contend the Jews have only taken it away from them through conquest. To this day the Muslims, also descendents of Father Abraham, view the Holy Land merely as occupied territory that is rightfully theirs. Nevertheless, Ezekiel saw the latter-day vision of the land, “and the sanctuary of the Lord shall be in the midst thereof,” he said. (Ezekiel 48:10). In the preceding chapter Ezekiel is shown the latter-day temple in Jerusalem and the water that will issue there from to heal the Dead Sea. Joseph Smith described this event as one that would have to occur before the Second Coming of the Lord. (See TPJS, 286).

Although Dan is the first tribe mentioned in the allocation of the lands by Ezekiel, his name is missing altogether from John the Revelator’s list of tribes in Revelation 7:5-8. John names the twelve tribes from which the one hundred forty-four thousand high priests will come, twelve thousand from each. These are the ultimate spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, whereas Ezekiel’s vision was focused on the temporal inheritance involving the land. Here is John’s list:

1. Juda (Judah)
2. Reuben
3. Gad
4. Aser (Asher)
5. Nephthalim (Naphtali)
6. Manasses (Manasseh)
7. Simeon
8. Levi
9. Issachar
10. Zabulon (Zebulun)
11. Joseph (Ephraim)
12. Benjamin

Speculation abounds as to why Dan would not be included in the spiritual blessings, some suggesting that a clue may be found in his patriarchal blessing. (See Genesis 49:16-18). At least one Bible scholar (Dummelow) suggests that a probable reason is that Jewish tradition says the Antichrist mentioned in Daniel will come from the tribe of Dan. (See Dummelow’s, The One Volume Bible Commentary, 1079).

But let us turn now to what comprises these supernal spiritual blessings in connection with the one hundred forty-four thousand high priests. In his vision John sees a remarkable host of priesthood bearers, and is given to understand that many of the judgments awaiting the wicked living on the earth in the last days are being forestalled until the servants of God are “sealed in their foreheads.” It is noteworthy that the opening sentence of this chapter begins with the words, “And after these things,” referring to the things that have just preceded this chapter, specifically, the “great earthquake.” The events described in Revelation 7 correlate with the events of the sixth seal, as we learn from the Prophet Joseph in the following revelation:

Q. What time are the things spoken of in this chapter to be accomplished?
A. They are to be accomplished in the sixth thousand years, or the opening of the sixth seal. (D&C 77:10).

The first four verses of the JST version of Revelation 7 tell us the following:

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God; and I heard him cry with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
And the number of them who were sealed, were an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

The Prophet gave direct answers to several questions concerning these verses as recorded in modern scripture:

Q. What are we to understand by the four angels, spoken of in the 7th chapter and 1st verse of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that they are four angels sent forth from God, to whom is given power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to cast down to the regions of darkness.
Q. What are we to understand by the angel ascending from the east, Revelation 7th chapter and 2nd verse?
A. We are to understand that the angel ascending from the east is he to whom is given the seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, he crieth unto the four angels having the everlasting gospel, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And, if you will receive it, this is Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things. . .
Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel -- twelve thousand out of every tribe?
A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn. (D&C 77:8-9, 11).

The grand key to understanding this chapter of holy writ lies in a funeral sermon delivered by the Prophet Joseph at the services for Judge Elias Higbee. In part, the Prophet said:

The world is reserved unto burning in the last days. He shall send Elijah the prophet, and he shall reveal the covenants of the fathers in relation to the children, and the covenants of the children in relation to the fathers.
Four destroying angels holding power over the four quarters of the earth until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads, which signifies sealing the blessing upon their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election made sure. (TPJS, 319-21).

It was Joseph’s explicit instruction on this matter that an angel with a seal importunes on behalf of the twelve tribes of Israel, and commands that the four destroying angels be stayed on their missions of destruction until the servants of God (144,000 in number) were sealed. This sealing ordinance is equivalent in Joseph’s teachings to “making their calling and election sure.” The Prophet further elaborates that this angel is “Elias.”  (We know that Elias is not only an ancient prophet, but also the symbolic title of the office of the forerunner in some dispensations. The scriptural record confirms that many prophets have held this office, and as a result confusion as to the identity of Elias is often a problem. Time and space do not permit an extensive treatment of that topic here, but the reader is referred to excellent notes in the concordance of the new LDS edition of the Bible [see “Elias” in the Bible Dictionary], or to Elder McConkie’s Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol. 3, 491-2). While there can be no dispute that Elias can be many individuals, it was Elijah who conferred the sealing power upon the Prophet Joseph Smith. (See D&C 110:13-16; D&C 2:1-3; JS-H 1:38-39).  Joseph further taught that it was Elijah who would come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord to turn the hearts of children to their fathers and the hearts of fathers to their children. He stated that the word “turn” should have been translated “bind” or “seal.” (See TPJS, 330).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie gives this further explanation:

And now we learn that after the converts are made [out of all the] kindreds of the earth, there will be those among them who advance and progress until they become kings and priests. See Rev. 1:1-6; 5:1-14; 20:4-6. John here sees 144,000 of these kings and priests, 12,000 from each tribe, converted, baptized, endowed, married for eternity, and finally sealed up unto eternal life, having their calling and election made sure. See 2 Pet. 1:1-19. (DNTC, Vol. 3, 491. See also McConkie’s treatment of the doctrine of having one’s calling and election made sure in DNTC, Vol. 3, 323-350).

Let us conclude this topic with one further insight from Joseph Smith, as he elaborated on the organization within the Church that would become the instrument of the fulfillment of this remarkable prophecy associated with setting up the kingdom for the Second Coming of our Lord:

If the first Seventy are all employed, and there is a call for more laborers, it will be the duty of the seven presidents of the first Seventy to call and ordain other Seventy and send them forth to labor in the vineyard, until, if needs be, they set apart seven times seventy, and even until there are one hundred and forty-four thousand thus set apart for the ministry. (TPJS, 75).

At this writing (December, 2007) there are now eight Quorums of the Seventy (and by the way, they are all ordained High Priests though we still call them “Seventies”). We appear to be well on our way toward organizing ourselves as a Church in fulfillment of that glorious day when there are 144,000 of these high priests whom John envisioned.

Elder A. Theodore Tuttle further underscored the topic when he said, “The work performed in the temples [the sealing ordinances associated with the blessings of having one’s calling and election made sure] stays the judgments of God from smiting the earth with a curse.” (Ensign, May, 1980, 40).

Before leaving this discussion of the composition of the tribes of Israel, please refer to Appendix C for a “family group sheet” illustrating their relative position in the expansive family of Abraham. It is estimated between ninety and ninety-five percent of people living on the earth today are descended from this noble patriarch and his wives. Our role in the family as descendants of Ephraim, the son with the birthright blessing, is to deliver the fulness of the restored gospel message with its attendant temple ordinances and covenants to the rest of our Abrahamic cousins worldwide. Under an inspired latter-day prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, the Church is dotting the globe with missionaries and temples in fulfillment of that divine mandate to us. We are the messengers with the invitation to the wedding feast.

Consider the inspired and optimistic counsel to us from President Monson's predecessor, even in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks:

Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord’s work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it. (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Times in Which We Live,” Ensign, November, 2001, 72).

The work of gathering Israel and preparing them for their temple covenants continues unabated, despite the worldwide economic meltdown described by some as the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Just this week the Church announced the Payson Utah Temple, the fifteenth temple in Utah, and the 152nd temple either announced or operating worldwide.

President Spencer W. Kimball, a prophet among prophets, said this in 1980:

I have lived for more than half the 150 years the restored Church has been upon the earth in this last dispensation. I have witnessed its marvelous growth until it now is established in the four corners of the earth. As the Prophet Joseph said:

“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Political Quote of the Day

John Fund, not known for his conservative credentials, recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, quoting newly-minted U.S. Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts:

The key to Mr. Brown's victory was politically independent voters in the Bay State, who favored him by 3-1. So how should other candidates court the independent vote, which in most parts of the country is growing faster than that of either major party?

"People out there are disgusted," he says, shaking his head. "Especially with any one party dominating government and talking down to them. They want straight talk, no BS. A focus on jobs and what really creates them. They want problem solvers in office, and it helped me that I was able to show I could work with Democrats in the legislature."

That last point has not gotten the attention it deserves. For all of the excitement Mr. Brown generated among conservatives, his actual legislative record reveals a man who rejects ideological rigidity on most issues. . .

I ask Mr. Brown at what point during the four hard months he spent campaigning he felt he was truly connecting with Massachusetts' voters. He instantly replies that it was the first TV ad he ran in late December, which began in black and white showing John F. Kennedy pushing for his 1962 across-the-board cut in tax rates. The screen then slowly morphed into an image of Mr. Brown as he calls for a new tax cut by finishing Kennedy's remarks: "Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary.". . .

Mr. Brown says he designed his campaign to revolve around four issues: taxes, excessive spending, terrorism and health care. But it's clear that voter angst over ObamaCare was the rocket fuel propelling him to victory. "People got where I was," he says. He was often asked to sign his autograph with the number "41" next to it, meaning he was running to be the key vote to block health-care legislation from final passage. . .

Mr. Brown says it frustrates him that too many politicians still believe that people will be fooled by what they're proposing. "People aren't stupid, and leaders should figure out they're better informed now than ever." Perhaps that explains how Scott Brown was able to pull off his improbable Cinderella story.

Back in September, picking up on the rising tide of public anger over health reform, excessive spending, and one-party arrogance, he fashioned a simple, compelling narrative to deal with it: no to a rushed, confusing health-care bill, yes to a freeze on federal spending and to introducing some sunlight into government. Mr. Brown repeated it over and over with the inner confidence that his message would eventually resonate. It did.

ZION: The Old Testament (Joel 2 to Zechariah 9)

The Old Testament (Joel 2 to Zechariah 9)

JST Joel 2:1, 13-15, 23, 28-32

Moments after I had published this post, I was reminded of a recent article written by Mark W. Cannon (scroll down the page and you'll see it), citing a quote from Peter F. Drucker.  My favorite Drucker quote was this:  "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things."  In part, Cannon's article stated:

World class organization and management guru Peter Drucker told me that “the Mormons are the only Utopia that ever worked” at a Harvard seminar on volunteerism in 1989. The word Utopia was invented by Sir Thomas More to describe a mythical island, discovered by a Portuguese sailor, with ideal economic and social conditions -- where everyone was educated, wise and prosperous. There have been numerous descriptions of utopian or ideal societies by many philosophers going back to Plato.
Of course, actually living the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ that were exemplified in his life, which even people like Thomas Jefferson saw as marvelous even though he was skeptical of Christian clergy, would represent an ideal Christian society. These fruits of Mormonism were what Peter Drucker saw in the multitude of effective service and educational activities that were successfully carried out by the Mormon Church and particularly by the close at hand large Mormon population in Southern California where Professor Drucker lived while teaching at Claremont, whose graduate school of management is named after him.
Peter Drucker has been widely recognized as the father of modern management and as one on the most astute observers of organizational and managerial effectiveness of modern times.
Like all the prophets before him, Joel saw the latter-day Zion established in his vision of the events preceding the Second Coming. Peter Drucker is only one among many modernists outside the Church who recognize there is something unique about the way Mormons live their lives and get things done for the benefit of their fellowmen.  What they fail to realize is that we haven't done it yet, but we are well along the path toward building Zion in the last days.  Joel's ministry among the post exile community of Judah occurred about 400 B.C. (See Jerusalem Bible, Alexander Jones, ed. [Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966], 1257).  One can only guess how these valiant prophets must have longed for the day Zion would be established, and we should wonder what manner of men we ought to be, knowing they saw us so long ago in these visions! In light of Joel's prophecies and Drucker's comments, shouldn't we long to see as we are seen? (See D&C 76:94 and 1 Corinthians 13:12).  Joel holds out the path for all of Israel as well as each individual -- he calls them to repentance as the way back. His hopeful message is the same as all prophets.

I have intentionally included the last four verses of this chapter, recalling that Moroni quoted this prophecy to Joseph Smith in the night and morning hours of September 21, 1823. He instructed Joseph that these verses were not yet fulfilled, but soon would be. Joel's record also contains three references to the signs in the heavens that will precede the establishment of Zion, and the Second Coming. They are undoubtedly tied to the signs of the sixth seal of John's Revelation. (See Revelation 6:12 17).  As we will demonstrate in other places in this compilation, these passages are precursor events of the return to the land of Zion in a time not far distant, and conditions that will exist in Zion.

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and repent, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and he will turn away the evil from you.
Therefore repent, and who knoweth but he will return and leave a blessing behind him; that you may offer a meat offering, and a drink offering, unto the Lord your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly.

Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

Joel 3:13-21

Joel bears witness of conditions among men as the Second Coming approaches, and speaks of signs preceding the event -- the restoration of the temple site, and the purification of Judah in the last days. All these promises are as yet unfulfilled, giving a clear indication of what still awaits us in preparation for the great day of the Lord.

Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

Amos 1:2

Amos, another shepherd in Israel, was called to prophesy for a brief period during the reign of Jeroboam II, 783-743 B.C. The Northern Kingdom was prosperous, the corruptions of city life had developed, and the military threat of Assyria was a constant menace. (See Jerusalem Bible, 1256).  Against this historical backdrop comes a prophet from the desert condemning the social injustices of his day with a message about the coming day of the Lord as a visitation of wrath from which only a remnant would be spared. Like the prophets from the Rechabite tradition before him, Isaiah, Jeremiah and all the others, his prophecies have a typological application to our day as well as the day in which Amos lived. One need only apply the words of Amos to himself to catch the true spirit of the message.

And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.

Amos 6:1-6

As an introduction to these verses, look back to chapter 5 of Amos, and read verses 18-27. If Amos were here among us today in Salt Lake City, one wonders if he wouldn't say something like this: "Thus saith the Lord to the Latter-day Saints, I hate your preoccupation with your lavish entertainments in my houses of worship. I despise your songs of praise unto me that ascend out of unworthy lips full of deceit and guile. Away with your false gods of elegant homes, expensive automobiles, fine twined linen with which ye do clothe yourselves, exotic vacations to the lands of the heathens who know not the Lord, and your many pleasures of the flesh which ye do worship above the only true and living God. Cease your sacraments and empty sacrifices of reluctant temple attendance to fulfill your quotas, and your begrudgingly slothful home teaching visits. Plead your cause before me no longer, ye who hate the cause of the widow and the poor among you whose prayers of deliverance ascend up constantly into my ears because of your idolatry. Your lips do honor me, but your hearts are far from me in your many meetings. Away from my sight, ye wicked and perverse generation!"

Accusing modern saints of idolatry is not popular, but a reading of President Kimball's sermons will yield the conclusion that a modern-day Amos has said as much. Consider this sample of President Kimball’s warning voice:

Love of material things is idolatry. Idolatry is among the most serious of sins. There are unfortunately millions today who prostrate themselves before the images of gold and silver and wood and stone and clay. But the idolatry we are most concerned with here is the conscious worshipping of still other gods. Some are of metal and plush and chrome, of wood and stone and fabrics. They are not in the image of God or of man, but are developed to give man comfort and enjoyment, to satisfy his wants, ambitions, passions, and desires. Some are in no physical form at all, but are intangible.
Many seem to "worship" on an elemental basis -- they live to eat and drink.
Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path of godhood.
Intangible things make just as ready gods. Degrees and letters and titles can become idols.
Many people build and furnish a home and buy the automobile first -- then they find they "cannot afford" to pay tithing. Whom do they worship?
Young married couples who postpone parenthood until their degrees are attained might be shocked if their expressed preference were labeled idolatry.
Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings.
Still another image men worship is that of power and prestige. Many will trample underfoot the spiritual and often the ethical values in their climb to success. These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness. (TSWK, 243-4).

As President of the Church years later President Kimball was even more specific:

Few men have ever knowingly and deliberately chosen to reject God and his blessings. Rather, we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to material things. Therefore, in all ages when men have fallen under the power of Satan and lost the faith, they have put in its place a hope in the "arm of flesh" and in "gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know" (Daniel 5:23) — that is, in idols. This I find to be a dominant theme in the Old Testament. Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn't also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry.  (TSWK, 76).

Now the words of Amos, designed to afflict the comfortable among those in Israel:

Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?
Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

Obadiah 17, 21

In the complete fulfillment of this prophecy the time is not yet, but still future. However, it is clear that Obadiah saw us in a latter day standing upon mount Zion in the figurative sense, as we perform the redemptive work in the temples for our kindred dead, who have looked upon their spirits' long absence from their bodies as a bondage. (See D&C 138:50).  The complete fulfillment of this prophecy still lies ahead in the day when the saints will stand as saviors on mount(s) Zion in the temples of Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem.

But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD's.

Micah 1:13

Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, also foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem.

O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.

Micah 3:10-12

Micah here condemns the wickedness of the priests in Israel, who were laboring for money in their priestcrafts, a condition strictly forbidden by the Lord. (See 2 Nephi 26:29-31).  Here again, we need look no further than the end of our nose for the fulfillment of these conditions in our own day. As it was then, so shall it yet be among the Latter-day Saints.

They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.
The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

Micah 4

This prophecy in Micah's brief record is of such significance that the entire chapter is quoted. He begins by describing the mountain of the Lord's house being established in the tops of the mountains. Once again, we see a figurative meaning as well as a literal meaning. The figurative fulfillment is ongoing among the saints who attend the temple, but the literal fulfillment still lies ahead in that day when the mountain of the Lord's house is established both in the New Jerusalem and Old Jerusalem. As Micah clearly explains, his prophecy speaks of a latter day, the millennial temple being raised, all Israel gathering unto it, the ushering in of the Millennium, and the appearance of the Lord to claim the scepter of government. Isaiah also introduced this idea of the law going forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (See Isaiah 2:3).  The prophecy speaks of that millennial time when Christ will reign personally on the earth and we will live under a theocratic government.

Writing in Times and Seasons, Joseph Smith elaborated in these words:

When the children of Israel were chosen with Moses at their head, they were to be a peculiar people, among whom God should place his name: their motto was "The Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our king, and he shall reign over us." While in this state they might truly say, "happy is that people whose God is the Lord." Their government was a theocracy; they had God to make their laws, and men chosen by him to administer them; he was their God, and they were his people. Moses received the word of the Lord from God himself; he was the mouth of God to Aaron, and Aaron taught the people in both civil and ecclesiastical affairs; they were both one; there was no distinction; so will it be when the purposes of God shall be accomplished; when "the Lord shall be king over the whole earth" and "Jerusalem his throne." "The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
This is the only thing that can bring about the "restitution of all things, spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world was" -- "the dispensation of the fulness of times, when GOD shall gather together all things in one." Other attempts to promote universal peace and happiness in the human family have proven abortive; every effort has failed; every plan and design has fallen to the ground; it needs the wisdom of God, the intelligence of God, and the power of God to accomplish this. The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand himself; "he whose right it is will possess the kingdom, and reign until he has put all things under his feet" iniquity will hide its hoary head, Satan will be bound, and the works of darkness destroyed; righteousness will be put to the line, and judgment to the plummet, and "he that fears the Lord will alone be exalted in that day." To bring about this state of things there must of necessity be great confusion among the nations of the earth; "distress of nations with perplexity." -- Am I asked what is the cause of the present distress? I would answer: "Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it." The earth is groaning under corruption, oppression, tyranny, and bloodshed; and God is coming out of his hiding place, as he said that he would do, to vex the nations of the earth. Daniel, in his vision, saw convulsion upon convulsion; he "saw till thrones were cast down, and the ancient of days did sit; and one was brought before him like unto the Son of man; and all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, did serve and obey him." It is for us to be righteous that we may be wise and understand, for "none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." As a church, and a people it behooves us to be wise, and to seek to know the will of God, and then be willing to (do it); for "blessed is he that heareth the word of the Lord and keepeth it," says the scriptures. "Watch and pray always," says our Saviour, "that ye may be accounted worthy to escape the things that are coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of man." If Enoch, Abraham, Moses, the children of Israel, and all God's people were saved by keeping the commandments of God, we, if saved at all, shall be saved upon the same principle. As God governed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as families, and the children of Israel as a nation, so we, as a church, must be under his guidance if we are prospered, preserved, and sustained. Our only confidence can be in God, our only wisdom obtained from him; and he alone must be our protector and safeguard, spiritually and temporally, or we fall. (Times and Seasons. Edited by Ebenezer Robinson, et al. 6 vols. Commerce, Illinois, and Nauvoo, Illinois, 1839-1846. Carmack, John K., vol. 3, no. 18, Nauvoo, Illinois, July 15, 1842, 857).

Now the words of Micah’s prophecy:

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
And many nations shall come, and say, 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.
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;
And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.
And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.
Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.
But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. (See D&C 42:37-40).

Zephaniah 3:14-16

Yet another prophet sees Zion in the last days, and the Lord reigning in the midst of her at Zion and Jerusalem. Note the reference again to both Zion and Jerusalem, and note the clue to the time "in that day." Whenever that term is used it refers to events immediately preceding and including the millennial era.

Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Zechariah 1:12-17

Like his counterparts, Zechariah also saw the latter-day Zion in vision. An angel showed him the latter-day city of Jerusalem with a new temple. Zerubbabel was released by the decree of Cyrus, king of Babylon, to rebuild Solomon's temple to fulfill this prophecy in about 520 B.C. The rebuilt temple did not even approach Solomon's temple in splendor and beauty, and this temple like all the others was destroyed. (See notes in this compilation under Lamentations 1).  Zechariah's prophecy of the latter day temple, of course, still awaits fulfillment.

Joseph Smith, speaking at a special meeting in the Nauvoo Temple on April 6, 1943, flatly stated the Second Coming would not occur until all that had been prophesied was fulfilled:

The coming of the Son of Man never will be -- never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out: which judgments are commenced. Paul says, "Ye are the children of the light, and not of the darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night." It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets.
Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east. (See TPJS, 286-7. See also instructive commentary about "the sign of the coming of the Son of Man" from the James Burgess Notebook, as cited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1980], 181).

These are the words of Zechariah:

Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?
And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.
So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.
And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.
Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.

Zechariah 2:6-13

In the last days Israel will reinherit the lands of Jerusalem that were lost to her through earlier wickedness. Debate still exists about whether or not the current State of Israel constitutes a fulfillment of those promises. The Jews, obviously, are still in a state of apostasy today, but they have returned and the very fact they have survived as a political presence as long as they have since 1948, constitutes at least a partial miraculous fulfillment. The message is the same here as it always is: Come out of Babylon -- it is both literal and figurative.

Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.
Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.
And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.
Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.

Zechariah 8:1-3

The themes of the gathering of Israel and of Zion's ultimate redemption are strong throughout this chapter. Israel and Zion in the last days will be blessed beyond anything she has experienced in the past. The word "save" is changed to "gather" twice in this chapter in the JST. (See verses 7 and 13).

Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great fury.
Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.

Zechariah 9:9, 12-13

Zechariah prophesies that the Messiah shall bring salvation in a very seemingly unspectacular way, "lowly, riding upon an ass." (See Mark 11:1-11 and Luke 19:35-40 for the literal fulfillment of this prophecy).  However, royalty often entered the city in such ways, a privilege reserved for kings.  Both Judah and Ephraim are identified as servants of the Lord to fulfill his purposes.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.

Orson Hyde's Dedicatory Prayer

Having come to the end of the words of the Old Testament prophets concerning their collective vision of the latter-day Zion, it is appropriate for us to consider the dedicatory prayer offered on the Mount of Olives by Orson Hyde.  He was a relatively young man (born in 1805, same year as the Prophet) when he was called as a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He offered this dedicatory prayer on October 24, 1841. The Prophet Joseph Smith, who was impressed to have the land dedicated for the return of the Jews and the preaching of the gospel, gave him this assignment.

Before he left for the Holy Land, Orson Hyde was shown his sojourn in Jerusalem in vision, and then he recorded the following in a letter dated November 22, 1841, reporting his activities to Parley P. Pratt. It is obvious by his description that his trip was made under arduous circumstances:

Dear Brother Pratt: A few minutes now offer for me to write, and I improve them in writing to you.

I have only time to say that I have seen Jerusalem precisely according to the vision which I had. I saw no one with me in the vision; and although Elder Page was appointed to accompany me there, yet I found myself there alone. . .

I have not time to tell you how many days I have been at sea, without food, or how many snails I have eaten; but if I had had plenty of them, I should have done very well. . .

On Sunday morning, October 24, a good while before day, I arose from sleep, and went out of the city as soon as the gates were opened, crossed the brook Kedron, and went upon the Mount of Olives, and there, in solemn silence, with pen, ink, and paper, just as I saw in the vision, offered up the following prayer to Him who lives forever and ever --

O Thou! who art from everlasting to everlasting, eternally and unchangeably the same, even the God who rules in the heavens above, and controls the destinies of men on the earth, wilt Thou not condescend, through thine infinite goodness and royal favor, to listen to the prayer of Thy servant which he this day offers up unto Thee in the name of Thy holy child Jesus, upon this land, where the Sun of Righteousness set in blood, and thine Anointed One expired. . .

Now, O Lord! Thy servant has been obedient to the heavenly vision which Thou gavest him in his native land; and under the shadow of Thine outstretched arm, he has safely arrived in this place to dedicate and consecrate this land unto Thee, for the gathering together of Judah's scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy Prophets for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long, and for rearing a Temple in honor of Thy name. . .

O Thou, Who didst covenant with Abraham, Thy friend, and Who didst renew that covenant with Isaac, and confirm the same with Jacob with an oath, that Thou wouldst not only give them this land for an everlasting inheritance, but that Thou wouldst also remember their seed forever. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long since closed their eyes in death, and made the grave their mansion. Their children are scattered and dispersed abroad among the nations of the Gentiles like sheep that have no shepherd, and are still looking forward for the fulfillment of those promises which Thou didst make concerning them; and even this land, which once poured forth nature's richest bounty, and flowed, as it were, with milk and honey, has, to a certain extent, been smitten with barrenness and sterility since it drank from murderous hands the blood of Him who never sinned.

Grant, therefore, O Lord, in the name of Thy well beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to remove the barrenness and sterility of this land, and let springs of living water break forth to water its thirsty soil. Let the vine and olive produce in their strength, and the fig tree bloom and flourish. Let the land become abundantly fruitful when possessed by its rightful heirs; let it again flow with plenty to feed the returning prodigals who come home with a spirit of grace and supplication; upon it let the clouds distil virtue and richness, and let the fields smile with plenty. Let the flocks and the herds greatly increase and multiply upon the mountains and the hills; and let Thy great kindness conquer and subdue the unbelief of Thy people. Do Thou take from them their stony heart, and give them a heart of flesh; and may the Sun of Thy favor dispel the cold mists of darkness which have beclouded their atmosphere. Incline them to gather in upon this land according to Thy word. Let them come like clouds and like doves to their windows. Let the large ships of the nations bring them from the distant isles; and let kings become their nursing fathers, and queens with motherly fondness wipe the tear of sorrow from their eye.

Thou, O Lord, did once move upon the heart of Cyrus to show favor unto Jerusalem and her children. Do Thou now also be pleased to inspire the hearts of kings and the powers of the earth to look with a friendly eye towards this place, and with a desire to see Thy righteous purposes executed in relation thereto. Let them know that it is Thy good pleasure to restore the kingdom unto Israel raise up Jerusalem at its capital, and constitute her people a distinct nation and government, with David Thy servant, even a descendant from the loins of ancient David to be their king.

Let that nation or that people who shall take an active part in behalf of Abraham's children, and in the raising up of Jerusalem, find favor in Thy sight. Let not their enemies prevail against them, neither let pestilence or famine overcome them, but let the glory of Israel overshadow them, and the power of the Highest protect them; while that nation or kingdom that will not serve Thee in this glorious work must perish, according to Thy word "Yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. . ."

On the top of Mount Olives I erected a pile of stones as a witness according to ancient custom. On what was anciently called Mount Zion where the Temple stood, I erected another, and used the rod according to the prediction upon my head. . .  (See DHC, Vol. II, 454-59, for the complete text of the letter. For an insightful perspective on Elder Hyde's reference to "the rod," compare the text of Chapter VII of the original edition of The Book of Commandments with the text of Section 8 in our current edition of The Doctrine and Covenants. It is especially instructive for any who may believe there have been no editing changes made to the original revelations.

On a revered hill outside a revered city, President Spencer W. Kimball, dedicated a garden built in memory of an Apostle’s prayer.

The dedication’s setting was the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem, in Israel. There, on October 24, 1841, Elder Orson Hyde dedicated the land of Palestine for the building up of Jerusalem and the gathering of Abraham’s posterity. On October 24, 1979, President Kimball dedicated the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden to commemorate that event and the ongoing fulfillment of that prayer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Political Quote of the Day

From an article written by Alvaro Vargas Llosa that I saw tonight.  Alvaro Vargas Llosa is a senior fellow at the Independent Institute and the editor of "Lessons From the Poor."  His e-mail address is  Here's the quote:

"There is a much simpler way of breaking up banks deemed too big to fail. It's called ... letting them fail. When a bank fails, its assets are absorbed by more efficient institutions eager to expand. After a short period of suffering, the recovery begins. This is what is happening with the hundred-plus local or regional banks that failed last year. The notion that the entire system will come tumbling down if the government lets a mammoth financial institution fail is a superstition that invites recklessness in Wall Street  —  and postpones the recovery when something goes wrong."

Couldn't have said it better myself.  That's the reason all the panic arose over the need to swiftly pass the TARP legislation in the fall of 2008, and then the subsequent bailouts and stimulus bills added up to trillions of taxpayer dollars for generations into the future that were all so wrong-headed.  And it's the reason Senator Bennett should be struck down in his re-election bid.  If he's not defeated in the convention, I will be amazed, if for no other reason than this one.

Tonight, President Obama attempts to convince us we owe everything to all the smart people in his administration and Congress for rescuing us all from the brink of disaster.  Does anybody really believe that?  Tough sell.

P.S.  I had forgotten about a letter to the editor I wrote, dated October 1, 2008, when the House had voted against the TARP legislation in the first round.  I can only lament that they caved when the Senate worked its will in opposition to the "people's house" -- and once again, it was Senator Bennett who overturned this vote I hailed.  Don't forget Bennett's role in that drama -- I haven't.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mike Lee, Utah's Next Senator

I have found my candidate for the United States Senate race this year.  I am endorsing Mike Lee

Here's Mike's website.  Learn about him, find out why he answers all the missing qualifications needed in today's Senate and House of Representatives.

Here's a man who not only understands the Constitution, he loves it with all his heart and will apply its founding principles in his decision making on pending legislation.  He will keep balanced on the need to represent people, not lobbyists, not special interest groups, and certainly not the demands of party.

He's the son of Rex Lee, former president of BYU, but beyond that he's the personification of all his father's best attributes.

I've never met Mike Lee.  I was told about him from a friend who knows and trusts him, a friend whom I respect and admire.  I told him in response to his invitation to support Mike Lee, "If you like Mike, then I like Mike."  Since then I've been studying Mike Lee.  I like what I hear.  I have made up my mind.  He will be Utah's next Senator, even if none of you knows who he is yet. 

Lee has made this comment that continues to resonate with me:  “We expand the role of government at the expense of individual liberty. Our prosperity and happiness depend on restricting government to its proper size and scope.”

Former U.S. Congressman, Jim Hansen, and former Utah Governor Norm Bangerter have endorsed Mike.  Why?  Bangerter said, "Because he asked me to."  You have to ask for people to vote for you.  It's politics 101.  And I ask you as friends of this page to do as I have done -- study Mike Lee's positions, then spread the wildfire across this great state of Utah, and let's elect a worthy successor to Senator Bennett, who seems to have neither the wisdom or the self-awareness to retire gracefully.

I have been on the "ABB" (Anybody But Bennett) bandwagon in my own mind for a long time, well at least since the fall of 2008.  When Senator Bennett voted for the disastrous TARP legislation, these were his exact words:  “If we say, no, we want to take the time to do this right, we want to put this provision in, and that provision in, and let’s debate it for another week, and thus send the signal that we’re not serious, I think the markets are going to fall off the cliff.”  His predictions proved faulty.  Then last week, he admitted that they didn't get what they "thought" they were going to get with TARP.  Why?  Because it was done in a panic.

He was the poster child advocating swift passage of the TARP legislation, $750 billion of it for the very institutions he was tasked, but failed, to oversee from his lofty perch as a ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee.  Not only did he fail Utahns, he failed America.  At least Chris Dodd, (D-CT) had the decency to step down voluntarily.  Bennett did not -- he will go down in flames because he doesn't know when to step aside gracefully.

Bennett, while serving on the Senate Banking Committee was nothing more than "bought and paid for" -- it's little wonder he was in such a hurry to swiftly pass TARP.  The top industries that have funded his political career are (as of 2008, according to Securities & Investment ($484,236), Commercial Banks ($377,074) and Insurance ($284,855).  Bennett’s six leading individual PAC donors are, in order, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Fannie Mae, Bank of America, and the American Bankers Association.  He was little more than their puppet.  The TARP legislation, completed on President Bush's watch, by the way, opened the flood gates for the orgy of deficit spending that then ensued.

So in the panic there was no time for Congress to do it “right,” better to just fork over the money.

Well, today it stops.  I am going public with this disclosure because I wrote personally to Senator Bennett about my concerns over what appeared to me to be "pay for play" scheming among his colleagues.  Months later I got a long and rambling summary of his votes on this and that matter, alleging he was rolled by the majority party, but never addressing directly my stated concerns.  He will be held accountable for that vote if I have any influence among my friends and associates. 
What has been lacking in my mind fixated on ABB was an acceptable alternative, and now I have found him in Mike Lee.
Please join me in supporting Utah's next Senator, Mike Lee.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ZION: The Old Testament (Jeremiah 26 - Lamentations 5)

The Old Testament (Jeremiah 26 - Lamentations 5)

JST Jeremiah 26:12-20

Jeremiah reaps his prophet's reward in this chapter -- he is arrested and tried for treason for his "sin" of prophesying against the wickedness and corruption of Jerusalem. Eventually he is acquitted when the hearts of some of the priests who are trying him are softened and they realize that Jeremiah is not the only prophet who has spoken against them.

Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.
Therefore now, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and repent, and the Lord will turn away the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.
Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people saying,
Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be ploughed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house of the Lord as the high places of a forest.
Did Hezekiah, king of Judah, and all Judah put him at all to death? Did he not fear the Lord and beseech the Lord and repent? and the Lord turned away the evil which he had pronounced against them. Thus by putting Jeremiah to death we might procure great evil against our souls.
But there was a man among the priests, rose up and said, that, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath¬jearim, prophesied in the name of the Lord, who also prophesied against this city, and against this land, according to all the words of Jeremiah.

It is often the case in the scriptural record that the wickedness of the people closes the mouths of the true prophets. One wonders how Jeremiah would be dealt with today were he to speak from the podium of the Conference Center. And Jeremiah’s warnings are tame compared to Ezekiel’s. For example, read Ezekiel 16 for an excoriating and scorching rebuke of Israel in her abominations. The pages of our scripture are still scorched to this day as Ezekiel accuses Israel of being worse than a whore – Israel was a wife who had committed adultery. The imagery of the bride (the house of Israel) who betrayed the bridegroom (Christ) is thoroughly developed in Ezekiel 16. The similarities between Israel then and now are inescapable. The adultery of Israel happens in each dispensation when the chosen people forsake Christ in exchange for the favors of a dark and fallen world, likened in scripture to Egypt and Babylon as the types for worldliness.

My intent in pointing out this unpleasant comparison is to suggest that if we make our bed in the world with the world, we, like the world, will give God ample justification for destroying those who play the harlot while simultaneously proclaiming their righteousness to the world. This may be the reason that Joseph Smith is warned specifically in July 1837, that when vengeance eventually comes “speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth” that the Lord’s wrath in “a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind” will begin “upon my house” and “from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; first among those among you saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.” (See D&C 112:23-26. It is the Lord’s use of that word “professed” that should give us each pause as we consider the quality of our discipleship. In the final consumption there is purification for the righteous in the burning heat, but only ultimate destruction for the wicked. The final purification of the saints is accomplished simultaneously with the destruction of the hypocrites who merely professed their allegiance to Christ with their lips).

There is much to be done yet in this world of the ungodly and the worldly before that day of wrath. Let us pray that in our zeal to turn the world to the glorious truths of the Restoration that the world does not turn us instead. That was always the problem in ancient Israel. 

However, there is at least one General Authority who thinks, "We can create Zion in the midst of Babylon."  (See Elder David R. Stone, "Zion in the Midst of Babylon," Ensign, May 2006, 90–93).

JST Jeremiah 30:10-17

Note the words of the Lord in this passage, consoling and comforting Judah, giving her the assurance that she will one day be restored with Israel to their respective lands in Zion, but nevertheless reminding her of the incurable disease that has come upon her because of her iniquity. These things will come to pass in the last days, and surely those days are our day. Joseph Smith clarifies several verses in this chapter. Compare with the KJV.

Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations wither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
For thus saith the Lord, thy bruise is not incurable, although thy wounds are grievous.
Is there none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up? Hast thou no healing medicines?
Have all thy lovers forgotten thee, do they not seek thee? For I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquities; because thy sins were increased.
Why criest thou for thine affliction? Is thy sorrow incurable? It was for the multitude of thine iniquities, and because thy sins are increased I have done these things unto thee.
But all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.
For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

Jeremiah 31:1-14, 31-34

Jeremiah prophesies here that Israel will be gathered in the last days, that Zion will be established, and that the mourning in Israel will be turned to joy. Despite the rebukes, consolation is always forthcoming to those who will repent. In modern parlance if you are a “Jeremiah” you are thought to be a negative and fatalistic purveyor of bad news. But the prophetic record is always balanced with hope for the sinner. Jeremiah promises that the Lord will write his covenant on the hearts of Israel in the last days, and that they will be his people despite the sins of their progenitors.

At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be their God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
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.
For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child together: a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications, will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.
Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Compare D&C 1:20; D&C 84:98; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16; Isaiah 51:7; 2 Nephi 8:7).

A few chapters later in Chapter 35, Jeremiah in a desperate attempt to awaken king Jehoiakim and the Jews living in Jerusalem at the time to an awareness of their condition, Jeremiah brings the sons of Rechab to the temple. He demonstrates their faithfulness by placing wine in front of them in the temple precincts, and they refuse the temptation. Rechab and his family had left Jerusalem and the wickedness of big city life to preserve the purity of their religion in the remote desert regions near Jerusalem. Jonadab ben Rechab (the son of Rechab) is the father of these faithful sons and taught them well by precept and by example. Jonadab is promised a permanent home in the temple “before me” forever (see verse 19). They refused to live in permanent homes of stone, living in tents as nomads instead. They were outcasts by their own choice. They fled before the prophesied destruction occurred. This was the same pattern followed by Lehi and his family, contemporaries of Jeremiah. Hugh Nibley suggests that Ezekiel was likely a Rechabite also.

Later in New Testament times we see the Qumran community setting up shop in the desert near the Dead Sea, where they became the self-appointed guardians of the sacred writings. These scrolls include the Temple Scroll, which has proven to be of inestimable value to researchers seeking to understand the rituals of the ancient temple. It is from these wanderers that much of our scripture comes, Hugh Nibley suggesting that John the Baptist was following the Rechabite pattern, as did Lehi and his family. Even earlier Abraham and all his descendants likewise followed the pattern. Even before Abraham, Enoch and his Zion community left civilization to separate themselves from the wickedness around them.

Here is a small sampling of Hugh Nibley on the Rechabite principle, and it should be noted he is perhaps the only voice in the Church today who teaches it:

Does anybody else get out here that we notice? We are going to see other escapes like that. They are going to be destroyed, so you get out. That's the next thing to do; that's logical enough. And you choose a wilderness. Remember, it tells us in the book of Ether (a marvelous book, absolutely indispensable; we have to have that, the Jaredite story) that they go to that place where there never had man been. They go to a land which has never been occupied by human beings. It has to be a real wilderness; they are always going to wildernesses. This is an interesting thing here. The Saints went to the wilderness. As you know, Moses left the Egyptians and went into the wilderness, where he wandered forty years. The prophets always go out into the wilderness. Elijah went out and hid in the valley. The Qumran people had to imitate that. This is the Rechabite doctrine. When Israel or Jerusalem becomes wicked, the pious go off and live by themselves in the desert and wait for God to give them more revelation. That's the theme of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those people went out to Qumran to do that very thing, so we have the Rechabites.
We are told in Jeremiah 35 that Jonadab ben Rechab and his son were righteous, and they were so blessed. They were the only people that were not corrupt in Jerusalem. They were blessed by having special offices in the temple forever after that. They went out to live in the desert by themselves. They would not live in houses of stone, and they would not even cultivate the ground. They would live as John the Baptist lived. John the Baptist was another one who went out into the wilderness. "Why have you come out into the wilderness?" He was contemporary with Qumran of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We are told that he was a wild man and that he lived on wild locust and honey. He dressed in camel's hair and he scared people. When Enoch appeared the people said, "There's a strange thing in the land; a wild man has come among us." We know from the Jewish sources that when John the Baptist appeared people said, "Who is he?" They said, "He is Enoch." They asked him, "Who are you?" and he said, "I am the man."
Josephus never gives the name of John the Baptist. He tells his story but never gives his name because when they asked him who he was he said, "I am Enos," which just means "the man." They took him for Enoch. It's this idea of the one who goes out and lives in the wilderness. As a witness against the sins and follies of the human race, you go out by yourself. People try that all the time. The Saints were driven whether they wanted to or not. The Mormons didn't stage it. As George Albert Smith, Sr. said, "We came out here of our own free will because they made us."  (Nibley, Hugh W., Teachings of the Book of Mormon -- Semester 1: Transcripts of [29] Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988--1990. Introduction and 1 Nephi 1 – Mosiah 5. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1993, 15. See also Appendix A, “We Will Still Weep For Zion”).

Nibley argues throughout his writings concerning Zion that the only way Zion can be established is to “get out of the wicked city into the desert to live your religion.” Nibley is openly mystified at the specter the modern Church presents to the world as it continues to try and mix Zion with Babylon when they are mutually exclusive in their goals and desires.

I once asked Elder Neal A. Maxwell several years ago how the Brethren felt about Hugh Nibley.  His response:  "He is absolutely true and faithful to the Brethren.  He is now above the fray."

Jeremiah 50:4-8, 23-32

We see in these verses the fulfillment of prophecy on two levels. Babylon, the nation that brought destruction upon Jerusalem and Israel to punish her for her sins, is likewise slated for its own destruction. Babylon thenceforth became the symbol in the lips of the prophets for all that was wicked in the world, and in the latter days Jeremiah prophesies that Babylon (the world) will be destroyed.

In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.
They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.
All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.
Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.

How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!
I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD.
The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.
Come against her from the uttmost border, open her storehouses; cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left.
Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of the visitation.
The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.
Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD.
Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.
And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.

Jeremiah 51:6-12, 24-27, 33-37

There is a rich irony in this chapter of Jeremiah's record. First God permits Babylon to be the agent of destruction on a rebellious Israel, then destroys Babylon for its wickedness when the seventy years of Israel's captivity are fulfilled. The testimony of Jeremiah should speak volumes to us in this latter day of our own circumstance.

We failed to obtain Zion earlier in this dispensation because of wickedness (see D&C 105:1-11; 103:11-20), and our wickedness has multiplied many-fold since then. Ironically, the Lord has permitted us to go into bondage in the spiritual Babylon of worldliness in the last days until we are of sufficient strength spiritually to reclaim the land of Zion.  (See D&C 105:29-32). Not until we are led out of bondage as at the first will Zion be reclaimed. (See D&C 103:15 20). When we are entirely separated from the world, and Zion is established in the last days, then Babylon the great will be destroyed. (See D&C 64:22-24; 63:53-54; Revelation 17-18).

Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.
The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.
Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.
Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon.

And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD.
Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.
And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the LORD.
Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of the her harvest shall come.
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.
The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say.
Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.
And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.

Lamentations 1:4-6, 17

The lamentations of Jeremiah are some of the most poignant we have in all scripture. Writing after the fact of the Babylonian captivity, his prophecies now having all been fulfilled, he laments that the promised destruction has at last come. In many places he speaks in the first person, as though he were Jerusalem or Zion speaking. One senses a godly sorrow for sin in these words, yet there is also the hope of forgiveness. Jerusalem lies in ruin, the temple has been desecrated, and the treasures of Solomon have been carried off as booty by the conquering hordes of Babylon.  (Click on the illustration to enlarge the picture).

The year of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem was 587 B.C. His destruction of the temple was only the first such event in a long and torturous history of Israel's enemies constantly overrunning the city and leveling the temple. In each case before they demolished the temple the conquerors defiled and desecrated it. Consider this brief history of the temple mount in Jerusalem (I am paraphrasing information obtained from Jerry Landay's excellent book about the temple mount in Jerusalem, entitled Dome of the Rock, [New York: Newsweek, 4th printing], 1978) to help give a perspective on the anguish the faithful Jews must feel about the loss of their temple:

1. In 587 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar offered pigs as a sacrifice on the altar of incense in the holy of holies in Solomon's Temple, thus desecrating it. (There were two altars in the Jewish temples located on the temple mount in Jerusalem the altar in the holy of holies was the altar of incense, and the altar in the outer courtyard was the altar of sacrifice.)

2. Soon thereafter, the entire temple was destroyed and the Jewish nation taken captive into Babylon. Before destroying the temple the Babylonians ransacked it, taking all the priceless objects as booty.

3. Zerubbabel returned under Cyrus's decree in 520 B.C., rebuilt the temple with financial aid from sympathetic King Darius (the same king of Babylon who loved Daniel so much), only to witness its desecration once more. This time it was pillaged and destroyed by Antiochus IV, the Syrian tyrant, in 169 B.C. ("Epiphanes" was his self styled name, meaning "God manifest." He literally held himself up as a god.)

4. Two years later his officers erected a statue of Zeus in the holy of holies, and sacrificed pigs once again on the altar of incense.

5. In 63 B.C., the temple was again destroyed under the hand of Pompey and the Romans.

6. Herod, hoping to win the favor and support of his Jewish subjects, commenced an extensive construction project in the city of Jerusalem in 19 B.C., which included the rebuilding of the temple. The Temple of Herod occupied the temple mount during Christ's mortal ministry, and it was this temple he prophesied would be destroyed. (See Matthew 24:1-2).

7. Titus, son of Roman Emperor Vespasian, marched four full legions of Roman soldiers six abreast into Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and literally decimated the population and everything else in their path including the temple. Josephus, eyewitness Jewish historian, records that it was not safe for Titus "to let men captured by force go free, and to guard such a host of prisoners would tie up a great proportion of his troops. . . The soldiers themselves through rage and bitterness nailed up their victims in various attitudes as a grim joke, till owing to the vast numbers there was no room for the crosses, and no crosses for the bodies." Six hundred and fifty seven years to the very day on which the Babylonians had plundered and razed the first Temple of Solomon, its successor fell. The woodwork beneath the gold and silver plates that overlaid the outer surface of the temple caught fire, and the precious metals ran like water. Their fury whetted from the long siege, Roman soldiers with firebrands rushed into the blazing temple and set fires inside. According to Josephus, "The entire city seemed to be on fire, while as for the noise, nothing could be imagined more shattering or more horrifying. There was the war cry of the Roman legions as they converged; the yells of the partisans encircled with fire and sword; the panic flight into the arms of the enemy of the people cut off above, their shrieks as the end approached. . ." Josephus fixed the number of Jews who died at 1,100,000.

8. Roman Emperor Hadrian mopped up the few remaining Jewish survivors who were left in Jerusalem, cleared off the rubble on the temple mount that had not already been removed, and erected statues of himself astride his horse and Jupiter Capitolinus, his patron god, on the temple site in 132 A.D.

9. The Muslims erected a crude wooden mosque on the holy spot in 637 A.D., then replaced it in 691 A.D. with the impressive Mosque of Omar, the "Dome of the Rock," still standing on the site today.

Each of the instances cited above constitutes an "abomination" in the view of the Jews, and because it precludes worship in their temple they are left "desolate." The "abomination of desolation" has had numerous fulfillments, and will yet be fulfilled again as one of the signs preceding the Second Coming. (See JS-M 1:32-33; Matthew 24:29-30; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:24-25. On the first weekend in October 1973, coinciding with General Conference, Egypt and Syria invaded Israel in what later came to be known as the "Yom Kippur War." That war seems tame today, after nearly two years of fierce fighting between the Palestinians and Jews, triggered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2000, accompanied by an armed force. Evidence that the temple mount has latter-day implications is inherent in this statement from President Harold B. Lee in the last talk he gave from the Tabernacle pulpit. He said, "The war is now on, and you know what's happening, and what will happen, because that's the greatest target of Satan, because there's one of the holiest pieces of property in all the world." [This statement was edited out of the printed version of his talk in the Ensign, but it is preserved on videotape.] The September 11, 2001, bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by highjacked passenger jets has now raised the stakes to such an extremity that it is entirely possible the Dome of the Rock could now be removed by military action in retaliation, thus clearing the way for the rebuilding of the ancient Jewish temple on the temple mount. This site still remains the focal point of unfolding prophecy, as predicted by President Lee).

Maybe the best way to relate to the anguish of the Jews is to imagine the Salt Lake Temple being destroyed by an occupying army. Would we feel desolated in our worship?

In the interest of brevity I have cited only those verses containing the word Zion in Lamentations, but reading all the verses in context will yield a broader view of the book. Of particular interest to me personally is the translation in the Jerusalem Bible, where the verses are rendered in poetic form. Joseph Smith made no revisions to the book in the JST.

The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.
Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.

Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.

The Jerusalem Bible, Lamentations 2

Since this chapter contains several references to Zion, and in order to provide a taste of the excellent translation of The Jerusalem Bible, the entire chapter is cited here. Compare KJV.

Oh, how Yahweh in his wrath
   has brought darkness on the daughter of Zion!
He has flung the glory of Israel
   from heaven to the ground,
no more remembering his footstool
   on the day of his wrath.

The Lord has pitilessly destroyed
   all the homes of Jacob;
in his displeasure he has shattered
   the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
he has thrown to the ground, he has left accursed
   the kingdom and its rulers.

In his burning anger
   he has broken every horn in Israel,
withdrawn the strength of his right hand
   at the coming of the enemy,
and kindled in Jacob a fire
   that burns up everything near it.

Like an enemy he has bent his bow,
   holding his right hand steady;
like a foe, he has slaughtered
   everything that delights the eye;
on the tent of the daughter of Zion
   he has poured his anger out like fire.

The Lord has been like an enemy;
   he has destroyed Israel;
he has destroyed every one of her palaces,
   laid low her strongholds,
and for the daughters of Judah has multiplied
   wailing on wailing.

He has wrecked his own domain like a garden,
   shattered his own gathering place;
Yahweh has wiped out the memory
   of festivals and sabbaths in Zion;
in the heat of his wrath he has repudiated
   king and priest.

The Lord has grown weary of his altar,
   has come to loathe his sanctuary,
and handed her palace walls
   over to the enemy;
from the uproar in the Temple of Yahweh
   it might have been a day of festival.

Yahweh resolved to ruin
   the city wall of the daughter of Zion;
with a line he measured it, and did not withdraw his hand
   until he had completely overthrown it,
bringing mourning on city wall and rampart;
   now they are crumbling down together.

Her gates have sunk into the ground;
   he has shattered their bars.
Her king, her nobles, are now with the pagans,
   the Law is no more.
Even her prophets receive
   no further vision from Yahweh.

Mutely they sit on the ground,
   the elders of the daughter of Zion;
they have put dust on their heads,
   and wrapped themselves in sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem hand their heads
   down to the ground.

My eyes wasted away with weeping,
   my entrails shuddered,
my liver spilled on the ground
   at the ruin of the daughters of my people,
as children, mere infants, fainted
   in the squares of the Citadel.

They kept saying to their mothers,
   "Where is the bread?"
as they fainted like wounded men
   in the squares of the City,
as they poured out their souls
   on their mothers' breasts.

How can I describe you, to what compare you,
   daughter of Jerusalem?
Who can rescue and comfort you,
   virgin daughter of Zion?
For huge as the sea is your affliction;
   who can possibly cure you?

The visions your prophets had on your behalf
   were delusive, tinsel things,
they never pointed out your sin,
   to ward off your exile.
The visions they proffered you were false,
   fallacious, misleading.

All who pass your way
   clap their hands at the sight;
they whistle and shake their heads
   over the daughter of Jerusalem.
"Was this the loveliest of all,
   this, the joy of the whole world?"

Your enemies open their mouths
   in chorus against you;
they whistle and grind their teeth;
   they say, "We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we were waiting for;
   now we can touch it, see it."

Yahweh has accomplished his intention,
   he has carried out his word
decreed in the days of old;
   he has destroyed without pity,
giving your enemy cause to gloat over you
   and raising his horn.

Cry aloud, then, to the Lord,
   groan, daughter of Zion;
let your tears flow like a torrent,
   day and night;
give yourself no relief,
   grant your eyes no rest.

Up, cry out in the nighttime,
   in the early hours of darkness;
pour your heart out like water
   before Yahweh,
Stretch out your hands to him
   for the lives of your children.

Look, Yahweh, and consider:
   whom have you ever treated like this?
Why, women have eaten their little ones,
   the children they had nursed in their arms!
Why, priest and prophet have been slaughtered
   in the sanctuary of Yahweh!

Children and old men are lying
   on the ground in the streets;
my virgins and my young men
   have fallen by the sword;
you have killed on the day of your wrath,
   you have slaughtered pitilessly.

As though to a festival you have summoned
   terrors from every side;
on the day of your wrath, no one escaped,
   no one survived,
Those whom I had nursed and reared,
   my enemy has murdered them all.

Lamentations 4:2, 11, 22

Jeremiah continues his lament, and one gets a glimpse of the sorrow of the Jews in the depths of their despair. Even today the lamentations continue at the Wailing Wall, the last remaining vestige of the ancient temple. We cite here only the three verses containing the word Zion, but to be appreciated the entire chapter should be studied.

The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.

The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.

Lamentations 5:11, 18

Jeremiah's verses in this chapter are in the form of a prayer, as he recounts the sorrowful condition of Zion.

They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.

Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.