Monday, July 7, 2014

Week Fifty-Two

WEEK FIFTY-TWO   June 30, 2014

We have noticed a decided reluctance for members and nonmembers to refer to us as Elder and Sister Haddock, which is okay with us. In one of the ward programs we noticed a listing of the missionaries: Elder Anderson and Elder Sawatski; Sister McCaleb and Sister LeFleur; and Brother and Sister Haddock. Even the young missionaries refer to us as brother and sister, but usually catch themselves. To our AME Zion Church minister I am Brother Jerry. I have to confess I still find it easier referring to my companion as Jan rather than Sister Haddock. Nonetheless, regardless of “title” we still feel we are on the Lord’s errand as His ambassadors. I have adopted the words of Mormon, “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life” (3 Nephi 5:13).

We continue to serve as the waste basket of the mission for all things anti-Mormon. A district leader gave us three printed pages from an investigator referencing about half-a-dozen prophecies of the Prophet Joseph Smith that remain unfilled and per Deuteronomy 18 prove he is not a prophet. After a brief discussion concerning the danger of getting into the information business rather than conversion they assured me this was a good family with four children who are very interested. I sat down and quickly wrote out the following for them to consider as a starter.

The very vagueness in prophetic pronouncements, as evidenced by the many biblical references to the effect the hearers did not understand, contribute to the wide divide that exists among those seeking to disclaim prophetic pronouncements and those seeking to proclaim them.

As a result even statements attributed to our Lord and Savior are subject to the mischief of those seeking to thwart truth. For example, we read the Savior’s discussion based on the “abomination of desolation” referenced in Daniel, arguably concerning the times and events of the last days, and the Savior proclaiming “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:15-35). I, for one, am unwilling to disclaim the role of Jesus as Savior and redeemer based on the inferences that can be drawn from the Savior’s words. Clearly, there is much to be learned and only when all the facts are finally at our disposal can a rational judgment be made. The best witness of all is the confirming power of revelation itself.

Less we wrest the scripture itself, Deuteronomy is a discussion Moses is having with the people relative to the coming of the Savior, whom Moses refers to as a “Prophet” that “The Lord thy god will raise up unto thee … from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Moses goes on telling the people that if they don’t hearken to the words this Prophet speaks “in [God’s] name, I will require it of you” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). He then warns them that false prophets shall arise claiming to be Christ, speaking the name of other Gods (Deuteronomy 18:20). And concluding with the observation that you will be able to tell between which Prophets are claiming to be the Christ and the real Christ because what they who falsely proclaim to be Christ will not speak the words of God (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Rather their own words will be spoken and you will see that they are not the Christ. So the verse in question is clearly prophesy concerning the identity of Jesus Christ and not a description of how to tell whether one has prophetic powers.

We read earlier in Chapter 13 that if a prophet arises who gives you a sign or wonder and that sign or wonder actually comes to pass, don’t follow him either, “for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). Instead, they are to “walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4). Again the message seems to be saying whether what the Prophet says happens or not, you need to know by the confirming power of the Spirit whether a Prophet is of God or not. Promised events coming to pass or not is irrelevant.

The secondary key (Deuteronomy 13:5) seems to be whether the supposed Prophet causes you “to turn away from the Lord your God,” which is the claim the Pharisees and Sadducees made concerning Christ and why they felt he had blasphemed and was thus subject to death.

Based on “proof” alone one suspects the citizens of Nineveh concluded Jonah was not a prophet because their city was not destroyed. The fact destruction didn’t happen seemed to vex Jonah as well. Leading us to believe that there are always conditions involved (in Nineveh it was repentance) and when conditions and circumstances change the Lord makes such adjustments as He alone sees fit to make. In Jonah’s case at least, apparently changes even the prophet knew not of.

So we are not startled in the Lord cautioning Joseph Smith relative to conditions—

49 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.

50 And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God.

51 Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God.

52 And I will answer judgment, wrath, and indignation, wailing, and anguish, and gnashing of teeth upon their heads, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord your God.

53 And this I make an example unto you, for your consolation concerning all those who have been commanded to do a work and have been hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression, saith the Lord your God.

54 For I am the Lord your God, and will save all those of your brethren who have been pure in heart, and have been slain in the land of Missouri, saith the Lord.

55 And again, verily I say unto you, I command you again to build a house to my name, even in this place, that you may prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life. (Doctrine & Covenants 124:48-55.)

Still are there reasonable explanations to such questions as Matt Slick and Fran Sankey raise ad nauseam?

1.       Coming of the Lord

Whatever was meant by the Prophet it clearly is not what those who truncate the revelation want it to appear to be. The Savior himself noted in Matthew 24:36 that no mortals or even angels would know when He would return.

Once when praying about the matter the Prophet Joseph concluded,

14 I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:

15 Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.

16 I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.

17 I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time. (D&C 130:14-17).

Perhaps of interest to note, B.H. Roberts in the footnote as editor of History of the Church points out Prophet's remark was in 1835 and fifty six years in the future was February 1891. This would be shortly after Joseph's 85th birthday (he was born 23 December 1805). … Whatever Joseph meant or understood by "wind up the scene," it must be interpreted in light of the revelation as he reported it, and the conclusions which he drew from it… The revelation is reported in abbreviated form, and Joseph acknowledged as he recorded it that he didn't understand its meaning or intent (D&C 130:14-15 above.)

Later, Joseph Smith again prophesied on the subject of Christ's coming: “I also prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come in forty years; and if God ever spoke by my mouth, He will not come in that length of time. Brethren, when you go home, write this down, that it may be remembered. Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers. (History of the Church, 6:254.)

[Further, “And they have done unto the Son of Man even as they listed; and he has taken his power on the right hand of his glory, and now reigneth in the heavens, and will reign till he descends on the earth to put all enemies under his feet, which time is nigh at hand—I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes. (D&C 49:6-7.)

From the beginning to the end of his ministry, Joseph Smith denied that a man could or would know the date of the second coming of Christ.

2.       Temple built in Missouri

One wonders of the phrase “in this generation” is used figuratively as the Savior used it in Matthew 24, above. Or one can look carefully at the words themselves, D&C 84:3 in clear as to Independence, Missouri whereas 84:4 then brings it back to Kirtland, Ohio, “beginning at this place.” The prophet was in Kirtland when the revelation was received and the Kirtland Temple was built and finished and dedicated by the spring of 1836.

3.       US Government Overthrown

Possible explanations:

a.       Fulfillment may be yet in the future as no time is delineated.
b.       Sufficient redress provided by the government meeting the condition
c.        Civil War and its effects on Missouri
d.       Partial redress

The redress of settling in Utah through financial support from the government for the Mormon Battalion and the use of Indian lands in preparation and along the way; and granting of territorial stats to the Mormons upon their arrival.

Missouri suffered greatly during the Civil War. Over 1,200 distinct battles or skirmishes were fought on Missouri soil; only Tennessee and Virginia saw more action on their soil.
Between 1862 and 1864, the western parts of Missouri endured guerrilla warfare. Although guerrilla warfare occurred throughout much of the state, most of the incidents occurred in northern Missouri and were characterized by ambushes of individuals or families in rural areas. These incidents were particularly nefarious because their vigilante nature was outside the command and control of either side and often pitted neighbor against neighbor. ["Missouri in the American Civil War," Wikipedia]

During the Civil War, members of the Church clearly saw the conflict as a fulfillment of Joseph's prophecy. As one federal governor wrote in 1862, "Brigham Young and other preachers are constantly inculcating in the minds of the crowded audiences who sit beneath their teachings every Sabbath that the United States is of no consequence, that it lies in ruins, and that the prophecy of Joseph Smith is being fulfilled to the letter."[Stephen S. Harding; cited in Eugene. E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1988), 291]

As a possible combination or synthesis of the above, Joseph Smith’s prophecy was fulfilled because the United States suffered the penalty of the prophecy to the same degree or extent she failed to meet the conditions of the prophecy.
As noted above, the United States did provide the financial means for the Saints to travel west, as well as grant protection to them as they passed through Indian lands. This financial assistance and protection was at least a partial redress for the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the State of Missouri. But it clearly was not enough, for the United States government was “utterly overthrown and wasted” in eleven southern states between 1860 and 1861. After these southern states had seceded from the Union, they rejected the US Constitution and wrote their own constitution for a new government and a new nation, “The Confederate States of America.” Then they established their own congress, and elected their own President, Jefferson Davis. By the time these southern states had finished, there was not even a “potsherd left” of the U.S. government within the Confederacy.
But why wasn’t the United States government “utterly overthrown and wasted” in all of the states? Surely this was one possible outcome if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. However, during the course of the war, the United States government implemented Order Number 11, which punished at least some of those officers of the State of Missouri who had committed crimes against the Latter-day Saints. This partial punishment of the Missourian officers and the partial redress to the Saints was enough to mitigate or soften the penalty of the prophecy, so that the US government was not finally “utterly overthrown and wasted” in all of the states. In fact, it was soon after the implementation of Order Number 11 in 1863 that the course of the Civil War favored the Union, not the Confederacy. In the end, the United States suffered the penalty of the prophecy in part because she failed to meet the conditions of the prophecy in part. As such, Joseph Smith’s prophecy was fulfilled. [; Joseph Smith/Alleged false prophecies/Government to be overthrown and wasted]

4.       David W. Patton, mission

The command clearly reads for Patton to settle up his business as soon as he possible can, including a disposition of all his merchandise. Which we learn elsewhere he does. There is no prophecy that he is going to serve a mission. Rather having taken care of his business he would be in a position to serve a mission. Having been obedient to the command of the Lord, perhaps the Lord had another work for him to do. We understand that every call in this life has its counterpart beyond the veil. Thus missionary transcends the terminal nature of death.

Another had a question concerning the differences in the various accounts of the first vision which I believe is answered both by an author’s clarification in presenting various principles or events to his hearers, and the reality that revelation is itself an evolutionary experience as many things don’t appear prominent except with experience, subsequent questions, or additional insight. In fact, to me the fact that every account is not word for word the same adds veracity rather than detracts therefrom. All versions make it clear that far more was communicated to the young Joseph Smith than he has chosen or been allowed to share.

We met the Sixty-second family for the first time this week and had a nice visit. After years of faithful activity including 16 in the San Diego and Newport Beach temple age and the ravages of dementia have rendered them unable to even attend church. Fortunately they have a sweet adult daughter nearby who cares lovingly for them. We heard some wonderful stories and quickly developed a bond coming back a few days later and then on Sunday evening to give the sister a blessing for a foot problem that has bedeviled the doctors for four years so she cannot walk without excruciating pain. The husband told me he no longer remembers how to perform the ordinance but I assured him he does know how to stand beside me and participate. When we came by Sunday evening he was there beside the chair telling me he had remembered. I anointed his wife and then with his hands on mine gave her a blessing. She was going in on Tuesday for surgery with a specialist in Sherman Oaks which concerned her as any surgery at all brings varied risks. Later we learned it is an infection causing the pain which is treatable without surgery. She ascribes the result to the blessing. The husband had a rough day physically and I offered to give him a blessing as well. He demurred saying not being able to go to church he was unworthy. We climbed and surmounted that hurdle, consented, and the Lord pronounced a beautiful blessing upon him that had him in tears.

We had another very instruction meeting with the Twenty-First family on priesthood ordinances. They again confirmed their sweet appreciation for the two of us coming into their lives and their children’s lives and how much they enjoyed our visits and pleading that they not be discontinued as they receive their endowments and are sealed for time and eternity.

On Friday evening we attended our first HP social, a BBQ, in the Lake Forest Ward and were able to visit extensively with four families we had yet to know other than in greeting them. Each exclaimed how pleased they were to get acquainted with us and to “know us.” I’m sure this serving in multiple wards had made it difficult for members to really get to know us.

For the second consecutive Sunday the Sixty family we had first visited two weeks ago came to church after many years of inactivity.

On our P-day evening we visited with my cousin and her husband and family in Carlsbad and my cousin, her brother, who came over from Murrieta. How wonderful it was to see and her of the comings and goings of their families and to share their hospitality and love.

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