I shared this post: Stiff Necks, Ancient and Modern with my friends on Facebook. It wasn’t well received. It got me to thinking about our situation we as Mormon’s have placed ourselves. I wondered why this post would be offensive. He’s only talking about ancient Israel. What is about Ancient Israel that seems so eerily familiar about ourselves. As the saying goes, you can’t see the forest from the trees, perhaps Mormons can’t grasp their status much like ancient Israel couldn’t grasp theirs.
The core of the discussion with my friend revolved around the comment, “But, because they were unable or unwilling to really come to Him and be redeemed from the fall (See Ether 3:13) He gave them something to trouble them: the law of Moses.”
The thought from my friend was that Alma spoke of the Law in a different manner, instead of something to trouble them, “the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ.” (Alma 25:15–16) Yes the law did so for some of the Nephites, but Israel rejected the offer to speak to God face to face at the time of Moses. Eventually the tribes were scattered and the Nephites were a branch broken off (1 Nephi 15:12) that produced some fruit. (Jacob 5:25)
The whole point of this discussion should revolve around the purpose of the Law. It being to point us to Christ. “Considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming” (Alma 25:15) Nephi puts it this way:
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him. (2 Nephi 11:4)
Later on he continues:
And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled. For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. (2 Nephi 25:24–25)
Some of the Nephites understood that the symbols only testified of Him, of His sacrifice (2 Nephi 2:7). The symbol of entering the holy of holies wasn’t really entering the presence of God, but was symbolic of the event. All of the symbols were only “types.” Types of Christ. The washings, the anointings, the incense, the smoke, the shew-bread, the menorah, the veil, the altars, the mercy seat. All symbols.
However, there were those in Jerusalem who thought by performing the rituals through symbolism, they were actually righteous. Laman and Lemuel testified of those people during their suffering in the wilderness.
And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us.
You see, they practice the rituals, therefore they are righteous. Practicing a religion doesn’t make it righteous, doesn’t make it holy, doesn’t mean God approves of it. What once may have been authorized, ordained of God, and holy, doesn’t mean it will always remain so.
Further in the Book of Mormon we are given an example of a group of priests actually taught that salvation cam by practicing the rituals of the Law of Moses. King Noah and his wicked priests were consumed with taxing the people, ambitious building projects around the temple, and convincing themselves of their righteousness for their performance of temple rites.
These priests had “perverted the ways of the Lord.” A true messenger was sent among them to testify, his name being Abinadi. His conversation about the Law of Moses went like this:
…Therefore, what teach ye this people?
And they said: We teach the law of Moses.
And again he said unto them: If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it? Why do ye set your hearts upon riches? Why do ye commit whoredoms and spend your strength with harlots, yea, and cause this people to commit sin, that the Lord has cause to send me to prophesy against this people, yea, even a great evil against this people?
Know ye not that I speak the truth? Yea, ye know that I speak the truth; and you ought to tremble before God.
And it shall come to pass that ye shall be smitten for your iniquities, for ye have said that ye teach the law of Moses. And what know ye concerning the law of Moses? Doth salvation come by the law of Moses? What say ye?
And they answered and said that salvation did come by the law of Moses. (Mosiah 12:27–32)
Salvation does not come through temple ritual. It never has. It never will. It comes through Christ. Temples serve to point us to Christ. They are not a substitute for Him.
The Lord tells us in (D&C 84:18–27) That God wanted Israel to come into His presence literally, and Moses taught them this. However, they rejected the opportunity so they were cursed. The higher priesthood was taken, as was Moses, and in His wrath they were given the “lesser” law.
“When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.” – Joseph Smith Jr.
The lesser law isn’t without hope, for it has the authority to baptize and the keys to the ministering of Angels. Which Alma informs us are to converse with us and cause us to behold of His glory. (Alma 12:29)
So how do we humble ourselves and learn from their mistakes? There’s no way we will repeat the same mistakes is there?
The Lord clearly defines what redemption and salvation is while speaking to the brother of Jared, “And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.” (Ether 3:13)
Notice the equation the Lord gives? What does this tell us? Are we redeemed by symbolically entering His presence? Do our sealings after symbolically passing through the veil into His presence have any force? Are they types? Do we need to have them ratified? Do we need to experience what the brother of Jared experienced? (D&C 132:7)
I thought the words of Joseph Smith were refreshing on the matter, informing us of our own duty:
“The Doctrine of Election. Peter exhorts us to make our calling and election sure. This is the sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places. “13. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, “14. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory, that we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption.”–Ephesians, 1st chapter.
This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye that Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation.
There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.
The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.
When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses:
“16. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; “17. Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. “18. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. “21. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. “23. DIf a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions–Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”
Come unto Christ! Literally! The temple symbolically teaches this. Now seek Him.