The Lord is the King of Israel
The Lord is King forever and forever.” (Ps. 10:16)
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (Ps. 95:3)
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him, let the children of Zion be joyful in their king. (Ps. 149:2)
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
The subject of the Kingdom of God, more than nearly any other doctrine in the Bible, has been theorized, misunderstood, and misinterpreted. Due to the fierce competition from all other kingdoms, God’s Kingdom has not been a popular one.
In this volume we will review the history of Abraham, Moses and Christ to see how they introduced and established God’s Kingdom on earth. We will then compare it to its counterpart—the kingdom of Satan—and show how these two kingdoms have always opposed each other in their efforts to gain members.
The Lord manifests every possible power and means in His desire to redeem the souls of men. In return, man should certainly seek first the Kingdom of God.
 Chapter 1
The King of Kings
. . . in his times he shall show who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. (1 Tim. 6:15)
The title of “king” had its origin near the beginning of our mortal earth. Those holding such a title usually claimed it was a divine calling, with the right to govern in both civil and religious matters.
Most pharaohs possessed a long title or throne name which included some mention of deity. Epithets of many sovereigns of Mesopotamia also carried names of deities. Even in Imperial Rome the grandest title of the Caesars was Pontifex Maximus. Victory over their enemies was always attributed to the divine favor of their god. All of these civilizations were acquainted with offerings and sacrifices to their deity.
In ancient Israel we can also see how those holding this kingly office were recognized and appointed through divine approval. For example, the Prophet Samuel made the selection and anointed Saul as the first king in Israel. (See I Sam. 1:14 and 12:1.)
Therefore, no true king could claim legitimacy without a prophet’s approval of his investure. If God was not in it, their  king was no different from any other king. The kings of Israel were not appointed by attrition or seniority. If there was no divine approval by revelation, then there was the possibility of foreign infiltrations or compromising bloodlines. Furthermore, all righteous kings were subject to the laws of God. A king in Israel was commanded to learn and live by those laws, for God said:
And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. (Deut. 17:18-20)
Any good king, president or ruler is not to add or take away one jot or one tittle from God’s law, which is the difference between God’s appointed kings and worldly kings. It is by this rule that frauds and impostors are made known. The lessons of history also show that if the people cannot perceive or discern by this means the kind of ruler they have, then that is the kind of leader they deserve.
The words king or kingdom appear in the Old Testament 2,000 times; thus we have very fertile ground for determining the difference between kings of men and kings of God.
 In some instances in Biblical history the king or priest was tempted to err or sin, but a prophet was nearby to warn or direct him in the way God would have him go. Thus, the prophet became God’s spokesman to give the king divine direction.
God acknowledged to Abraham that he would be honored by having kings come from his loins. Those who were ordained by Christ as “kings and priests” were probably those kings whom God had promised to come through Abraham. Men who were “kings and priests unto God” would have the appointment and obligation to function in both civil and religious areas. This was indicated since the beginning of time by the close relationship of those offices held by ancient leaders.
Kingship and the gods. In the system of the ancient religions—state patriotism and religious piety were synonymous. To outst or overthrow the legitimate king was to commit iconoclasm and treason against the state. . . . (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia 3:795)
The Kingdom of God is rightfully the sovereignty of God by virtue of His creating the earth and everything on it. He desires to rule over His children as any good parent wants to preside over his offspring. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained:
It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is His purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world in His own time, to stand as a head of the universe, and take the reins of government in His own hand. When that is done, judgment will be administered in righteousness; anarchy and confusion will be destroyed, and “nations will learn war no more.” It is for want of this great governing principle, that all this confusion has existed; . . . (TPJS, pp. 250-51)
 This is all according to the patriarchal order. A father is entitled to rule and preside over his own family. How does a parent feel when a child rebels and opposes him? On the other hand, how does he feel when one of the children does everything he is required to do? Naturally the disobedient child will be punished and the obedient child will be rewarded. Such is the natural order of things between man and God in His kingdom.
It is said that God is Lord of lords and King of kings; but how can he be King of kings unless there be kings under him to give him homage and pay respect unto him and acknowledge him as their Lord and their King? (George Q. Cannon, JD 14:128)
 Chapter 2
FREEDOM AND LIBERTY IN THE KINGDOM
Freedom was not easily won, and it is not easy to keep. There have been only two kinds of people on the earth—those who were free and those who were not. Of all the millions who have lived, only about 3 per cent have known freedom. (Our Heritage of Faith, 1:2)
The great and mighty nations of the world have made slaves out of their captives and also of their own citizens.
If you had been born an Assyrian 15 centuries before Christ, you would have lived under cruel, blood-thirsty kings who were continually seeking new conquests and the riches of other nations. You probably would have served in the army which required you to fight until a battle was over, and then to march on to another battle and fight until you were dead. You would never have known freedom—only marching, fighting and killing.
If you had been an Egyptian, you would have believed that your pharaoh ruled by divine right and divine birth, that he was a god who could do no wrong. You would have lived in a little mud house, watching thousands of slaves work under the taskmaster’s lash. You would have probably worked in the quarries or the mines, plowed the lands or served in the army. All the land as well as its riches were the property of the pharaoh. Chances were that you would have lived, worked and died as a slave.
 As a member of the Greek civilization, you would have honored the pagan gods and would have been allowed no freedom. You would have served the ruling class whose goal was to obtain wealth and luxury. Your labors for these weak and selfish leaders would have been in vain, as they soon fell to the powerful Roman armies.
If you had been born a Roman, you still would not have enjoyed any more freedom, for Rome was held together by powerful emperors and huge armies. You probably would have served in the military, been a laborer on the empire roads and buildings or just become another serf. The Caesars were cruel, corrupt and vicious, and Roman citizens had to suffer under their insanity.
If you had been born during the first 1000 years of Christianity, you would have seen the rise of other feudal powers that sent thousands of soldiers to their death. Perhaps you would have been sent to the Americas where there was extensive slaughter of the natives for the glory of the mother church. The Crusades gradually came out of the Dark Ages, into the Renaissance, and then into a Reformation, but it was accomplished by shedding the blood of millions in the name of God.
Where was the Kingdom of God during the rise and fall of all these world kingdoms and cultures? Certainly among all the billions of God’s children there is some evidence of the existence of His Kingdom. There must be a reason why so many of God’s children knew nothing about His Kingdom. This is one of the great mysteries pertaining to the Kingdom of God. However, the words of Joseph Smith help to explain:
I say, in the name of the Lord, that the Kingdom of God was set up on the earth from the days of Adam to the present time. Whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed His  word and gave power and authority to administer in His name, and where there is a priest of God—a minister who has power and authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the gospel and officiate in the priesthood of God, there is the kingdom of God,… (TPJS, p. 271)
The problem with mankind is that they are more interested in their own little kingdom than in God’s kingdom. They fight each other over land parcels, palaces and pieces of gold more often than they do over freedom and liberty which are basic elements of God’s Kingdom. Once again, the Prophet Joseph commented:
But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes “His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, “according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil, . . .” (TPJS, p. 218)
Joseph had a deep love of liberty:
It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. Love of liberty was diffused into my soul by my grandfathers while they dandled me on their knees; . . . (TPJS, p. 313)
The Kingship of God on earth is represented through His righteous prophets, priests and kings. When love of freedom and liberty is instilled deep within their hearts, they can then be true servants in the Kingdom of God.
 Chapter 3
UNDERSTANDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
. . . I contend that if one man cannot understand these things but by the spirit of God, ten thousand men cannot; it is alike out of the reach of the wisdom of the learned, the tongue of the eloquent, the power of the mighty. And we shall at last have to come to this conclusion, whatever we may think of revelation, that without it we can neither know nor understand anything of God, or the devil;… (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 205)
One of the predominant themes of the scriptures is the Kingdom of God versus kingdoms of men. Modern ministers are so vague and even contradictory in their definitions of the Kingdom of God that they have caused more confusion than clarification. Many ecclesiastical leaders, including those in the LDS Church, have supposed that the Kingdom of God is the same as the Church of God, which is clearly incorrect.
In the first volume of this Kingdom of God series, an accurate description of the Kingdom of God was presented by Brigham Young, and it bears repetition here:
We talk a good deal about building up the kingdom of God upon the earth, according to the knowledge and understanding we have in regard to the kingdom of God; it requires several things to constitute a kingdom. If there is a kingdom, there needs [to be] a king, ruler or dictator; some one to govern and  control the kingdom. What else does it signify? It says, in language that cannot be misunderstood, you must have subjects; if there is a kingdom there must be a king and subjects; and there must be territory for the subjects to live upon. Well, now, if we are in a kingdom, do you think we are in a kingdom without law? No; the strictest law ever given to mankind is the law of God. (JD 13:91)
Here defined in simple terms are the basic four components of the Kingdom of God— (1) a King, (2) His subjects, (3) His territory, and (4) His laws. All other explanations are merely elaborations upon these four.
Locating the Kingdom of God is not as easy as looking it up in the yellow pages and making an appointment to join. Such knowledge and understanding require a great deal of study, research and investigation. And along the way, it will become evident that the devil has planted many cover-ups, imitations and oppositions to this Kingdom. If we expand our minds to understand more about God, we will also learn more about His Kingdom. As Dr. Hugh Nibley explained:
This puts a serious face on things. If we try to evade the responsibility of directing our minds to the highest possible object, if we try to settle for a milder program at lower stakes and safer risks, we are immediately slapped and buffeted by a power that will not let us rest. Being here, we must play the probation game, and we pay an awful forfeit for every effort to evade it. We must think—but about what? The substance of thought is knowledge. “The human brain depends for its normal alertness, reliability and efficiency on a continuous flow of information about the world; . . . the brain craves for information as the body craves for food.” “What is true of individuals is also true of societies; they too can become insane without sufficient stimulus.” If the mind is denied functioning to capacity, it will take terrible revenge. The penalty we  pay for starving our minds is a phenomenon that is only too conspicuous at Brigham Young University. (Approaching Zion, Nibley, 9:67-68)
The Kingdom of God could exist somewhere on earth, but most people would not know about it—especially if they did not know the four identifying elements of its composition. If someone wanted to become a member of God’s Kingdom on earth, they would first have to know what it was, how it was organized and the laws pertaining to it.
Theology, Theocracy, Theophany
How can we distinguish God’s Kingdom from all other kingdoms? First, we must look for it in scriptural history. If we cannot see it in the pages of the past, we surely won’t recognize it in the present.
To learn the elements of God’s Kingdom, we must begin with three important words: (1) theology, (2) theocracy, and (3) theophany. These three words are the keys to unlocking the mystery of the Kingdom of God on earth; thus, they will be discussed in greater detail in the remainder of this chapter.
The term theology is not another word for religion; it is the study of God and religious doctrines. To comprehend the Kingdom of God, we must devote a great deal of time to the study of the doctrines, laws, principles, covenants and commandments of God. The Prophet Joseph warned:
A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! If thou wilt lead a soul unto  salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. (TPJS, p. 137)
If one is going to own, drive or repair a car, he should first study the instruction book because the designers of that car have an excellent knowledge of every part. Likewise, the Creator (and designer) of our earth has a perfect knowledge of all of its composites and functions, and we should learn all we can about Him through a knowledge of His creations.
We have seen many men rise up and make great claims about themselves, but claims are much different from actual demonstrations. False prophets and false messiahs have come and gone by the hundreds. So how do we distinguish true prophets from false ones—and the true Kingdom of God from false kingdoms?
Theology is the textbook for our temporal and spiritual salvation, and through its pages we can learn the laws and principles that build individual character. Theology has even been termed a science, according to the Jewish encyclopedia:
Theology: The science that treats of God and of His relation to the world in general and to man in particular; in a less restricted sense, the didactic representation of the contents and essence of a religion. (Jewish Encyclopedia, 12:128)
Mere participation and membership in a church does not qualify a person for citizenship in the Kingdom of God. A knowledge of the laws of that Kingdom is necessary before one can qualify to belong to it. Again from the Prophet Joseph we learn:
 We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment; he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. For further instruction we refer you to Deut. 32, where the Lord says that Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste, howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye, etc.; which will show the force of the last item advanced, that it is necessary for men to receive an understanding concerning the laws of the heavenly kingdom, before they are permitted to enter it; we mean the celestial glory. So dissimilar are the governments of men, and so divers are their laws, from the government and laws of heaven, that a man, for instance, hearing that there was a country on this globe called the United States of North America, could take his journey to this place without first learning the laws of governments; but at all who are made the conditions of God’s kingdom are such, the partakers of that glory, are under the necessity of learning something respecting it previous to their entering into it. (TPJS, p. 51)
The Kingdom of God is not just membership in a church, beautiful buildings, prosperity, folklore, customs, and religious traditions. Rather, these do more to destroy an understanding of the Kingdom of God than anything else. Men  might make sacrifices, undertake long treks, mortify their flesh, offer long prayers and serve as full-time ministers, but still they may not truly understand the Kingdom of God.
Theology, then, is our first objective in order to understand the definition and significance of the Kingdom of God. It includes a profound study of all things pertaining to God, His doctrines and His Kingdom.
The serious student of theology will sooner or later come to grips with the term theocracy, especially if he is interested in the Kingdom of God. The dictionary gives a clear and concise definition:
Theocracy: A form of civil government in which God is recognized as ruler and his commandments are regarded as the laws of the community. (Nation Encyclopedia, 10:1)
From this we understand that a theocracy is not a religion but a type of civil government, as elaborated upon in two other definitions:
Theocracy: That government of which the chief is, or is believed to be, God himself, and the laws the commandments of God. The most notable theocratic government was that established by Moses. (New Modern Encyclopedia, p. 1039)
Theocracy: The form of government among the early Israelites, in which Jehovah was recognized as their supreme civil ruler, and His laws were taken as the statute book of the kingdom. Moses, Joshua, and the Judges were the appointees and agents of Jehovah. (Zondervan Enc. of the Bible, 5:1088)
 Thus, we realize that there is a difference between church and state—between a religion and civil government; yet both can and should be governed by God.
The prophets of the time directed, taught and warned the kings in their appointment and execution of duty:
The kings were each specifically anointed in his name and the prophets were commissioned to inform them of his will, and did not hesitate to rebuke and even veto their actions if contrary to the divine will. (Zondervan Enc., 5:1088)
Even though certain men were appointed to be kings in a theocracy, prophets were also necessary to receive the will of God to help in their work of governing the people.
During the period of the Jewish monarchy, the king was understood to rule by the will of God and was thus an organ of theocracy. Still more important organs were the prophets, whose great authority kept alive the Jewish nationality in Babylon. Returning from exile, Israel set out to be a perfect theocracy with the priesthood as the principal organ of government. The priesthood, however, became worldly as their wealth increased, and the more spiritual among the Jews looked forward to the coming of a Messiah who should establish a veritable kingdom of God (National Enc., 10:1)
Thus we see that even a theocracy on earth is subject to the weaknesses and failings of mortal men. The Kingdom of God has suffered in many dispensations because of the blindness of its earthly leaders.
Theophany is a Greek word meaning a manifestation of Deity, usually visible. Zondervan explains:
 Theophany is essentially a theological term, and is used of any temporary, normally visible, manifestation of God. In the Bible no stress is laid on the manner of the theophany; what is important is what God does and says. The physical is merely secondary. The physical aspects are there to magnify and authenticate the revelations, but essentially that is all. (Zondervan Enc., 5:719)
A theophany may be a visible, physical and/or audible manifestation. It may come as a miracle, an open vision or the voice of God, not excluding the visitation of angels. It is important that a message or testimony is conveyed, and the means is only to clarify or give power to the message. For example, the actual visitation of an angel is not as important as the message he brings.
Perhaps there were no greater theophanies than during the time of Moses, with the exception of those at the time of Christ. During these dispensations the people were so slow to understand that these manifestations were necessary to establish God’s commandments. During the beginning of our own dispensation the Saints also experienced these theophanies.
* * *
These three—theology, theocracy and theophany—are all necessary in increasing our comprehension of the Kingdom of God.
Enlarging the Mind and Spirit
Joseph Smith said, “The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself,” and that “intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.” (TPJS, pp. 353-54)
 Commenting on this statement by Joseph Smith were two great scholars, Dr. Hugh Nibley and Elder B. H. Roberts:
. . . the very nature of man requires him to use his mind to capacity: “The mind or the intelligence which man possesses,” says Joseph Smith, “is co-equal with God himself.” What greater crime than the minimizing of such capacity? The Prophet continues, “All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement. . . . God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge.” Expansion is the theme, and we cannot expand the boundaries unless we first reach those boundaries, which means exerting ourselves to the absolute limit. (Approaching Zion, p. 67)
He is the All-Wise One! The All-Powerful One! What He tells other intelligences to do must be precisely the wisest, fittest thing that they could anywhere or anyhow learn—the thing which it will always behoove them, with right loyal thankfulness, and nothing doubting, to do. There goes with this, too, the thought that this All-Wise One will be the Unselfish One, the All-Loving One, the One who desires that which is highest, and best; not for himself alone, but for all; and that will be best for him, too. His glory, his power, his joy will be enhanced by the uplifting of all, by enlarging them; by increasing their joy, power, and glory. And because this All-Intelligent One is all this, and does all this, the other intelligences worship him, submit their judgments and their will to his judgment and his will. He knows, and can do that which is best; and this submission of the mind to the Most Intelligent, Wisest—wiser than all—is worship. This is the whole meaning of the doctrine and the life of the Christ expressed in—”Father, not my will but Thy will, be done.” (Note by B. H. Roberts in TPJS, p. 353)
 We find ourselves either advancing in the knowledge of God or else digressing in knowledge. Unfortunately, very few individuals direct their minds to the things of God; yet He is the source of our existence and our eternal provider. We have an obligation to learn how and why God rules His kingdom the way He does.
If we do not seek to expand our knowledge of God and His Kingdom, we will digress and lose what we have already obtained. There is no neutral ground. As Alma said:
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; . . . (Alma 12:10-11)
There is a great famine among Christians today regarding the doctrine of the Kingdom of God, and that famine also exists among Mormons. To illustrate, when did you ever hear a Sunday School lesson on the Kingdom of God? Did you ever hear anyone give a Sacrament Meeting talk on the Kingdom of God? Or, have you ever read an entire book on the Kingdom of God?
If we do not increase our knowledge on this important subject of God’s Kingdom on earth and in heaven, then we will fail to prepare adequately for the greatest work in the universe.
 Chapter 4
ABRAHAM—THE FATHER OF KINGS
And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. (Gen. 17:6)
Many of today’s modern Christians believe that Abraham lived in a pagan society, was raised in a pagan household and embraced some personal pagan ideals. They assume that he did not know much about the gospel of Christ, its principles or priesthood. However, in 1879 John Taylor countered:
We come again to another prominent character, that is Abraham, a very remarkable man in his day and age; although at the present time men look upon him as a kind of an old shepherd, a man that attended flocks and herds and sheep, a sort of herdsman and a shepherd; and there was very little of him anyhow except that he lived in his day almost as a barbarian. That is the opinion that many men have formed of him—that he was something like our backwoodsmen, some of our farmers who have not mixed up with the elite of society, or made themselves familiar with the intelligence that pervades the world. I look upon him as another character entirely, and from information that we can gather from revelations that have been referred to, we find that there was something very peculiar about him. We read his history and we find that he was a man that sought after righteousness, that he desired to obtain more righteousness, that he examined the records of his fathers, that he found in  examining the records, tracing them back through the flood, clear away back unto Adam’s day, he found many circumstances that were connected with man-kind, not only to Adam’s day, but before the world was. In doing this, among other things, he found he had a right to the priesthood. (JD 21:159)
But seeking after righteousness, gaining a knowledge of his ancestry and desiring to be worthy to receive the priesthood were not the only great attributes of Abraham. The Lord promised him, “I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.” (Gen. 17:6) Then the Lord gave the same promise to his grandson, Jacob. (See Gen. 36:11.) In fact, all the promises made to Abraham were also offered to his posterity. Now how could his posterity become kings in the Kingdom of God unless he himself became one of those kings? George Q. Cannon expressed it this way:
When God led forth Abraham and told him that as the stars of the firmament were innumerable, so should his seed be, he proclaimed to him the greatness of his kingdom in eternity. He told Abraham that he should be a king over this innumerable host; for if Abraham were not to be king over them, of what use or glory would his posterity be to him? When God pointed Abraham to the sand on the seashore and told him that as it was countless, so should his seed be, he told him in accents that could not be mistaken of the future glory of his eternal kingdom. And if all mankind attained to the same promises as Abraham, they also would have an innumerable posterity to reign over. As the prophet says concerning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “To the increase of his kingdom there shall be no end. (JD 14:128)
Abraham understood what the Kingdom of God was, how it operated and even taught it to others, most of whom rejected it. Brigham Young substantiates this:
 “It is true,” say they, “that in the days of Moses the Lord did once send a messenger to preach the Gospel to the children of Israel, but our master had such power in their midst that they would not receive the kingdom.” In the days of Abraham, also, long before the days of Moses the Lord revealed the principles of the kingdom, but they would not have them. (JD 11:303)
Many Christians today do not believe that Abraham had the gospel because they assume there was no gospel before Christ came to earth. However, the Apostle Paul clarified that this belief was incorrect. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
It will be noticed that, according to Paul, (see Gal. 3:8) the Gospel was preached to Abraham. We would like to be informed in what name the gospel was then preached, whether it was in the name of Christ or some other name. If in any other name, was it the gospel? And if it was the Gospel, and that preached in the name of Christ, had it any ordinances? . . . Abraham offered sacrifice, and notwithstanding this, had the Gospel preached to him. (TPJS, p. 60)
If Abraham had the Gospel, did he then have the priesthood? The answer has to be affirmative, as the Prophet Joseph informed us:
Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away. Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood. (TPJS, p. 322)
Certainly a man who holds the higher priesthood, and honors it, is a member of the Kingdom of God. His mission then is to teach others and bring them into that Kingdom.
 We also know that Abraham was chosen before he was born to be a great king and priest in the Kingdom of God. Abraham knew this himself as he was shown it in vision:
And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (P of GP, Abraham 3:23; see also JD 23:185.)
Abraham was chosen to be a ruler in the Kingdom of God, and he would also rule over other leaders in that Kingdom.
In addition to the above, Abraham saw Jesus and His day in a vision, for Christ said to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
Abraham also had a great knowledge of the universe, most of which he also obtained in vision. Joseph Smith stated, “The learning of the Egyptians, and their knowledge of astronomy was no doubt taught them by Abraham and Joseph, as their records testify, who received it from the Lord.” (TPJS, p. 251)
The visionary and prophetic powers of Abraham were no doubt given to him through the instrument called a Urim and Thummim, which he acknowledged was in his possession:
And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees, (Abra. 3:1) [and also] the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, . . . (Abra. 3:4)
 He was shown all of this world and how it was connected with God’s Kingdom and also many other worlds and parts of the universe which also pertained to His Kingdom.
The scope of Abraham’s kingly realm is amazing. One of the great promises of God to Abraham was that through him and his seed “shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Abra. 2:11) This is one of the greatest blessings ever given to a man. And, according to Joseph Smith, another was that “All children are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and the moment that children leave this world, they are taken to the bosom of Abraham.” (TPJS, p. 197)
To show how far-reaching Abraham’s kingly and patriarchal authority extends, John Taylor explained:
Who were Moses and Aaron? Moses led the children of Israel, under the guidance and direction of the Almighty, with a mighty hand and stretched-out arm, and delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians. Who were they? They were the descendants of Abraham. Who were the old Prophets we read of in the Bible here? They were the descendants of Abraham? Who was Jesus? A descendant of Abraham. Who were the Twelve Apostles? They were the descendants of Abraham. Who were the Seventy that existed in those days? They were the descendants of Abraham. What were they told to do? To damn mankind? No. What? To go and preach the Gospel to all the world, to lift up a banner of life and salvation to the nations, and call upon them to repent. Who were the Nephites that came to this continent? Lehi, Lemuel, Nephi, etc. Who were they? They were descendants of Abraham. Who were the Twelve Apostles that were on this continent? They were descendants of Abraham. (JD 19:80)
 Wilford Woodruff also refers to the kingly and patriarchal blessings of the Priesthood (including Abraham’s), showing that such kingdoms were not just temporal, but eternal:
The Lord has revealed to us that no kingdom, no king, no prince, no president, no ordinance of marriage, no ordinance performed by any man from the days of father Adam, will have any power or force after death, except those ordinances are performed by men holding the Eternal Priesthood. Is there a king, is there a prince, is there a queen,—will either when they pass the other side of the veil, find a throne there? Would the Czar of Russia, who was assassinated by the hands of the ungodly not long ago, when he went into the Spirit World find a throne there? No. Why? Because the kingdom of the Czar of Russia belonged to time. When he went into the Spirit World, that was the end of his kingdom and power. His kingdom had not been sealed upon his head by any man having the power and authority of the Eternal Priesthood. So in regard to all kingdoms and thrones. You may take Her Majesty Queen Victoria—who has reigned a long time, and who is perhaps as good a sovereign as has reigned since the days of William the Conqueror. When she passes behind the veil, she will find her kingdom at an end, because it was not sealed upon her head for time and eternity by any man having the authority of the Holy Priesthood. (JD 24:243)
Regarding the greatness of Abraham, Joseph Smith summarized:
Abraham was guided in all his family affairs by the Lord; was conversed with by angels, and by the Lord; was told where to go, and when to stop; and prospered exceedingly in all that he put his hand unto; it was because he and his family obeyed the counsel of the Lord. (TPJS, pp. 251-52)
 Abraham had been blessed above nearly all other men, i.e.:
- He would be the father of kings.
- He would preside as a king over those kings.
- He had the high and holy Priesthood and all the rights that belong to God’s kings.
- He was promised a place in God’s kingdom.
- He received a glorious vision of God’s great work of His Kingdom in the universe.
There is probably no other mortal man in the Old Testament that received such great promises and blessings as did Abraham. Though not the king of kings, he was nevertheless a king of kings.
 Chapter 5
HOW ABRAHAM BECAME A KING
Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord. (D & C 132:29)
Father Abraham was the right person in the right place at the right time. He stood as a father of nations, and also as a father to nations. Abraham is one of the most perfect examples of a man of God, and we have been instructed to “Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham.” (D & C 132:32) He stood for correct principles and faithfulness to the laws of God. He was so righteous that the Lord appeared to him from time to time and talked to him as one man talks to another.
Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne. (D & C 132:29)
In this 132nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord mentions the name of Abraham 20 times. It is no wonder that he is often cited as “Abraham, the Friend of God.”
According to Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, the meaning of the name Abram is a “high or exalted father,” while the definition of the lengthened name Abraham (given to him by God) is “father of a multitude.” For God said, “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be  Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.” (Gen. 17:5) This implied kingship and for Abraham it meant the Kingdom of God.
His name is mentioned over 40 times in the Old Testament and over 70 in the New. He is honored by Christians, Jews and Arabs, because they are all his posterity. There is probably not a nation on earth that has not been greatly influenced by the bloodline of that important man. As mentioned in the previous chapter, God told him, “I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.” (Gen. 17:6) The kings that God was talking about are not the wicked and foolish kings frequently recognized in both the past and the present; they are kings because of the Lord’s calling and ordination. They usually carry little or no worldly recognition or honors, but they are kings unto God—now and forever. These kings and the Kingdom of God have both a temporal and spiritual function with an everlasting significance.
Abraham was born in the 20th generation from Adam. He grew up in the household of idolaters and wickedness, yet in his wisdom he did not participate in such abominations. At the time, Melchizedek was the king of Salem and had received the title of “the prince of peace” (Alma 13:18). Abraham had such respect for him that he wanted to follow his example. His desire was to “possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace.” (Abra. 1:2)
But to become a worthy man of God has never been easy. In the world of conflicts, Abraham was blessed with the gift of discernment and the powers of reason. He overcame many superstitions, temptations and false religions.
To be a true servant of God one must put down false gods and defend and obey the true God. Abraham had this  opportunity while he was still a young man when he came into conflict with his own father over the true God and false gods. According to the Book of Jasher, Terah, his father, had a room full of wooden and stone gods, which he faithfully worshipped. Abram was told by his father to get food for his gods; so he took some savory meat and placed it before all of them. But Abram noticed that they did not eat, nor did they hear, speak or move. (They were just like the gods of the Catholics and Protestants today.) So he got a hatchet and broke down all the gods but the largest one and then placed the hatchet in his arms. When Terah came home and saw this, he was very angry and accused his son of the deed.
But Abram came up with a story of how all the little gods jumped first to eat the food before the big one could get there, so he got a hatchet and broke down all the others. The hatchet was still in his arms. Terah didn’t buy the story and said, “What is this tale that thou has told? Thou speakest lies to me. Are they not wood and stone, and have I not myself made them? It is thou that didst place the hatchet in his hands and then sayest he smote them all.” Abram responded with a practical and wise answer:
And how canst thou then serve these idols in whom there is no power to do anything? Can those idols in which thou trustest deliver thee? can they hear thy prayers when thou callest upon them? can they deliver thee from the hands of thy enemies, or will they fight thy battles for thee against thy enemies, that thou shouldst serve wood and stone which can neither speak nor hear?
And now surely it is not good for thee nor for the sons of men that are connected with thee, to do these things; are you so silly, so foolish or so short of understanding that you will serve wood and stone, and do after this manner? And forget the Lord God who made heaven and earth, and who created you in the earth,  and thereby bring a great evil upon your souls in this matter by serving stone and wood?
Did not our fathers in days of old sin in this manner, and the Lord God of the universe brought the waters of the flood upon them and destroyed the whole earth?
And how can you continue to do this and serve gods of wood and stone, who cannot hear, or speak, or deliver you from oppression, thereby bringing down the anger of the God of the universe upon you?
Now therefore my father, refrain from this, and bring not evil upon thy soul and the souls of thy household. (Book of Jasher, p. 27)
Nevertheless, this was not the end of the conflict. Abram had to answer to the king for destroying those idols:
And Abram answered the king, saying, And if there be no power in them why dost thou serve them and cause the sons of men to err through thy follies?
Does thou imagine that they can deliver thee or do anything small or great, that thou shouldst serve them? And why wilt thou not serve the God of the whole universe, who created thee and in whose power it is to kill and keep alive? O foolish, simple, and ignorant king, woe unto thee forever. * * *
Now therefore put away this evil deed which thou doest, and serve the God of the universe, as thy soul is in his hands, and then it will be well with thee. And if thy wicked heart will not hearken to my words to cause thee to forsake thy evil ways, and to serve the eternal God, then wilt thou die in shame in the latter days, thou, thy people and all who are connected with thee, hearing thy words or walking in thy evil ways. (Ibid., p. 28)
The king didn’t like Abram’s message and so put him in prison.
 Abram’s message to the king is applicable to many in the world today. How many, including Christians, serve a god who has no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no tongue to speak, and no mind to think. Abraham’s mission was to warn the people of their personal and spiritual sins and the kings of the earth of their temporal and political sins. This is the mission of God’s prophets and kings.
Abraham eventually suffered more than just a prison sentence, for he was taken by the priests of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to be sacrificed. Author Cleon Skousen, commenting on the facsimile from the Book of Abraham, wrote:
In this connection Herodotus, the Greek historian, called the Egyptians “blacks,” and R. A. Rawlinson says, “The Egyptians appear to have been among the darkest races with which the Greeks of early times came into direct contact.” (taken from The History of Ancient Egypt, p. 103, as quoted in The First 2000 Years, p. 268)
It became a contest between the gods of Pharaoh and the God of Abraham. As the knife was lifted into the air about to be dropped upon Abraham, a great force struck the altar, killing the priest of pharaoh and releasing Abraham from the altar. This experience of deliverance was a promise made to Abraham because he held the Holy Priesthood of God. It was also a promise that was passed down to others who honored the Priesthood.
As early as the 14th chapter of Genesis we find numerous kings—good and bad. As usual the worldly kings were fighting among themselves, i.e.:
And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; that these made  war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zebolim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. * * *
And there went out the King of Sodom, and the king of Gommorah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zebolim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; with Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. (Gen. 14:1-2, 8-9)
However, in their battles, these kings were often brought in contact with the Kingdom of God. When they went to battle against Sodom and Gomorrah, it resulted in the capture of Lot. Then Abraham came to his rescue and subdued the wicked kings in order to save a member of God’s Kingdom that held the Priesthood of God. We don’t know what Lot was doing in Sodom and Gomorrah, but apparently the Lord wanted him out of there so He could destroy the rest of the people. One of the obligations of men holding the Priesthood is to warn leaders, kings and presidents of their doom if they do not repent. We find this so in the ministry of Abraham.
We don’t know how many citizens were under the rule of Pharaoh at this time, but we know that Abraham’s little kingdom had over 318 qualified soldiers. Abraham overthrew and killed the wicked King Chedorlaomer and his four other wicked kings. The deed was a favor to the king of Sodom, who had been robbed by them. Abraham also met another old friend—Melchizedek, the King of Salem, who greeted him with bread and wine. All of these events involved a variety of kings—both good and bad—with the victory going to the righteous!
And the angel of the Lord said unto Abraham, The Lord said unto us, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will destroy them. And I will send you, and  ye shall go down now, and see that their iniquities are rewarded unto them.. * * *
And if ye do it not, it shall be upon your heads; for I will destroy them, and you shall know that I will do it, for it shall be before your eyes. (I.V. Gen. 18:19-20, 22)
The Lord requires men from His Kingdom to warn those of another kingdom when His judgments are about to come upon them so they may have a chance to repent. If they do not do it, the sin will be upon the Priesthood holders. Can you imagine the embarrassment if cities of people came to you in the next world and asked why you didn’t come and warn them? The Lord instructed:
Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads.
. . . to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come. (D & C 88:81-82, 84)
Abraham met many savages, kings and pharaohs, and became a missionary to them. They either accepted his message or were destroyed by rejecting it. The noted historian, Flavius Josephus, said that Abraham had—
. . . conversation with the most learned among the Egyptians; from which conversation his virtue and his reputation became more conspicuous than they had been before. For whereas the Egyptians were formerly addicted to different customs, and despised one another’s sacred and accustomed rites . . . Abraham conferred with each of them, and, confuting the reasonings they made use of, every one for their own practices, demonstrated that such reasonings were vain and void of truth.
 Whereupon he was admired by them in those conferences as a very wise man, and one of great sagacity, when he discoursed on any subject he undertook; and this not only in understanding it, but in persuading other men also to assent to him. He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for before Abram came into Egypt they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans (by Abraham) into Egypt, and from thence to the Greeks also. (Josephus, 8:1-2)
The Abrahamic Covenant
It was because of Abraham’s faithfulness to God that He made covenant promises with him—later known as the Abrahamic covenant. If Abraham would be faithful to God, then He would promise to reward him with the following blessings:
- Abraham’s name shall be great.
- A great nation should come from him.
- Through him, all nations and families of the earth should be blessed.
- To him and to his seed should be given Palestine as an inheritance forever.
- His seed should be as numerous as the sands of the seashore.
- That whoever blessed him should be blessed, and whoever cursed him should be cursed.
- He should be the father of many nations.
- Kings should proceed from him.
- This covenant should be perpetual and be “an everlasting covenant.”
- The land of Canaan should be “an everlasting pos-session.”
- God would be a God to him and his seed.
 12. His seed should possess the gate of his enemies.
(See Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:4-21; 17:4-16; 22:15-18.)
This was a marvelous blessing to Abraham, but it also applied to all his children who became righteous kings and were honored by God.
Abraham proved his integrity to the Lord by overcoming numerous trials and tests. Being inspired through dreams, visions and even the appearance of angels, he drew closer and closer to his Lord. Finally the Lord Himself appeared to Abraham, and he was so thrilled that he remarked:
Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee. Thou didst send thine angel to deliver me from the gods of Elkenah, and I will do well to hearken unto thy voice. . . . (Abraham 2:12-13)
Abraham continued to “speak to the Lord,” for he said:
Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made, . . . (Abraham 3:11)
Abraham saw the spirits of all men before they were born and that some were greater than others. As he stood there in the midst of them, God said: “These I will make my rulers; . . . and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” (Abraham 3:23) Thus, before they were born, many great and noble spirits were chosen to be rulers. The term ruler, according to the language of the Lord, is to be a king in His Kingdom, differing from a ruler or king of the world.
 Abraham learned that Egypt was discovered by a woman named Egyptus, a daughter of Ham. Her oldest son became the first ruler and was called Pharaoh, a title which subsequent rulers would claim. This first Pharaoh was one of the most interesting rulers in history because he was both blessed and cursed. Abraham recorded:
Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry; . . . (Abraham 1:26-27)
Abraham and Pharaoh, then, had duplicate orders of the Kingdom of God; Pharaoh had a form of political government while Abraham’s pertained more to the family order. Both kings were very righteous but with one major difference: one had the Priesthood and the other did not. Both orders were a duplicate of the ancient orders, but only one was recognized by God as His kingdom on the earth.
There are several very important factors in this record by Abraham:
- The first Egyptian Pharaoh was a very righteous man. He judged his people wisely and justly all of his life. He was a model for all men, especially those in government.
- His personal and political rules of order followed the example set by the early patriarchs—back to Adam.
 3. Pharaoh’s government was organized according to the order of kings established by the Lord from the beginning of time. In other words, that order was according to the Kingdom of God.
- He was blessed with the good things of the earth and the blessings of being a very wise man—but he was cursed by not having the Priesthood, because he was of the lineage of Ham.
- This kingdom had every positive factor to qualify as being the Kingdom of God except for the Priesthood. All the kingdoms of the world do not qualify for recognition by God if they do not have His direction under the Priesthood.
We can easily see the major differences between the kingdoms of men and the Kingdom of God. We can also see the obvious differences in the men in those kingdoms. Abraham proved worthy of the Kingdom of God by his lineage, his worthiness and his devotion. He promoted the principles of the Kingdom of God, the King of kings and thus became one of the kings in God’s Kingdom.
Every Priesthood holder would do well to hearken to the lessons learned by Abraham as he attained his calling and election and received the promise of eternal life. In this capacity, one can become a king and a priest to his Lord forever.
 Chapter 6
THE SACRIFICE OF ABRAHAM—AND ISAAC!
We talk a great deal about sacrifices, when strictly there is no such thing; it is a misnomer—it is a wrong view of the subject, for what we do in [and for] the Kingdom of God is the best investment we can possibly make. (Daniel H. Wells, JD 4:253)
The story of Abraham and Isaac in chapter 22 of Genesis is one of the most difficult to understand. God tells Abraham to take his son Isaac up on a mountain and kill him! Could God also tell Abraham to worship the stone gods of his father? Could he tell him to commit adultery with his neighbor’s wife—or lie, cheat, steal or murder?
God has told us that it is a sin to break His commandments, and yet in this case He is telling Abraham to break one of the most important ones. There is a blessing for obedience to the commandments; can there be a blessing for disobeying them also?
We have been told that murder is an unforgivable sin. It is a crime so serious that a murderer cannot enter the celestial kingdom. Now God is telling Abraham to murder his son! What’s going on here?
The Prophet Joseph shed some light on this when he explained:
 That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.
God said, “Thou shalt not kill;” at another time He said, “Thou shalt utterly destroy.” This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. (TPJS, p. 256)
We claim to be justified when we kill someone in self-defense. An officer of the law is justified when he has to kill or execute a criminal. There is justification for those called to fight in the armed services to kill the enemy. But how can a man be justified for killing his own son?
Maybe this story is true just as it is written. Maybe God can tell His children to break His laws and commandments just to test them to see if they are willing to obey. Maybe they have been so obedient in keeping His laws that the only way to test them further is to see if they are willing to break them. But surely there is some better explanation and interpretation of this story of Abraham and Isaac. The answer may be found in a sermon by Heber C. Kimball:
But God requires every man and woman to be faithful; and if they have sinned, they have got to make an atonement for that sin, and your trials do not make that atonement.
God says that we shall be tried in all things, even as was Abraham of old. He was called upon to offer up his son, and was found willing to offer him up, but, as the sin was not sufficient to require the shedding of his son’s blood, a lamb [ram] was provided, and its blood atoned for the sin that Abraham’s son was to be offered up for, and saved the son. (JD 4:120)
 Many questions arise from the information in this paragraph. What sin was he talking about? What atonement? What was the sacrifice for which his blood was to be shed? Who had sinned? Was this a sacrifice for Abraham, or Isaac—or both? It was Isaac who was on the sharp end of that knife. It appears that the “sin” had not been committed by Abraham, but by Isaac who was to receive a punishment.
If Isaac had not sinned, why did he so willingly appear to go through with this “offering”? In a normal situation a son would think his father had gone mad and would take off running. Apparently Isaac had done something wrong and both Abraham and Isaac realized it was serious enough that an atonement had to be made. Thus, both were willing to carry out the sacrifice.
Let’s summarize, then, the reasons for believing that this view of the story is the most accurate:
- Isaac was willing to be sacrificed.
- Heber C. Kimball said it was a sacrifice for sin.
- A ram had to be sacrificed, indicating that a sin was involved.
- If it were only a test, there would be no need for some kind of blood atonement—such as a ram.
- “The powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” (D & C 121:36) Killing a son without justification is certainly a sin!
If Isaac were guilty of committing a sin, it was Abraham’s responsibility as king and patriarch, to carry out the execution. It was a test for him to see if he would consistently enforce the administration of the law. Isaac himself must have realized the necessity of such a punishment as he asked that the ropes be tight so the sacrifice would not be defiled. He apparently wanted to be absolved from this sin.
 We do not know what kind of sin Isaac may have committed. However, in looking at the Old Testament reasons for sacrificing certain animals and birds, the sacrifice of a ram was to atone for some sin involving real estate or personal possessions.
The sin of Isaac could have been relatively insignificant, but yet sufficient in the minds of both Abraham and Isaac to require the shedding of Isaac’s blood. For instance, in the account of the man who “gathered sticks upon the sabbath day” (Num. 15:32), Moses asked the Lord what should be done, and the response was, “The man shall be surely put to death.” (Num. 15:35)
For whatever reason Abraham felt he had to sacrifice his son, he passed the supreme test. It was supreme for Isaac, too! Their hearts were torn in sorrow, but their spirits rejoiced, as they knew they were obeying the will of the Lord.
The offering of Abraham’s choicest son as a sacrifice for sin was symbolic of God’s future offering of His choicest Son, Jesus, as a sacrificial offering for the sins of the world. In both cases of obedience, the participants gained their glory.
Even though this account is very interesting and has some thought-provoking ideals, what does it have to do with the Kingdom of God? The answer lies in a statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life, he must sacrifice all things. (TPJS, p. 322)
And we might add, “or at least be willing to do so.”
 When the Prophet Joseph and a group of early Saints went down to Missouri to save their friends from the mobs, some of members of this Zion’s Camp sacrificed their lives in the venture. But Joseph said that—
. . . God had not designed all this for nothing, but He had it in remembrance yet; and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, . . . (DHC 2:182)
(He [God] could not organize His kingdom with twelve men to open the Gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless He took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham.) (Ibid., ftnt.)
Zion’s Camp was made up of over 100 men who left their families and homes in Kirtland to go to Missouri to help their brethren who were being mobbed, burned out and killed. Over 175 houses had been burned in one night. It was war—and these men volunteered to try to save their brethren even though it might require the sacrifice of their own lives. (See DHC 2, chap. 5-8.)
Temple-going Latter-day Saints have covenanted to obey the law of sacrifice, which is to sacrifice all that we have, even our lives if necessary, to sustain and defend the Kingdom of God. Thus, the law of sacrifice is just as important now as it has ever been. One of the “Lectures on Faith” states:
Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. (Lecture 6)
 Along this same line, Dr. Hugh Nibley commented:
This means that we will be called upon to make some sacrifices; indeed, to please God we must be willing to sacrifice all the way, taking Abraham for our model, for a proper eternal life is not to be cheaply bought (D & C 132). Eternity is absolute. It must be all or nothing with us, and the law of sacrifice requires us to give up this world at a moment’s notice. Again, “success” is not what we are after, . . . (Approaching Zion, Nibley, p. 262)
But what about those who are not willing to continually sacrifice for the Lord? There are many of those—both in and out of the LDS Church. The Apostle George A. Smith believed that they begin to go in a backward direction instead of forward:
I remember, when in Kirtland, having heard Jared Carter say that he had sacrificed everything that ever would be required of him. He said, I have sacrificed all my property once, but I will never do it again. Where is that man? He is numbered in the long catalogue of apostates. If a man should sacrifice all that he has, and then say “I will do no more,” it is equal to saying I will stop serving the Lord. (JD 9:72)
To sacrifice or not to sacrifice—that is the question. We are taught that God never makes it easy; but he has His reasons. We are told that the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. Conversely, the greater the refusal to sacrifice, the greater the condemnation. Brigham Young explained how this applied in the sacrifice of Christ:
 Jesus suffered himself to be crowned with thorns and crucified; but suppose he had said, “I will not make this great sacrifice; I am the Almighty; I will dash my enemies to pieces, and I will not die for the world,” what would have been the result? Jesus would have become a son of perdition; he would have lost every power and right to the kingdom he was about to redeem—would have become no better than the son of the morning who contended against him, and would have contended against righteousness from that time,… (JD 8:118)
Some people appear to have more to sacrifice than others, but according to Brigham Young—since all we have is already the Lord’s—we really have nothing of our own to sacrifice:
Brother Silas Smith has just told you that he had not been at home four days when he heard his name called for another mission; and he says that he is ready and willing, of which I have no doubt; for I never knew him when he was not willing to do anything that he was told to do. We say that we are willing to do anything required to sustain us in our religious rights —to sacrifice our all for our religion and the hope that is before us. Brother Clapp has just taught us that we are not worthy of eternal life unless we are willing to sacrifice all. Brother Clapp, what have you to give? (“Everything I have.”) But you have not got anything! * * * Reflect well, and consider whether you really own anything. * * * If God withdraws his sustaining hand, you sink. You have no wife, children, horses, houses, nor land. * * *
Some persons talk about sacrificing; but we have nothing to sacrifice. (JD 6:195-96)
In the following two 1853 excerpts by Brigham Young, he beautifully explained the true nature of sacrifices that men make for the Kingdom of God:
 Now, you Elders who understand the principles of the Kingdom of God, what would you not give, do, or sacrifice, to assist in building up His kingdom upon the earth? Says one, “I would do anything in my power, anything that the Lord would help me to do, to building up His kingdom.” Says another, “I would sacrifice all my property.” Wonderful indeed! Do you not know that the possession of your property is like a shadow, or the dew of the morning before the noonday sun, that you cannot have any assurance of its control for a single moment! It is the unseen hand of Providence that controls it. In short, what would you not sacrifice? The Saints sacrifice everything; but, strictly speaking, there is no sacrifice about it. If you give a penny for a million of gold! a handful of earth for a planet! a temporary worn-out tenement for one glorified, that will exist, abide, and continue to increase throughout a never-ending eternity, what a sacrifice to be sure! (JD 1:114)
Suppose we were called to leave what we have now, should we call it a sacrifice? Shame on the man who would so call it; for it is the very means of adding to him knowledge, understanding, power, and glory, and prepares him to receive crowns, kingdoms, thrones, and principalities, and to be crowned in glory with the Gods of eternity. (JD 2:7)
There is a special feeling that results from the act of sacrificing. It definitely improves the character of the individual if it comes from the heart. Paul the Apostle said, “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” (I Cor. 13:3) When there is no feeling, emotion or sentiment to such an experience, it has lost its meaning and value. John Taylor explained the reason for such sacrifice:
Nevertheless, as I have said, it is necessary that we pass through certain ordeals, and that we be tried. but why is it that we should be tried? There is just the  same necessity for it now that there was in former times. I heard the Prophet Joseph say, in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion: “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it, you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God. (JD 24:197)
To conclude this chapter on the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac, the final result was that the Lord appeared to them and rewarded them for their willingness to make such a supreme sacrifice. Undoubtedly, it was at this time that their calling and election was made sure and they received the promise of thrones, principalities, powers, and dominions in His Kingdom. Their sacrifice was great, but their reward was greater!
Mortality provides a catalog of tests and trials. Some are physical, i.e., cold, hunger and pain, while others are emotional or spiritual, i.e., deception, sorrow, and discouragement. Some tests and trials are because of Divine intervention, such as those given to Job. It seems that those who bear the Priesthood are more often given severe tests.
During his life, Abraham proved he was willing to sacrifice those things most precious to him: his life, his wife, and his son: (1) When his life was almost taken by the Egyptians who attempted to kill him on their sacrificial altar, an angel was sent to save his life in response to Abraham’s call for help. (See picture on following page.) (2) When he was about to lose his wife to the king of Egypt, who wanted to take her for his wife, the king had a terrible dream warning him not to take Sarah, so he returned her to Abraham. (3) When he was commanded to sacrifice his son upon the altar, the Lord provided a ram in the thicket that would suffice.
In all three of these tests and trials, Abraham trusted in the Lord, and in each of them the Lord responded because of Abraham’s great faith.
 Chapter 7
MOSES—A PRINCE IS BORN
And he [a Hebrew slave] said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? (Ex. 2:14)
Some men become kings by inheriting a throne; others have money to buy the office; still others manage to kill off all competitors. Then there are those who are born to become a king by divine right, chosen in the pre-mortal state to become prophets, priests and kings on earth. Such was the case with Moses.
The royal lineage for the Priesthood and Kingdom of God came down through great prophets to Moses. The people at his time were unorganized, uninspired and serving as slaves. The land of Egypt was ruled by a wicked Pharaoh. He was probably not acquainted with the history of Joseph who once lived and ruled in Egypt. After 400 years, the history of Joseph had been forgotten—even by the children of Israel.
Although the children of Israel were entitled to bear the rights of the Holy Priesthood (the right to rule on the earth), they did not even remotely resemble Godly priests and kings.
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour; And they made their lives bitter with bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. (Ex. 1:13-14)
 But this was not all. The king ordered the Egyptians: “Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.” (Ex. 1:22) Why did this Egyptian king want to kill the male children who could grow up to be his slaves? It was evident he thought that one of them would cause him to lose his throne and power. But God planned to intercede. He remembered His covenant with Israel and provided a deliverer—Moses.
When Moses was born, his mother was able to hide him for three months, but then she had to think of some other way to save him. She made a little ark and placed him on the Nile River, the river in which other Hebrew children were being drowned. “The daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.” (Ex. 2:5)
Coincidentally, the very people that sought to kill him were the same that actually saved his life. Not only did they save him, they placed him in a position to become the king of Egypt! When Pharaoh sent his soldiers to kill the Israelite boy babies, they killed all except the one they were after.
Then the miracle continued. Without knowing the real identity of the baby, the king’s wife paid the mother of Moses to nurse her own baby! Pharaoh raised the very child he feared and adopted him as a son! The whole story is almost unbelievable, but it shows how the powers of God’s kingdom are greater than the powers of the devil’s kingdom.
Of Moses’ young life, Exodus says only, “When Moses was grown, . . .” and yet 40 years had passed by. Stephen, the Apostle of Christ, said that Moses “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in his words and in  deeds.” (Acts 7:22) Moses received the best training available and learned all about the kingdom of the Egyptians. After all, he was a prince about to become a king.
Moses first became a hero—not because of being a prophet but rather a military general. When the Ethiopian armies came down from the headwaters of the Nile, they found the Egyptians easy prey and took many of their cities. Pharaoh, not knowing what to do, called upon his priests for divine guidance. It is not known if they actually got some inspiration to pick Moses to lead the armies, or if they thought to get rid of him by sending him to battle. Nevertheless, with the priests’ encouragement, Pharaoh allowed Moses to lead the troops. (See The Third Thousand Years, Skousen, pp. 199-201) Moses proved himself to be an excellent tactician in field maneuvers and routed the enemy from behind and overtook many of their cities with “a great slaughter.” Finally at the capital of the Ethiopians it appeared to be the last major battle. But the enemy stood firm inside of their island city with its high walls and the river surrounding and protecting them. Not even Moses knew how to take the city. Then an unusual thing happened. Tharbis, the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians, happened to see Moses as he led the armies, and she fell in love with him. In this Moses saw an opportunity to end the war and to save many lives. The Ethiopians not only delivered up the bride but also their city. Marriages between royalty were common; it was an international insurance policy for the prevention of war between nations.
This was the purpose of the marriage of Prince Moses to Princess Tharbis. God must have approved of the marriage because later when Miriam and Aaron ridiculed Moses “because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married” (Num. 12:1), Miriam was struck with leprosy and Aaron got a  severe reprimand from the Lord. But this great war with the Ethiopians elevated Moses to a national war hero.
Moses came to see “his brethren,” the Hebrew slaves, in Egypt, and observed an Egyptian taskmaster “smiting” one of the Hebrews. Moses weighed the matter, knowing that by challenging an Egyptian he could suffer serious consequences. He also knew that these were God’s chosen people and he ought to defend them. When no other Egyptians were around, he smote him dead and buried him in the sand. The next day two Israelites were fighting between themselves, and when Moses tried to settle the issue, one of them said, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian?” (Ex. 2:14) The news was out and “Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.” Cleon Skousen explained the resulting aftermath:
Among slaves there are always informers who seek special favors from their masters by passing along information of misconduct or insurrection among the ranks. Consequently, it was not long before Pharaoh had heard this whole story. It is easy to imagine the scandal it created in the court of Egypt’s omnipotent ruler. Not only had the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter turned renegade and gone back to his people, but he had dared to kill an Egyptian officer. This could almost be counted an act of treason. It even might have started an insurrection and a strike for freedom by the Egyptian slaves. In the mind of Pharaoh this act of Moses was unforgivable. He caught the full political implication of this whole situation. The priests had been right. The Pharaoh’s royal wrath reached such heights that he forgot all about the mighty deeds of the past which Moses had wrought for Egypt. The Pharaoh angrily ordered his soldiers to hunt Moses down and kill him on sight.
 What would the former crown prince do? Moses was far too well acquainted with the cruel and cunning mind of the Egyptian ruler to take a chance on pleading for mercy or justice. He quickly determined to flee from Egypt and abandon the land of his birth forever. (The Third Thousand Years, Skousen, pp. 206-07)
Moses knew he was to lead the children of Israel; and by killing the Egyptian, he thought the Hebrews would understand that. “He supposed that his brethren understood that God was giving them deliverance by his hand” (Acts. 7:25), but they didn’t understand. Nevertheless, Moses was determined to follow the living God.
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; . . . (Heb. 11:24-26)
Since Moses was willing to give up his chance to be the king of Egypt, God promised that his losses and sacrifice would be stepping stones for something even better. His kingship in Egypt would be traded for kingship in the Kingdom of God.
 Chapter 8
THE MIRACLES OF MOSES
And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. (Mormon 9:19)
The life of Moses is divided into three 40-year periods: the first was as a prince in Egypt and the second as a peasant—semi-retired, raising sheep and tending chickens and kids. The first two chapters of Exodus briefly describe these first two periods. During the third era, things took a dramatic change.
While tending his sheep at the base of the mountain, he saw a bush burning but not being consumed. As he approached, he saw an angel and then heard the voice of God telling him to go back to Egypt and tell the Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go free. He was to tell him that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had sent him.
And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. (Ex. 3:20)
When the children of Israel first came to Egypt, they were about 40 in number, but at the birth of Moses, they were nearly three million. Since these Israelite slaves were very valuable to the king of Egypt, it would be difficult to persuade  him to let them go. It would take a miracle—in fact, several miracles!
A miracle is a supernatural work brought about by divine power for a divine purpose. It is a manifestation from God designed to convey a message easily understood by all who witness it. Forces are operated upon in such a phenomenal way that they defy the regular laws of nature. By transcending the ordinary and performing the miraculous, God reminds us that He was the one who created the universe, established the laws, and still possesses the kingly power to govern it. So Moses set off to see Pharaoh and to show him a miracle or two. His first miracle would be known as the miracle of the serpents.
And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. (Ex. 7:10-12)
Joseph Smith explained these two types of miracles:
The Egyptians were not able to discover the difference between the miracles of Moses and those of the magicians until they came to be tested together; and if Moses had not appeared in their midst, they would unquestionably have thought that the miracles of the magicians were performed through the mighty power of God, for they were great miracles that were performed by them—a supernatural agency was developed, and great power manifested. (TPJS, p. 202)
 There is an important difference between these two types of miracles—a prophet uses divine power while a magician uses trickery. God will use a righteous power to do His work, but the devil uses magic, trickery and imitation.
God does not perform miracles merely for entertainment or as a display of power. God’s miracles through Moses were not specifically for Pharaoh but rather for the benefit of the children of Israel. The Israelites had to be convinced who their real God was. They had been worshipping the Egyptian gods and needed to be converted. Miracles were the best means at that time. They were so powerful that the Israelites could see that the power and miracles of Moses were greater than those of Pharaoh and his priests.
However, it is important to point out that for most conversions, miracles are not necessary. The Prophet Joseph commented:
The same is the case with us also in our administrations, while more frequently there is no manifestation at all, that is visible to the surrounding multitude; this will appear plain when we consult the writings of the Apostles, and notice their proceedings in relation to this matter. Paul, in 1st Cor. 12, says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant;” it is evident from this, that some of them were ignorant in relation to these matters, or they would not need instruction. (TPJS, p. 243)
Previously we have talked about the principle of “theophany” which is a physical, visible or audible manifestation conveying a message or testimony of God and His power. Many of these could be called miracles. Because of the importance of the work God was about to accomplish with the children of Israel, miracles were necessary to convert them. Below are listed 20 miracles that God performed for their benefit:
 1. Miracle of the rod into a snake (Ex. 1:1-5)
- Miracle of the bloody Nile (Ex. 4:9; 7:14-24)
- Miracle of the frogs (Ex. 8:1-6)
- Miracle of the lice (Ex. 8:16-19)
- Miracle of the flies (Ex. 8:20-31)
- Miracle of death to the beasts (Ex. 9:1-7)
- Miracle of boils and blains (Ex. 9:8-11)
- Miracle of the hail storm (Ex. 9:13-25)
- Miracle of the locusts (Ex. 10:1-20)
- Miracle of darkness (Ex. 10:21-29)
- Miracle of death to the firstborn (Ex. 11:29-33)
- Miracle of the cloud and fire (Ex. 13:21-22)
- Miracle of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:21-31)
- Miracle of healing water (Ex. 15:22-27)
- Miracle of the manna (Ex. 16:1-5)
- Miracle of the quails (Ex. 16:8, 11-13)
- Miracle of the smitten rock (Ex. 17:1-9)
- Miracle of Miriam’s leprosy (Num. 12)
- Miracle of the budding rod (Num. 17)
- Miracle of the brazen serpent (Num. 21:4-9)
Miracles are often necessary in the establishment and re-establishment of God’s Kingdom; however, they are not always obvious to mankind. The Prophet Joseph explained:
There is a difference between the Kingdom of God and the fruits and blessings that flow from the kingdom; because there were more miracles, gifts, visions, healings, tongues, etc., in the days of Jesus Christ and His apostles, and on the day of Pentecost, than under John’s administration, it does not prove by any means that John had not the Kingdom of God, any more than it would that a woman had not a milkpan because she had not a pan of milk, for while the pan might be compared to the kingdom, the milk might be compared to the blessings of the kingdom. (TPJS, p. 273)
 Nevertheless, there are many reasons why God uses miracles in His work in building the Kingdom, such as:
- Miracles are outward signs of supernatural power. (Matt. 10:1)
- They strike wonder and deep thought upon the mind. (Matt. 8:27)
- They give evidence of authority from the miracle worker. (I John 2:18)
- They fulfill promises for the gifts of God. (I Cor. 12:4)
- They are created by faith and in turn create more faith. (Matt. 9:20)
- They always attend the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Luke 10:17)
- Their cessation is a sign of apostasy, disbelief and rejection. (Mormon 9:19)
Many times miracles are given to emphasize a message that has already been given. This idea is supported by the Jewish Encyclopedia:
The Sinaitic Theophany. The Sinaitic revelation is related in calm, simple language in Ex. 19:16-25. The manifestation is accompanied by thunder and lightning; there is a fiery flame, reaching to the sky; the loud notes of a trumpet are heard; and the whole mountain smokes and quakes. Out of the midst of the flame and the cloud a voice reveals the Ten Commandments. The account in Deut. 4:11, 12, 33, 36 and 5:4, 19, is practically the same; and in its guarded language it strongly emphasizes the incorporeality of God. Moses in his blessing (Deut. 33:2) points to this revelation as to the source of the special election of Israel, but with this difference: with him the point of departure for the theophany is Mount Sinai and not heaven. (Jewish Enc. 12:137)
This is also supported by the Christian scholar and author, Herbert Lockyer:
 If Bible miracles had been mere wonders, any one would have been a fit witness of their performance. But they were designed to manifest the supremacy of deity and to attract the witnesses to the kingdom of God. (All the Miracles of the Bible, Lockyer, p. 15)
God has created so many miracles there must be good reasons for them—the main one being to testify to the existence and power of God Himself. For example, God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and say:
For I [God] will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. (Ex. 9:14)
Another example is when Nicodemus came to Jesus and admitted, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:2)
The Lord selected a hard-hearted man like Pharaoh through whom He could demonstrate His miracles. If Pharaoh had allowed Moses to take the children of Israel without any dispute, how would anyone have known that their freedom was a result of the power of God? The harder Pharaoh’s heart became, the more miracles were performed; and the more miracles that happened, the more the people were convinced that they were from God. The Lord also testified to this when He told Moses, “Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 11:9) These miracles were also a testament for future generations to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Regarding the story of Pharaoh hardening his heart, there is a mistranslation in the King James Bible. It reads: “I [the Lord] will harden his [Pharaoh’s] heart.” (Ex. 4:21; see  also 7:3; 14:4, 17.) However, in the Inspired Translation by Joseph Smith it reads: “Pharaoh will harden his heart.” Other passages of scripture vindicate Joseph Smith’s correction, i.e., the book of Samuel where it states: “Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts.” (I Sam. 6:6) God does not harden our hearts—we manage to do that all by ourselves.
The gospel of the Kingdom is an affront to many people, especially those who have not lived a worthy life. The more wicked people are, the more resistance they show toward the Kingdom of God. But the choice is nevertheless there for them, as Brigham Young declared:
The Almighty God never did set up His kingdom on the earth, from the days of Adam to the present time, but it always came in contact with all the other societies of the day, no matter who they are. (Des. News, Vol. 1, No. 4, July 6, 1850)
There is great danger for those who refuse to accept the gospel of the Kingdom—especially for those who have seen miracles, have heard prophecies and have had strong testimonies given to them. According to the Prophet Joseph:
Abraham, the prophet of the Lord, was laid upon the iron bedstead for slaughter; and the book of Jasher, which has not been disproved as a bad author, says he was cast into the fire of the Chaldees. Moses, the man of God, who killed an Egyptian persecutor of the children of Israel, was driven from his country and kindred. Elijah had to flee his country, for they sought his life—and he was fed by ravens. Daniel was cast into a den of lions; Micah was fed on the bread of affliction; and Jeremiah was cast into the filthy hole under the Temple; and did these afflictions come upon these prophets of the Lord on account of transgression? No! It was the iron hand of persecution—like the chains of Missouri! And mark—when these old prophets suffered, the vengeance of God, in due time, followed and left the wicked opposers of the Lord’s anointed like Sodom and Gomorrah; like the Egyptians; like Jezebel, who was eaten by dogs; and like all Israel, which were led away captive, till the Lord had spent his fury upon them—even to this day. (TPJS, pp. 260-61)
Pharaoh witnessed more than the miracles of God, before he decided to let Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. With the death of all the firstborn of Egypt, Pharaoh finally realized that the God of Israel had more power over life than the gods of Egypt. But this realization did not last long. When Pharaoh saw all Israel departing into the wilderness, he sent the Egyptians after them, “all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea.” (Ex. 14:9) It looked like the end for Israel, but the Lord said, “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” (Ex. 14:18) The children of Israel went through the sea on dry ground, but when the Egyptian army followed after them, “the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.” (Ex. 14:28) Then “Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians; and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.” (v. 31) It is truly a remarkable battle when everyone on one side is killed and all those on the other side survive. No wonder that the scripture tells us that “The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.” (Ex. 15:3) Of all the powerful miracles of God through Moses, it is interesting to analyze the different purposes for them: (1) The first was the hand of Moses that turned leprous, which was to  convince Moses himself. (2) The second was the snake of Moses that ate the other snakes, which was to convince Pharaoh. (3) The third was all the water and the river turned to blood, as well as the many plagues, which were to convince both the Egyptians and the Israelites. (4) The fourth was the destruction of Pharaoh’s army, which was to convince the rest of the world that God’s Kingdom is superior to all other kingdoms.
The conflict between Moses and Pharaoh was a battle of kingdoms. This remarkable story was passed down to the people of many nations. But it was more than a spectacular tale for children’s storybooks. Within that record there is a significant message from God to all mankind. He wants His children to know that He is their Father and that He cares for them, that he will protect them and lovingly rule over them.
God presides over a beautiful heavenly kingdom, and this world could be governed by the same laws and powers if man would only accept them. However, man has continually rejected the laws of that wonderful kingdom. Nevertheless, God’s scepter will eventually rule over all the other kingdoms in the world.
 Chapter 9
THE BATTLE OF THE SCEPTERS
A sceptre: a staff, a walking stick, a rod with which one is beaten; when applied to kings: with a rod of iron, indicates the severest, most rigorous rule; a royal sceptre. (Strong’s Greek Lexicon, p. 982)
The term scepter is a “symbol of sovereignty” and/or “royal or imperial authority.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary) With this in mind, consider the following passages of scripture:
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; . . . (Gen. 49:10)
. . . there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, . . . (Num. 24:17)
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (Ps. 45:6)
In the New Testament God is described as the only “lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.” (James 4:12)
There are actually only two basic churches and two kingdoms, but within each are many divisions of smaller churches and kingdoms. Those under the influence of the devil exist mainly to oppose, infiltrate and try to overpower the church and kingdom of God. Hence, it takes much study, prayer and diligence to discern the difference between the two. Since the  church of God is religious and the Kingdom of God is political, it requires an effort on both fronts to learn about God’s works. Heber C. Kimball beautifully explained this connection:
It is very easy to understand that a man can see very little of a kingdom unless he goes into it, and a man to see and understand the kingdom of God must first become a member of the Church of Christ, and then he progresses until he has an opportunity of looking into the kingdom, of becoming acquainted with its officers and laws, and hence it is that Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” When the kingdom of God is organized upon the earth, it is done to protect the Church of Christ in its rights and privileges, so that you see the Church makes a government to protect itself, but who knows what that government is? All those to whom it has been revealed, and no others. (JD 10:240-41)
“King” Pharaoh and “King” Moses were at odds with each other for one major reason. Pharaoh wanted to use his scepter of power to increase the benefits he personally would receive; Moses wanted to use his to serve God. It was the old eternal contest for power and control. Both God and the devil had their agents on earth representing their respective kingdoms. Naturally neither one would compromise, so it resulted in a battle of thrones, scepters and kings until only one or the other survived.
Political power attracts men like flies to garbage—not because they want to do good and serve the people, but because they want to gain prosperity, recognition and control. The devil himself desires to rule the nations and to have Jesus give him the Kingdom. Joseph Smith warned: “In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God.” (TPJS, p. 365)
 Many men who are thirsty for political office are correspondingly tempted to do wrong to get them. Briberies, pay-offs, lies and even murders have frequently marked the pathway to political office. When man desires power, money, fame and fortune from public office, he has missed the point that Jesus made: “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matt. 23:11) Very few want a political office so they can become a servant. The world more often has been governed by kingcraft than by kings serving God.
The Jews opposed Jesus, not necessarily because of his religion, but because they feared His power in cleaning out corrupt politicians. The wicked rulers feared Him because they would lose “their place and nation.” (John 11:48) They knew that housecleaning was in order and that they were the filth that should be swept out.
Before the Israelites stood Pharaoh, one of the greatest kings ever known, holding a scepter of power and arrayed in the splendor of lavish robes. His palace was filled with the best that craftsmen and artisans could provide, and His army was the most powerful and well equipped in the world. His kingdom was truly the envy of other nations.
Against this backdrop of magnificence and grandeur stood a meek Moses. This humble man was robed in the most common clothes and his “scepter” was a shepherd’s staff. He had no army or followers at the time, but he delivered a declaration that would result in war: the god of Pharaoh against the god of Moses. It was a war that would be on the minds and lips of generations for the next 3000 years.
 Chapter 10
MISSION TO THE MOUNTAIN
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. (Ex. 3:5)
Thus, the children of Israel came to Mt. Sinai because God wanted to teach them a new way of life. God had made a promise to their forefathers, and now He was going to keep it. He said, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex. 20:2), because of the “covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” (Ex. 2:24) Orson Pratt tells the story of their arrival at the mountain:
When the people of God were encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Lord said unto them, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” (Ex. 19:5, 6, 8) Three days after the people made this covenant, the Lord came down upon the mount in their sight, with thunderings, and lightnings, and with a great sound of a trumpet, and with a cloud, and fire, and thick smoke, while the whole mount trembled and shook to its very centre, under His Almighty power. With a loud voice He uttered in the ears of all Israel the “Ten Commandments.” “And when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we  die.” (Ex. 20:18, 19) (Masterful Discourses of Orson Pratt, p. 158)
This story of Moses going up on the mountain is similar to that of other prophets and inspired men. It seems the greatest manifestations from God have occurred on a mountain, in the desert or in the wilderness. Seldom do we hear of His manifestations occurring in lavish cathedrals, ornate churches or richly decorated palaces.
It appears that a mountain seems to be one of the favorite places for God to visit mankind. There are many scriptures referring to the “mountain of the Lord,” or some spiritual event occurring on a mountain. A few of these include: Gen. 12:9; Ex. 3:1,12; Deut. 5:23; Josh. 14:12; Judges 3:27; Ps. 11:1; Isa. 2:3; Jer. 31:23; Ezek. 11:23; Dan. 2:45; Joel 2:1; Mic. 4:2; Matt. 8:1; Rev. 21:10.
At Mt. Sinai God wanted to speak to the Israelites themselves by the power of the Holy Ghost so they could be prophets to their own families, but they didn’t want that. They wanted someone else to rule over them and they would trust in their arm of flesh. This was a bad mistake, as the Prophet Joseph explained: 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. (TPJS, p. 322)
In other words, they were to receive the Holy Ghost so that the Lord could reveal to them individually what gift, work or mission that would apply to each of them. Certainly three million people could not go to Moses and find out what the Lord wanted them to do. Moses could lead them collectively  but not individually. They could become prophets themselves and yet not be in competition to Moses. (There were many prophets in Jerusalem just before it was destroyed in 70 A.D., and the people were not told to follow just one.)
Israel’s punishment for this bad mistake was to disqualify themselves to receive the higher Priesthood. How could they ever expect to stand in the presence of God without this Priesthood, and how could they get this Priesthood unless they were worthy? They could not qualify if they did not want its blessings and ordinances. The Prophet Joseph continued:
This is why Adam blessed his posterity; he wanted to bring them into the presence of God. They looked for a city, etc., “whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb. 11:10) Moses sought to bring the children of Israel into the presence of God, through the power of the Priesthood, but he could not. (TPJS, p. 159)
If they would have accepted the laws and ordinances of the higher Priesthood, their lives would have been a great deal different. Brigham Young commented on this:
If they had been sanctified and holy, the children of Israel would not have traveled one year with Moses before they would have received their endowments and the Melchizedek Priesthood. But they could not receive them, and never did. Moses left them, and they did not receive the fulness of that Priesthood. After they came to the land of Canaan, they never would have desired a king, had they been holy. The Lord told Moses that he would show himself to the people; but they begged Moses to plead with the Lord not to do so. Moses was angry at the sins of the people and did wrong, insomuch that when the Lord showed himself to him, he hid him in a cleft in a rock, and only let him see his hinder parts. (JD 6:100-101)
 The Israelites could have been the greatest nation in the world within one year after they reached Mt. Sinai. They would have had so much power with God that no other nation would have dared make war with them. The men could have been worthy to stand in the presence of God. But alas! They traveled 40 years and still failed to receive the promises and blessings that God offered to them.
In favorable conditions, what son does not want to be with his father; or what father does not enjoy time with his son? So also God wants to visit with His children.
Another example of this father/son relationship is when Jesus came of age and was about to begin His ministry. According to the King James translators, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Matt. 4:1) However, the Prophet Joseph changed that verse to read, “Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit, into the wilderness, to be with God.” He added in the next verse that Jesus “communed with God.” (v. 2) Jesus had no intention of going into the wilderness just to have a little visit with the devil. Satan makes his own appointments, and usually without prior notice.
Like Jesus, when Moses went into the wilderness to be with God, Satan also came for a visit as an uninvited guest. (See Moses 1:12-22.) Thus, both Jesus and Moses spoke to God and the devil. They experienced visitations from the representatives of both kingdoms and received invitations to join both kingdoms.
God wants to visit us, but our problem is that we never seem to want to visit with Him. In every dispensation, God has extended His invitation to the elect of Israel to visit with Him. Our own dispensation is no different.
 The Prophet Joseph said that “all the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS, p. 181) Hence, every man with that Priesthood can stand in the presence of God. In Moses’ time, there were a few other men besides him who held the high Priesthood and were favored to stand in the presence of God:
Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. (Ex 24:9-11)
How interesting that out of three million children of Israel, there were fewer than 100 who “saw the God of Israel.” How does this compare with the Mormons of today? Out of nearly 11 million members, how many have seen “the God of Israel?”
It is a privilege, and in some instances a duty, for Melchizedek Priesthood holders to “see the God of Israel.” God revealed this to Joseph Smith:
And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; . . . (D & C 84:19-26)
Would God want to be so distant that none of His children would ever get to see Him? Why is a vision from God the Father so impossible for the modern Christians to believe? This was something that Jesus sought for—and prayed for.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:20-24)
Since the children of Israel were not comfortable with the laws, ordinances and blessings of the higher priesthood, they were given the lesser priesthood. All the prophets were disappointed in the weaknesses of this chosen lineage. Dr. Nibley commented on the lesser laws that they were apparently satisfied with:
 . . . it is the rites and ordinances that God gave to Moses and that the people were faithfully observing that Isaiah describes as an exercise in desperate futility. (Old Testament and Related Studies, Nibley, p. 218)
What futility is he referring to? Simply that the children of Israel, as well as the people of today, refuse to qualify themselves to talk to God face to face, or to live the laws of the higher priesthood. If they do not live these laws, they cannot receive the blessings of that priesthood. Living lesser laws and hoping to receive higher blessings is “desperate futility.”
The Lord was provoked to anger with the children of Israel and expressed it very clearly:
And he said unto Moses, thou canst not see my face at this time, lest mine anger be kindled against thee also, and I destroy thee, and thy people; for there shall no man among them see me at this time, and live, for they are exceeding sinful. And no sinful man hath at any time, neither shall there be any sinful man at any time, that shall see my face and live. (Ex. 33:20, I.V.)
God wants to give these great blessings to mankind, but they fail to obey the necessary laws, ordinances and covenants that could warrant them. There have been only a few who have realized this blessing. During the space of a thousand years in the Book of Mormon such an event happened only once, when the Nephites and Lamanites finally decided to stop warring and obey some of the higher laws of the Gospel:
And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord. (4 Nephi 12)
 When the wicked were destroyed, the most righteous were spared. Then the Lord made his appearance and prayed with them. The story is recorded in the Book of Mormon.
And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel.
And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.
And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father.
And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome. (3 Nephi 17:14-18)
These are the fruits of the Kingdom of God, whether here on earth or in heaven. Can anything else be more desirous? This is the object of seeking for the Kingdom.
The same promises made to the children of Israel, to the early Christians and to the Nephites, have also been given to the Latter-day Saints for the Lord has declared:
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice,  and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am. (D & C 93:1)
And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.” (D & C 101:38)
We do not create or arrange for that kind of meeting. The Lord makes all the invitations and appointments, as He has said:
Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will. (D & C 88:68)
The Lord may appear to a man atop a mountain, on a battlefield, in his home or on his deathbed. It is an experience only a few ever seek for or ever realize. But to see the Lord and to hear Him say, “you have a part and place in my Kingdom,” is our greatest reward in the Kingdom of Heaven and should be our primary goal.
 Chapter 11
TABERNACLES, TEMPLES AND COVENANTS
Here is the kingdom of God, and the Saints should understand that, if they abide in this kingdom, they will realize every promise made to them in its ordinances and covenants. (Brigham Young, JD 11:251)
Tabernacles, temples and dedicated buildings have often been built by righteous men as special locations to worship God. In turn, they were intended to be places where God could commune with His people. Such edifices have been constructed under the command of God ever since the days of the children of Israel. In some instances the structure was a lowly, humble tent; on the other hand, King Solomon’s temple became one of the most beautiful, costly and divinely inspired buildings the world had ever seen.
But what has all this to do with the Kingdom of God? Within these sacred designated structures, God can visit His elect children and they can be ordained kings and priests, queens and priestesses, to Him. It is not the price tag that is significant in such buildings; rather it is the fact that God directed their construction and instituted the ordinances and covenants that were to be performed therein to make men and women kings and queens in His Kingdom. Brigham Young explained:
Joseph not only received revelation and commandment to build a Temple, but he received a pattern  also, as did Moses for the Tabernacle, and Solomon for his Temple; for without a pattern, he could not know what was wanting, having never seen one, and not having experienced its use. (JD 2:31)
Man innately desires to commune with God, and God wants to commune with man, but there are certain barriers that first must be overcome. Before approaching any earthly king, several things must be done to qualify a person for such a visit. It is no different in order to have a visit with God. This is the purpose for tabernacles, temples and the covenants that accompany them.
As a temporary temple, the tabernacle was often a tent that contained most of the important items of a temple. Moses indicated that it was a “place of revelation” just as the temple was. (See Ex. 29:42 and Num. 17:4.) Other terms such as “tent of testimony,” “tent of the congregation” and “tent of meeting” indicate what transpired in the tabernacles.
The pattern of the Tabernacle of Moses was revealed to Moses on the mountain. In it was kept the ark of the covenant, the altar of burnt offerings, the laver [brass basin], the table of shewbread, the golden lampstand and the altar of incense. More important was the Holy of Holies, or “the most holy place.” The tabernacle followed Moses for 38 of the 40 years in the wilderness; and when Solomon built his temple, all of the contents of the Tabernacle were transferred into the temple.
God made appearances in both the tabernacle and the temple, but when the people were wicked, He was absent, which proves that cathedrals, tabernacles and temples may be dedicated to God but He may still refuse to recognize them.
 Moses wanted to build a temple for the Israelites, but they were not prepared for the higher ordinances of the Gospel. A portable tabernacle was a substitute for the few who could qualify for the necessary covenants and ordinances of the higher Priesthood. John Taylor clarified:
You cannot teach a child algebra, nor arithmetic until it has gone through a certain system of training. You cannot teach the arts and sciences without necessary preparation for their introduction, nor can you teach people in the government of God without they are placed in communication with him, and hence comes the Church of God, and what is meant by that? A school, if you please, wherein men are taught certain principles, wherein we can receive a certain spirit through obedience to certain ordinances. (JD 21:65)
There were many peculiarities pertaining to the tabernacle. For instance, when “the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, . . . the children of Israel abode in their tents, . . . but when it was taken up, they journeyed.” (Num. 9:22) There was “fire on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” (Ex. 40:38) At times whenever the children of Israel were disobedient, they were warned not to “come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die.” (Num. 18:22)
There were certain ordinances in the tabernacle that were symbolic of things to come. For instance, the Lord said, “Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock” (Ex. 29:10); then they were to kill the ram and pour its blood on the altar. This was to be representative of the sacrifice of their Messiah which was “to make an atonement for your souls.” (Ex. 30:16)
God was willing to manifest Himself in the tabernacle, but the children of Israel had difficulty meeting Him there. At  one time Moses and Aaron went to “the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.” (Num. 20:6) This was one of the many appearances. Once “the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel” (Num. 14:10), and another time “the Lord talked with Moses in the tabernacle.” (Ex. 33:9) However, on another occasion, not even Moses was allowed to enter the tent of the congregation because “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Ex. 40:35)
The children of Israel never proved worthy of a temple during the time of Moses; therefore, they were deprived of the higher Priesthood and its attending temple ordinances. This condition existed “until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.” (I Chron. 6:32) David at first was told to prepare to build a temple, but God could not let him do it because he was a “man of blood.”
Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. (I Chron. 28:2-3)
The temple of Solomon was not just a “show and tell” structure for visitors to admire. It was established to perform essential ordinances that were a part of the plan of salvation and a requirement for exaltation.
The importance of a temple is beyond the calculations of man, or they would seek to build more of them and receive  these higher covenants and ordinances. The Prophet Joseph said, “We calculate to give the Elders of Israel their washings and anointings, and attend to those last and more impressive ordinances, without which we cannot obtain celestial thrones.” (TPJS, p. 362) He then continued to explain further what those blessings are:
There was a proclamation made during the time that the foundation of the Temple was laid to that effect, and there are provisions made until the work is completed, so that men may receive their endowments and be made kings and priests unto the Most High God, having nothing to do with temporal things, but their whole time will be taken up with things pertaining to the house of God. (TPJS, pp. 362-63)
The people of the Jewish nation have no idea of the tremendous loss they suffered by their failure to live for the higher blessings of their great temple. They lost their city [Jerusalem], their nation [Israel], the Priesthood and their sacred temple. The Prophet Joseph described what might have been:
The architectural designs of the Temple at Jerusalem, together with its ornaments and beauty, were given of God. Wisdom to govern the house of Israel was given to Solomon and the Judges of Israel; and if he had always been their king, and they subject to his mandate, and obedient to his laws, they would still have been a great and mighty people—the rulers of the universe, and the wonder of the world. (TPJS, p. 251)
The wicked do not have a place in a sacred temple of God. They are not just those who commit crimes or immoral acts, but are those who have changed, deleted or substituted true ordinances and covenants, thereby leading good people to be deceived by thinking they were participating in divinely  approved ordinances. What a terrible deception to fall upon good people! It would be better if they didn’t have a temple at all than to make ineffective covenants and think they were then qualified for God’s Kingdom. Brigham Young explained:
. . . I want to maintain it [the temple] for the use of the Priesthood: if this cannot be, I would rather not see it built, but go into the mountains and administer there in the ordinances of the holy Priesthood, which is our right and privilege. I would rather do this than to build a Temple for the wicked to trample under their feet. (JD 8:203)
They [the devil and his hosts] want us to yield all these points, transgress the laws God has revealed for the salvation of the world, and change all the ordinances of God’s house, and conform to the dogmas of modern Christianity and to the corruptions of the age.
The Old Testament mentions the word “covenant” 289 times, indicating that it is an important part of man’s relationship with each other and with God. Biblical scholars indicate that a covenant is an alliance, mutual obligation or arrangement. It is simply a contract with an agreement between two or more parties. One example is the “Abrahamic covenant” which was renewed with Isaac and then with Jacob.
Baptism in water by authority of the Aaronic Priesthood is part of a covenant, while baptism of the Spirit by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood is still another. This greater Priesthood is a part of the Abrahamic covenant which leads to salvation and exaltation. (See Abra. 2:9-11 and D & C 86:8-11.) Obedience to this higher Priesthood covenant opens the way to admission into the Kingdom of God.
 Sometimes the term “new and everlasting covenant” is used in connection with this Abrahamic covenant:
For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an ever-lasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God. (D & C 132:4-6)
The Sinai covenant was based on the Aaronic Priesthood, which contained the lesser ordinances without the “oath,” but without that oath, there could be no fulness of the blessings. When men learn to keep “the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood” (D & C 84:39), they are then rewarded with the fulness of Father’s kingdom.
For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. (D & C 84:33-34)
The Jews told Jesus, “We be Abraham’s seed,” which they were, but this did not mean they would receive all the blessings of the Gospel. Jesus replied, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. . . . Ye do the deeds of your father. . . . Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” (See John 9:31-47.) God grants the rights and blessings of the covenant only when our part of  the covenant is obeyed. The Lord compares His covenants to the relationship between a man and wife. Breaking those covenants is the same as a wife who commits adultery or whoredom against her husband. (See Jer. 3:8-9; Hos. 1:2; 3:1.)
Ordinances are covenants which are a vital part of the Gospel. As each ordinance is performed for worthy individuals, a contract takes effect. These covenants connected with ordinances are just as valid as any legal document among men, and they are more important, more beneficial, longer lasting than any contract among men. The Lord has said:
All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity . . . are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (D & C 132:7)
When Jesus gave Peter “the keys of the kingdom,” it was the power and authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood; so whatsoever he would “bind on earth should be bound in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19; 18:18) The Priesthood keys of the Kingdom contain the only power that binds in heaven. All baptisms for the remission of sins and all ordinances to obtain the Holy Ghost are worthless without the Holy Priesthood. The Prophet Joseph said, “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost.” (TPJS, p. 314)
The Kingdom of God has its own powers and authority; all others are man-made and comprise a fraudulent kingdom and a false power.
 The story of the children of ancient Israel is an example for us—not for what they did, but for what they failed to do. In fact, almost every dispensation has failed, either by embracing individual wickedness or a wicked government. We look back on civilizations and can see how they became apostates by becoming traitors and breaking their covenants, but we fail to see that many of us are just as guilty.
There may be many roads leading to Rome, but not into the Kingdom of God. The Prophet Joseph repeatedly declared:
The power, glory and blessings of the Priesthood could not continue with those who received ordination, only as their righteousness continued; for Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice, but not offering it in righteousness, was cursed. It signifies, then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed; otherwise their Priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing. (TPJS, p. 169)
All men who become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ will have to receive the fulness of the ordinances of his kingdom; . . . (TPJS, p. 309)
If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord. (TPJS, p. 308)
It is useless for us to study the history of the Israelites if we do not learn from their experiences and avoid their pitfalls. We are just as prone to follow a bad example as a good one—which is the message of history. We might think how foolish the children of Israel were for rejecting the higher laws of the kingdom, but we have done the same thing ourselves and think that all is well. We have “transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isa. 24:5),  and have not even noticed what we have done. Joseph Fielding Smith commented on this:
We Latter-day Saints have received the restored gospel and have made covenant with the Lord that we will serve Him and accept Him as the God of this land. Nevertheless, I want to call your attention to the fact that the ways of the world have crept in among us and are becoming established in the midst of the people of Zion. Right here in this city [Salt Lake City], which at one time was indeed a city of the saints, but is that no longer, can be found all manner of abomination and iniquity. The ideas, theories, the fashions and ungodliness of the world, their sins and evil practices are to be found within the borders of our cities. (Doc. of Sal. 3:292)
There are both blessings and cursings involved in temple work. If the ordinances are carried out with exactness, then the blessings will be fulfilled exactly as promised. If, on the other hand, we make any deviations, the end result will not be the same. For instance, if you aim a rifle at an object 200 yards away but move the end of the barrel only a fraction of an inch, you will miss the target by several feet. If you move a laser beam a few inches off the target of the moon, you will miss the moon by hundreds of miles. Thus, if you change temple ordinances very slightly, you will miss the blessings completely.
If you exchange your horse for a cow, you might get milk, but your riding days are over. By changing ordinances, God’s promises of gaining the Celestial Kingdom are no longer effective. One may ask, how many changes in the laws, ordinances and covenants can be made before they are no longer recognized by God?
- John de Campenhout, a Christian theological scholar, recently made an extensive study of LDS temple work. He was  fascinated by it because he saw such close similarities to the ancient temple ordinances, including baptism for the dead. However, he was alarmed to learn that Mormons had also changed the ordinances.
It became clear that many revisions had been made to it [the temple ceremony] over the years. . . . As a consequence of these changes, most of which consist of deletions, the contemporary ritual bears only a skeletal resemblance to that given at Nauvoo. These changes are so drastic that one could conclude that the very purpose of the endowment has been defeated and invalidated. (“The Mormon Temple Endowment,” p. 23)
How could someone outside of the LDS Church recognize this fact, and yet so many millions of Mormons have not?
Changing religious rites and ceremonies has been a common occurrence in both ancient and modern temple ordinances. Benjamin F. Johnson, a Nauvoo Mason and Mormon, observed:
Freemasonry as at present, was the apostate endowment, as sectarian religion was the apostate religion. (quoted in “Similarity of Priesthood and Masonry,” M. W. Homer, Dialogue 27, No. 3, p. 28)
It is difficult to visualize the regret a person will experience when he discovers that a terrible mistake has resulted from seemingly small changes and errors. Suppose a man buys an expensive ticket for a very special ball game, but when he arrives, he learns his ticket is a counterfeit. His time, efforts, money and hopes are completely worthless.
 Think of the torment of mind that both King David and King Solomon suffered when they realized they had lost their temple, priesthood and theocratic kingdom! Solomon had allowed his many foreign wives to enter the temple and with them came their pagan ideas. It was not long until the temple had been corrupted and promises of the Kingdom were lost. So also, if we in the latter days change the ordinances and covenants, won’t that change our inheritance in the Kingdom?
There is not much difference between changing ordinances so they don’t have to be lived and maintaining them but refusing to live them.
At the time of Moses there were only a few souls who received the blessings of the higher Priesthood. Also, at the time of Christ there were very few who accepted them. The same condition exists in our own dispensation. However, we have a promise that the Priesthood will not be entirely taken from the earth. God will come out of His hiding place to set His house in order.
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when 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 when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be  to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Heb. 9:6-11)
 Chapter 12
MARRIAGE AND MORALS IN THE KINGDOM
When the Gospel of the Son of God is introduced among the children of men, it comes with light and intelligence, with pure and holy principles. It embraces all morality, all virtue, all light, all intelligence, all greatness, and all goodness. (Brigham Young, JD 11:235)
Spiritual laws, like mathematical, scientific and chemical laws, do not change with time, conditions or the whims of men. There are subsequent blessings for obedience and punishments for disobedience.
The Apostle Paul said that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” (Gal. 3:24) Jesus also made it very clear when He said man shall live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4) That schoolmaster still continues.
Moral laws are just as eternal, everlasting and unchange-able as any other laws of God. Moses, considered to be a great lawgiver, delivered to the Israelites a myriad of laws and commandments covering every conceivable phase of morality; for example:
Marriage to Canaanites Deut. 7:3
Mothers to sons Lev. 18:7
Men to daughters Lev. 18:7
 Men to aunts Ex. 6:20, Num. 26:59
Sisters and brothers Lev. 20:17-21
Priests to harlots Lev. 21:7
Priests to divorced women Lev. 21:7
Captured women as wives Num. 31:17-18
Woman to two husbands Deut. 22:22
Priests to widows Lev. 21:13
To a raped girl Deut. 22:29
Marriage within tribes Ex. 34:11-16
Military marriage exemptions Deut. 20:7; 24:5
Dowries Ex. 22:16
Firstborn Ex. 13:15
Widows in a family Lev. 22:13
Proof of virginity Deut. 22:13-21
Carnal slave girls Lev. 19:20
Privy member cut off Deut. 23:1
Betrothal promises Deut. 20:7
Brothers-in-law Deut. 25:7-10
Family property Deut. 21:17
Widows welfare Deut. 10:18
Adultery Lev. 20:10
Circumcision Ex. 12:48-49
Men’s wounded stones Deut. 23:1
Lying with beasts Lev. 18:23
Lying about virginity Deut. 22:20-21
Midwives Ex. 1:16
Whoredom Lev. 20:4-5
Nakedness Lev. 20:17
Rape Deut. 22:25
Fornication Deut. 22:23-24
etc., etc., etc.
Some of the chief concerns of today’s Christians involve marriage laws. Most of our laws today are based on Roman law rather than Mosaic. Because of misunderstandings, many of  the laws God gave to Moses are considered archaic; but Jesus explained, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17) Yet, the Christians today think He did away with many of the laws of Moses, and they choose to disregard the dead prophets.
One of the marriage laws of Abraham and Moses has caused Americans and even Mormons considerable confusion and controversy. This was the issue of having more than one wife. With all of these laws of morality and marriage, certainly God and Moses must have said something on the matter of plural marriage. Moses gave us over 35 laws pertaining to sex and marriage, plus some that supported the doctrine of plural marriage, such as:
- If he takes another wife, she must have the same amount of food, raiment, and duties the same as the first wife. (Ex. 21:10)
- The rights of both wives and sons must be the same. (Deut. 21:16)
- If a man has two wives, one liked and the other not so well liked, he must acknowledge the inheritances of the firstborn son even if it is the second wife’s son. (Deut. 21:17)
- If a man takes a plural wife as a captive and later finds she is not compatible, he cannot sell her, and she is free to leave. (Deut. 21:14)
- If a man lay with a virgin woman, he shall not put her away all the days of his life. This applied to single, married or plural married men. (Deut. 22:29; Ex. 22:16) See Jacob with Leah, Gen. 29:23-25.)
- If a man should die, his brother should take her as a wife, even if he is married. (Deut. 25:5-10)
- If a man takes captive a beautiful woman, he can bring  her “home to thine house” and she can become his wife, even if he has a wife. (Deut. 21:10-13)
- When men go to war, “all the women and children” they capture they may “keep alive for yourselves.” (Num. 31:17-18) Nearly every soldier was a married man. (See also Deut. 20:10)
- If a woman had intercourse with different men, she was considered an adulteress and the child born was a bastard (Deut. 23:2), but nowhere was a child born of a woman in plural marriage considered the same.
- Marriage between national leaders was a bond connecting their political peace agreements and their kings. (Num. 12:1)
If God did not want His people to live plural marriage, He made a pitiful attempt to stop it. If He objected to plural marriage, He never would have instituted such laws as these to encourage it.
People have a tendency to “follow the crowd;” whatever is socially popular will draw people to it, for who wants to be different and unpopular? There are some, however, who know what is right and will oppose incorrect customs even though they are popular. Brigham Young commented on this:
Oh! what a great sorrow it is to be a Saint. How mournful the thought, when we contemplate the contrast between the Saint and the sinner? We have ease for pain, comfortable health for sickness, joy for mourning and light for darkness. “This is all very good,” says one, “but your religion is so unpopular in the world.” There is not another religion so popular as this in the courts of heaven. Without the garb of a Saint you cannot be admitted to the presence of the Father, and to Jesus, the Mediator between God and man. No religion is popular there but the religion of the Bible. Episcopalianism, Methodism, Quakerism,  Catholicism, Presbyterianism, and all their collateral branches are unpopular in the celestial kingdom of God, while the religion of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs and prophets, Jesus and His Apostles, is the only acknowledged and popular system of religion with the sanctified ones in the presence of the Father and the Son. “But,” says a Presbyterian, “Abraham was a polygamist.” He was. “And you say that his religion is popular in heaven.” It is the only religion acknowledged there. I have not time now to dwell upon all the points of Abraham’s faith, but he did believe in a plurality of wives, and was a practical polygamist. And Paul says, “and if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Did Abraham believe in Presbyterianism? Not much. Did he believe in Quakerism? Not much. Each of the different sects of religion has some truth, and so far as they have the truth, so far did Abraham believe. But is the religion of any one of the sects, as a whole, the religion of heaven? It is not. We all desire to join the popular party. Light, truth, and intelligence are the side that is popular with the heavens, and the side that will rule, govern and control the nations. If we join that society, we then all become popular with the popular party. (JD 9:319-20)
Jesus made an interesting, but controversial, statement about those who were in the Kingdom. Said He:
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 8:11-12)
How can many come and be worthy to sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and yet “the children of the kingdom be cast out?” Shouldn’t it be the other way around? What did the others do that the children of the kingdom failed to do? Maybe the answer can be found in more recent scriptures:
 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. But if he enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham. God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. (D & C 132:32-34)
Thus, if we obey the law, we receive the promises; if we disobey the law, we cannot receive the promises made to Abraham—and we shall be “cast out.”
These were the laws of God. Marriage laws in the days of Abraham were the same as in the days of Moses. They were also the same in the days of Jesus Christ, and they should be the same in the days of Bill Clinton, whether or not he agrees. (But he wouldn’t agree because his lifestyle would have condemned him to be stoned to death.)
These laws of morality remain unchangeable and eternal, even though marriage laws of man often change. Marriage laws may vary in Germany, England, Arabia, USA, etc. And even within the same country they may vary, i.e., a marriage law in the United States may be legal in 1846 but change in 1862. However, God’s laws remain constant even though the laws of man are fickle and continually changing.
The laws of God’s Kingdom are the same today as they were 2000 years ago or even 6000 years ago. They were the same throughout the universe billions of years ago, and they will be the same for billions of years to come. The Kingdom of God and its laws, ordinances and covenants are constant because God is unchangeable. If He were not, He would cease to be God.
 Chapter 13
COMMANDMENTS OF THE KINGDOM
If Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and 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. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 253)
God has made many attempts to prepare His children to enter into His presence, both in mortality and immortality. He could accomplish this only by giving them guidelines in the form of principles, ordinances and laws. The Prophet Joseph Smith commented: Here, then, we have this part of our subject immediately before us for consideration: God has in reserve a time, or period appointed in His own bosom, when He will bring all His subjects, who have obeyed His voice and kept His commandments, into His celestial rest. This rest is of such perfection and glory, that man has need of a preparation before he can, according to the laws of that kingdom, enter it and enjoy its blessings. This being the fact, God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest. This, then, we conclude, was the purpose of God in giving His laws to us: if not, why, or for what were they given? (TPJS, p. 54)
As we previously remarked, all well established and properly organized governments have certain fixed and prominent laws for the regulation and management of the same. If man has grown to wisdom and is  capable of discerning the propriety of laws to govern nations, what less can be expected from the Ruler and Upholder of the universe? Can we suppose that He has a kingdom without laws? (TPJS, p. 55)
Men should learn to keep God’s laws and commandments, not out of fear but out of a desire to obey Him. When we are permitted to see the difference between those who keep them and those who break them, it should be even easier for us to honor and obey His commandments. The Lord said, “If you keep not my commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall walk in darkness.” (D & C 95:12) Naturally, most of our crimes and community problems are the results of not keeping His commandments.
Without law there is chaos. Therefore, in every good society law and order are inseparable twins. God gives three important sets of laws to His people to help them become kings and priests, queens and priestesses.
- Moral Law. Without morality you have a society of reprehensible, immoral people—a society where wickedness is predominant. Personal gain, without conscience, is the result of having no moral law.
- Civil Law. Society cannot long exist without government. Thus civil laws are established for the protection of society against enemies, foreign or domestic, who could otherwise be the means of destroying such a society.
- Religious Law. Religious laws govern people individually according to their conscience. These laws may be chosen as part of a religious organization or they may not. The individual determines his destiny with the god of his own choice. There are many different spiritual  laws, obedience to which determines the degree of glory one will inherit in God’s kingdom.
For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. (D & C 88:22-24)
The priestly laws were doctrinal, ritualistic and incorporated with ordinances. The governmental laws were civil, political and juristic. Both religious and civil laws rested upon the moral law.
The laws given to Moses in the Old Testament and those expounded by Christ in the New Testament were based on morality and freedom. It is through obedience or disobedience to these laws that men receive blessings or cursings—exaltation or damnation.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. . . . (Matt. 5:19)
The scriptures tell us that “where no law is, there is no transgression.” (Rom. 4:15) Conversely, where there is a law, there can be transgression. The law identifies both the sin and the sinner. This means that those who have received the law have the responsibility to obey and preserve it.
Those who decide that man’s government is superior to God’s government place themselves as judges over God and his Kingdom. Can a child dictate over his parents? Could a slave command his master?
 The Kingdom laws are programmed for the elimination of sin because sin causes many adverse effects. This is elaborated in the works of Rev. George Peters who wrote about the results of sin:
The enumeration of the most weighty [effects of sin] are the following: (1) The loss of moral purity; (2) The entailment of physical degeneracy; (3) Subjection to toil, disease, death, and corruption; (4) The withdrawal of the personal presence of God; (5) Divine intercommunication with angelic beings removed; (6) The infliction of a curse upon creation; (7) A struggle for life and its blessings under uniform natural law, i.e., the special provision of Eden under the super-natural no longer afforded; (8) The loss of Eden itself; (9) The non-perpetuation of the race in a state of innocency and purity; (10) The non-erection of a perfect government because of resultant depravity. These are the sad fruits of sin, impressed by the consciousness of guilt. (The Theocratic Kingdom, Peters, Vol. I:106)
The laws of government given to Moses have had an impact on most governments of the world. Jews, Moslems and Christians still honor many of those laws. Franklin D. Richards stated:
The great legal apostle, Blackstone, has plainly stated, and every lawyer knows, that human laws and governments are professedly derived from, and founded upon the revealed law of God, which he gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, . . . (JD 20:315)
The importance of those laws to Israel cannot be over-emphasized, and their application has proved to be worthy of our notice. Biblical scholar, Bernard Schneider, wrote:
Thirty-five hundred years ago a host of escaped slaves numbering several million came out of Egypt and spilled over into the Sinai wilderness. These people  were for the most part illiterate and weakened in character through generations of slavery in Egypt. They had no literature, scripture, or code of law of their own. A few months later they possessed the most perfect code of law ever known to man. This code of law is absolutely fair to all alike and so completely in harmony with all fundamental righteousness that it still serves the modern world as the basis of all law and order. No man or group of men has ever been able to improve upon this law. Yet, for all its perfection, this code is contained in ten short commandments which declare both the moral and spiritual duties of man. All this makes the Ten Commandments one of the greatest miracles of all time which can only be explained by the recognition of God as the author. (Deuteronomy, A Favored Book of Jesus, Schneider, p. 39)
Moses agreed with this viewpoint:
And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deut. 4:8)
The foundation of God’s law is the Ten Commandments. All the prophets, including the Savior Himself, point to these commandments as the law which all men must obey. They have been repeated five times in scripture: Ex. 20:17, Deut. 5:6-21, Luke 18:18-20, Mosiah 13:12-25, and D & C 42:18-19, 54-57, 79-93. They are unchangeable laws, and no one is to “add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” (Deut. 4:2) Peter also mentioned their eternal nature: “. . . the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (I Peter 1:23)
The Lord said that “these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart” (Deut. 6:6), and again, “thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of  them . . . and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand . . . and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house.” (Deut. 6:7-9; 20:25) To this He added a warning: “Beware lest thou forget the Lord.” (Deut. 6:12)
In a cloud of darkness, with flashing lightning, fiery smoke and roaring thunder, God revealed these laws in a manner that has never been duplicated. They were set in stone never to be changed. They were the laws that, if obeyed, could make the children of Israel a holy nation.
When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai the second time, he carried two stone tablets inscribed with these laws—one of the first times in history that the world had laws for governing both a nation and an individual. Most rulers make laws to benefit themselves and to punish people according to their wishes.
Although the Ten Commandments were basic laws, they were really part of a set of higher laws. Never had such laws been given so simply yet so comprehensively—covering morality, worship and justice. They applied to leaders (i.e., Moses himself) as well as to the weakest of the children of Israel.
The Ten Commandments were given to the children of Israel three months after they left Egypt and three days after reaching Mt. Sinai. They were inscribed on both sides of two stone tablets. What an amazing archaeological prize if they could be found today!
 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
- Thou shalt not have any other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
- Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
- Honor thy father and mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness.
- Thou shalt not covet.
 All the commandments, except for the fourth and fifth, are negative (i.e., “Thou shalt not . . .”). Two (Nos. 2 and 3) are reinforced by warnings, and one (no. 5) by promise. The first four pertain to our duty to God, and the last six relate to our duty to mankind. These commandments also differ from all others given by Moses:
- They came about in the most dramatic manner possible.
- The first set was written by God Himself. (Ex. 31:18)
- The second set was written by Moses as dictated by God. (Ex. 34:27-28)
- They were inscribed on stone.
- They were the most comprehensive and general of all laws.
- Nothing was ever added to or omitted from them.
They also greatly differ in length from our laws of today, inasmuch as an elephant wouldn’t be able to carry all our contemporary legal laws and statutes.
These Ten Commandments continue to be the basis and foundation for the laws of the Kingdom of God.
The children of Israel were instructed to write the law down and memorize it. Moses left instructions for the priests and elders of Israel that they should gather the people together every seven years so they could hear the high priest read the laws to them—so they might hear, and learn, and fear the Lord, and “observe to do all the words of this law.” (See Deut. 31:10-12.) The higher and lower laws pertain to the higher and lower Priesthoods. The laws that Moses first tried to bring down from Mt. Sinai were those of the Melchizedek Priesthood, but since the people were not worthy of them,  those tablets were destroyed, and the children of Israel were given the laws of the Aaronic Priesthood.
Like sides of a coin, laws consist of two elements: for obedience to righteous laws, there are blessings; for disobedience, there are punishments. When Moses came down from the mountain the first time, he broke that first set of tablets and later was told by God to go back for another set of commandments. From the Inspired Translation of the Bible by Joseph Smith, we learn the difference between these two sets of laws:
And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two other tables of stone, like unto the first, and I will write upon them also, the words of the law, according as they were written at the first on the tables which thou brakest; but it shall not be according to the first, for I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof, shall not go before them; for my presence shall not go up in their midst, lest I destroy them.
But I will give unto them the law as at the first, but it shall be after the law of a carnal commandment; for I have sworn in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my presence, into my rest, in the days of their pilgrimage. (Ex. 34:1-2, I.V.)
Some Biblical scholars also acknowledge this:
Moses however, shattered the tablets on discovering his peoples’ lapse into idolatry; but God reaffirmed the covenant, giving Moses further subsidiary laws to record and inscribing again the Ten Commandments himself on two fresh tablets prepared by Moses. (Zondervan Enc. of Bible, 5:672)
The Prophet Joseph stated, “The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a  nation.” (TPJS, p. 323) It was not given to the nation of Israel, but it was given to some of the individuals—both the higher laws and the higher priesthood. Again, Joseph Smith said, “That portion [of Melchizedek Priesthood] which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained.” (TPJS, pp. 180-81) These two priesthoods are defined in the Doctrine and Covenants:
The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments. (D & C 107:18-20)
Paul explained one reason why people cannot accept the Gospel, let alone the higher laws:
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Heb. 4:2)
God’s continual attempts to give higher laws to the children of Israel have been works in futility. If there is anything that can be learned from that sad history, it is to make sure that this does not happen to us—as individuals.
 Chapter 14
THE WAYWARD WORLDLY WANDERERS
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
For thousands of years the children of Israel have been the brunt of many condemnations: modern ministers relate their failings; scholars expose their weaknesses; Moses condemned them; and even God has scourged them.
Perhaps we have been too hard on those people. After all, they were violently uprooted from a life in Egypt that seemed normal to them. They enjoyed their family and homes; they were protected from their enemies; they had enough to eat; they didn’t even have any conflict over religion because they worshipped the same god as the Egyptians.
Then Moses came along and things seemed to get much worse. They were driven into the desert and wilderness; they suffered from the lack of food, water and meat; snakes, insects and plagues were prevalent; enemies and armies killed them by the thousands; and they wandered all over the country with no permanent home. On top of all this they were instructed to worship a God they had previously known nothing about!
But God had made a covenant with their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that he would save their children. The children of father Jacob did not come into this world to be  slaves; they were meant to have the Gospel and be saved in God’s Kingdom.
God gives us experiences to enable us to build our faith in mortality. It is not always easy, or fun, or fair. Often the “bad guys” seem to have the best of everything and the “good guys” struggle to get anything. God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45)
Many times the will of the Lord is not easy to understand or easy to endure. We may have to experience a “Gethsemane” or even a “Calvary,” but if we do not comprehend these things spiritually, we will never understand God’s dealings with us. We need to remember that He knows the end from the beginning and what will give us opportunities for the most growth and development. Even the Prophet Joseph did not understand the reasons for some of God’s dealings with the Saints:
Now, there are two things of which I am ignorant: and the Lord will not show them unto me, perhaps for a wise purpose in Himself—I mean in some respects—and they are these: Why God has suffered so great a calamity to come upon Zion, and what the great moving cause of this great affliction is; and by what means the He will return her back to her inheritance, . . .
When I contemplate upon all things that have been manifested, I am aware that I ought not to murmur, and do not murmur, only in this, that those who are innocent are compelled to suffer for the iniquities of the guilty; and I cannot account for this….
. . . it is with difficulty that I can restrain my feelings when I know that you, my brethren, with whom I have had so many happy hours—sitting, as it were, in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and also, having the witness which I feel, and ever have felt, of the purity of your motives—are cast out, and are as strangers and  pilgrims on the earth, exposed to hunger, cold, nakedness, peril, sword—I say when I contemplate this, it is with difficulty that I can keep from complaining and murmuring against this dispensation; but I am sensible that this is not right, and may God grant that notwithstanding your great afflictions and sufferings, there may not anything separate us from the love of Christ. (TPJS, pp. 34-35)
Perhaps some answers can be found in the life of Jesus. Here was a man who suffered indignity, persecution, opposition, pain and even crucifixion. He was a person in whom no sin could be found. He continually did the will of the Father. So why did His Father allow Him to go through such misery? The answer is obvious.
In more recent times, Brigham Young endured many trials and difficulties. In his efforts to understand the reasons why, he concluded:
Joseph could not have been perfected, though he had lived a thousand years, if he had received no persecution. If he had lived a thousand years, and led this people, and preached the Gospel without persecution, he would not have been perfected as well as he was at the age of thirty-nine years. You may calculate when this people are called to go through scenes of affliction and suffering, are driven from their homes and cast down, and scattered, and smitten, and peeled, the Almighty is rolling on His work with greater rapidity. But let you and me live and die in peace, and in our lives we send the Gospel to the nations, from kingdom to kingdom, and from people to people, will it advance with the same speed if it receive no persecution? If we had received no persecution in Nauvoo, would the gospel have spread as it now has? Would the Elders have been scattered so widely as they now are, preaching the Gospel? No, they would have been wedded to their farms, and the precious seed of the word would have been choked. (JD 2:7-8)
 Such explanations were difficult for the children of Israel to understand. To suffer, to endure or to sacrifice do not necessarily imply wrongdoing, nor do temporal pleasures, worldly goods and great wealth always indicate righteous living. But the children of Israel had difficulty making these distinctions. There is an old adage that says that one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure—it’s a matter of perspective. Jesus pointed out the importance of determining correct values. Compare the following two passages:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matt. 13:45-46)
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matt. 7:6)
In these examples, one person sold all he had to obtain a valuable pearl, while another might consider it worthless and throw it away. Such has been the unappreciated value of the Kingdom of God. While nothing is of greater value than eternal life in God’s Kingdom, it has nevertheless had world-wide rejection. Instead of being willing to give everything they have to obtain the Kingdom, the children of Israel treated it like swine would treat pearls.
Moses gave a beautiful speech to the Israelites toward the end of their travels, and he reminded them of the Lord’s special regard for Israel:
Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he showed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt; To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. (Deut. 4:33-39)
But unfortunately, the Israelites never got the message because they marched to the beat of another drummer and danced to the tune of another piper.
To illustrate the complaints by the Israelites it is recorded:
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, . . . (Ex. 16:2-3)
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? They be almost ready to stone me. (Ex. 17:3-4)
The complaints got so bad that at one time a conspiracy was instigated against Moses by Korah and three other men. They rallied about 250 “princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown” (Num. 16:2), because they thought Moses and Aaron had taken too much authority upon themselves.
Moses responded to them: “. . . tomorrow the Lord will shew who are his, and who is holy; . . .” (Num. 16:5) Then in a mild rebuke, he told Korah, “ye take too much upon you.”
The next day was the big contest. Moses told Korah and his company to light censers and make an offering to see whose offering was accepted. Moses said to the congregation, “Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, . . . then the Lord hath not sent me.” (Num. 16:28-29) After Moses had spoken, the earth opened up and the multitude heard the cries of Korah and his group as they fell into the chasm. The 250 princes of Israel were caught up in a consuming fire sent by the Lord. Eleazar, son of Aaron, was instructed to make broad plates and use them to cover the altar as a memorial of the fate of those who rebel against God’s word.
It would seem that with such a manifestation of power from God that the Israelites would repent and be willing to do what the Lord wanted. Not so. The very next day they  complained again to Moses: “Ye have killed the people of the Lord.” (Num. 16:41) This was enough to cause the Lord to send a plague on them. “Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.” (Num. 16:49)
Seven nations rose up against the Israelites, and in every instance the Israelites won the battle because the Lord protected them.
Israel began a journey that took 40 years and they ended up in the same area where they had begun. Ironically the journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea is about 11 days’ journey on foot; yet it took them 40 years! Their failure to enter the promised land was attributed to: (1) the sin of rebellion (Deut. 1:19-26), (2) unbelief (Deut. 27-33), (3) presumed authority (Deut. 1:41-46), and (4) provoking the Lord (Deut. 1:34-40; 2:14-15).
For the latter part of this 40 years Moses had a relatively boring, nomadic and uneventful life. The camp of Israelites had moved 32 times, had brought curses upon themselves, and had suffered the loss of an average of 16,000 people a year. In the following three quotations, Brigham Young explains what would have happened to the Israelites if they had obeyed the Lord and kept His commandments:
Again, at the time the children of Israel left Egypt if they had then received the Gospel Moses had for them, the kingdom would then have been given to them, and it never would have been broken up, and the house of Israel never would have been smitten and scattered to become bondsmen among the nations. If the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, previous to the Egyptian bondage, had been faithful, they would have received the keys and power of the kingdom,  and would never have gone into Egypt to suffer four hundred years in bondage, but they by their wickedness rejected the kingdom. (JD 9:311)
When the Gospel which was preached by Jesus and His Apostles was preached to the children of Israel by Moses, it created the same effect among them. When he taught them to forsake their sins, to forsake every evil principle and practice of their lives, and turn to the Lord with all their hearts, it created such a division that Moses could not establish the Gospel among them, after all the kindness the Lord had shown towards them, though he brought them out of Egypt with a high hand, dividing the sea, causing the water to gush out of the dry rock to quench their thirst, manna to fall from heaven to satisfy their hunger, and quails to satisfy their desire for flesh. He also ordained that their clothing should not wax old, nor their shoes to wear out for the space of forty years. They did not have to plough, to reap, or gather into barns, as we do. Notwithstanding this manifestation of goodness of their God, he could not establish the Gospel among them, and was obliged to give them a law of carnal commandments. Why did not the Lord destroy them, seeing they were so very wicked? He did; and out of all who left Egypt, only two went into the land of Canaan—Joshua and Caleb. (JD 1:235)
Moses tried to give the children of Israel the law of the Gospel, but they would not receive it. The Gospel was revealed in those days, as much so as in the days of Christ and His Apostles. They had the Melchizedek Priesthood, and were entitled to all the promises and blessings then as in the days of the Apostles. (JD 9:322)
Thus, a new crop of Israelites grew up who had never seen the miracles of God, nor heard His voice, nor did they regard the laws of the Gospel. They were no better than their parents, and so the Lord put a curse on them:
And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. (Deut. 28:64)
Here is how it happened: After the death of Solomon (975 B.C.) the kingdom became divided. The tribe of Judah and part of Benjamin followed Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, and became known as the Kingdom of Judah. The rest of the Israelites followed Jeroboam and were known as the kingdom of Israel, sometimes called the Kingdom of Ephraim, which was their most prominent tribe.
King Shalmaneser V of Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and drove the tribes out of the land of Palestine and took them to Assyria. Here they were kept in captivity as slaves. Over a long period of time most of them gradually infiltrated into the north countries and intermixed with those nations. Their identity as a body or nation was thus destroyed and their nation became “lost.”
Nebuchadnezzar over-ran Jerusalem and took the Kingdom of Judah into Babylonia. About 70 years later, under Cyrus the Persian, they were permitted to return and build a temple in Jerusalem. It was to these remnants of Judah and Benjamin that Christ was ministering while in mortality.
But during the revolutions of the Maccabees in 165-142 B.C., they fell into the rule of the Herodian dynasty of the Romans. This was the darkest era for the Judeans, and their subjugation and dispersion were initiated by the Roman Tenth Legion in 73 A.D.
The children of Israel had traded the Kingdom of God for the kingdoms of the world. It was another historical exchange of an inheritance for a mess of pottage.
 The destiny of the house of Israel was prophesied by Isaiah and Ezekiel:
The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. (Isa. 11:13)
And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezek. 37:22-23)
Judah would have a chance at the coming of the Messiah in the meridian of time. Ephraim would have another chance in the last days.
Among the final words of the Old Testament are—”Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” (Mal. 4:4)
 Chapter 15
JOHN’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE KINGDOM
In those days came John the Baptist . . . saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 3:1,2)
From the time of King David, to the time of Christ, one thousand years had passed. The plight of Israel and the demise of the theocratic Kingdom of David had both been a disastrous tale of woe. The tribes of Israel had suffered divisions, captivity, bondage and dispersions. What a terrible scenario for God’s people.
The theocratic Kingdom of David was the Kingdom of God, but with the personal failure of David and the weaknesses of the Israelite people, that Kingdom was doomed. It remained in its fallen condition for another millennium. Once the pride and glory of Israel, the house of Judah gradually returned to Jerusalem with only a hope for the restoration of the Theocratic Kingdom.
The Jews were diligent in their tithes, temple sacrifices, keeping the Sabbath and obeying other rites and rituals of the Aaronic Priesthood. They lived in humiliation because their Kingdom had been replaced by the kingdom of the Romans.
The great hope for the restoration of their Kingdom included the return of their Messiah, and their hope was not in vain. Once again the heavens were opened. Once again they  heard the voice of angels and the voice of their Lord. The first voice they heard was from an angel named Gabriel, whom Joseph Smith identified as Noah: “Then to Noah, who is Gabriel: he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood.” (TPJS, p. 157) Gabriel appeared in the temple to a priest named Zacharias.
How ironic that Noah, who witnessed the baptism of the world, would now introduce the man who would baptize Israel into the Kingdom, and also baptize the Savior of the world.
The missions of John the Baptist and Noah were similar in that each would save the righteous by water and baptism, each would preach and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, and in some respects each had a dispensation (though John’s was not considered as major as Noah’s). (See CHC 2:364.) No wonder it was Noah who introduced John the Baptist to the world.
The Kingdom of God and its members have always met with opposition from the kingdoms of the world. Both John and Jesus had death sentences on their heads while they were still babies. Jesus had to be taken to Egypt and John into the mountains. To save his wicked kingdom, Herod, like Pharaoh, had ordered the deaths of all babies under two years of age. The clash of kingdoms continued.
John was ordained when only eight days old, as he had a special mission to perform:
For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power. (D & C 84:28)
 Notice that it was not the Roman government that had to be overthrown. First, it was the governing powers of the Jews! The greatest threat to Christ and the Kingdom of God was from among His own people. They were so evil that the cleansing first had to begin at the house of God.
Among the reasons for rejecting Christ and the Gospel were the love of money, the praise of man, and the desire for the uppermost seats. The Jews feared that Jesus would take away their place and their nation. Humility had no place in the people whom Jesus called “blind guides, hypocrites, full of extortion and excess, serpents and vipers,” etc. (See Matt. 23.) Nephi was referring to the Jews when he said, “There is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10:3)
Jesus said they had innocent blood on their hands because they were guilty of “the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” (Matt. 23:35) This was the man that an angel had spoken to, declaring that he would bear the son who would introduce the Messiah. They once believed Zacharias’s testimony of John and later even admitted that they knew that Jesus was sent of God. (See John 3:2.) The killing of Zacharias was the result of an edict given by Herod because the high priest “refused to disclose” the hiding place of John; so the Jews carried out the order for execution. (See TPJS, p. 261.)
So why was John’s message so important that it was the reason for an angel’s visitation, a death threat from the king of the Romans, the death of his father, and his own eventual death—causing the Jews to become murderers? His primary message was, “The kingdom of God is at hand!” (Mark 1:15)
 When John the Baptist came out of the wilderness of the mountains, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was at hand, he caused a national outburst. The Jewish people had waited for centuries to hear such words. They understood the meaning of the “Kingdom” and longed for the day when it would be established among them. It was the work of the Messiah, and they had prepared themselves physically, morally and religiously for that great event.
When earthly kings are about to be anointed and crowned, there is usually a great celebration. There are parades with the sound of trumpets, and long processions with elegant uniforms, robes and jewels. There is a great feast and much frivolity. Then, too, the coronation takes place in a magnificent cathedral. But for this “king” it would be different.
When John made this momentous announcement, the people noted that it had come from a wild man out of the wilderness, wearing a “raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” (Matt. 3:4) The Prophet Joseph commented on such prophets:
The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves “in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth.” (TPJS, p. 206)
So when the announcement of this Kingdom finally came, it was very different from their expectations. Nevertheless, they were eager to hear the message, and many were baptized by John. “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matt. 3:5-6)
 However, what had begun so beautifully was doomed to end in disaster.
It is interesting to note that John did not give any lengthy discourses on the definition or composition of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps the Jews already knew what it was. They understood the scriptures that King David had had the Kingdom of God, and they believed in the prophecy that stated the Kingdom would be returned to the Jews. This is some-thing for which they had long awaited. The Jews had believed in the temple miracle with the High Priest Zacharias who said his son would introduce both the Kingdom and the King.
Regarding John the Baptist’s announcement and establishment of the Kingdom of God, Joseph Smith answers three important questions:
- Did John actually establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, or was that the work of Jesus and the Apostles?
As touching the Gospel and baptism that John preached, I would say that John came preaching the Gospel for the remission of sins; he had his authority from God, and the oracles of God were with him, and the kingdom of God for a season seemed to rest with John alone. * * *
But says one, the kingdom of God could not be set up in the days of John, for John said the kingdom was at hand. But I would ask if it could be any nearer to them than to be in the hands of John. (TPJS, pp. 272, 273)
. . . the scriptures represent that all Jerusalem went out unto John’s baptism. There was a legal administrator, and those that were baptized were subjects for a king; and also the laws and oracles of God were there; therefore the kingdom of God was there; for no man could have better authority to  administer than John; and our Savior submitted to that authority himself, by being baptized by John; therefore the kingdom of God was set up on the earth, even in the days of John. (TPJS, p. 273)
Thus, some of the requirements for the existence of the Kingdom of God were enumerated here by Joseph Smith: (1) a legal administrator, (2) subjects, and (3) laws and authority.
- How does a person enter into the Kingdom of God, or become one of its members?
Again he [Christ] says, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; . . .”
If a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he can get into the kingdom of God. It is evident the kingdom of God was on the earth, and John prepared subjects for the kingdom, by preaching the Gospel to them and baptizing them, and he prepared the way before the Savior, . . . The kingdom of God was with them before the day of Pentecost, as well as after-wards; and it was also with John, and he preached the same Gospel and baptism that Jesus and the apostles preached after him. (TPJS, p. 274)
- Where can a person find the Kingdom of God, and who is authorized to represent it?
Some say the kingdom of God was not set up on the earth until the day of Pentecost, and that John did not preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; but I say, in the name of the Lord, that the kingdom of God was set up on the earth from the days of Adam to the present time. Whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed His word and gave power and authority to administer in His name, and where there is a priest of God—a minister who has power and authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the gospel and officiate  in the priesthood of God, there is the kingdom of God;… Where there is a prophet, a priest, or a righteous man unto whom God gives His oracles, there is the kingdom of God; and where the oracles of God are not, there the kingdom of God is not. (TPJS, 271-72)
Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not. (TPJS, p. 274)
Before concluding this chapter on the announcement of John the Baptist, another question should be answered: “What Priesthood did John hold, and where did he get it?
Thus the Aaronic Priesthood was the heritage of John the Baptist. His ministry evidences that he was clothed with its authority. That the chain of evidence might be complete, regarding this fact, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, Jun., that he was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by an angel. (D & C 84:28) Being the first man ordained to it in the former Gospel dispensation, he holds the presidency of that Priesthood in all subsequent dispensations. (A Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel, Richards and Little, p. 71)
It is apparent that the mission of John the Baptist was to introduce the Kingdom of God, not the Church. It is interesting that, according to the scriptures, John never even mentioned the word church during his mission on earth.
 Chapter 16
THE GREATEST PROPHET OF THE KINGDOM
For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. (Luke 7:28)
As we look at the life and character of John the Baptist, he seemed to be one of the minor or lesser prophets of the Bible. Yet we know that he was great in the eyes of the Lord. When the angel prophesied to Zacharias about the son he would bear, he said that “Many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord . . . and many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:14-17)
We will now refer to John the Baptist. He came as a forerunner of Christ. He was a lineal descendant of the house of Levi. His father was a priest. John the Baptist was a child born by miracle, God having revealed to his father that Elizabeth who had been many years barren should bear a son. John feared not the world, but went forth preaching in the wilderness of Judea, declaiming against wickedness and corruption. (George A. Smith, JD 13:41)
John’s appearance and education did not meet the standards of the local merchants, doctors and lawyers, who like their modern counterparts, expected ministers to be educated in approved schools of theology. He didn’t live like they did, but rather “in the uninhabited country bordering on  Antipas’ realm.” By their standards, he was a recluse, residing separate from the rest of the house of Israel. The Qumran scrolls mention that the only contact John had with the outside world was with the Essenes. However, this uncouth, uneducated outcast greatly impacted the course of history.
Prominent Jewish citizens found fault with John mainly because his raiment was of “camels hair” and he ate “locusts and wild honey.” Likewise, many people had said of the prophet Enoch, “a wild man hath come among us,” and “all men were offended because of him.” (Moses 6:37 & 38)
The Prophet Joseph explained that John the Baptist had a dispensation of the Gospel, even though it is generally assumed that there was only one dispensation with the coming of John and Jesus:
There came a dispensation of the gospel with the herald of the Christ, John the Baptist; and a more complete one with the earth mission of the Christ. (CHC 2:364)
According to Frederic Farrar, John the Baptist promised “admission into the Kingdom of heaven to the pure and clean”—to those whom he baptized. (Life of Christ, Farrar, p. 110) It was also a baptism of repentance to qualify for the Kingdom.
John’s mission was to introduce the Kingdom of God which was a new government on the earth. He did not introduce or establish a church, as that would be done by the Messiah. John would introduce the Kingdom; Jesus would organize it and then become the King over it.
Even though they were not often in the same geographical location, John and Jesus worked as a team of missionaries.
Christ and his prophets cannot be separated from each other. Men cannot believe in one and not the other. John was a true prophet who bore record that Jesus was the Messiah. Accordingly no one could accept John as a prophet without believing in Christ; and conversely, no one could believe in the divine Son-ship of Jesus without accepting the Baptist as his forerunner and witness. (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:590)
Their work, their testimony and their teachings did not end with their death. We cannot disregard or reject their testimony just because they are dead.
Joseph Smith said that John was given “the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood,” which means he had the right to administer all of the ordinances pertaining to that priesthood. He added, “He [John] had his authority from God, and the oracles of God were with him, and the kingdom of God for a season seemed to rest with John alone.” (TPJS, p. 272) This means that John was the presiding authority over the Aaronic Priesthood on the earth at that time.
Some questions need to be answered here in regard to the greatness of John the Baptist and his relationship to the Kingdom of God. For answers we have turned to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Jews could not see any “greatness” about John the Baptist. They felt the definition of greatness was wealth, popularity, honors of the world and high positions in business, government or religion. And to them he just didn’t qualify. Nevertheless, this strange fellow that came out of the wilderness was great in the eyes of God.
Thus, our first question is how could John be considered such a great prophet, when he never made any great prophecies, performed any great miracles, or wrote any great revelations? Why did Jesus say, “Among those that are born of  women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist?” (Luke 7:28) Joseph Smith provided the answer:
First. He was entrusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.
Secondly. He was entrusted with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize the Son of Man. Whoever had the honor of doing that? Whoever had so great a privilege and glory? Whoever led the Son of God into the waters of baptism, and had the privilege of beholding the Holy Ghost descend in the form of a dove, or rather in the sign of the dove, in witness of that administration?
Thirdly. John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. * * * The son of Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven, and these three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman. (TPJS, pp. 275-76)
On another occasion Jesus said, “. . . there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” So our second question is, “How is it that John was considered one of the greatest prophets and yet be “least in the Kingdom of God?” (See TPJS, p. 275.) Again the Prophet answered:
In reply I asked—Whom did Jesus have reference to as being the least? Jesus was looked upon as having the least claim in God’s kingdom, and [seemingly] was least entitled to their credulity as a prophet; as though He had said—”He that is considered the least among you is greater than John—that is I myself.” (TPJS, p. 276)
 Another question in regard to the Kingdom of God is, “Are miracles always evident whenever the Kingdom of God is established on the earth?” Once again from Joseph Smith:
There is a difference between the kingdom of God and the fruits and blessings that flow from the kingdom; because there were more miracles, gifts, visions, healings, tongues, etc., in the days of Jesus Christ and His apostles, and on the day of Pentecost, than under John’s administration, it does not prove by any means that John had not the kingdom of God, any more than it would that a woman had not a milkpan because she had not a pan of milk, for while the pan might be compared to the kingdom, the milk might be compared to the blessings of the kingdom. (TPJS, p. 273)
John became the “Elias” or forerunner for Christ and received a divine mission to introduce the Savior to the world. The Jews were inclined to believe John’s mission because of his father’s testimony and miracle in the temple. They then had to believe John’s testimony of Jesus and Jesus’ testimony of John. The power and evidence of both John and Jesus provided an irrefutable testimony to the Jews.
John was the administrator of the Kingdom under the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. Jesus administered the Kingdom under the Melchizedek Priesthood. Together they introduced, restored, established and organized the theocratic Kingdom of David, which was the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The Lord told Joseph Smith that John the Baptist “bore record” of Jesus and a “fullness” of His glory. Then speaking of a future time, Jesus said, “and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.” (D & C 93:6) Apparently, when the people are more worthy and better prepared to receive such a glorious document, then it will be brought forth.
 Chapter 17
JOHN’S IMPRISONMENT AND DEATH
Know assuredly, dear brethren, that it is for the testimony of Jesus that we are in bonds and in prison. But we say unto you, that we consider that our condition is better (notwithstanding our sufferings) than that of those who have persecuted us, . . . (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 123)
Herod Antipas and his father, Herod the Great, were both noted for corruption, immorality and bloodshed. Antipas was tetrarch, or king, of Galilee and Perea, and thus was considered a ruthless king of the Jews. He fell in love with Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and John rebuked the king and said, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Matt. 24:4) This was a double crime, according to the law of Moses: first of incest (Lev. 18:16), and secondly, he was living with another man’s wife. (Lev. 20:10) Herod was stunned and a little hesitant at this strange fellow who had so much influence with the people. Josephus the historian wrote:
Now, when others came in crowds about him [John], for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise rebellion, thought it best by putting him to death. (Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 8, 5:2)
Herod was a lecherous old coot, for even though “of wives he [Herod] had ten, once nine at a time; of children, fourteen” (Caesar and Christ, Will Durant, p. 534), he still  didn’t know enough to stay away from another man’s wife. Little wonder that he worried about mentioning his office as king of the Jews; for according to Jewish law that was cause for death; therefore, he had reason to fear John.
Herod Antipas was somewhat of a fence sitter. He was both a Roman king and a devout Jew, claiming to spiritually acknowledge God, yet giving full service to Rome. He was similar to many religious people of today—seeking for glory, riches, positions and power among the gentiles, and at the same time professing to be in full fellowship with the Lord. But God asks for a complete commitment to Him in both temporal and spiritual matters. To love God with all your might, mind and strength does not mean attending worship services on Sunday and the rest of the week being devoted to Babylon.
Herod Antipas was in Jerusalem at this time in order to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. When John accused him of adultery and rebuked him for it, Herod refused to change his wicked and immoral ways; so he had to do something to make John shut up—so he shut him up in prison.
John found his prison experience to be unbearable because of filthy conditions, loss of freedom, low-life associates, extreme restrictions, bad food, etc. John knew the importance of his mission to preach the Gospel and could see no possible reason for remaining in such a vile place. So he sent a message to Jesus, which is one of the strangest messages in scripture. Luke recorded the account:
And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Luke 7:19-23)
The reason is unclear as to why John asked the question, “Do we look for another?” Was he asking if another was to be the Messiah, or would set up the Kingdom of God, or would come and release him from prison? Several months in the fortress prison would make anyone think things were not going the way they should. John wanted the speedy establishment of a visible kingdom. Prison for him seemed to be such a waste of time. If the Kingdom were to be established, then John’s preaching could be vindicated and he certainly would not be left in prison.
John knew that Jesus was the Messiah and that indeed he would establish this Kingdom. So why the question? George Peters gives this beautiful explanation:
Consider the position of John in prison, and imagine the thoughts that must have arisen in his mind while confined for several months in the fortress. He had preached the coming of the Kingdom conditioned on repentance; he had seen and announced the Messiah, through whom, as he fondly anticipated, the Kingdom was to be established. Just before his imprisonment he had expressed the hope that the Messiah would be received, and hence looked for a speedy visible Messianic Kingdom. Now it is supposed … that doubts arose in John’s mind respecting the Messiah on account of the delay. But this could not possibly be, owing to John’s specific mission, his testimony to Jesus, his having seen the attesting divine  manifestation, and his having heard the confirming voice from heaven. John had no doubts concerning the Messiahship of Jesus. How, then, interpret the action of sending his disciples to Jesus?
The explanation follows naturally from the hopes entertained by him, and the condition in which he was placed. Being imprisoned, the hope of a speedy establishment of the Kingdom (for had he not seen the Messiah?) implanted the hope of a speedy release from his prison; for then, under the reign of the Messiah as predicted by the prophets, he would necessarily experience deliverance from his enemies (as Zacharias believed, Luke 1:74). Such thoughts must, from the very nature of his belief, hope, and situation, have passed through his mind. To satisfy his mind respecting release, whether the Kingdom would be soon established, he sends two of his disciples (Matt. 11:2, 3), with, in his estimation, a test question: “Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” Now if we but reflect that . . . “the Coming One” or “@He that cometh,’ has a fixed doctrinal signification, viz.: the Messiah” (denoting the One who should restore the Davidic Kingdom)—this was a most delicate way of asking why the Kingdom was not established, why there was a delay in its restoration. John proclaimed Him as “the Coming One,” and thus reminds Jesus of the fact by the question; but, in view of the non-appearance of the Kingdom and of his confinement in consequence, also in the latter clause indirectly urges Jesus to make no delay, invites Him to hasten and manifest His Messianic mission. (Theocratic Kingdom, Peters, 1:262)
Whatever the exact reason for John’s question, Jesus did not clearly answer it. Nor was John released from prison. We can only assume Jesus knew that John’s earthly mission was about completed, that he was supposed to stay in prison, and that he would soon have to give up his life as a martyr.
The reasons for killing John were based on as much false evidence and phony excuses as the killing of Jesus. Herod  Antipas was a Roman at heart. He believed in honoring and sustaining their laws no matter how corrupt and wicked they were, and he knew how easily they could be enforced. His father was the prime example. Herod wanted John put in prison for telling him he shouldn’t commit adultery. John didn’t say anything about all the plural wives Herod had—only rebuked him for his adultery. The story reads as follows:
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.
And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. (Matt. 14:3-10)
Some puzzling questions arise from reading this account. First, Herod had already made up his mind to slay John because it reads: “when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude.” Secondly, after the daughter of Herodias danced for him, he made an oath that he would “give her whatsoever she would ask,” which is stupid for any king to pledge just because of someone’s dancing—and she didn’t even dance with him. Thirdly, he was going to kill someone just for his “oath’s sake.” What Roman leader in the Jewish hierarchy ever made such a stupid oath, that he would honor it even to the death of an innocent man? How sorry was this king? Apparently he wanted John dead and just needed a “good excuse.” The whole program appears to be a setup so Herod  could have some excuse to kill him. According to Brigham Young, there are similar reasons for the deaths of such great men:
God suffered him [Joseph Smith] to be slain for his testimony, that it might become a law through being sealed by his blood, which was the case the moment his blood was spilled, the same as with the law of Jesus Christ when he spilled his blood. Then the testimony becomes in force. (Brigham Young Addresses, Vol. 2, p. 103)
We can conclude that this was the case with John the Baptist. His mission was finished, and he had only one thing left to do—to seal his testimony with his blood.
 Chapter 18
A WITNESS FOR THE KINGDOM
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (John 1:6-8)
The Old and New Testaments contain a compilation of valiant testators and their testimonies. But they present a sad history of their struggles to bring light to a world of darkness. And in return, they were rejected, tortured, imprisoned and/or killed.
Why did such noble men have to suffer so many hardships and trials? Why didn’t God protect His servants? Why were prophets, patriarchs and apostles the ones who had to pay the ultimate price with their blood? And why did John, the Baptist, (the “greatest prophet”) and Jesus (our greatest King) have to be slain for their testimonies? The answer is not the same in every case, but often it is necessary for these witnesses and testators to seal their testimonies with their own blood.
True and False Prophets
The Jews of today say that many false prophets and false messiahs came during the time of Jesus, and the Jews assumed that He was just another claimant to the title. In our own dispensation there have been a few true prophets and a  multitude of false ones. The difficulty for most people has been to distinguish between the true and false prophets. Who really holds the keys to the Kingdom of God?
There are several ways to identify a true prophet, i.e., he must have witnesses to his calling, while the self-appointed prophet testifies only for himself. Both John and Jesus met the criteria necessary to be considered true witnesses and prophets:
- The angel Gabriel was a witness to Zacharias of both John and Jesus.
- Zacharias and his experience in the temple became a witness of John.
- John became a witness to Jesus as the Christ.
- Three prophets came at the birth of Jesus to testify that He was the King of the Kingdom of God.
- Jesus came as a witness to the Father.
- Their works were fruitful; they brought forth new knowledge, understanding and revelations.
- There were testimonies of others who were true witnesses.
- They knew what the kingdom is. If a “prophet” is doing the work of the Kingdom, he should know the definition of it. If he is testifying of the wrong kingdom, he is not a true witness.
- They prophesied and performed Priesthood ordinances and miracles.
- By the power of the Holy Ghost and revelation, the truth and true messengers are made known.
Nearly all false prophets can bear witness only of themselves, which is a major evidence that they are not true prophets. Jesus said, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” (John 5:31) And He also said, “. . . in the mouth of  two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matt. 18:16) He even quoted the law of the Jews that said, “It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.” (John 8:17) Hence, those who can bear witness only of themselves are just claimants without the evidences and witnesses of true prophets.
The Evidence of Miracles
Another important evidence is the marvelous miracles that follow those that have power with God. When John asked Jesus, “Art thou He that should come?” (Matt. 11:3), Jesus used His miracles as an evidence. He replied:
Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matt. 11:4-5)
Miracles are often a valid evidence of a true prophet and so is prophecy. There are many other similar “gifts” from God that convince people of one’s authority and message. Jesus even rebuked cities because they rejected Him even though He performed many miracles amongst them.
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not [Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum].
. . . which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (Matt. 11:20 & 23)
Because of Christ’s curse upon these three communities, they have never flourished from that time to the present. (See Discovering the World of the Bible, LaMar C. Berrett, p. 358.)
 John witnessed the miracles of Jesus, saw the sign of the dove at His baptism, and personally had revelations of his own. One revelation was recorded by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace. and he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son.
And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father. (D & C 93:11-16)
Some scholars have questioned which John it was that received this revelation. James E. Talmage thought it was John the Apostle. (See Articles of Faith, p. 119.) Also, in his book Jesus the Christ, Talmage devoted three chapters to John’s testimony of Jesus, but failed to even mention D & C 93, as quoted above. However, John Taylor accredited this revelation to John the Baptist (See Mediation and Atonement, p. 55.), and so did Orson Pratt. (See Des. News, March 9, 1878.)
If John the Baptist had failed to bear testimony of this grand revelation, he would have failed as a witness and would have been condemned. If the people to whom John bore this testimony would have rejected it, they would also have been condemned. One of the objects of a testimony of a witness is  to provide God with a yardstick to bring judgment either for or against the people. The testimonies of John and Jesus were enough to bring down the whole nation of the Jews. Orson Pratt clearly explained this:
When the Lord sent a preparatory message to prepare the way for his Son, he sent one witness, instead of raising up four. John the Baptist went forth into the wilderness, clothed himself in a curious style, living on locusts and wild honey, and began to preach repentance to the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem, and to the Jews throughout the land. How were they to know he was a messenger sent to prepare the way before the Most High? Yet they certainly would be condemned for not receiving his testimony; for Jesus himself said—”The scribes and Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves in rejecting John.” (JD 7:31-32)
The angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, Elizabeth and Mary. John was ordained by an angel when he was eight days old, and we suppose that was also Gabriel. All of these individuals were witnesses to the heralding in of the Kingdom of God, yet each of them had to suffer in some way because of that testimony.
With so many revelations and manifestations and also because of the witnesses to the missions of John and Jesus, the Jews were left without excuse for their unbelief.
Sealing Their Testimonies with Their Blood
Because the people rejected John’s testimony, he was required to seal that testimony with his blood. Paul the Apostle explained why he and many other prophets and testators had to be slain for their testimonies:
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. (Heb. 9:16-17)
Thus, it was necessary that the blood of Christ’s fore-runner be shed for his testimony of the Savior whose blood would atone for the whole world.
This same requirement was necessary in our own dispensation, for at the death of Joseph Smith, John Taylor announced on June 27, 1844:
To seal the testimony of this book [Doc. & Cov.] and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch. * * *
. . . like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, [Joseph Smith] has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. (D & C 135:1, 3)
In a revelation to Wilford Woodruff, the Lord added more information:
I have already revealed my will concerning the nation through the mouth of my servant Joseph, who sealed his testimony with his own blood, which testimony has been in force upon the world from the hour of his death. (Jan. 26, 1880, revelation, verse 2; as quoted in 1880-1890 Revelations, Kraut)
John the Baptist’s destiny was to die as a martyr, but he didn’t know it. He had introduced the Kingdom and wanted to see it blossom into a world-wide organization. Why would anything so wonderful be neglected or rejected? Why would anyone build the basement to a great home and then not build the rest of the house? John introduced the Kingdom of God,  but something went wrong. The King of Israel was supposed to finish the work on the establishment of the Kingdom of God, but John ended up in prison and the Jews rejected Jesus and His message. Did you ever pack up the car to go on a trip and then the car wouldn’t start? Did you ever plan an important dinner party for several friends and then burn the roast? Why do special things go so wrong?
We need to learn that the will of God might be different from ours. We are inclined to believe that all the good things that happen to us are from God but never the bad things. Many prophets, saints and good people have been rejected by society, a church or a nation, but nevertheless that testimony was necessary. It was God’s will as a judgment against them.
John’s mission lasted only 1-1/2 years, but it was long enough; Christ’s mission lasted another 1-1/2 years—two short lives and two short missions. Neither of them ever realized in mortality the complete fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.
It is a sad commentary throughout the history of this world that the righteous are often slain by the wicked. Instead of receiving the light and revelations from God, some choose darkness and are thus condemned by the blood of the prophets they have slain.
It was not only John and Jesus who were slain by the wicked in that dispensation; nearly all of Christ’s original apostles were also martyred, as Wilford Woodruff explained:
We read that God set in His Church first Apostles, then prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, graces and helps; and the office of an Apostle entitles him to hold the keys of the Kingdom of God, and what he binds on earth is bound in heaven, and what he  looses on earth is loosed in heaven. The history of the Twelve whom Jesus chose is to be found in the New Testament; within the lids of that book their travels, the course they pursued and the doctrines they taught are published to the world. Nearly the whole of them sealed their testimony with their blood. Some were crucified as their master was; some were beheaded; and all, except John, suffered martyrdom in some way for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (JD 13:319-20)
The testimony, the testament, and the life of John the Baptist came to an abrupt ending. He was the forerunner to Jesus on the earth, and he became the forerunner to Jesus in Paradise. It was important for John to go to the spirit world first to prepare the people to receive Jesus there as he had done in mortality. He continued to announce, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand,” because Jesus the King would soon be there.
 Chapter 19
JESUS ALSO ANNOUNCED THE KINGDOM
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 4:17)
For several hundred years the great prophets had foretold the coming of the Promised Messiah. The children of Israel sang about Him, mentioned Him in their scriptures, wrote His name on their door posts, included Him in their eating habits, and centered their traditions and customs around Him. His coming was anticipated by the more righteous Israelites as the greatest event in the world.
The scriptures indicate He was known by many names. In Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine, over 200 names are listed. (See page 127.) His coming was certainly more than just a personal appearance. What great message did He bring? What good news did He tell the Jews? He had more to say than just to keep following their Levitical laws and customs.
At the beginning of His ministry, the Messiah went up on the mountain and delivered what has since been called “the greatest sermon ever.” (See Matt. 5 to 7.) How interesting that in that Sermon on the Mount He mentioned God’s Kingdom about ten times. That “Kingdom” seemed to be one of the focal points for the whole sermon, which was emphasized when he instructed, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” (Matt. 6:33)
 There are many reasons why the Kingdom rather than the Church should be considered the most important. Rev. George Peters referred to some of them when he stated that the Kingdom of God—
- is the golden thread which runs through all; and of this kingdom the Bible is the document.
- is the object designed by the oath and covenant.
- is the great theme and burden of prophecy.
- is a subject which embraces the largest portion of revelation.
- was the leading subject of the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ and the Apostles.
- was promoted and established by Jesus who suffered and died to manifest it.
- is a blessing and honor to those invited to join by Christ and the Father.
- is the result of other preparatory dispensations employed to that end.
- promises to exalt, bless and offer man the presence of Jesus and the Father.
- exhibits Jesus as the Christ, the Theocratic King.
(See Theocratic Kingdom, vol. 1, p. 30.)
The announcement about a great “Kingdom” to be restored naturally created interest among both Jews and Romans. The Jews would herald it as wonderful news, while the Romans would feel threatened by it. The Jews wanted the Kingdom of God to break into pieces all the wicked kingdoms of the world, including that of the Romans who held them in bondage. The Romans would certainly reject such a Kingdom that was opposed to theirs, and they were in the habit of destroying all competition. Caesar and Christ were rivals as were their governments.
 The Romans cared very little about people worshipping gods. The words church or congregation posed no threat to them. But the one word that did strike an alarm was “kingdom.” Thus when King Herod heard about a new king being born, he immediately devised a plan to eliminate his competition:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea; for thus it is written by the prophet, and thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. (Matt. 2:1-6)
Herod asked the wise men to go seek out this new king and then report back so he, too, could go and worship him. But since when would a Roman king bow down to a child and worship him? When the wise men realized this fact, they returned home another way.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. (Matt. 2:16)
When news of this edict reached Joseph and Mary, they took the young child to Egypt until they heard that Herod had died.
 The New Testament announcement of the “Kingdom” was the fulfillment of prophecy from the prophets of the Old Testament. This Kingdom was to put down evil, bring a new kind of life among men, and elevate the existing conditions, atmosphere, land, and even the very life of man. So why was it so drastically opposed? Simply because another kingdom outside Roman control would be the source of these wonderful conditions.
The value of the Kingdom of God was not immediately understood or embraced by many of the people to whom John and Jesus spoke. This was similar to the story of a farmer who might find the sprout of a precious orchid plant among his vegetable garden, but immediately pluck it up thinking it was a weed. A camper might find a diamond in the rough under his pick-up truck, but would throw it away thinking it was just another worthless rock.
Thus did Jesus liken His Kingdom to something of great value:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. (Matt. 13:44)
Jesus began preaching about the Kingdom of God without first being instructed in the schools of learning. Nor did He first experiment with it to see if it would work. He didn’t even consult the priests or lawyers of that time. What He proposed had been revealed to Him from heaven because it was the same Kingdom that existed there. Since this was the Kingdom of Heaven brought down to earth, one would think that mankind would be excited and happy to receive it. Wrong!
 Jesus knew and understood what the Kingdom was, even from his youth, but it would not have been wise for Him to reveal that information at that time, before He could physically defend Himself. Joseph Smith explained:
. . . it is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father’s kingdom. When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death. (TPJS, p. 392)
The prophecies of this Kingdom had been clearly laid out in the scriptures. The time, place, people, doctrines, and conditions of its return were made clear to the Jews. They had to acknowledge John the Baptist and his ministry, but by doing so they were obligated to accept Jesus as the Christ. Joseph Smith remarked:
John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey his instructions or be damned by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it. (TPJS, p. 276)
However, the Jews found reason or justification to sacrifice this kingdom for what they already had. They were  apparently happy with all their menial tasks and rituals, and thus were willing to reject the fullness of the gospel. Similarly, the children of Israel had been content with what they had, even at the expense of exaltation and being in the presence of God.
The Kingdom which Jesus proclaimed was not new; it was the restoration of King David’s. If anyone wanted to know what the Kingdom of God was about, they just had to read the book of Kings in the Bible. Of course, the children of Israel rejected it anciently, and the Jews rejected it in Christ’s time. It was not just a heavenly or spiritual kingdom, but rather a kingdom on earth, as clearly defined in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament established the ideal and practice of the Kingdom; the New Testament restored that ideal.
Both John and Jesus pronounced the Kingdom as “nigh at hand,” which means it is near. But they warned the people that it could be withdrawn. The Kingdom was offered, but the offering was rejected.
Jesus gave us only a little glimmer of light, a brief introduction to the Kingdom of God, but even at that, what were the consequences? Instead of greatness and glory in the Kingdom, He was met with suffering and death. Instead of being acknowledged as King of Israel, He was made to “drink of the bitter cup,” was crowned with a “crown of thorns,” and mocked with a “purple robe.” Instead of being accepted as the Messiah, He was “despised and rejected of men.” He “came to His own and His own received Him not.”
While it is true that Jesus never denied, even in the face of death, His royalty, His Kingship, His divine and legal right to reign as covenanted, yet it is likewise true, that, foreseeing His rejection by the nation, . . . He  veiled it, giving us only an occasional glimpse of it. (Theocratic Kingdom, Peters, 1:369)
There is no reason for Jesus to give all of the information about the Kingdom to the proud and wicked people who cried for His death. The announcement of the Kingdom was made, and the invitation was offered, but the people killed the messengers anyway.
After Christ’s resurrection, the Apostles wondered if the Kingdom would be restored again, hence they asked Him, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) They with Joseph of Arimathaea “also waited for the kingdom of God.” (Mark 15:43) But Jesus responded, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7) It was going to be a long wait!
 Chapter 20
THE GOSPEL, THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM
This Gospel, this kingdom, this Church, and this people, are the pride of my heart; I have no pride in anything else. I have pride to see this work roll forth, and turn over the kingdoms, and break in pieces the nations of the earth. I know that every man and woman, every nation and king that oppose it, will wither like a limb that is severed from a tree. (Heber C. Kimball, JD 1:206)
The Kingdom of God was a popular subject during the ministry of Christ. It was mentioned 145 times in Matthew; 51 times in Mark; 118 times in Luke; 6 times in John; and 17 times in Acts.
John the Baptist said, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2) Jesus said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17) The Apostles and Seventies were instructed: “as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7)
Certainly if so much has been said about the “Kingdom of God,” we should become well acquainted with it. However, the children of Israel and the Jews didn’t understand it, nor do the modern Christians and the contemporary Latter-day Saints.
Most Catholics, Protestants and even modern Mormons believe that the Gospel, the Church and the Kingdom are all  the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thus, it is important to define these terms. In this chapter, we will draw mainly upon the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and John for definitions.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ embodies the teachings of Christ that pertain to the plan of salvation. Within it are contained the principles, law, doctrines, ordinances and keys necessary to save and exalt mankind. The Lord explained:
And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—that he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him; … (D & C 76:40-42)
And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom. (D & C 39:5-6)
From the time of Moses the Jews had the “preparatory gospel.” In other words, they had the first principles of the Gospel, which are stepping stones to the fullness of the Gospel. This Gospel in part was administered by the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood and helped mankind prepare for principles and powers of the higher Priesthood. When Jesus came in the meridian of time, He tried to give the Jews the fullness of the Gospel which is administered by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood, but it was not without competition.
 Since there are so many false prophets, false churches and false kingdoms, it is difficult to maintain the true Gospel. In writing to the Galatians, Paul warned:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. * * *
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:6-8, 11-12)
Both true and false churches are in danger of teaching a false gospel. Jesus warned the Nephites:
And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.
Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you;
And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.
For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore  remember the things that I have told you. (3 Nephi 27:8-12)
A church is like a business and in most instances it is. A business is an organization containing officers, secretaries, public relations, financiers, salesmen, etc. So the church is an organization of people with different offices and callings. Almost all churches are corporations, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—which means they are subservient by contract to the laws and demands of the government under which they incorporated.
Paul compared the body of the church to the human body, with each part functioning for the benefit of the whole:
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. (I. Cor. 12:12-20)
And to the Ephesians, Paul listed some of the offices of this church organization:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; . . . (Eph. 4:11-12)
These offices, along with high priests, bishops, elders, seventies, deacons, and priests, comprise the organization of the Church, then and now. None of these offices, however, is mentioned as a part of the organization or structure of the Kingdom of God.
If you change the principles of the Gospel, is it the same Gospel? If you change the organization of the Church is it the same Church? If you throw out the Seventies, do away with the Evangelist (patriarch), and make High Priests assistants to the Apostles, does this not change the structure of the Church to the extent that it loses its original identity?
In testimony meetings the comment is often made, “I know the Church is true,” but seldom do we hear, “I know the Gospel is true.” But in either case, since both the organization of the Church and the Gospel principles and ordinances they have selected to accept and obey have been changed, one wonders which Church and Gospel the person is bearing testimony about.
The Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of men are governments. The Kingdom of God can rule both political and ecclesiastical forms of government as it was under the Theocratic Davidic Kingdom.
When speaking of God’s Kingdom, it can be in heaven or on earth. Of course, it always exists in heaven, but it may not  always be organized on the earth. Jesus gave us a simple prayer, but even in that He said:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2)
So far, for any considerable length of time, God’s will has not been done, nor has the Kingdom come. If we had the Kingdom of God on the earth, then His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. When people are purged of sin and have become righteous, then the fruits of the Kingdom are evident. Jesus remarked:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 7:21)
And Brigham Young explained:
The kingdom that Daniel saw will push forth its law, and that law will protect the Methodists, Quakers, Pagans, Jews, and every other creed there ever was or ever will be, in their religious rights. At the same time the Priesthood will bear rule, and hold the government of the Kingdom under control in all things, so that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father, that Jesus is the Christ. Every one must bow to the Savior, and acknowledge and confess him with their mouths. Can they still be Methodists? Yes. (JD 2:189)
While the church is a religion, the kingdom is a government. The Church of Jesus Christ will never be obligated to protect the Catholics, Protestants, pagans and Jews in their rights. Church government will not rule in civil matters, and civil government will not regular the affairs of churches.
 When the Apostles all met together and Jesus appeared to them, they asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) This was after His resurrection, and the church had been expanding greatly with missionary work going on in many different nations. Yet, here they are asking when the Kingdom was going to be restored. Clearly the Church and the Kingdom are not the same.
In the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation, John records a very interesting and important account that can be applied to the Church and the Kingdom of God. It tells of a woman giving birth to a male child while a dragon is standing by ready to devour the child. The prophecy reads:
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. [3-1/2 years] (Revel. 12:1-6)
By way of interpretation, the woman could represent the Church of Jesus Christ, and the “crown of twelve stars” could mean the twelve apostles who help govern the Church.
 When the woman, or church, “fled into the wilderness” for a long time, this actually happened to the early Christian Church. The woman suffered distress from the devil, and she “cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” The “dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” The Church would give birth, or create the child, that the devil was apparently more determined to destroy than the woman herself.
So who or what was the child? The devil was very worried about this man child who was to “rule all nations with a rod of iron.” The rod has been interpreted as the word of God. (See 1 Nephi 15:23-24.) The word “rule” signified government, which would pertain to the Kingdom of God ruling over all nations. This was mentioned in the previous chapter when John wrote, “The kingdoms of this world are (to) become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
Thus, the Church of Jesus Christ will create or give birth to the Kingdom of God, which will rule over all nations. This interpretation was verified by Joseph Smith in his Inspired Translation of the Bible:
And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ. (Rev. 12:7, I.V.)
This clearly defines the difference between the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
 Chapter 21
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM VERSUS THE GOSPEL OF THE CHURCH
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
The “Gospel of the Kingdom” was taught at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, for Matthew records, He was “teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” (Matt. 4:23) And later, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. . . .” (Matt. 9:35) Mark says, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” (Mark 1:14) Then in Christ’s last major sermon, He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14)
The logical question follows, “What is the difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the church?” These two can be the same or they can be different. The gospel of God’s Kingdom always remains the same. It cannot be changed by mankind because it is founded upon principles, laws and ordinances that are consistent, eternal, everlasting and unchangeable.
 On June 5, 1965, the Church News printed an editorial entitled, “Our Unchangeable Deity.” It is an outstanding and inspired piece of literature. Excerpts follow:
The great mistake made down through the ages by teachers of Christianity, is that they have supposed they could place their own private interpretation upon scriptures, allow their own personal convenience to become a controlling factor, and change the basics of Christian law and practice to suit themselves. This is apostasy.
The Gospel cannot possibly be changed. Mankind is the same, with similar tendencies, hopes, desires, temptations, and inclinations. Human nature was no different in the days of Cain and Abel from what it is today, nor in the time of Christ.
The heaven we hope to achieve is eternal and unchangeable. Therefore to bring the same human nature to the same goal, regardless of the time in which a person lives, requires the same steps and procedures. For that reason the saving principles must ever be the same. They can never change.
The editorial continued by using reason and logic to reach a correct observation:
To say that the Gospel may be changed is to say that either God has changed, or that human nature is no longer human nature.
It is obvious therefore that no one can change the Gospel, and that if they attempt to do so, they only set up a man-made system which is not the Gospel, but is merely a reflection of their own views. And since only God can save, only His Gospel can save, and if we substitute “any other Gospel,” there is no salvation in it.
In conclusion, the author of the editorial asks the obvious questions, which not only apply to the Catholics and Protestants, but also to the Mormons. No one can escape the  responsibility of asking and learning the answers to these questions:
Did its leaders receive a commission—by a current revelation—from the Almighty? Are they truly called of God?
Are the doctrines and rituals of the Church in harmony with the Bible, or are they creations of men who—though well meaning—have gone off on a tangent?
Is its program in strict harmony with the Bible? If the principles by which any of us attempt to save ourselves are contrary to the Bible, we may know they are man’s teachings, not God’s, for the Lord and His gospel remain the same—always.
The Gospel of the Church
Although the Gospel of the Kingdom does not change, the Gospel of the Church is subject to changes, according to the will of the people. This is accomplished through the process of voting. There is always a need for certain changes in the Church, i.e., changes in officers, in handling money, and in policies and procedures. Changes can come through official declarations or messages from the First Presidency. Then they are voted on by Church members, who even vote on whether or not to accept revelations from the Lord. And pertaining to the Church, this is as it should be. The Lord wants His people to have their free agency, and to choose those things that please them most, for He has said things should be done by “common consent.”
And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen. (D & C 26:2)
For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith. (D & C 28:13)
And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent of the order. (D & C 104:71)
Joseph Fielding Smith explained the necessity of the “consent of the people” and the “vote of the Church” in determining Church officers ad doctrines:
No man can preside in this Church in any capacity without the consent of the people. The Lord has placed upon us the responsibility of sustaining by vote those who are called to various positions of responsibility. (Doc. of Sal. 3:123)
The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price including the Articles of Faith, have been received by the vote of the Church in general conference assembled as the standard works of the Church. On this platform we stand. (Doc. of Sal. 1:322)
The children of Israel have never been forced to accept the fullness of the Gospel, because that would be contrary to the Lord’s plan. He allows them to make their choices either right or wrong, and they reap either the blessings or cursings that result from their choices.
Voting on new officers and better procedures is one thing, but voting to change doctrines, principles, laws and ordinances is quite another. How many of these changes can be made before you have “another gospel.” Paul warned:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that  trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Gal. 1:6-7)
When did changes in the Gospel occur in the early Christian Church? They happened even while Jesus and His Apostles were still alive. Major changes were also made when Christianity joined with Romanism, and when Protestantism broke away from the mother church. And worst of all, there have been changes in the restored Gospel of the Church in this dispensation of the fullness of times.
The Savior said, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9) In other words, the people who were associated with Christ in the flesh perverted the Gospel. He warned that if anyone attempts to “climbeth up some some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1)
The Apostle Paul gave a similar warning to the Galatians: “As we said before, so say I now again. If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:9)
Religion goes through processes that create an evolution of religious thought. The intellectuals, the philosophers and the rich often see religious things from a different perspective. But since the Gospel net gathers fish of all kinds, sometimes the wrong ones get into leadership positions. They might do things to make the Church popular and wealthy, but to do so they change laws, ordinances and principles. Most members perceive these actions to be the will of the Lord and the changes to be evidence of progress and blessings. But in the process, “another gospel” has been created.
It is usually the nature of mankind to attempt to improve on what God has given, and they find very “reasonable”  justifications for doing so. But when many minor changes are allowed, the result often has major consequences.
The controversial book, Why the Church is As True as the Gospel by Eugene England, brings up many questions:
* Why does the Church often change the teachings of the Gospel?
* Can one Gospel be taught in one era of society and a different Gospel taught for a different society and both of them be true?
* Can people be saved or exalted on a flexible Gospel with different principles?
* Was the Gospel of Jesus Christ the same in 100 A.D. as it was at the time Jesus was alive?
* Was the Gospel the same in 325 A.D. when Constantine and the Romans dictated the beliefs of the Christian Church?
* Was the Gospel the same, and just as true, at the time of Martin Luther and the Reformation?
* In 1830 which Church was as true as the Church that Jesus established? Which Gospel was as true as it was when Jesus taught it?
* If the Gospel of the Church and the Gospel of the Kingdom are not the same, how can they both be true?
* If we have made so many changes in the Gospel and the Church, can they still remain true?
* Since there have been so many changes in the Church and the Gospel over the last century, are they as true today as at the time of Joseph Smith?
* If a person today believes in the same Church and the same Gospel as taught by Joseph Smith, why are they excommunicated?
 Mr. England may be technically correct in his statement that the Church is as true as the Gospel because if changes are made in both, then it could be said that one is as true as the other!
To illustrate how this works—on March 1, 1842, Joseph Smith wrote a letter “at the request of Mr. John Wentworth, editor and proprietor of the Chicago Democrat concerning the “rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints.” (DHC 4:541) Included in Joseph’s letter were 13 statements summarizing the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. Then in 1890, nearly 50 years later, the LDS Church presented these statements called “The Articles of Faith” to the Church members for their vote, and they were “adopted at the last general conference” (Mess. of the First Pres. 3:209) as part of the belief and canon of the Church.
Also in 1890 Church leaders presented the Manifesto to the members, and it was accepted as one of the laws of the Church “as a result of a vote of the General Conference of the Church.” (Mess. of the First Pres. 3:194) “The vote in support of this motion was nearly unanimous,” (Des. News Weekly, Oct. 11, 1890, p. 526) showing that it was accepted by the majority vote of the members attending that session of Conference. However, B. H. Roberts commented:
There were many of the Church members that were distressed in their spirits over the action which the Church had taken. . . . They had suffered greatly on account of it. They were prepared to suffer more. (CHC 6:223)
But the majority vote determined the outcome. The Lord will not force His laws and principles on Church members. They have their free agency, and it is by their choice that they are governed. The members of other world churches  also have the freedom to choose the kind of gospel they want, and they have not chosen to conform to the Gospel of the Kingdom either.
Our votes, pro or con, can affect not only our destiny in mortality but also our station in immortality, depending upon the kind of gospel we choose. If we want a fullness of blessings in the Celestial Kingdom, we must abide by the fullness of the Gospel, as the Prophet Joseph explained: “Any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law, too.” (TPJS, p. 331)
The difference between the fullness of the Gospel and a gospel that’s not quite as full can be compared to a full-time job and a part-time one. The salary and benefits/rewards are different. Moses and the children of Israel experienced this:
To Moses the Lord first gave the higher priesthood and revealed the fulness of the gospel. But Israel rebelled and manifest such gross unworthiness that their God took from them the power whereby they could have become a kingdom of priests and of kings and gave them instead a lesser law. (Bruce R. McConkie, Doc. N.T. Comm. 2:140)
In short, then, if we do not have the Gospel of the Kingdom, which is the fullness of the Gospel, then we must have “another gospel.”
 Chapter 22
THE LAST SUPPER PROPHECY
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:15)
Jesus made an interesting prophecy at the time of the passover. His sacrament was to be called the Last Supper, and His prophecy pertained not only to Him but also to His Kingdom:
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. (Mark 14:22-25)
There are three significant elements described in this passage of scripture: (1) the mode of the passover sacrament; (2) the significance and type of Christ’s fasting; and (3) the prophecy of a future event pertaining to the Kingdom. This chapter will discuss these three items in greater detail.
- The Mode of the Passover Sacrament
The sacrament of ancient times was different from that of modern times. The “Last Supper” was literally a supper, and  the bread and wine constituted a meal. The wine used on that occasion was “new” wine (grape juice), meaning that it was not “old” or fermented, as wine is today. A loaf of bread was passed around and each person tore off a large piece, big enough to serve as a meal, or “supper.”
The ancient sacrament of the Lord’s supper was much more than just a tiny emblem of bread and a short swallow of water, as we learn from the following two references:
Elder Orson Hyde was the teacher and saluted the brethren with uplifted hands, and they also answered with uplifted hands. Spoke of the administration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The brethren always went fasting; they went in the morning, remained until about four o’clock in the afternoon, when each had a glass of wine and piece of bread, after the ancient pattern. (Zebedee Coltrin, S.L. School of the Prophets, Pioneer Press, pp. 62-63)
He [Philo Dibble] related an event that took place in Far West, Missouri, June or July 1838. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the people . . . a pattern of the true manner of partaking of the sacrament.
The people came together in the morning without their breakfast, to the bowery on the Public Square where there was prepared a plenty of good bread and a barrel of wine. The bread and wine was blessed, every person ate bread and drank wine as they wanted all day, when they wanted. They sat and talked, and walked and conversed upon heavenly and spiritual things as they felt like. Walked out on the Prairie and returned to eat and drink.
No one said, “Let’s go and get a drink,” but with solemnity they commemorated the death and suffering of Jesus. (Oliver B. Huntington Journal, Pioneer Press, p. 31)
- Christ’s Fasting
Jesus said, “I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” In other words, when the Kingdom of God is fully organized on the earth, then He will again drink the “new” wine or grape juice. This means that He has not had a drink of the “fruit of the vine” for about 2000 years. This is a long and peculiar kind of fast, but it is one which He made because of the significance of the events surrounding its triumphal conclusion.
- Christ’s Prophecy Pertaining to the Kingdom
Christ’s prophecy that He would drink new wine again when He could drink it after the Kingdom of God was established on the earth, has not yet been fulfilled. The circumstances surrounding that event were revealed to the Prophet Joseph:
Wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni . . . and also with Elias . . and also John the son of Zacharias . . . and also Elijah . . . and also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham . . . and also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days; and also with Peter, and James, and John . . . and also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world. (See D & C 27.)
So when the Kingdom of God is once again established on the earth, Jesus is going to have a very special party. Only a few select people will receive invitations, but those who go will celebrate the final establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth, and then Jesus will once again drink of the fruit of the vine. As the Host, He will also provide the wine as He did at His marriage at Cana.
 Jesus looked down the corridor of time for 2000 years to see something that the disciples could not fully realize. It was, to be sure, an event they all wanted to see—a kingdom government that would put down the evil governments of the world. They understood the overall function of the kingdom but not the personal and emotional event that it was destined to be. They also thought Jesus was going to be gone for just a short time, and then He would return and straighten everything out. It was an event they expected very soon. They knew many people they wanted to see put out of office. Jesus didn’t tell them that it would be more than 2000 years in the future. And even today, we still think the re-establishment of the Kingdom of God is just around the corner.
 Chapter 23
THE KING OF THE JEWS
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death. (Matt. 20:17-18)
In the wilderness Jesus met his antagonist, his arch rival, the enemy of all that He stood for. Satan tempted Jesus three times in an attempt to make Him sin:
- Food. After 40 days of fasting, Jesus was hungry; thus the devil tempted Him with food. Jesus quoted scripture to combat it: “Man shall not live by bread alone.” (Matt. 4:4)
- Power. Then the tempter took Jesus out of the wilderness into Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and told Him to jump off. In response, Jesus again quoted scripture: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matt. 4:7)
- Dominion. The devil had saved his most enticing temptation for last, wherein he offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world.”
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (Matt. 4:8-9)
But once again Christ used a passage of scripture as His answer: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt. 4:10)
It was to be a trade-off—one kingdom for another. It was for Babylon and all she had to offer. She was the great temptress of which it is said:
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. (Rev. 18:3)
Such temptations have also been the most appealing to mankind to gain riches, honors, power and dominion. But we cannot serve Babylon and the Kingdom of God at the same time.
The Kingdom of God loses many of its members because opposing churches and governments offer power, honor and wealth. The Kingdom of God requires work and endurance, while at the same time attracting opposition and persecution. But Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world, nor are the rewards always received in this world, as are those in earthly kingdoms.
All the prophets had difficulty promoting the Kingdom of God, and many of them lost all their worldly goods or even their lives in the process.
In reality, when the devil offers the kingdoms of this world to anyone, it is a lie, as he does not own anything in this world—not even an inch of real estate. He is a claim jumper giving the false impression of ownership.
 Membership in the Kingdom of God is just the opposite of membership in worldly kingdoms with all their kings, politicians, nobles, presidents, etc. For example, the learned, rich and powerful seek the kingdoms of the world. But Jesus explained, “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” (Matt. 20:27) Can you imagine the kings of the world assuming the role of servants?
Regarding Christ’s position as king, it had been prophesied that, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass. . . .” (Matt. 21:5) So when Jesus rode it into Jerusalem, the people “cut down branches from the trees” and threw them down before the ass and the multitude sang “Hosanna to the son of [King] David” (v. 8 & 9). They were recognizing Jesus as their King and fulfilling the following ancient prophecy:
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. (Zechariah 9:9)
What a humble demonstration by the greatest of all kings!
With their stubbornness and unrepentant hearts, the Jews sent lawyers to trap Jesus so they could prosecute and even condemn Him to death. Jesus warned them that “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. 21:43) But it fell on deaf ears for “when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” (Matt. 21:45) And indeed He was!
 The Jews wanted to kill Jesus because they were afraid to lose their “place and nation,” as John quoted them: “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” (John 11:48) Thus, because they killed Jesus, within 40 years they lost their nation, their temple and their priesthood. Most of them also lost their lives. Even the Roman Empire, which had reached its height and glory at this time, began to crumble and fall. Jesus could have built the Kingdom of Judah up to its greatest glory and also thrown down the Roman Empire. But in their stubbornness and pride they lost everything.
Jesus told the chief priests and Pharisees that “the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt. 21:31) Can you imagine how terrible this would sound to men who were claiming to be the most righteous of all people? Why should these Jewish leaders, who paid tithing on the spices they used, walked only a certain number of steps on the Sabbath, etc., be considered less than the harlots? Talking to harlots was one of the charges made against Jesus. At one time Jesus talked to such a woman, and when the disciples came they “marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?” (John 4:27)
On another occasion Simon, a Pharisee, saw Jesus talking to a similar woman and “spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39) Interestingly, Christ’s conversation with these women was almost casual, but when He talked to the Jewish Pharisees, He was quite harsh and fierce. He even called them hypocrites, a child of hell, fools, blind guides, serpents, and vipers. In any case, He was more tolerant of harlots and prostitutes than of Jewish religious leaders and said the harlots would go into the Kingdom of God before they would!
 Jesus had related to them a prophetic parable telling about those who would and would not be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven:
And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. (Matt. 22:1-8)
The Jews, then, were those who would be denied entrance into the Kingdom by the King Himself.
Nevertheless, the Pharisees and Sadducees continued to plot ways that they might trap Jesus, but He seemed to continually outsmart them. Finally He told them they were “hypocrites, blind guides, fools, whited sepulchres, and serpents,” and a lot more. (See Matt. 23.) That was the last straw! They didn’t want to repent; they wanted to kill Him. The term “whited sepulchre” was about the worst swear word that could be used to describe them.
Jesus had predicted to His disciples that in two days, during the Feast of the Passover that He would be betrayed—and it came to pass:
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. (Matt. 26:3-4)
When Judas betrayed Him, he brought a “great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.” (Matt. 26:47) False witnesses accused Him of blasphemy which was a crime worthy of death according to the Jews. When Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate, they charged Him with being a King which was a capital crime with Romans. Pontius asked Jesus, “Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.” (Matt. 27:11) [You said it!]
When Jesus was found guilty, Pilate’s soldiers took Him to the common hall:
And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. (Matt. 27:28-30)
It is interesting to note that this whole trial and condemnation was over the fact that Christ claimed to be a king, and thus they mocked Him in a corresponding manner.
These rebellious, hard-hearted leaders did not want to admit their wrongs, nor did they want to lose their positions. They didn’t care if Jesus took multitudes upon on the mountains and preached beautiful beatitude sermons; they didn’t care if He went about healing the sick, the blind and the lame; nor did they care if He quoted scriptures and made prophecies.  But they did care about His claims of kingship and His doctrines and objectives pertaining to the Kingdom!
When He was taken to Golgotha and crucified, the inscription over His cross described His crime: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” The inscription was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
One of the thieves on a cross beside Him said, “If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (Matt. 27:42)
But some of the Jews protested:
Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. (John 19:21-22)
How interesting that Jesus was killed for political rather than for religious reasons. Likewise, Joseph Smith was killed more for his political position and influence than for his religion. They killed Jesus for claiming to be a King in Israel, and Joseph because of his growing popularity as a candidate for U.S. President.
 Chapter 24
KINGS AND QUEENS IN THE KINGDOM
They [those whose bodies are celestial] are they who are the church of the Firstborn. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory. (D & C 76:54-56)
Since the beginning of time men have proclaimed themselves to be kings—good and bad, insane and strange. They have usually had a queen, for a king’s court is hardly complete without a queen. In some instances, the queen has saved the king and even his kingdom.
Regardless of all the pomp and show, riches and honors, the title of king connotes both temporal and spiritual obligations. Most kings have ruled with blood and terror, making mankind slaves to their vain ambitions. John Taylor made an interesting observation:
Go back, however, to their origin, and you will find that their kingdoms were first obtained by the sword; they stole their kingdoms and power, and then got priests to sanctify the theft. (JD 5:189)
But the title of king has also been held by many of God’s choicest disciples who are willing to be subservient to Him. And over these kings reigns Jesus the Christ, who is “King of kings.”
Christ is the King of Kings (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:11-16), a title signifying far more than the mere fact that he as the Eternal King holds dominion over mere earthly kings. Rather, those who gain exaltation are ordained kings and queens, priests and priestesses, in which positions they shall exercise power and authority in the Lord’s eternal kingdoms forever. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10) Christ as the chief of all exalted beings continues to hold dominion and sway over these other exalted kings and saints and consequently reigns as King of Kings and King of Saints forever. (Rev. 15:3) (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, p. 424)
One of the scriptures pertaining to the Kingdom of God that needs clarifying is, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) This has thrown off many Christian ministers from a true understanding of the term. For instance, a prominent source of Christian theology stated: “The kingdom of God refers to the spiritual rule of Christ within the heart of those who are saved.” (Wycliff Bible Enc., p. 99) However, in another scripture from the Inspired Translation, Jesus said, “the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs.” (Matt. 7:10, I.V.) This is further clarified by Joseph Smith:
And where there is a priest of God—a minister who has power and authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the gospel and officiate in the priesthood of God—there is the kingdom of God. (TPJS, p. 271)
In recorded history, the first mention of kings was in a promise made to Abraham. The Lord told him:
And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. (Gen. 17:6)
And I will bless her [Sarah], and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. (Gen. 17:16)
This title was promised not only through blood lines but also by sacred ordinance and ordination. John the Beloved said that Jesus “hath made us kings and priests unto God” (Rev. 1:6), which indicates that they were “made” or set apart by special calling and title at a particular time and place.
And while men were being made kings by ordination, so, too, were women made queens, as John Taylor stated:
You have been ordained kings and queens, and priests and priestesses to your Lord: you have been put in possession of principles that all the kings, potentates, and powers upon the earth are entirely ignorant of: they do not understand it; but you have received this from the hands of God. . . . (Gospel Kingdom, p. 222)
When John, the Revelator, was banished to the Isle of Patmos, he wrote his remarkable book, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.” Written circa 96 A.D., it contains several interesting statements concerning kings. For example, twice he mentioned an ordination that he and some others had received from Jesus Christ: Jesus had “made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Rev. 1:6), and He had “made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:10)
This is an ordination that is not completely understood by the sectarian world. In Christ’s time, anyone set apart as a “king” outside regular channels would naturally cause concern among gentile kings, especially in Rome. As mentioned in the preceding chapter, claiming to be a king to “reign on the earth” was the main charge leveled at Jesus and the main  reason he was crucified. This same fate would certainly follow His disciples if they received such an ordination and made such a claim.
It is apparent that John was talking about an office of Priesthood which included both “kings and priests” who could officiate in both political and religious affairs. It is certainly reasonable that if Jesus was King of kings, He would have selected His most loyal disciples to receive that calling. John himself verifies this: “He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)
Kings and queens are a part of the official royalty of the High Priesthood. These are offices and callings for those who have become Saints, and they will be kings and queens in the Kingdom of God on earth as well as in heaven.
The question now arises as to who has the authority and which church still claims the right to perform this special anointing? John Taylor answers this question:
Authority to anoint kings and queens, in order that they may be anointed of the Lord, must be given in one of three ways. It must, first, have been given by revelation to the primitive Christian Church, authorizing them to administer in this ordinance, and empowering their successors to do it; secondly, by direct revelation; or, otherwise, it must have been transmitted from the ancient Jews, through a lineal descent. In regard to the first, we find no such record in the New Testament; neither Jesus, nor his Apostles, nor any of the seventies, nor elders, ever administered in this ordinance, or spoke of it as being associated with the powers of their ministry. Consequently, no power can come from there. * * *
In regard to the second position, all Christendom deny present revelation; and thus from their own confession they have not obtained their authority from that source; and in regard to the third, if there was authority associated with the Jews to ordain kings, the Christians certainly could not claim a Jewish rite; for the Jewish nation and authority were all destroyed; “they were broken off because of unbelief.” (Rom. 11:17, 19, 20) The Christians obtained all their authority to officiate from Jesus Christ, and not from the Jews. Whichever way you look at it, there is no foundation for any such authority, and consequently the anointing is all a farce, for it does not originate with God. (The Government of God, John Taylor, pp. 59-60)
The Kingdom of God was to be distinguished from the Church of Jesus Christ. The titles of king and queen were not found among the offices and officers of His Church. The office and calling of “king” was a political one, not religious. Even though kings were sanctioned and set apart in a religious setting, they became part of a separate body or organization. Even in the gentile world, this tradition has been handed down through the line of religious leaders, such as in the case of the kings and queens of England. The coronations of British kings and queens are done by their highest religious officers, before assuming their political duties.
 Chapter 25
VESTIGE OF THE KINGDOM
Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom. (D & C 19:5)
After Jesus and others ordained men to be “kings,” then what? Was there some kind of organization, quorum or council to which they could belong? They shouldn’t be expected to just wander off with the title of “king” and not have any further affiliation with others holding the same title.
Within the Catholic Church there are still a few rudiments from the original Church of Christ, but many practices and doctrines have been lost along its 2,000-year historical path. We wonder, how far along this path did the concept of kings and queens originate? One early and interesting account of kings comes from King Arthur.
Historians have been chasing the story of King Arthur for many years, thus bringing to light considerable history and a variety of legends. Today it is difficult to separate true legend from glowing fiction. After the 12th century, the portrayal of King Arthur began to include new stories, legends and myths, and some were so bizarre and unbelievable, they caused many facts to then be considered as fiction. This seems to be common with many historical events.
The first writer consciously to draw on the still largely oral sources pertaining to Arthur was a 12th-century “historian” named Geoffrey of Monmouth. He it  was created a vehicle for the seemingly inexhaustible supply of stories concerning the exploits of Arthur and his heroes by writing a History of the Kings of Britain. (The Arthurian Tradition, John Matthews, p. 3)
Historians, however, continually uncover material that tends to verify the actual existence of this venerable king. They have found the story repeated in the writings of a ninth-century Welsh monk named Nennius. Before that, he was mentioned in a book, Life of St. Columba, in the seventh century and in a Celtic poem “Gododdin” written about 600 A.D. His story goes back far enough that it could even be an idea that survived from something originated by Christ Himself.
This story of King Arthur, coming from the Middle Ages, has many of the earmarks of being a remnant of the Kingdom of God. It is based on the life of a wise and honorable man who fit the mold as being someone who honored the Kingdom of God. He was a Christian king; he had a kingdom and revered God as his personal and supreme King over his own kingdom. His friend Merlin was a spiritual advisor, much the same as a prophet would be.
Arthur, however, became obsessed with Roman Christianity, to the extent that he began to regard his Guletic cavalry as a holy army. This disposition led to considerable disturbance within the Celtic Church, for Arthur was, after all, destined to be the next King of Scots. (Bloodlines of the Holy Grail, Laurence Gardner, p. 148)
Some old records indicate that Arthur had three wives; however, Laurence Gardner admitted to only two. He related that “Arthur was married to Gwenhwyfar of Brittany, but she bore him no children. On the other hand, he did father Modred by Morgaine.” (Ibid., p. 151) King Arthur died in 603 A.D.
 Several hundred years later (1191 A.D.) an important discovery was made when some monks at Glastonbury discovered the remains of King Arthur. The story was related by Gardner:
Some 16 feet (c. 4.8 metres) below ground, in a hollowed oak canoe, they unearthed the bones of a tall man, along with some smaller bones and a tress of golden hair. Such a find was of little consequence in its own right, but the monks were in luck, for not far above the log coffin there was said to have been a leaden cross embedded in stone. Upon the cross was inscribed “Hic lacet Sepultus Inclytus Rex Arthurius In Insula Avallonia Cum Uxore Sua Secunda Wenneveria” (“Here lies interred the renowned King Arthur in the Isle of Avalon with his second wife Guinevere.”) Not only had they found Arthur’s grave but they had also conveniently found written proof that Glastonbury was the Isle of Avalon!
However, the Roman Church officials were far from happy that Guinevere was described as the king’s “second” wife, and it was asserted that the inscription was obviously incorrect. This posed something of an immediate problem but, soon afterwards the legend reappeared, miraculously changed in spelling and format. This time it dispensed with Guinevere altogether, so that it was far more in keeping with requirement: “Hic lacet Sepultus Inclitus Rex Arturius In Insula Avalonia” (“Here lies interred the renowned King Arthur in the Isle of Avalon”). (Ibid., pp. 154-155)
The much loved story of King Arthur is familiar to readers worldwide, but to Mormon historians, there are items of particular interest, the most fascinating being the number of knights that were supposed to be seated at the Round Table. It is recorded that these were men of the “most prowess and worship to fill at least fifty of the seats.” (Sir Thomas Malory in Le Morte D’Arthur, as quoted by John Mathews in The Arthurian Tradition, p. 28)
 The legend of King Arthur is one of an honorable king who left behind the beautiful story of Camelot. Fact or fiction, it doesn’t really matter here, because it revives the spirit and inspiration of a magnificent kingdom. Yes, the king is dead, but his legend lingers on. In our imagination we still like to picture such a great king, glorious queen, and honorable knights of the Round Table.
The glorious vision of Camelot has not passed away. Most people dream of living in a kingdom where there is no evil or temptation, and they can bask in the sunshine of love and happiness forever! However, these do not need to be impossible dreams, as ancient prophecies mention that this condition will someday become a reality, and God has promised an even better kingdom eventually.
It is recorded that alongside King Arthur’s body lay his sword—the weapon he used to fight so valiantly for the peace and freedom of his kingdom. King Arthur’s sword had a special significance, and can be compared to another sword, described by Brigham Young:
When Joseph [Smith] got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it  was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: “This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” (JD 19:38)
It is with great interest we learn that as time goes on, adding new chapters, discoveries from the past also continue to reveal new historical facts; there continue to be archaeological discoveries revealing many important finds. Who knows what swords, metal plates, coins, records and artifacts may yet be discovered and restored. And even greater than these will be the restoration of that elusive but promised Kingdom of God.
 Chapter 26
Prophecy of the Kingdom
in the Latter Days
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Dan. 7:27)
By the turn of the first century, all the Apostles of Christ had been killed (except for John who was translated), and with them went the Holy Priesthood and its sacred laws, covenants and ordinations; only a shadow of the original remained. There were no magnificent churches or cathedrals, and no sacred temples to perform their holy rites and ordinances. The Church of Christ had never become a faction to be reckoned with; indeed the disciples were among the poorest, most destitute of all. They met occasionally in their homes, in barns or in the forests. They lived fearful lives and were despised and persecuted by society. Christianity by all standards had not been a successful movement.
The remaining Christians carried on the best they could even though many were fed to lions, burned at the stake or left to rot in prison. It was not until 300 years later that the great Roman Empire considered Christianity as a viable religion. By then only a few of the original doctrines, ordinances and principles remained. Romanism had joined Christianity, and Christianity had joined Romanism. It was a strange and unholy  alliance, but it still carried the label of Christian. The simple, humble priests of Christianity became powerful and wealthy rulers, lords and kings. The simple Christian church became an empire of conquests by wielding their mighty swords. The meaning of the term “king” took on a new interpretation and so did their responsibilities and powers.
But through it all a glimmer of hope remained. Before Jesus died, He had prophesied that His Kingdom would return and that He would yet rule and reign over the earth as King of kings. But before that time there would be blood and destruction, and as John the Revelator foretold, the kings of the earth would all commit fornication with the great and evil harlot called Babylon.
The Kingdom of God has not fared very well in any of the previous dispensations, yet there was an ancient prophecy that the time would come when it would again be organized and would survive. This was revealed to Daniel, when he interpreted the dream or vision of King Nebuchadnezzar.
The king summoned Daniel to interpret his dream, and Daniel said, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” The great image was in the form of a man composed of different elements.
This prophecy pertained to the Kingdom of God in the latter days, as we know it did not happen at the time of Nebuchadnezzar nor in the meridian of time. Both the Church and the Kingdom that Christ established were destroyed with only some of the elements remaining. Orson Pratt stated:
Now, ancient Christianity, or, in other words, the kingdom which God set up eighteen hundred years ago, did not accomplish the prediction or fulfill that which was spoken by Daniel. (JD 17:209)
 Hence, the kingdom which Nebuchadnezzar saw was to exist in the latter days and would be the Kingdom which should never be destroyed:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. (Dan. 2:44-45)
Orson Pratt clarified this dream:
Daniel, in interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, describes the various kingdoms of the earth from his day down, as long as there should be any human kingdoms on the earth, under the form of a great image, with the head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet part iron and part of potter’s clay. They represented the several kingdoms of the world, and more especially the four great kingdoms that should hold universal dominion. After seeing this image in all its completeness, from the gold down to the last remnants of the nations of the earth, represented by the feet and toes of the image, he then sees a kingdom and a government entirely distinct from and forming no part or portion of the image, but it was entirely separate therefrom. (JD 16:86)
Today we see the organization of many nations forming the nucleus of a one-world government or kingdom. Could this be the kingdom referred to that would prevail over all other nations? Apparently the image Daniel interpreted was also a  composition of all these kingdoms, but the little stone from the mountains would smash them all to pieces. Again from Orson Pratt:
Daniel, who was filled with the Spirit of the living God, saw that all these earthly governments—with the setting up of which God had nothing to do particularly, that is, their founders were neither prophets nor revelators so as to found them upon the principles of the everlasting Gospel—were to vanish away, like the chaff of the summer threshing floor. And you know how that vanishes, especially when the wind blows strongly. So shall it be with all the governments, kingdoms, powers, republics, and empires upon the face of this globe, except one government, namely, that government which the God of heaven shall establish in the latter days upon the mountains. This is the work of God. (JD 21:280)
Nearly all the Christian nations of the earth, such as Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Austria, England and America, have grown out of the great Roman Empire—adopting their laws, customs, governments and their Christian religion. They comprise a part of the great beast image of Daniel’s interpretation and are governed by worldly “kings” and laws.
Daniel saw two kingdoms in the latter days. One was a composition of all the nations of the earth and the other was represented by a little stone that came from the mountains. In the clash of the two, the little stone survived. In Volume 3 of this Kingdom of God series we shall discuss more about Daniel’s prophecy and its fulfillment in the latter days.
We have the promise that no matter what the size or power of a worldly government or kingdom, eventually it is the Kingdom of God that will prevail.