Faith (and fear)


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Only two people ever walked on water, that is if you believe the Bible. But that is the point, isn’t it? Believing. On the fourth watch of the night, or at 3 am, after having  been tossed about at sea, Jesus Christ who had stayed behind the previous evening on land to pray on a mountain, appeared to them, having caught up to them by walking on the water. When His disciples saw Him, they cried out for fear. But Jesus quickly told them to be of good cheer, that it was Him, and He calmed their fears.

Peter, upon testing Jesus, immediately said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Without hesitation, the Lord granted Peter’s request and bid him come out on the water to Him. So Peter took a step into the unknown out in the darkness, not knowing whether Jesus or some spirit beckoned him. He had exercised enough faith to press forward and trust the voice of who he hoped it was. As Peter began walking, the wind became boisterous and Peter became afraid. When his faith turned to fear, he began to sink and cried out for rescue. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ then immediately caught Peter, saving him from death and exclaimed to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Many experiences have taught me that listening to the Lord often brings me to a point where I have to choose whether or not to step out into the unknown. Fear of being hurt or deceived is enough to paralyze a person. I have also learned that each time I exercised faith and took a step forward, I did not fall. I have come to firmly believe that if I misstep, the Lord is there to catch me and preserve me from death. And I have been preserved from death before. But this isn’t about living and dying. This is about loving God enough to trust Him and His voice alone. I am sure that when Peter stepped down onto the water, he did not turn to the right or the left. And that is something to consider for another time. I am sure that he walked directly toward Jesus.

I know many people who believe in God, but do not believe God. They believe He exists, but do not believe His words or are not familiar with His words. Many are distracted by the cares of the world to keep His sayings diligently or they fear being hurt. People fear being hurt especially when they experience a contradiction of things. Walking on water contradicts the law of gravity as we know it. Despite everything scientists understand about gravity, none have been able to determine what causes it. There is a theory of relativity used to explain it, but it’s just that-a theory. This physical world is governed by many physical laws, one of them being gravity. If you step off a cliff, you fall until something stops your fall and it’s usually the solid ground below. Likewise, if you step out of a perfectly good boat onto the water, you will sink until something solid stops your descent.

If you take Jesus Christ out of the equation, then you are left to the natural course of things in life. However, if you come unto Christ as He invited all to do, He will catch you if you start to fall. He is a merciful God who gently corrects errors and false beliefs, but He does not leave you alone. The inevitable outcome of following Him, though, is losing your life. That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Jesus Christ is life, right? But if you are a student of the scriptures, you might find out about a certain rich man who went away sorrowing because although he kept the law since he was a youth, he would not give up his riches to follow Christ. Rather than having faith, he feared. The rich man preferred the life he lived. It was preferable for him to keep all the things he had worked so hard to obtain, rather than give them all up to start a new life-a different one. His faith was in his own ability to provide for himself rather than faith in God to give him everlasting life. Thus those who seek to save their life, whatever kind of life they’re living will lose it in the grave. But those who seek to lose whatever life they are living for Christ’s sake, as He promised, will find it again, for life with Him is everlasting. The rich man was deceived by his own covetousness.

There are so many ways we can deceive ourselves into thinking it’s okay to procrastinate or ignore the call to come unto Christ, especially when He beckons. And He is always beckoning. We must push aside all the worldly obstacles and idols and false beliefs that stand between us and the Lord, including all the traditions of men, even religious traditions. Traditions do not have the power to save. Believing Jesus Christ and doing what He tells you to do is what saves. But you must first know and understand His will. If you do not know His will when He is bidding you to come out of your comfort zone, then nothing else matters. Fear and faith cannot and do not exist at the same time. You will either believe Him and exercise faith and move forward one step at a time  toward the light or fear falling with each step and remain in darkness.jesus-water





Babylon, The Final Frontier, Part 1


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I served a mission on the other side of the world and when I returned, I went to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell. I saw Babylon bigger and brighter than ever. And I partook thereof until decades later, having been born of the Spirit and experiencing a mighty change of heart, I saw with new eyes how idolatrous I had been. Back then I thought worshiping idols, at least as depicted in scripture, meant nothing more than adoring or reverencing statues as the ancient Israelites did with the golden calf built by Aaron. But it is so much more than that.

The primary commandment given to Israel was to have no other gods before the Lord. Jehovah acknowledged the existence of other gods, though they were all fictions of imagination. If we love the Lord, truly love Him, there would be no need nor even use to go whoring after anything or anyone else. But the Lord’s covenant people did so and still do so. I like what Gileadi had to say in his essay, Twelve Diatribes of Modern Israel:

The final test in the scriptures of whether a god is true or false is whether he saves his people in the Lord’s day of judgment.

And so it was:

Judges 10: 13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.
14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

Isaiah 37: 18 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,
19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only.

Jeremiah 11:11 ¶Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

And so it will be:

D&C 112:24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

Idolatry is the great obstacle. Babylon and her idols are alive and well among the Lord’s covenant people upon the mountains of Ephraim (as well as throughout the world). It is so difficult to not be stained by it all. I cannot help but dirty my hands as I contribute to feeding Mammon, though I weep for Zion. I hate money. I hate that I have to work for money in order to exist in a system, which has too great a hold of us all. The people of Limhi learned the hard way. Today there really are no more places of refuge in the world. Above all else, I am vexed by my own sinful and carnal state. I am truly my own worst enemy.

I recently came home from visiting my parents in Texas and as I drove north along I-15, I looked toward downtown SLC at all the tall buildings and also the construction going on. I remember a time when the temple was easily visible. Now it is shadowed and eclipsed by great and spacious buildings, which recently enticed the world to partake of glamorous materialism.

If those giant posters and billboards advertising to the world to come visit the heart of Salt Lake City are disturbing, even more disturbing are the overpriced brands advertised with very attractive models. But isn’t that how all commercials are? Everyone is smiling, all made up, wearing beautiful clothes in the happy settings of Utopian society.

I’m reminded of Hugh Nibley’s words in “What is Zion? A Distant View” where he says:

Elders of Israel are greedy after the things of this world. If you ask them if they are ready to build up the kingdom of God, their answer is prompt–”Why, to be sure we are, with our whole souls; but we want first to get so much gold, speculate and get rich, and then we can help the church considerably. We will go to California and get gold, go and buy goods and get rich, trade with the emigrants, build a mill, make a farm, get a large herd of cattle, and then we can do a great deal for Israel.

I have heard this many times from friends and relatives, but it is hokum. What they are saying is, “If God will give me a million dollars, I will let him have a generous cut of it.” And so they pray and speculate and expect the Lord to come through for them. He won’t do it: “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property” (D&C 19:26). “Let them repent of all their sins, and of all their covetous desires, before me, saith the Lord; for what is property unto me? saith the Lord” (D&C 117:4). He does not need our property or our help.

Every rhetorician knows that his most effective weapons by far are labels. He can demolish the opposition with simple and devastating labels such as communism, socialism, or atheism, popery, militarism, or Mormonism, or give his clients’ worst crimes a religious glow with noble labels such as integrity, old-fashioned honesty, tough-mindedness, or free competitive enterprise. “You can get away with anything if you just wave the flag,” a business partner of my father once told me. He called that patriotism. But the label game reaches its all-time peak of skill and effrontery in the Madison Avenue master stroke of pasting the lovely label of Zion on all the most typical institutions of Babylon: Zion’s Loans, Zion’s Real Estate, Zion’s Used Cars, Zion’s Jewelry, Zion’s Supermart, Zion’s Auto Wrecking, Zion’s Outdoor Advertising, Zion’s Gunshop, Zion’s Land and Mining, Zion’s Development, Zion’s Securities–all that is quintessentially Babylon now masquerades as Zion.

Hunger Wars


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So I watched the latest Hunger Games movie today. The first two movies pit children against each other in a dystopian tradition of ruling the masses. Consider the indoctrination of the children in Orwell’s book 1984:

“Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it… All their ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children.”

This quote explains the government’s power over the children in the dystopian society depicted in George Orwell’s 1984. Parents have no authority over their children, who are influenced from a very young age by the forces of “Big Brother.” The children join organizations such as the “Spies,” where they dress uniformly in “blue shorts, gray shirts, and red neckerchiefs” and are systematically indoctrinated in the philosophies of the government.

The children are taught to love Big Brother and hate “foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals,” the “enemies of the State;” they are encouraged to attend public hangings, and as such are desensitized to violence. The children will report to the authorities anyone who engages in questionable activities or who criticizes the government, including their parents, and indeed are praised as “child hero[es]” for doing so. Parents have no control over their children, who have been turned into “ungovernable little savages” by their training.

There is no love cultivated between children and their parents; through early and constant indoctrination, the children’s devotion is all directed towards Big Brother. Tragically, parents actually fear their own children, because they know that their children’s loyalties lie with Big Brother, and that should they even suspect their parents of deviation from the strict codes of behavior mandated by the government, they will not hesitate to turn them in (Part 1, Chapter 2).


I can’t decide if the Hunger Games movies glorify the subject matter or perhaps are used as a vehicle to bring about an awareness of the world around us to the youth today. But do they see a strong female hero and idolize her? Furthermore, are today’s youth even aware of the sword of justice that hangs over us all? I am reminded of this scripture:

Mosiah 4:13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

And while children wield deadly weapons in extremist countries today, our own may be all too easily desensitized by the gratuitous sex and violence on TV or in the video games they play, which occupy their attention and take up their free time. Do they sing songs in church, comparing themselves to the army of Helaman, having been taught in their youth? How little they may be aware of the setting and nature of the conversion of the stripling warriors. It was their conversion to Jesus Christ and their faith in Him alone that inspired them to risk their lives in mortal combat on the front lines of some of their bloodiest battles, suffering many wounds unto the loss of consciousness for the cause of liberty.

I wonder if our children are clueless. There was no hero worship or idolatry among those two thousand and sixty Lamanite boys, although they esteemed Helaman as their father, following him into battle, confidently obeying his orders precisely. And it was their faith in the Lord that preserved every last one of them. None were lost. Who will our children look to when the sword of justice falls on this gentile nation and all over the world?

Alma 57:25 And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.

26 And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.

27 Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

I left the theater with a lot to think about. And it has been a while since I have shared any thoughts on my blog, but I felt the need to do so today.

Sticks and Stones – A Parable



There was once a village at the base of a great mountain where beautiful trees grew and where clear waterfalls gave the people of the village life. The branches of the trees on the lower elevation of the mountain provided most of the villagers with sturdy walking sticks, which they enjoyed using. The people happily climbed the mountain to find the finest branches with which to carve their sticks, staffs and canes from the soft green wood of these trees. The shorter staffs made it easier to climb the mountain where these trees grew and while many people enjoyed spending their time climbing up to the trees, most enjoyed hiking around the village with their canes and walking sticks.

There were, of course, some villagers who wanted to climb higher and explore more of the mountain. They found out soon enough that their staffs were not strong enough to rely on as they put their entire weight on their staffs to make the steeper climbs. Some gave up and went back down while some pressed onward. After some time, those villagers who had climbed higher discovered other trees, whose red wood was much denser than the softer green wood of the trees below. When they finally returned to the village, they showed their sturdier staffs to as many as would come and see them. Many laughed and said that the extra climb was not worth the effort and that their own canes were sufficient for their everyday tasks in the village. But some people desired sturdier wood for their daily walks and climbs and so they made the climb to the higher elevation to obtain the sturdier red branches.

Before long there were divisions in the village. The vast majority had green walking sticks from the trees with the softer wood. The minority of the villagers had their red walking and climbing sticks from the denser trees. Some of these people in the minority prided themselves with their sturdier staffs and a few even avoided anyone with sticks made of the softer green wood. They were considered arrogant by the rest of the villagers who owned green walking sticks. The owners of the red sticks resented being considered arrogant for they only wished to share why the sturdier sticks were more desirable. After a time, however, many of those with the red sticks stopped making their regular hikes up the mountain, but stayed home to pursue idle activities. There were some few who still enjoyed their hikes either to the lower elevations or the elevations higher up. Some of those who owned red sticks who stopped climbing occasionally teased those who still enjoyed their daily climbs, considering it an unnecessary use of time. Besides, everyone could enjoy the beautiful scenery, which the mountain provided and enjoy its bounty equally.

One day, a man from the village gazed at the peak, which was rarely visible through the clouds high above. He decided to make the dangerous climb to the top despite the laughter and ridicule of everyone else in the village. Very few in the village’s history had ever made it back with anything to show for it. He took his climbing staff and began his ascent. He encountered many nearly impassable rocky ledges and sheer walls that without his staff, he could not have made it. After a great many days, he returned bruised and beaten from the near impossible journey. On his way home, he encountered some friends. At their request, he described the perilous journey including the path, which had been so overgrown by vegetation from almost never having been used.

The next day, his friends visited him and had brought others to hear about his experience. As they sat listening, he reached for a pouch, which hung from around his neck and rested on his chest. He opened the flap and took out a beautiful small stone, which fit perfectly in the palm of his hand. They had never seen a stone like it and envied him. None existed in or around the village near and far. He explained that there were more just like it but they could only be found at the top of the mountain. In fact, there were more than enough for each villager if anyone wished to climb to the top and obtain one.

One of his friends asked him about the view at the top. Others inquired further about the precious stones and how they had gotten there or if someone had made them and put them there. Some doubted that he ever made it to the top at all and found the stone elsewhere. After their questioning, he invited them all to make the journey themselves and experience what he had experienced. Because he had declined to relate everything that he saw and heard, another accused him of being arrogant, which saddened him. They all agreed that it was not necessary to climb the mountain just to have a stone, regardless of how desirable it was and they departed. The next day, word spread throughout the village about the precious stone, which he carried around his neck near his heart. Thereafter, most of the villagers avoided him. Life in the village continued as before, some resenting others because of their finer staffs and most resenting the man with his precious stone. Once in a great while, a villager would gaze at the peak of the mountain and make the perilous journey and return after a great many days with a precious stone.



Parable Of The Nobleman


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It has been quite a while since my last entry and it’s not for lack of a desire to update, but because I have spent countless hours studying and pondering the scriptures, particularly the Book of Isaiah, which has been the focus of my attention for two years now and counting. And I’m still only getting started. More on the great words of Isaiah in coming months.

This entry is inspired by Dieter Uchtdorf’s talk, which is available to read in the May Ensign Magazine: “Are You Sleeping Through The Restoration?” There is no doubt in my mind that the restoration of the “fullness” of the gospel was not complete. There was much work left undone and the Lord revealed to us a parable to illustrate that fact. From D&C 101:43-62 we read:

43 And now, I will show unto you a parable, that you may know my will concerning the redemption of Zion.
44 A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants: Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon this very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive trees;
45 And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard.
46 Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower.
47 And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves: And what need hath my lord of this tower?
48 And consulted for a long time, saying among themselves: What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?
49 Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things.
50 And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.
51 And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees.
52 Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil?
53 Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?
54 And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer.
55 And the lord of the vineyard said unto one of his servants: Go and gather together the residue of my servants, and take allthe strength of mine house, which are my warriors, my young men, and they that are of middle age also among all my servants, who are the strength of mine house, save those only whom I have appointed to tarry;
56 And go ye straightway unto the land of my vineyard, and redeem my vineyard; for it is mine; I have bought it with money.
57 Therefore, get ye straightway unto my land; break down the walls of mine enemies; throw down their tower, and scatter their watchmen.
58 And inasmuch as they gather together against you, avengeme of mine enemies, that by and by I may come with the residue of mine house and possess the land.
59 And the servant said unto his lord: When shall these things be?
60 And he said unto his servant: When I will; go ye straightway, and do all things whatsoever I have commanded you;
61 And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom.
62 And his servant went straightway, and did all things whatsoever his lord commanded him; and after many days all things were fulfilled.

The Lord’s intent and work was to restore to the Gentiles the fullness of the gospel, which required the fullness of the priesthood. He prophecied this to the Nephites and Lamanites at Bountiful:

3 Nephi 20:27 And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.
28 And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.

This is the same “fullness” that was offered to the Israelites when Moses led them out of Egypt:

D&C 84:18 And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.
19 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.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23 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;
24 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.
25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also

This “rest” is what the Lord offers His covenant people when they are obedient. It is this same “rest,” which the prophet, Mormon taught his people and whose words were preserved by his son Moroni in the Book of Mormon:

Moroni 7:And now I, Moroni, write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity; for after this manner did he speak unto the people, as he taught them in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship.
And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.
Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven…

We begin to see a pattern. The “rest” of the Lord is attainable by anyone who is sanctified by the Holy Ghost (baptism of fire) and goes on to “ask” and to “seek” and to “knock.” Melchizedek attained this priesthood, which was given to the residents of the City of Enoch through their obedience. From the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, we read:

JST Genesis 14:27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
31 To put at defiance the armies of nations*, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order

What does it mean to be a priest of this order? Who are the priests of this order? Joseph Smith tells us:

D&C 76:51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God…

Because of Enoch’s obedience and those with him, they received of this fullness and established Zion. Because of the Israelite’s disobedience, they failed to build Zion so that they could enjoy the same “rest.” In 1833, the Lord gave Joseph Smith a parable as a warning that the saints at Nauvoo were about to forfeit their opportunity to receive this same fullness and fail grievously at building Zion.

In the first few verses of the parable, the Lord is represented by the Nobleman who instructs His servants Joseph Smith the prophet, the apostles Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, etc. to “plant twelve olive trees.” In other words, they were to begin working on restoring the covenant of Abraham, through which all his seed, literal (house of Israel) or adopted (Gentiles) would be entitled to all the blessings of the gospel. The Bible dictionary has an excellent explanation of the Abrahamic Covenant. Naturally, the twelve olive trees represent the twelve tribes of Israel, both literal and adopted. The watchmen were the membership of the church tasked to build up the Kingdom as well as to speedily assist in building the tower, which was the Nauvoo Temple. Without the temple, essential ordinances for receiving the fullness of the priesthood and to *to put at defiance the armies of nations (as described in JST Genesis above) could not be performed.

The Lord describes specifically a period of peace in verse 48. Truly there was a period of peace as evidenced by the luxurious homes built by Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff and others, which could not have been built under conditions of heavy persecution. A quick click of a link reveals to us how wonderful it was to live in Nauvoo during a short period of time:

Heber C. Kimball’s home

“The Heber C. Kimball Home was the inspiration for the restoration of Nauvoo…Heber, his wife Vilate, and their three children arrived in Nauvoo with almost nothing, having lost virtually everything they owned in Missouri. Heber dismantled an old stable to make a crude lean-to for his family. He built two log homes before finally completing this brick home.”

Wilford Woodruff’s home

“When Wilford built this lovely home, he wanted it to be warm and cozy. Consequently, he put a fireplace in every room, eight in all. He secured bricks, made in Nauvoo, by bartering and using what little money he had, and by doing much of his own work.  He recorded in his journal, “I went to a brick kiln and flung out 7,000 bricks, nearly melting myself.” “

“To the Latter-day Saints, brick homes and shops meant beauty and permanence. There were seven brickyards in Nauvoo in the 1840s, five of them on the bluff and two more on the flats. Those seven brickyards were capable of producing four million bricks in a single season. The three ingredients needed for making bricks, clay containing iron oxide, sand, and water, were all readily available here in Nauvoo.

Many early settlers lived for years in log cabins while they built their brick homes, only to enjoy them for a few short months before they left to begin their trek westward. Nauvoo boasted 350 brick buildings before the Saints left in 1846. Of these, 49 were still standing in the 1960s when the restoration of Nauvoo began. Many of these, including the homes of Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Heber C. Kimball, have been restored and made available for public viewing.”

Prior to their persecution by mobs, they had become a very prosperous society with shops, halls, wide streets, brick homes where at the time frontiersmen and women lived in humble log homes. And regarding their prior attempt to redeem Zion at Kirtland:

“The temple… site had been dedicated more than two years earlier… Beyond laying out stones and logs to mark the foundation site, however, the saints in Zion made no effort to build the temple that would have protected them in times of trial.  Instead, they attempted to establish Zion without building a temple, and they put their resources into other enterprises instead.  This led first to arguing, then to laziness, and then to breaking the commandments (see v. 50).  At that point, the Lord allowed the mobs to descend upon them, first in July and then again in November 1833, and the Missouri Saints, whose watchmen were seemingly asleep on duty (see v. 53), found themselves defenseless and unprepared. (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 3:277)

The church membership was fulfilling the parable the Lord had given them earlier that decade. Because of their slothfulness to complete the tower in the prescribed time period (D&C 124:31-32), the Lord had returned “their iniquities upon their own heads,” as He had prophecied to the Nephites and Lamanites at Bountiful. When Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed, the temple was not half completed. Thereafter, setback after setback, persecution after persecution caused the saints to finish the temple one section at a time. But as Moses was taken from the Israelites, so too was Joseph taken from the saints, and with him the opportunity for the saints to receive the fullness of the priesthood and establish Zion as Enoch had successfully done. Mobs had overrun Nauvoo and and the temple suffered fire after fire, disaster after disaster until finally, May 27, 1850,  A tornado struck, and debris fell around workers who were repairing the walls of the temple. The St. Louis–based Daily Missouri Republican recorded, “This frightful hurricane, the most terrible experienced in the country in many years, burst suddenly on the hill of Nauvoo, where lightnings, thunder, wind, hail and rain, seemed united to assail the building.” — 27 May 1850, quoted in Don F. Colvin, The Nauvoo Temple: A Story of Faith (2002), 270.

After one hundred seventy years, we latter-day saints are as worldly as the early saints were. Isaiah looked most unfavorably at us. The Book of Mormon was written specifically for us so that we would not make the same mistakes that previous covenant peoples did. And for this reason, we have been under condemnation since 1832 (D&C 84:54-58).

Said Hugh Nibley: “Elders of Israel are greedy after the things of this world. If you ask them if they are ready to build up the kingdom of God, their answer is prompt–“Why, to be sure we are, with our whole souls; but we want first to get so much gold, speculate and get rich, and then we can help the church considerably. We will go to California and get gold, go and buy goods and get rich, trade with the emigrants, build a mill, make a farm, get a large herd of cattle, and then we can do a great deal for Israel.

I have heard this many times from friends and relatives, but it is hokum. What they are saying is, “If God will give me a million dollars, I will let him have a generous cut of it.” And so they pray and speculate and expect the Lord to come through for them. He won’t do it: “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property” (D&C 19:26). “Let them repent of all their sins, and of all their covetous desires, before me, saith the Lord; for what is property unto me? saith the Lord” (D&C 117:4). He does not need our property or our help.

Every rhetorician knows that his most effective weapons by far are labels. He can demolish the opposition with simple and devastating labels such as communism, socialism, or atheism, popery, militarism, or Mormonism, or give his clients’ worst crimes a religious glow with noble labels such as integrity, old-fashioned honesty, tough-mindedness, or free competitive enterprise. “You can get away with anything if you just wave the flag,” a business partner of my father once told me. He called that patriotism. But the label game reaches its all-time peak of skill and effrontery in the Madison Avenue master stroke of pasting the lovely label of Zion on all the most typical institutions of Babylon: Zion’s Loans, Zion’s Real Estate, Zion’s Used Cars, Zion’s Jewelry, Zion’s Supermart, Zion’s Auto Wrecking, Zion’s Outdoor Advertising, Zion’s Gunshop, Zion’s Land and Mining, Zion’s Development, Zion’s Securities–all that is quintessentially Babylon now masquerades as Zion.” — “What Is Zion? A Distant View” in Sunstone 13 (April 1989):20-32

The remainder of the parable, or in other words, the redemption of Zion is yet to come. But will it happen before the Lord pours out his judgment upon the Gentiles as prophecied by Isaiah? Perhaps the Gentiles will repent. But that is a topic for another day.