Saturday, November 21, 2020

Prophets Who Don't Prophesy

If we've ever needed a prophet, now would be the time. 

With COVID-19, political and media deception, anarchy, riots and more, the words of the Lord, as delivered to us by a prophet, would be a welcome help.


The Tests of True Prophets

A prophet's job description has never wavered: They are "men called to speak for the Lord" who "testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God's will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit." [1]  

Throughout the scriptures, when foreign armies or natural disasters threatened security, health or life, God frequently sent emissaries who issued urgent calls for people to turn away from sin and cast themselves upon the mercy of God. Think of calls to repentance in the face of disaster of Old Testament prophets such as Samuel [2], Isaiah [3], Jeremiah [4], Ezekiel [5], Daniel [6], Habakkuk [7], or Joel [8]; or of New Testament calls of John the Baptist [9], James [10], John the Revelator [11] and Jesus himself [12]. In the Book of Mormon, we have Nephi [13], Jacob [14], Mosiah [15], Alma [16], Helaman [17], Samuel the Lamanite [18], Mormon [19], Ether [20] and Moroni [21].

As I read the scriptures, prophets have consistently (1) been given a mission, directly from God, to preach to a people regarding their sinful state and the consequences of their sinfulness [22] if they don't repent, (2) delivered their message and (3) boldly declared that God sent them to deliver their message. Yet because their messages are rooted in inconvenient truths, they are almost universally (4) rejected by their divinely-appointed audiences and (5) often (though not always) paid for their directness with their lives. [23]

In the church's True to the Faith book (which I quoted above), "Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon" are also listed as examples of prophets. All of them did #1, #2 and #3. We know for a fact that Isaiah, Peter and Paul (and many others not listed here, including 11 of the 12 post-resurrection apostles and Brother Joseph) were rejected by their audiences (#4) and subsequently murdered by them (#5). 

I hope I have demonstrated that all throughout the scriptures, God's prophets were very direct in warning people of impending destruction, and what they needed to do to prevent it. In all these cases, it wasn't a deficiency in a certain quality (like gratitude) which was of concern to these prophets, but instead, good 'ol fashioned sin and pride.


The True Causes of Plagues and Pestilences

Often, God augments these prophets with natural calamities designed to stimulate a change of heart. Two of those are plagues [24] and pestilences [25]. These are not the result of a mutated virus released from a biomedical lab or animal market bats, but sins [26], unbelief in God [27] and not remembering him [28]. The remedy for these plagues and pestilences: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 

So, there's the carrot: The people called by his name must (1) humble themselves, (2) pray, (3) seek his face and (4) turn from their wicked ways. In return, God will (1) hear from heaven, (2) forgive their sin and (3) heal their land.  [29]

What's a good indicator when this hasn't happened? It's when God doesn't hear our prayers nor be moved by our fasts. The Lord said, "Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence."  [30]

Here, we see that God will not accept our offerings nor acknowledge our fasts if we are what? If we are iniquitous and sinning. And for that, he will continue to visit us not only with pestilence, but also the sword and famine.

Now, Let's Look at Our Current Landscape

We live in a time when people are perfectly fine with electing leaders and judges who enthusiastically support murdering unborn children. These leaders accommodate and fund countries who are violently opposed to God, Christians and freedom. They ignore and remain silent as anarchist groups foment riots and violence in our neighborhoods. They espouse sexual education of kindergarteners and encourage them to reconsider their God-given genders. They corrupt our laws, processes and procedures and eliminate divinely-inspired constitutional rights, provisions and principles. They give preferential treatment for individuals based on the color of their skin, not the content of their character. They take away income rightfully earned by an individual and give it to another who has not earned it. They embrace socialist and even communist ideologies.

Within the church, we are still under condemnation for not taking the Book of Mormon seriously. Pornography has decimated huge swaths of Melchizedek and especially Aaronic Priesthood quorums. Headlines regularly highlight active bishops and local leaders for sex-related crimes.  

On top of all of that, we still have COVID-19. Let's look at the worldwide Coronavirus trendlines since the first (March 26, 2020 [31], blue line) and second (April 4, 2020 [32], red line) church-wide fasts. [33]



Again: God has said that if we -- the people called by his name -- humble ourselves, pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways, then he will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. He's also said if we still have iniquity and sin, then he will not hear the cries of our fasts and he will not accept our offerings. 

Do these results indicate, in any way, shape or form, that God is healing our lands? Now, some may say, "Well, the fasts DID work, because these results could have been a lot worse." Aside from that being one heck of an assumption, the fasts didn't ask for a partial alleviation of COVID-19. They were "for relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic"[31] and "that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized."[32]

Aside from the above graphs, just a simple, casual trip to Walmart, Costco, your favorite dine-in restaurant or a movie theater will prove that COVID-19 isn't controlled. Caregivers are still raising concerns. The economy still hasn't returned to its pre-COVID heights and life is far from normal. Relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic is nowhere in sight.

Which brings us to…


A Day of Non-Warning

In his worldwide 11/20/2020 11am, 11-minute long worldwide message [34], Pres. Nelson laid out a strong case for his professional background as a medical expert. He also summarized his family life. In both cases, he was forced to confront disease and death among his patients, children and first wife.

Within seconds of its posting to YouTube, thousands of church members were praising him for his primary message: gratitude. As Thanksgiving is less than a week away, the message is entirely appropriate. 

Maybe it's just me, but something tells me that with all the sins listed above, plus this Coronavirus thing that's going on, man's ingratitude isn't the issue of the day. It's our continued sinful state and reluctance to change our hearts and repent. Do those trendlines show any progress in that regard?

Let's do a little hypothetical: Let's transport Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Alma, Mormon, Moroni and Joseph Smith back to our day, today. Judging by what they said in their times, what would be their messages today?

First, they would focus not on themselves, but Jesus Christ and his message to mankind. In this video, President Nelson spent 11 seconds on the actual "ills that plague our world, including hate, civil unrest, racism, violence, dishonesty, and lack of civility" (he included the pandemic as an ill, not an effect of a true illness, sin). He spent a grand total of 37 seconds on Jesus. And he spent 2 minutes 22 seconds talking about himself.

Granted, Pres. Nelson did mention repentance -- twice. In his first mention, he said "We can give thanks for the opportunity to repent, start over, make amends, and build character." Note that he didn't call us to repent; just that we should be grateful for repentance. In his second mention, he said "Wilt Thou also help us repent from selfishness, unkindness, pride and prejudice of any kind so that we can better serve and love one another as brothers and sisters and as Thy grateful children." Again, this is no call to repentance; it was a petition for God to help us repent.

Nowhere in his message does he mention the word "sin." No calls to humility or repentance. No seeking God's face.

He did, however, mention "gratitude" 11 times and "grateful" 8 times. 

You've known about the concept of gratitude since you were in primary. It's nothing new. 

What President Nelson's message did do is give us "a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription" which can "soothe our feelings and can "provide[s] us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life."

This, I believe, was deliberate. He said, "Over my nine and a half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems."

Gratitude, social media blitzes, high-tech equivalents of the Rameumptom and virtue signaling are definitely NOT what God would be telling us to do to…they're not the "urgent and important" remedies for mankind's sins, and you know it. 

If anything, now is THE time for us to be counting our problems. Now is the time for humility, repentance and seeking God's face, not "soothed feelings." These days, mankind has indirectly been told by its governments to get less sunlight, smoke more weed and watch more Netflix instead of getting healthier. Today, you were told to ingest the spiritual equivalent of candy, chips, cookies, cake, ice cream, pie and soda pop, not a proven regimen of diet and exercise.

Face it: Denouncing sin and warning of its consequences is not a sound marketing strategy. I mean, who wants to be told that they are not right before God? With all the darkness, despair, disease and death in the world, additional rays of sunshine are now more readily appreciated and embraced than messages of God's displeasure and disdain for mankind.

You know…the messages true prophets of God have always been expected to pronounce.

"That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us."  [35]

But if you look carefully, President Nelson did ask, "Wilt Thou also help us repent from selfishness, unkindness, pride and prejudice of any kind so that we can better serve and love one another as brothers and sisters and as Thy grateful children."

Because this issue isn't "mask or no mask" but is "repent or not", I believe that, oh yes, God will help us to repent from sin. Pres. Nelson's petition will be granted. But very likely, it will not be in the way Pres. Nelson is hoping.

God has been trying since the beginning of the year to help us repent. By the looks of it, we aren't listening to him. And the trendlines show we're not getting any better.

As we read earlier, God says of those whose fasts are not acknowledged: "I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence."

Thus, we're in a dilemma, a "Catch-22": If God doesn't hear the words of Pres. Nelson, then that's a serious situation, for Pres. Nelson is considered by millions as God's mouthpiece to the world. If God does hear his prayer, then God will be obliged to "help us repent." And just how does God help us, persuade us, to repent? Pestilences. Plagues. Fires. Floods. Tsunami. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Wars. Mobs. Famines. Solar disruptions. Asteroid hits.

Sometimes the most important catalyst for spiritual renewal is a cataclysmic event, where God doesn't decrease suffering. He INCREASES suffering.

Thanks Pres. Nelson. Because of your prayer, 2020 may easily end up looking like a day in the park compared to 2021 / 2022.


QUESTIONS

Based on the aforementioned facts, I have the following questions:

  • Would you consider that mankind, as a whole, are in a sinful state?
  • Does mankind need to take repentance more seriously?
  • Who is the prophet that's currently filling a job description similar to past (scriptural) prophets? Please show me their prophecies.
  • When was the last time that God commissioned a prophet to prophesy destruction to a people that's sinning?
  • Has God used plagues and pestilences to spur people to repentance?
  • Has he stopped doing so?
  • Has God said that if we do not repent, he will not hear our prayers and fasts?
  • By the looks of the COVID stats, has God heard our prayers and fasts?
  • What does humanity need to do to get God to hear our fasts and prayers?
  • Is "repentance" the primary message of the church's leaders today?
  • Did Pres. Nelson ask God to help us repent?
  • Just how does God help us, persuade us, to repent when not even plagues and pestilences are doing the trick?

SOURCES

 1.   "Prophets," True to the Faith, (2004), p. 129-30.
 2.   1 Samuel 7:3
 3.   Isaiah 1:24-27
 4.   Jeremiah 4:1-4
 5.   Ezekiel 33:11
 6.   Daniel 2:18; 9:3, 9, 17-18, 23
 7.   Habakkuk 3:2
 8.   Joel 1:13-14; 2:12-17
 9.   Matthew 3:5-12
10.   James (5:1-6)
11.   Revelation 2:5, 16, 21-22)
12.   Luke 13:1-5
13.   1 Nephi 7:13, 11:36
14.   Jacob 2:33, 3:1-3
15.   Mosiah 7:31, 29:27
16.   Alma 1:12, 4:11, 9:18, 10:18-27
17.   Helaman 8:5, 26
18.   Helaman 13:5-6
19.    Mormon 6:22
20.   Ether 8:23-25
21.   Moroni 8:27, 9:22
22.   2 Nephi 9:48
23.   Revelation 16:6; 1 Nephi 1:18-20.
24.   Zechariah 14:12, 15, 18; 2 Chronicles 21:14; Exodus 9:14; Numbers 11:33; Revelation 16:9, 21
25.   Exodus 9:14
26.   Mosiah 12:2-7; Helaman 11:15; D&C 97:26
27.   2 Nephi 6:15
28.   Helaman 12:3
29.   2 Chronicles 7:13
30.   Jeremiah 14:10-12
31.   https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/president-nelson-invites-all-worldwide-to-fast-for-physical-spiritual-healing-in-response-to-covid-19?lang=eng
32.   https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/president-nelson-asks-latter-day-saints-to-unite-our-faith-once-again-in-fast-on-good-friday?lang=eng
33.   https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/worldwide-graphs/#daily-cases
34.   https://youtu.be/tlcILxGmVrI
35.   Isaiah 30:9-11

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1 comment:

  1. The Salt Lake Tribune today published an editorial that likened Pres. Nelson's #GiveThanks marketing campaign to plugging your ears and humming while you just wait for it to be over. A quote that struck me:

    "Practicing gratitude can be a tool in coping with individual or global traumas, but if it is the tool, it stops true progress. “Counting our blessings,” instead of recounting problems, as Nelson said, serves no one. A problem doesn’t go away because you turn your back on it. It festers until it is dealt with."

    You can access the article here: https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2020/11/23/tamsen-maloy-gratitude-is/

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