Marriage by the Command of God

“Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.”
(Jacob 2:24)

David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.”
(D&C 132:38-39)

That God gave David his wives is confirmed in the original story:

“…Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given thee such and such things.
(2 Samuel 12:7-8)

Why was it that David sinned in marrying Bathsheba and not the other wives? God tells us, “in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.” This statement is very key and its sentiment is echoed in Jacob’s closing remarks on the topic:

For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”
(Jacob 2:30)

Do you see the pattern? It is only sin when men take it upon themselves to marry wives without the command of God via one of his appointed prophets. This is what the men who Jacob addressed were doing and why he had to speak to them in such strong terms.

The Prophet Joseph explained it like this:

“So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.”
(Documentary History of the Church, 5:256)

What Joseph said immediately after this is very telling:

“A parent may whip a child, and justly, too, because he stole an apple; whereas if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite; there would have been no stripes; all the pleasure of the apple would have been secured, all the misery of stealing lost.”

It is easy to deduce from the context of this statement that Joseph was saying that men who take wives without God’s sanction are stealing and deserve to be punished. Something else is also implied by this: if it is wrong to steal a 2nd or 3rd apple, it is also wrong to steal the first. Therefore, if a man takes even one wife without God’s sanction it is stealing and an abomination.

So then, given the gravity of the situation, you’re probably asking yourself, “How does a man know that his marriage has God’s sanction?” The passages above make it clear that when God sanctions a marriage he will give the woman to the man “by the hand of … the prophets who [have] the keys of this power.” Why would only prophets be given this power? The answer is simple, only a prophet is able to get a “special revelation” for each couple. Without that revelation a couple cannot know whether their marriage is approved of God.


Obedience, The Act of Humility

A research paper titled “The Religiosity of Mormon Men and Women through the Life Cycle” provides a table which compares how men and women rank themselves on several Christian virtues. The virtue men rank themselves lowest on is being humble. For women it’s patience, yet humility is a very close second. Sadly humility is the primary virtue of a saint. Pride (the opposite of humility) “is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others.” Now I don’t know whether the students polled in this survey were just trying to display humility by saying they weren’t humble, but I know for myself it is definitely an area in which I need improvement.

When trying to master a virtue, it is useful to find a role model of that virtue. This not only helps you believe it is possible to master that virtue, but a role model’s example also often provides clues about how mastery is achieved. In my search for a role model for humility, I found it somewhat difficult to think of many examples of humble persons besides Jesus. But even when considering Jesus, can you think of a defining instance where he showed humility? The opposite might be argued in that the Pharisees often accused him of being arrogantly blasphemous because he claimed to be the son of God. You might cite the case where he was approached by a man calling him “Good Master”, where Jesus retorts, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” I suppose that is a decent example, but I wanted to find more of an active example of humility.

After thinking about it for awhile, I realized the action of humility is obedience. There is definitely a connection between the two. The 1st commandment of the Ten Commandments given to Moses was “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” When asked “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” He also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Putting these ideas together, the 1st commandment both of Moses and Christ is to love God, which is expressed by obedience to God. Not only does God require obedience, but he requires exclusive obedience. As Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Interestingly, each of us has his or her own will which is another master other than God. Jesus expressed it like this, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it well in his sermon “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father” when he stated, “the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. … It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”

When we realize that acts of obedience to God are acts of humility, we find that many characters in the scriptures show by their works their humility. When Abel made an acceptable sacrifice to God, it was due to humility. Cain on the other hand had a better way of doing things and although he made a sacrifice, it wasn’t the sacrifice God asked for and therefore he wasn’t blessed like his brother Abel. Not being blessed, he fell into the sin of coveting what Abel had and killed him to obtain it.

In a similar vein, when Saul was commanded by God to “utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites,” Saul rationalized that this was a bit too much. After all the Amalekites had some awfully good cows. Maybe he could just kill the Amalekites and keep their cows. If he offered a sacrifice of those cows to God, surely God would be content with his offering. Again, God could not tolerate such an act of disobedience, so he sent his prophet Samuel to Saul. Samuel rebuked Saul in saying, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” For his rebellion Saul was stripped of the kingship which God had given him.

Abraham is yet another fine example of obedience. When God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham questioned God at first, because God seemed to be contradicting a former commandment (“Thou shalt not kill“). However, Abraham realized that whatever God now commands should be obeyed and so he went about the task of sacrificing his son. Could you be that obedient? Could I? Abraham had waited a very long time for a son. Isaac was his most prized possession. Ultimately God spared him this sacrifice, but Abraham’s willingness to obey was certainly tested. The fact that’s not as well known in this story is that Isaac was a grown man, fully aware of his father’s intent to sacrifice him. So this was not just a test of Abraham’s obedience, but of Isaac’s as well. Would you or I be willing to literally give up our lives in such a fashion to obey God?

The atonement of Christ was the literal fulfillment of the sacrifice which the story of Abraham and Isaac symbolized. In the ultimate act of humility, Christ willingly gave up his life in obedience to God’s command. If Jesus was married, as evidence indicates he was, can you imagine how much more difficult that made the task of leaving his family? As Latter-day Saints, we commit in the temple to be willing to do this very thing and we are reminded by it every time we take the sacrament of our Lord. Do we fully comprehend what we’ve covenanted to do?

The Origins of the Book of Abraham

A key to unlocking the origins of the Book of Abraham can be found in the book itself:

21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.
22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.
23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;
24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.
26 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.
27 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 1:21-27)

We can see from this that the King of Egypt (Pharoah) was a Caananite, who was cursed “pertaining to the Priesthood.” Regardless of this curse Pharoah attempted to perform the outward ordinances of the Priesthood which Noah had taught his sons, with the hope that God would respect the ordinances and grant him Priesthood power. You can see evidence in the Book of Jasher that he was continuing along a path his predecessor Ham started. In the Book of Jasher it mentions that Ham stole his father’s garment and gave it to his grandson Nimrod. This garment may have actually been the original garment that Adam was given when he was cast out of the Garden of Eden, which was passed down from father to son until it was finally given to Noah. According to the Book of Jasher, this garment was imbued with power to make the wearer of it a mighty man. So it is that Nimrod was able to use this garment and gather men around him to build the Tower of Babel. Thus the first world empire was born: Babylon. Sometime later Shem (Melchizedek) hunted down Nimrod and killed him and divided his body into many pieces and sent them to the priests with the message that they would suffer a similar fate if they continued to perform child sacrifices in the temples. This caused these wicked priests to take their religion underground and thus we get the “mystery” religion spoken of in the Book of Revelation (which continues to this day amongst the world’s elite).

Abraham lived in Ur of Bablyon (the Chaldees) in the days of Nimrod. His father was caught up in a semblance of Priesthood that the priests of Ham’s descendants were working under which had spread from Egypt to Babylon. When Abraham relocated to Egypt, the Pharoah there was practicing a similarly corrupted religion. If I understand things correctly, the papyrus scroll which Joseph Smith paid about $50,000 in today’s dollars to obtain (a pearl of great price) was a temple document written during Abraham’s time. Given that Pharoah’s lineage didn’t have the Priesthood, they undoubtedly made changes to the original temple ceremonies handed down to Noah and Shem (not having access to the mysteries of God granted by revelation via the Melchizedek priesthood). This is why Abraham had to seek out Melchizedek and receive the Priesthood from him. He couldn’t get the Priesthood power from Ham’s descendants, because even though they performed all the outward ordinances, they didn’t have the right to the Priesthood.

As you would expect, when you make changes to temple ordinances without the inspiration of God, you mess things up. This is exactly what Pharoah’s priests were doing. Over time their ordinances looked less and less like the originals, even though some parts were maintained. In some cases, where the priests didn’t know what something meant, they transcribed it verbatim. However in other places where they thought they understood the meaning, they felt more at liberty to make modifications. So when Joseph got these temple scrolls, which moden day Egyptologists have translated to be a portion of the “Books of Breathing”, an Egyptian funeral rite for the dead, it’s not surprising to find that Joseph didn’t translate it word for word. What he did for us was much more valuable. He gave us some of the history behind the scrolls and an explanation of some of the symbols that even the Egyptian priests of Abraham’s day probably didn’t even understand. In essence he restored what those priests many thousands of years ago corrupted.

Types and Shadows

And many signs, and wonders, and types, and shadows showed he unto them, concerning his coming; and also holy prophets spake unto them concerning his coming; and yet they hardened their hearts, and understood not that the law of Moses availeth nothing except it were through the atonement of his blood.
(Mosiah 3:15)

SCATTERING Joseph of Egypt is sold into slavery by his brothers. The house of Israel is divided. The Israelites are scattered beginning in the days of Rehoboam (930 BC). The Jews are scattered in the days after Christ (70 AD).
GATHERING Joseph rises to power and prepares food against a famine. He gathers his family to Egypt and feeds them during the famine. Joseph Smith, Jr. gathers the Gentiles out of Babylon into the Latter-day Saint church (1830). Brigham Young leads the Saints to the desert where they avoid involvement in the Civil War prophesied by the Prophet Joseph (1847).
BONDAGE When Joseph dies, a new pharoah enslaves the Israelites for 400 years. The Saints enter into financial bondage (Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887). They are some of the hardest hit by the Great Depression; Utah having the 4th highest unemployment rate in the nation.
DELIVERANCE Moses receives the Priesthood from Jethro and talks with God. Moses gathers the Israelites out from Egypt. The Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years. The Edmunds-Tucker Act is repealed in 1978. The Priesthood is restored. The Saints gather out of Babylon. The Saints wander in the desert.
INHERITANCE Joshua leads the Israelites to the Promised Land. The Saints are led back to Jackson County, Missouri.