The Big Picture Prophecy

The Angle Moroni

“I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, “My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man.” I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make His appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written–the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old. Then read the 14th chapter of Revelation, 6th and 7th verses–“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him, for the our of His judgment is come.” And Hosea, 6th chapter, After two days, etc.,–2,520 years; which brings it to 1890. The coming of the Son of Man never will be–never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out: which judgments are commenced. Paul says, “Ye are the children of the light, and not of the darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night.” It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets.”
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 286)

From this we can see that Joseph Smith believed the two days mentioned in Hosea chapter 6 were equal to 2520 years (1 day = 1260 years) and that this period of two days would end in 1890. If we move back 2520 years from 1890 AD we find the starting point of his timeline: 631 BC. Before we get into the significance of this date, we need to determine what this timeline is all about. So let’s take a look at the verses in Hosea that Joseph referred to:

“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
(Hosea 6:1-3)

From this we can gather that this prophecy is concerned with the division and reunification of the house of Israel (and also about the 1st and 2nd comings of Christ, which we won’t go into here). It is after the two days (631 BC – 1890 AD) that the house of Israel is revived. It is during the third day (1890 AD – 3150 AD) that it is raised up. So what event took place in 631 BC that began the fulfillment of this prophecy? Let’s take a look at what was going on in the house of Israel during this time period.

610 BC31st year: Josiah dies. (2 Chronicles 34:1)

649 BC Josiah born. (2 Chronicles 34:1)
641 BC 1st year: Josiah becomes king of Judah at 8 years old. (2 Chronicles 34:1)
633 BC 8th year: Josiah seeks the Lord. (2 Chronicles 34:3)
629 BC 12th year: Josiah begins to purge Jerusalem of idolatry. (2 Chronicles 34:3-7)
628 BC 13th year: Jeremiah begins to prophecy. (Jeremiah 1:2)
623 BC 18th year: Josiah repairs the Temple, the books are read, and Passover is observed. (2 Chronicles 34:8-33; 35:1-19)

The dates provided here are primarily based on the Battle of Carchemish which happened about 605 BC. Josiah got killed by an Egyptian archer when he confronted King Necho II of Egypt (who was in the process of moving his armies north to join forces with the Assyrians in preparation for battle against Babylon). 610 BC is an approximate date for the death of King Josiah. Based on my previous studies, I’m convinced that 623 is a Jubilee year, so it would make sense that that would be the year which Jeremiah would have the Temple repaired, the books read, and the Passover observed. That is my reason for choosing these dates, but I’m still willing to believe they may be off by a year or two. Whatever the case, we can see that around 631 BC the Israelites were turning away from idolatry back to the Lord, a repentance process begun by King Josiah. The reading of the books is important, because Israelites were renewing their covenant and that covenant is found in the books. Concerning his covenant, God provided a prophecy in the 26th chapter of Leviticus (one of “the books”).

The covenant starts like this:

“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”
(Leviticus 26:3-4)

If you continue reading in the 26th chapter of Leviticus, you’ll see God promises many more wonderful blessings to the Israelites if they keep all of his commandments, but starting on verse 14 he starts to enumerate the penalties for not keeping his commandments.

“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.”
(Leviticus 26:14-17)

This is the covenant that King Josiah read in the ears of the Israelites and which they covenanted to abide by. However, as we can see from history, they broke this covenant and we can see that the curses of the covenant came down upon their heads. They were beaten, killed, and taken into captivity and ruled by those who hated them. In captivity they were unable to enjoy the fruits of their harvest, which were consumed by their enemies. However, God in his mercy restored the covenant with the coming of Christ, but again they broke the covenant and again they reaped the cursings.

“And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”
(Leviticus 26:18-20)

It’s interesting that he says he will punish them “seven times more.” That implies that the first time he punished them was also seven times, but that is a topic for another time.

The time period being described here is the time from the birth of Christ (1 BC) to the uprising of the Muslims (630 AD). Christ’s coming here would be considered the “former rain” spoken of by Hosea. This is also the period of the Great Apostasy (570 AD).

“And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.”
(Leviticus 26:21-22)

These “wild beasts” can be none other than the Muslims who in 637 AD laid siege to the city of Jerusalem and took control of it. In 688 AD the Muslims began building the Dome of the Rock on the temple mount and finished it a few years later. Thus the “high ways” were made desolate. These are the years during which the Christian Crusades were fought against the Muslims in an effort to regain the Holy Land. The power of the Muslims was punctuated in 1260 AD in the Battle of Ain Jalut in which the Muslim Mamluks drove back the invading Mongols. This was a historically decisive battle which defined the Muslims as a new world power.

“And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.”
(Leviticus 26:23-26)

The period from 1260 AD to 1890 AD had several severe famines in Europe. The Great Famine of 1315-1317 is reported to have caused millions of deaths in Europe. From 1845 AD to 1849 AD more than a million Irish perished due to a potato blight. This may be considered a form of pestilence, but a more obvious match would be the bubonic plague outbreak in Europe (the Black Death) which started around 1340 AD and continued for many decades. It is estimated to have claimed one third of Europe’s population. This period of time had no shortage of bloody wars either. These include the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) in most of Europe, and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) in France and the American Civil War (1861-1865). Also notice that all these major wars were civil wars.

But we’re not done yet. God has yet one last 630 year period planned after 1890 AD. That’s our day, so listen up! It seems God has much more to say about this period than any of the previous periods.

“And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.”
(Leviticus 26:27-39)

The tone has seriously changed here. God isn’t just walking contrary to the Israelites now. He’s walking contrary to them in his fury. Certainly many of these prophesied events are still in the future (the desolation of cities and temples and cannibalism). However, we have seen the partial fulfillment of some of these events. You can see that American and European troops are scattered throughout the world (“among the heathen”) and they are dying on foreign soil (“ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up”). This is a very telling verse:

“they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth.”

Does anything better describe the situation of our ever tightening Homeland Security here in America? Americans are so afraid of what the terrorists might do that they’ve really been cracking down on our civil liberties with an insane zeal. Ultimately this situation may very well lead up to another civil war in the United States as well as in other Israelite nations.

If the above passage was all you’d read, you might think the only thing we have to look forward to is doom and gloom. However, this chapter concludes with the Israelites turning back to God and him restoring his covenant with them. Remember after 1890, we’ve entered into the third day: the time of revival, although it appears that revival doesn’t come (at least not fully) until after the wrath of God has been poured out upon the house of Israel.

If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.”
(Leviticus 26:40-45)

So it seems the order of major events in this final 630 year period (starting in 1890) are:

1) The house of Israel breaks their covenant with God.
2) The wrath of God is poured out upon the house of Israel in fury.
3) The house of Israel repents and is reconciled with their God.


The School of the Prophets

“And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”
(Numbers 11:27-29)

Doctrine and Covenants Section 88, which included instructions for creating “the school of the prophets”, was received on December 27, 1832 by the Prophet Joseph.

“And again, the order of the house prepared for the presidency of the school of the prophets, established for their instruction in all things that are expedient for them, even for all the officers of the church, or in other words, those who are called to the ministry in the church, beginning at the high priests, even down to the deacons—”
(D&C 88:127)

It states the following in the Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants:

“Beginning with the 1835 edition, a series of seven theological lessons was also included; these were titled the Lectures on FaithThese had been prepared for use in the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, from 1834 to 1835. Although profitable for doctrine and instruction, these lectures have been omitted from the Doctrine and Covenants since the 1921 edition because they were not given or presented as revelations to the whole Church.”

The last known school of the prophets to be organized was in 1883 when John Taylor was president of the church (“School of the Prophets” Wikipedia article). If the Lord desired to train his prophets via this school, why was the school abandoned and its teaching removed from Church canon? Does the Lord no longer need prophets? or is the Lord using some other way to teach his prophets now?


Knowing the Will of God

Would you like to know God’s will for your life?

Is this the right job for me?
Where should I live?
Who should I marry?
Should we have a child now?
Should we buy this house? This car?

You’ve probably asked yourself questions like these and felt a great deal of uncertainty in your decisions. If only you could know the will of God. That knowledge would help when you encountered difficulties in your career or marriage. Knowing your spouse was God’s choice for you would certainly help navigate through the difficult times. Should you stay with your job when tensions rise between your boss or coworkers? (If I stick it out, will I be blessed?) Only God knows, but how can you be certain that the answers to your prayers are from God and not from some other source?

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
(John 14:27)

What greater peace could someone have than knowing God’s will for their life, knowing that he is watching over them and guiding them on the path which will be most beneficial to them?

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
(Matthew 7:24-25)

What is this rock that Jesus speaks of?

“[Jesus] saith unto [his disciples], But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
(Matthew 16:15-18)

Jesus mentions a rock only a few times in scripture, so it would seem safe to link these two scriptures and discover a deeper meaning. The rock he likely speaks of is the rock of revelation. It is this rock that we need to build our houses on if we are to have the peace God wants us to have in our lives.

So how do we know when it is God who is speaking?

“Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!”
(2 Nephi 27:14)

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
(Amos 3:7)

From these verses we can see that God reveals his mind and will through his prophets. We can also see that God oftentimes provides multiple witnesses to give us more certainly about his will. What better witness could one ask for than the revelation of God through one of his prophets? So how do you find one of these prophets?

“And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”
(Numbers 11:27-29)

This is the key! Find a man with the Holy Spirit and you have found a prophet. Ask him to pray to God concerning your situation and you will receive another witness of the direction you should go in life. For your own personal witnesses, you also need to make sure you have the Holy Spirit when you receive answers to your prayers. If the witnesses agree then follow the guidance you’ve received from God. In this way you can know with certainly that you are pleasing God and you will be blessed with the peace that comes with this knowledge.

Related article: “Do You Have the Holy Spirit?


The Egyptian Sceptre

This excerpt can be found on the Sceptre Wikipedia page under the “Antiquity” section:

“The was and other types of staffs were a sign of authority in Ancient Egypt, for which reason they are often described as “sceptres” even if they are full-length staffs. … The staff with the longest history seems to be the heqa-sceptre, sometimes described as the shepherd’s crook.” Heqa-sceptre

Doesn’t it seem strange that a largely agricultural culture like Egypt would use a shepherd’s staff as a symbol of power and authority? Might it be that the pastoral Hebrews assumed control of Egypt at some point in their early history and this is where the Egyptian culture adopted this symbol of power? Recall the rod of Aaron and the duel between him and the pharaoh of his day.

One other symbol that is prominent in Egyptian imagery is the crown. The following can be found under the section titled “Crowns and headdresses” on the Pharoah Wikipedia page:

“The red crown of Lower Egypt – the Deshret crown – dates back to pre-dynastic times. A red crown has been found on a pottery shard from Naqada, and later king Narmer is shown wearing the red crown on both the Narmer macehead and the Narmer palette. Alternatively, the red crown is meant to symbolize the womb, placenta.

The white crown of Upper Egypt – the Hedjet crown – is shown on the Qustul incense burner which dates to the pre-dynastic period. Later, King Scorpion was depicted wearing the white crown, as was Narmer. Alternatively, the white crown depicts a gland in the human body, the thymus.”

The symbology here is quite rich. The red placenta symbolizes mortal birth while the white thymus symbolizes spiritual birth. This matches in nicely with the theory that the Tree of Good and Evil represents the physical realm and the Tree of Life the spiritual realm. The fact that the same Pharaoh can wear the different crowns implies that he can move from the physical realm into the spiritual (and vice versa). This is yet another evidence for the influence of Hebrew culture on ancient Egyptian culture. This brings up the question, which Hebrew leader caused the Egyptians to adopt Hebrew symbolism? Was it Moses or Aaron? Or was it Abraham? Maybe Noah?

Quite remarkably the symbolism of the crown and the sceptre have been carried down to our day and age.

Queen Elizabeth II Pope Benedict XVI
Queen Elizabeth II wearing the crown and holding the sceptre. Pope Benedict XVI with his crown and sceptre.

Are the Catholics borrowing symbology from Egypt or do both the Catholics and Egyptians trace their symbology back to the Hebrews?


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?