In the first two parts of this series we have identified both the fathers and the promises. Now it’s time to dive into the identity of the children. Let’s start with Malachi/D&C 2 again.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.
In Malachi, Elijah’s mission is to turn both the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, yet in D&C 2 his mission is only to work with the children. “Inconsistencies” like this should be ringing bells in our head—there is a mystery of God here. If we are willing to let go of the traditions we have been taught and truly rely on the scriptures, we will learn something we hadn’t considered before. I’ll save the details of this for another post on the mission and identity of Elijah, but for the sake of this post let’s just assume that Elijah is sent twice to prepare the way: once in the meridian of time when he turns the heart of the fathers to children, and a second time in the latter days when he turns the heart of the children to their fathers. This post will focus on the latter-day return of Elijah.
We identified the fathers as the patriarchs who received the promise of a Savior and the blessing of preaching his Gospel to the world. Just as we used the scriptures to see who the fathers were and what their promise was, we can use the scriptures to identify who the children are.
A ..seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers,
B and the hearts of the fathers to the children;
A And again, the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets,
B and the prophets unto the Jews…
One powerful tool for unlocking the scriptures is understanding the poetic structures and devices the scriptures use. In this case, synonymous parallelism is used to link words together by repeating the main idea while changing a few words. From this we learn that prophets and fathers are synonyms (which we already knew from earlier posts) and that the Jews and children are also synonyms.
Now we could stop right there and tell ourselves that this is all about those people in modern day Jerusalem that have beards, wear black clothes, and go to synagogue on Saturday. But that would be relying on our own wisdom rather than on the Lord’s. Let’s see if the scriptures’ definition of the Jews is the same as our definition.
2 Nephi 33
8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.
Nephi says he came from the Jews…but Lehi wasn’t of the tribe of Judah, he was from Manasseh. (Alma 10:3). (You should hear that bell ringing). When Nephi says Jews, he does not mean the tribe of Judah. He means the whole House of Israel.
1 Nephi 15:12, 17
12 Behold, I say unto you, that the house of Israel was compared unto an olive tree, by the Spirit of the Lord which was in our father; and behold are we not broken off from the house of Israel, and are we not a branch of the house of Israel?
17 And this is what our father meaneth; and he meaneth that it will not come to pass until after they are scattered by the Gentiles; and he meaneth that it shall come by way of the Gentiles, that the Lord may show his power unto the Gentiles, for the very cause that he shall be rejected of the Jews, or of the house of Israel.
Mormon also uses Jews as a synonym for the House of Israel:
14 And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant;
Let’s look again at 2 Nephi 33 and see who Nephi is talking to.
2 Nephi 33
7 I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.
8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.
9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.
Nephi identified three distinct groups of people: his people, the Jews, and the Gentiles. Watch how he continues to distinguish these three groups as his finishes his writing.
2 Nephi 33:10, 13
10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
13 And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.
In the Book of Mormon, the Jews is a synonym for all those who are of the house of Israel. And because the descendants of Lehi are a branch of the house of Israel, he’s really only identifying two true groups of people: The House of Israel and the Gentiles. Those two groups encapsulate the whole of humanity. And what is Nephi’s message to all these people? Believe in Christ. That’s the promise. That’s the ministry.
The resurrected Christ himself tells the descendants of Lehi who they are and links them to the promises made with the fathers.
3 Nephi 20:25
25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
So if you are of the tribe of Ephraim, you’re of the house of Israel, and also someone who would be called a Jew by the Book of Mormon prophets, and also a child of the prophets. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you’re a Jew according to Nephi and Mormon.
If that’s true, then that means we are the children who need to have the promises planted in our hearts, and our hearts turned to the fathers, the prophets. Nephi knew this. He knew this wasn’t about biological (and adoptive) parents being sealed together for eternity. It’s about getting people who don’t have the promises of eternal life pointed in the right direction so they can lay hold on the same promises the patriarchs received.
1 Nephi 15
13 And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—
14 And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.
Now we can look at this and say, “well, it’s the Lamanites that don’t know how to come unto Christ and be saved. Not us! We’ve got the fullness of the gospel!” But do we? If we are identified as the Jews, do we behave any differently than the ancient Jews behaved?
14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.
The fact that the LDS Church teaches that the promises that need to be planted in the hearts of this generation are endless genealogy work, dubious temple ordinances, and the non-scriptural notion that we can’t be saved unless we have been sealed to our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents is pretty indicative that we despise the words of plainness. Where are the scriptures to back up these precepts? If these were necessary, why didn’t Christ preach these to the Nephites after his resurrection? He made it a point to ensure they had the prophecy of Malachi, and reminded them they had forgotten to document the fulfillment of a prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite, but he didn’t bother to teach them about eternal families and genealogy work? And they still managed to live in Zion for 200 years without those essential ordinances?
We are blind to the fact that the scriptures teach us that Christ is the promise that needs to be planted. Christ is what saves us, not a temple ceremony. The very points of his doctrine need to be taught to the children of men, not the tools of genealogy. Even when we try to live up to the blessing of preaching the gospel to the world, we dilute it so much with the precepts of men that it is of limited effect. We are looking beyond the mark and can’t understand who the fathers are, who the children are, and what the promises are.
2 Nephi 32:7
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.