Why has God ceased to be a God of miracles?

When true servants of the Lord Jesus Christ walk the earth among people of faith, miracles happen. The scriptures are quite clear that these men work signs, wonders, and miracles among the people. Let’s review some of the signs of true servants of Jesus.

Acts 5:12, 15-16
12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people…Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Think about this. Peter didn’t even have to touch the people he healed, merely his shadow passing over sick persons would heal them. And they were healed every one. That doesn’t mean they took months to recuperate, or were buoyed in their spirits for a short while before succumbing to their illness. They were healed. Every one. And it wasn’t just one or two people, it was multitudes of sick people.

Paul, despite not having been with Jesus during his ministry, also turns it up to 11 with his miracles. Just having a piece of cloth that had touched Paul was enough to heal the sick and cast out devils.

Acts 19:11-12
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Acts 9 and Acts 20 record Peter and Paul individually raising the dead. Both of these apostles performed the same miracles that Jesus performed during his ministry. Now perhaps those were extremely rare circumstances. What about common everyday healing?

Acts 3:2-9
And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.

Acts 14:8-10
And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

In both these cases, Peter and Paul healed crippled men. They immediately jumped up and walked. No physical therapy necessary. Maybe  Peter and Paul were the exceptions. Maybe God never expected all his servants to do those things. What about the twelve disciples that were called among the Nephites?

4 Nephi 1:5
And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

Well, they don’t appear to be any different from Peter and Paul. It wasn’t just the apostles. Prophets worked miracles too.

Helaman 16:4
For behold, Nephi was baptizing, and prophesying, and preaching, crying repentance unto the people, showing signs and wonders, working miracles among the people, that they might know that the Christ must shortly come—

3 Nephi 7:19-20
And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people. And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power; and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus.

We know Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead also. And even Steven and Philip from the New Testament got into the miracle act:

Acts 6:8
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Acts 8:6, 13
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did…Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

It’s interesting to note the effect these miracles have on the non-believers:

4 Nephi 1:29, 31
And again, there was another church which denied the Christ; and they did persecute the true church of Christ, because of their humility and their belief in Christ; and they did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them…Nevertheless, and notwithstanding all these miracles, the people did harden their hearts, and did seek to kill them, even as the Jews at Jerusalem sought to kill Jesus, according to his word.

3 Nephi 7:20
And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power; and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus.

Even though performing miracles brings persecution, Jesus commands his servants to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out devils. Performing healings and other miracles isn’t an option for these servants – it’s a commandment!

Matthew 10:5-10
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying…go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

Mark 16:15-18
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

The Lord repeated these same commandments through Joseph Smith.

D&C 84: 64-72
Therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost. And these signs shall follow them that believe—In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name they shall cast out devils; In my name they shall heal the sick; In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; And the tongue of the dumb shall speak; And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them; And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.

D&C 124:97-100
Let my servant William Law also receive the keys by which he may ask and receive blessings; let him be humble before me, and be without guile, and he shall receive of my Spirit, even the Comforter, which shall manifest unto him the truth of all things, and shall give him, in the very hour, what he shall say. And these signs shall follow him—he shall heal the sick, he shall cast out devils, and shall be delivered from those who would administer unto him deadly poison; And he shall be led in paths where the poisonous serpent cannot lay hold upon his heel, and he shall mount up in the imagination of his thoughts as upon eagles’ wings. And what if I will that he should raise the dead, let him not withhold his voice.

Now we have a conundrum. The commandment was issued, but we don’t have the same results as the ancient saints. We don’t have paraplegics leaping out of their wheelchairs and running around the temple immediately upon being touched by an apostle. Diabetics don’t throw away their insulin after attending General Conference. We don’t have people being raised from the dead. The only good news is that we don’t have people trying to kill us because of our many miracles. The scriptures tell us why this is, but it isn’t a pretty answer.

Moroni 7:37
It is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

2 Nephi 27:23
For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

2 Nephi 26:13
And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.

If we don’t have miracles, it’s because we don’t have true faith. We may have faith in a some correct principles mingled with some precepts of men, favorite false doctrines, and trust in the arm of flesh, but we can conclude we do not have true faith in the true God. If we did, we’d have the miracles the scriptures talk about. Because we don’t have the fruit, we know something is amiss. Before we look to blame certain individuals, we need to remember that it is our collective iniquity that causes this situation.

Mormon 1:13
But wickedness did prevail upon the face of the whole land, insomuch that the Lord did take away his beloved disciples, and the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.

Ether 12:12
For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

3 Nephi 19:35
And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying he came again to the disciples, and said unto them: So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief.

If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we do not have the signs of them that believe. Individuals do have miraculous healings in their lives on occasion, and that is truly praiseworthy. But collectively the LDS do not appear to have them at any higher rate than other Christians. Nor do we have the miraculous healings at the hands of the apostles we have been promised. As a collective body, we don’t have the fruit. Therefore, as a collective body, we must not be doing what God says.

God has promised us miracles, literal miracles! But there are conditions.

D&C 35:8-9
For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name. And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.

D&C 82:10
I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

3 Nephi 8:1
…for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity—

The Lord has promised us that if we have true faith, we will have these miracles. Because God cannot lie, and we do not have the results of the promise he has made, we must conclude that we are not asking in true faith. We are not doing what he has told us to do. We still have unresolved iniquity.

Mormon 9:18-20
And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles. And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

The first step is admitting we have a problem.

 

 

 

Data mining the Doctrine and Covenants

A few years ago I was sitting in Gospel Doctrine class talking to a ward member. I don’t remember how we got onto the topic, but we were looking in the Doctrine and Covenants at the Chronological Order of Contents, just before D&C Section 1.

D&C Chronological Order

We noticed how few revelations were received after Kirtland. I remember the other person saying, “I wonder why that is.” I wondered too. The traditional story is that Joseph received further light and knowledge right up until the end – but the canonized data doesn’t support that. That curiosity drove me to do a lot of research, and continues to drive me to this day.

One problem with the table above is that there is no scale. It’s tough to really understand how the revelations are distributed through time. Here it is in a graph. (I didn’t include Sections 136 and 138 because they were outside the time period I was concerned with).

1981 D&C

When viewed this way, you can see a concentration of revelatory activity in the early years of the church, with a burst in 1831. By 1834 this flow of revelation had slowed to a slow trickle compared to previous years. Specifically, there were 6 times more revelations per year in the six years before January 1835 than in the 10 years after January 1835. In 1838 Joseph wrote what became the 9th Article of Faith that said that God “will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” The data shows that God hasn’t done that yet.

This data is actually overly optimistic. Not all of these sections in the D&C were revelations.  Section 135 was written after Joseph’s death as a type of eulogy. Sections 129-131 weren’t even written by Joseph, but were someone else’s writings of what they heard Joseph say in conversation. Joseph didn’t review these for accuracy. In a court of law this would be considered “hearsay” and inadmissible. I removed some of these from the data but realized it was highly subjective as to what stayed and what was removed. Then the thought hit me: use the 1844 Doctrine and Covenants!

The 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was prepared by Joseph shortly before his death. The first copies returned from the printer about two months after his death. This would give us a very good indication of what Joseph considered to be the essential revelations up until a few months before his death. In the current version, the last published revelation before his death was in 1843, so there was plenty of time between that last revelation and when Joseph sent the 1844 version off the printer. Here’s what that 1844 version looks like:

1844 D&C

D&C ratesWow! Only 6% of the revelations came in the 10 years after 1834. 94% came within the first 6 years. This is a staggering disparity. The first six years averaged 17 revelations per year, while the remaining decade averaged less than one revelation per year! What was only a 6:1 ratio between the early years and the later years in the 1981 edition explodes to a 26:1 ratio with the 1844 D&C.

The slow trickle depicted in the 1981 edition becomes almost nothing in Joseph’s 1844 compilation. If you’re familiar with Watcher’s or Searcher’s blogs, you know that in April 1834 the Lord stated that the church had broken the covenant (Section 104) and by December declared the church to be under condemnation. Joseph’s final compilation of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1844 supports this condemnation and that the church did not come out from under it during the next 10 years.

Side note:
With only one canonized section received after 1847, the flow of further light and knowledge as measured by canonized scripture has effectively stopped completely. That averages 0.006 revelations per year for the last 171 years. The revelatory rate between 1829-1834 was 1,500 times higher than since the death of Joseph!

October 1918 was the last canonized revelation. Next month we will mark 100 years with no new published revelations. That’s a sobering thought.

Revelation Rate

 

The first question that comes to mind is what are these five revelations after 1835 that Joseph did choose to include? Those are probably significant.

Section 112
The command for the Twelve to go abroad among the nations. This was received less than two months after Joseph said “God has revealed to me that something new must be done for the salvation of His Church.”

Section 119
The revelation on tithing.

Section 124
This revelation was packed full of critical information. The commandment to build the Nauvoo Temple and Nauvoo House and the consequences if it wasn’t done on time. Confirmation that the fulness of the priesthood had been lost and needed to be restored. Anything more or less than the Book of Mormon and the published revelations comes of evil and will be attended with cursings. Commandment to publish the new translation of the Bible. Calling of Hyrum to be a prophet, seer, and revelator.

Sections 127 and 128
Not a revelation, but letters from Joseph explaining baptism for the dead.

There were also two revelations from 1834 that weren’t in the 1835 edition but Joseph added to the 1844 edition: Sections 103 and 105. These deal with organizing Zion’s camp and disbanding it.

Those are some significant topics. What are the revelations that are now canonized but weren’t chosen by Joseph Smith in 1844? Why wouldn’t Joseph canonize them but Brigham would? Here they are with a brief description:

Section 2
This was already recorded in Joseph Smith History, but added as a section in 1876. No new information.

Section 13
This too was already in the Joseph Smith History, but added as a section in 1876. No new information.

Section 85
Received in November 1832, this section sets forth some rules for living under the law of consecration and contains the well-known “one mighty and strong” prophecy. By 1835 the church had broken the covenant and was no longer living the law of consecration, possibly explaining why Joseph didn’t include it in either the 1835 or 1844 editions. It was added in 1876.

Section 87
The prophecy on war received in December 1832. It was added in 1876.

Section 108
A revelation for Lyman Sherman in December 1835. Added in 1876.

Section 109 and 110
Section 110 remained unknown to the church until 1852. What’s interesting is that Joseph also chose not to put Section 109, the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, into the 1844 edition either. There was no scriptural record of the Kirtland Temple events left by Joseph. These sections were added in 1876.

Section 111
Dealing with Joseph’s trip to Salem, Massachusetts. Added in 1876.

Section 113
Answers to questions about Isaiah. Added in 1876.

Section 114
Instructions for David Patten. Added in 1876.

Section 115
Commandment in 1838 to build the Far West Temple. This had been abandoned over five years before the 1844 edition was compiled. Added in 1876.

Section 116
One verse about Adam-ondi-Ahman. This area had also been abandoned years before 1844. Added in 1876.

Section 117
Commandments to William Marks and Newel Whitney to leave Kirtland and move to Missouri in 1838. The Saints had abandoned Missouri by 1844. Added in 1876.

Section 118
Command for the Twelve to depart from the Far West temple site to preach in Europe. Added in 1876.

Section 120
One verse about disposition of tithes. Added in 1876.

Sections 121-123
Excerpts from a letter written from Liberty Jail. Added in 1876.

Section 125
The will of the Lord concerning the saints in Iowa. Added in 1876.

Section 126
Three verses for Brigham Young. Added in 1876.

Sections 129-131
These were remarks made by Joseph and recorded by various people. There are inconsistencies between versions that someone resolved before canonization 30 years after the fact. There is no indication that Joseph reviewed these or that they accurately capture what he said. Added in 1876.

Section 132
The problematic revelation on celestial polygamy. Discovered in 1852. Added in 1876.

Section 135
Announcing the death of Joseph Smith. Not a revelation. Added in 1876.

Section 137
Received in 1836, this record of a vision about those who die without a knowledge of the gospel was not added until 1981.

What does it all mean?

I don’t have any definite conclusions about the sections that were added after Joseph’s death. Some were incredibly significant, like Section 110, but likely were intentionally held back. Some repeated information Joseph had already published (Sections 2 and 13). Several contained hearsay of conversations, not revelations. There doesn’t appear to be one consistent reason for Joseph not publishing these in 1844. (If you have a theory, please share it.)

What we can definitely conclude is that the church has never again experienced a revelatory period like it did from 1829 to 1834. Sadly, the revelatory doldrums the church experienced from 1835 to 1844 look like a Category 5 hurricane compared to what the church has experienced over the nearly 175 years since Joseph’s death.

Something changed after 1834. And it changed even more after 1844. We should all ponder why that is.

 

 

Birth of Christ (Possible) Timeline

Just as we have a lot of false traditions about the timeline surrounding the death of Christ, we have the same problem with the birth of Christ. News flash: it wasn’t December 25! The scriptures don’t give us enough detail to pin down exact dates, but we can determine the approximate months and then use the seven feasts incorporated into the Law of Moses as a guide. This timeline is more speculative than the timeline for the death of Christ, so feel free to take this with a few grains of salt. I have read other proposed timelines that support different dates and their arguments are possible. I currently think this one fits best with the scriptures.

Zechariah and Gabriel – Pentecost

Luke 1:5, 8-10
There was in the days of Herod, king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia, and his wife, being of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth…

And while he executed the priest’s office before God, in the order of his priesthood, according to the law (his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord), The whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

During the time of King David, the priests of the family of Aaron were divided up into twenty-four courses. (See 1 Chronicles 24:1-18). Each course would serve for eight days in the temple, overlapping on the sabbath so there were twice as many priests for sabbath services. The schedule started at the beginning of the year, about two weeks before Passover. During the three major feasts of the year (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) all the priests would work in the temple, pausing the normal rotation for that week. The course of Abia was the 8th course, which meant they began work on the ninth sabbath and worked through the tenth sabbath of the year (shifted back one week because of everyone working during Passover), and then repeated again ~24 weeks later (plus time for the fall feasts). These verses in Luke narrow down the range of time for the visit of Gabriel to two weeks during the year: Week 9 (~early June) or week 35 (~early December). Because of the lunar calendar, the exact dates would vary from year to year but this gets us close enough for now.

If you remember from the Passion Timeline, Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks and one day after the feast of Firstfruits, which is the day after the first sabbath after Passover. The Passover lamb is killed on the 14th day of the year, at the end of the second week. This appears to put Pentecost (one of the three feast mandating attendance in Jerusalem) either during Zechariah’s temple service schedule or right next to it, depending on the year. Because “the whole multitude of the people were praying without”, it’s possible that it was the day of Pentecost when Gabriel tells Zechariah about the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist. Nine months after this would place the birth of John the Baptist in the spring.

Luke 1:23-25
And as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived and hid herself five months.

Mary and Gabriel – Hannukah

Luke 1:26-27, 36
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Six months after the announcement to Zechariah, we have the announcement to Mary. Six months after Pentecost puts us into December, which is the time of Hannukah, or the festival of lights. If there ever were a symbolic time to announce the coming of the Light of the World into the world, the festival of lights would be it.

Mary and Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-40, 56
39
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Mary would have stayed with Elizabeth during Mary’s first trimester and Elizabeth’s third trimester. This timeline would have her returning to Nazareth in the early spring just before Passover, with Elizabeth close to giving birth. Shortly after Mary’s return is probably when Joseph discovered that Mary was with child.

The Birth of John the Baptist – Passover

The tradition of the Jews at Passover is to set a place at the table for Elijah when he comes. The angel Gabriel said that John would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah. The JST version of the Bible reveals an even stronger linkage between John the Baptist and Elijah. If you’re unfamiliar with this, read Searcher’s explanation here. While I can’t prove this with scripture, it seems probable that John was born on the night of Passover when all the Jews were waiting for the return of Elijah. Prophecy was fulfilled but missed by those who were going through the motions of watching for it.

The Birth of Jesus – The Feast of Tabernacles

Six months after this puts us into the fall. This is the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. During this feast, the Jews would spend a week living in a temporary shelter called a sukkah, or tabernacle. Here’s what the modern-day Feast of Tabernacles looks like:

Sukkot

The Feast of Tabernacles was one of the three annual feasts that all males were required to come up to Jerusalem for. It’s also in the fall, when farmers would have money from their harvest. This would be a logical time for the Romans to conduct their census and collect taxes.

Luke 2:1-7
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now let’s look at the Greek. The word “inn” is κατάλυμα (kataluma). This doesn’t mean “Holiday Inn”, but guest room. This same word is used in Mark 14:14 to mean guestchamber, which was the room Jesus used for the Last Supper.

And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?

Women, especially when pregnant, were not required to stay in the sukkah during the Feast of Tabernacles. But this time the guestchamber at their relatives’ house was already full, so Mary appears to have slept in the sukkah with Joseph, and that is where she gave birth to Jesus. (It’s possible that the Greek word translated into “manger” was actually an attempt to describe these tabernacles and time and tradition have turned it into a stable and feeding trough.) Symbolically, Jesus assumed a tabernacle of flesh in a tabernacle of wood during the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Interestingly, the first and eighth day of Feast of Tabernacles are days of rest. If Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast, he would have been circumcised on the eighth day of the feast, both days being holy days. I can’t prove it, but it would fit the pattern.

The fall feasts symbolize the coming of the Lord, both his first and second coming. While we can’t pin down an exact date for Christ’s birth, scripturally the Feast of Tabernacles in September/October seems to fit.

What about April 6?

Those of us raised in the LDS tradition have been taught that April 6 was the day that Christ was born. There are several problems with this theory. The first is that it wasn’t taught until the 1900s when James Talmage wrote about it. If this was a revealed truth, we should have a record of Joseph teaching it. We don’t.

Secondly, the basis for Talmage’s April 6 date is the opening line in D&C Section 20.

The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April—

Thanks to the Joseph Smith Papers project, we now know a lot more about this phrase than Brother Talmage knew. We now know that John Whitmer, Joseph’s scribe at the time, wrote those first few lines as an introduction – they did not come from Joseph. Also, John Whitmer used that fancy date terminology several times in other writings, like this:

“It is now June the twelfth, one thousand eight hundred and thirty one years, since the coming of our Lord and Savior in the flesh.”

If we apply the same logic to this writing of John Whitmer as we apply to D&C 20:1, then Jesus must have been born on June 12 as well as on April 6! We can therefore assume the April 6 wording was used in the same manner as the June 12 wording, just a fancy 19th century way of stating the date. Trying to interpret that to identify the date of birth of Jesus is a stretch.

A final reason we can discount the April 6 date is that it does not line up with the scriptural record. If Jesus were born on April 6, and John the Baptist is 6 months older than Jesus, then Gabriel must have appeared to Zechariah about fifteen months earlier in January. But we know from the priestly courses that Zechariah didn’t work in the temple in January. We also know this doesn’t line up with the prophetic symbolism of the feasts of the Law of Moses. God instituted these feasts to point toward and symbolize Christ. We ignore them at our own peril.

Final Thoughts

In the grand scheme of things, knowing the date of Christ’s birth probably doesn’t matter much. Far more important is the process we use for accepting data. If we believe something simply because we’ve been taught it for a long time, or been told to respect those doing the teaching, and we never question it, we have a problem. But if we follow the example of the Bereans, we’ll be fine.

Acts 17:10-12
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

 

Passion Timeline: Reconstructed

Now that we’ve corrected some of the erroneous traditions and reviewed the spring feasts, we’re ready to recreate the timeline based on the scriptures.

Determining Crucifixion and Resurrection Days

We have several facts from the scriptures we can use to pin down these days of the week. We know from Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, and John 20:1 that by Sunday morning at sunrise Christ had already been resurrected and left the tomb. That marks the very latest that Jesus could have been resurrected.

We know from the Gospels that Jesus died shortly after 3:00PM (the ninth hour). We also know that after Jesus died, Joseph had to visit Pilate, Pilate then summoned the centurion to confirm Jesus was dead, then Pilate released the body to Joseph who then had to take the body from the cross to the garden and perform a quick preparation of the body before sealing up the tomb before sunset.

We know from Matthew 12:40 that Jesus would spend three days and three nights in the tomb. Using those data points we can construct the first part of the timeline. Using the evening entombment, three days and three nights in the tomb, and a Sunday morning resurrection, we get this:

Timeline 3-4

A Sunday morning resurrection breaks Jesus’ own prophecy of three nights in the tomb. The scriptures don’t say Jesus was resurrected in the morning, only that by morning when the disciples showed up Jesus had already risen. In order to fulfill prophecy, he had to have arisen Saturday at sunset. Here’s what a scripturally correct timeline looks like:

Timeline 3-3

In this model, Wednesday afternoon the Passover lambs would have been sacrificed and eaten that night after sunset. Wednesday night and Thursday day would have been a holy day or high sabbath in which no work was done. Friday would have been a regular day to prepare for the weekly sabbath on Saturday.

Now that we have the day of Passover pinned down, let’s back up and follow the scriptures through the last week of Jesus’ life to see how everything fits together.

Six days before Passover

P-6

John 12:1
Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

Luke 19:29-32
And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him.

Jesus is traveling towards Jerusalem for the last time. During this last week he will travel into Jerusalem during the days but stay in Bethany at night. Arriving on the day before the weekly sabbath, Jesus sends two disciples to find and bring a colt which had never been ridden. (This will be important soon).

Five days before Passover

P-5

On the fourteenth day of the month the Passover lamb is killed shortly before sunset. On the tenth day of the month the Passover lamb is selected. This weekly sabbath day happens to be the tenth day of the month, the day the Passover lamb is selected.

John 12:12
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

Mark 11:7-11
When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Luke 19:35-38
And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Now a savvy reader may object to this happening on a Saturday. Jesus was riding an animal on the sabbath. The law of Moses specifically states that animals are to do no work on the sabbath.

Deuteronomy 5:12-14
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

Has Jesus just broken the sabbath? This incident shows not only how well Jesus knows the law of Moses, but also that this event did happen on a sabbath. Remember that when Jesus sent the two disciples to get the colt, he specified that it would be a colt “whereon yet never man sat”. That colt had never worked in its life. The law of the sabbath states that there are six days of work followed by a sabbath. Had that colt ever worked a day it would have been required to obey the sabbath and Jesus would have violated the sabbath by riding it. Because that colt had never worked, it had not yet met the requirement to have a sabbath day. Jesus could ride that colt on the sabbath day to fulfill the prophecy while obeying the sabbath laws. If this didn’t happen on a sabbath, there would have been no need for the colt to have never been ridden before. (That’s the kind of expert lawyer I want as my advocate with the Father!)

At the same time the Passover lambs were being brought into Jerusalem for the people the select, Jesus, The Passover Lamb, was being brought into Jerusalem. Not only was he acclaimed by the people, but also selected by the voice of his Father:

John 12:27-33
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem was directly linked to the choosing of the Passover lamb.

Four days before Passover

P-4

Mark 11:12-19
And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. And when even was come, he went out of the city.

Three days before Passover

P-3

Mark 11:20-23
And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Once Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, he has a busy day. The scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees all try to find fault with him.

Mark 11:27-33
And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

This coincides with the inspection of the Passover lamb. While the Jews were inspecting their lambs, looking for any blemish, Jesus was in the temple being inspected by the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees as they tried to find fault in him. Here are the key tests:

  • Pharisees: Rendering unto Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26)
  • Sadducees: Marriage and the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, Luke 20:27-39)
  • Scribes: What is the primary commandment? (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 20:40)

After this inspection, Jesus delivers prophecies and sermons for his disciples:

Destruction of the Temple: Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5-6
The Last Days: Matthew 24:3-14, Mark 13:3-13, Luke 21:7-19
The Abomination of Desolation: Matthew 24:14-31, Mark 13:14-27, Luke 21:20-28
Faithful Servants: Matthew 24:45-51, Mark 13:34-37, Luke 21:34-36
Parable of Wise Virgins: Matthew 25:1-13

After this busy day, Jesus then returns to Bethany where he is anointed in preparation for his death and burial.

Matthew 26:1-13
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Two days before Passover

P-2

Tuesday night is when the Last supper occurs. We’ve covered that in a previous post, so we won’t rehash it here.

One day before Passover

P-1

During the night Jesus is tried and then delivered unto Pilate in the morning. This is the final inspection of the Passover lamb, and He is declared to be without blemish.

John 19:4-7
Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

By 9:00am, he is hanging on the cross. By 3:00pm, when it is time to sacrifice the Passover lambs, Jesus gives up the ghost. He is hastily buried before sundown and the start of the Passover holy day.

Passover

Passover

There is no manner of work to be done this holy day. Despite that, having already eaten their Passover dinner, the scribes and Pharisees don’t appear to worry about defiling themselves any more and go unto Pilate:

Matthew 27:62-66
Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

This is the first night and day in the tomb.

First day after Passover

P+1

With the Passover holy day over, Friday is available to do work before the weekly sabbath. Mary Magdalene and Mary use this day to buy the things they will need to anoint the body of Jesus on Sunday morning.

Mark 16:1
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

This is the second night and day in the tomb.

Second day after Passover

P+2

This is now the weekly sabbath. The scriptures tell us that after preparing the spices, they rested on the weekly sabbath.

Luke 23:56
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

(Note how this sequence would have been impossible with the Friday-Sunday tradition. Jesus would have been buried at sunset on Friday, meaning the sabbath would have started right then, yet somehow these women were able to buy spices after the sabbath in Mark and before the sabbath in Luke!)

Third day after Passover

P+3

At sunset on Saturday evening, Jesus has completed three days and three nights in the tomb and was resurrected. It is now the beginning of the day after the weekly sabbath after Passover, which means it is the day of the Firstfruits.

Leviticus 23:9-11
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

While the priests at the temple were harvesting the firstfuits of the barley harvest from the field and preparing them overnight for the firstfruit offering in the temple in the morning, Jesus THE Firstfruit, had risen from the tomb and was preparing himself to show himself unto the Father:

1 Corinthians 15:20
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

2 Nephi 2:8-9
The Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God.

By Sunday morning, when Christ meets Mary at the tomb, he indicates that he was just about to fulfill the feast of the Firstfruits by presenting himself before his Father:

John 20:17
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

We don’t know what Jesus had been doing for approximately twelve hours between his resurrection and his conversation with Mary, but it all fits in with the symbolic feasts that the Jews were commemorating at the same time.

3 Nephi 15:17-18
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil; For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.

Jesus not only fulfilled the atonement and sacrifice portions of the law, he also fulfilled all the symbolic portions of the spring feasts including the Firstfruits.

Moses 6:63
And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me.

All things, even the feasts of the Jews.

Conclusion

Timeline 3-3

With this new timeline, we can see how beautifully the last few days of Jesus’ life fulfilled the Old Testament foreshadowing of the Messiah. The feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits were instituted to witness of Christ. Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish was fulfilled completely and accurately. Just as the Jews 2,000 years ago missed the connection between Jesus and these feasts, many Christians today miss these same connections.

Having now seen these connections, it should cause us to wonder just how many other aspects of the Old Testament are we ignorant of? If these spring feasts and their rituals were a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice for us, how much are the fall feasts a foreshadowing of his Second Coming? What are we missing? How many false traditions are we carrying that prevent us from seeing just how intricate all these things of God are?

“The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out.” Happy hunting!

Post-Script

In the comments, Nathan brought up the timeline of what was happening in the Americas while Christ was dead. I hadn’t even thought of linking the two. Assuming an 8-hour time difference between Jerusalem and the Americas, the sun would have just been rising in the Americas when Jesus died on the cross.

Helaman 14:20
20 But behold, as I said unto you concerning another sign, a sign of his death, behold, in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his light unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of three days, to the time that he shall rise again from the dead.

We know there were three days of darkness and in the morning of the fourth day the darkness dispersed.

3 Nephi 10:9
And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away.

Christ’s resurrection at 7:00 PM in Jerusalem would be 11:00 in the morning in the Americas! Americas

The Biblical and Book of Mormon accounts line up perfectly! The Book of Mormon also disproves the Friday-Sunday timeline – there would only be two days of darkness in the Americas. This is an amazing second witness.

Passion Timeline: The Spring Feasts

Paul tells us that the feasts of the law of Moses were a shadow or preview of things to come (Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:16–17). Specifically, the spring feasts foreshadowed Christ’s his atoning sacrifice and the fall feasts first and second comings. In this post, we’ll discuss the spring feasts. Once we have this knowledge, we’ll be ready to start building a proper timeline.

Passover & Unleavened Bread

We’re likely already familiar with some of the symbolism of this event. A sacrificial lamb is offered up and its blood saves the lives of the believers.

The lamb was selected on the 10th day of the month of Aviv (or Nisan using the Babylonian names). Because Israel used a lunar calendar, the beginning of Aviv varies from year to year, but it is during March or April (which is why the dates of Passover and Easter change every year).

Exodus 12
3
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

With every household needing its own sacrificial lamb, this would be a major endeavor to bring in enough lambs for the entire city of Jerusalem. Remember that every male in Israel was commanded to come up to Jerusalem for three feasts each year, one of them being Passover. That’s a lot of lambs.

From the tenth day to the fourteenth day, the lamb would stay at the house with the family where it could be inspected to ensure it was without blemish.

On the fourteenth day, final preparations began. All leaven needed to be purged from the house by sunset. The lamb needed to be certified to be without blemish and then sacrificed before sunset and placed into an oven to cook in time for the Passover meal that night. Josephus tells us the lambs were killed in the late afternoon.

War 6.9.3 422-427
So these high priests did so upon the arrival of their feast which is called the Passover. On this day they slay their sacrifices from the ninth hour [3 PM] until the eleventh [5 PM].

Once the sun set, the 15th day began and the Passover meal was eaten. No leavened bread was allowed for the next week. The day of Passover was a holy day, or a high sabbath. This didn’t necessarily fall on on Saturday. It was a separate sabbath from the weekly sabbath.

Exodus 12
16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

Firstfruits

At the same time as the Feast of Unleavened Bread is going on, we also have the Firstfruits. This is when the spring crop of barley was ready to be harvested. Before anyone can eat of the new grain, a firstfruits offering must be made. This is to be made after the first weekly Sabbath after Passover. Depending on the year, that could be anywhere from one to seven days later.

Leviticus 23
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

14 You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.

Because Firstfruits happens after Passover, the Passover meal is required to use grain from the previous season for its unleavened bread.

Because of Israel’s lunar calendar, the calendar can quickly get out of sync with the seasons unless something is done to correct it. Israel used the ripening of the spring barley. If the lunar cycle was causing the calendar to creep too early into spring, the barley wouldn’t be ready to harvest and an additional month was added to the calendar. After this additional month, the barley would be ready to harvest and the Passover could begin.

Pentecost

It is from the Firstfruits, not Passover, that the counting of weeks begins to determine the 50 days until Pentecost. Firstfruits is always the day after the weekly Sabbath, whereas Passover can fall on any day of the week. Linking the date to Firstfruits ensures that Pentecost is always on the first day of the week, or Sunday.

Leviticus 23
15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.

There is a popular idea that Pentecost commemorates the day God spoke the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. There is no scriptural basis for this—nowhere in the scriptures are these two events linked. But it was one of the three feasts that all Israeli men were commanded to journey to Jerusalem to attend, so it appears to have had a larger significance than what our current scriptures indicate.

Next Steps

The next post will show how the final days of Christ’s life fulfilled the events of these spring feasts. We’ll use a close reading of the scriptures combined with our knowledge of these spring feasts to build a scripturally accurate timeline of the last week of Christ’s life.

 

 

Passion Timeline: Passover & The Last Supper

One factor that confuses many people about the Passion timeline is the Last Supper and its relationship with the Passover meal, or seder. The modern LDS church teaches that that the Last Supper was the Passover seder. Here are two chapter headings from the relevant chapters in the New Testament:

Matthew 26
Jesus is anointed—He keeps the Passover and institutes the sacrament—He suffers in Gethsemane, is betrayed by Judas, and is taken before Caiaphas—Peter denies that he knows Jesus.

Mark 14
Jesus is anointed with oil—He eats the Passover, institutes the sacrament, suffers in Gethsemane, and is betrayed by Judas—Jesus is falsely accused, and Peter denies that he knows Him.

The problem is that the scriptures make it clear that the Last Supper and the Passover meal were not on the same evening. Once you have accepted the falsehood that they are on the same evening, you have to start performing mental gymnastics to force all the other scriptural details to fit into your false tradition. It’s so much easier when you just believe what the scriptures say instead of the chapter headings!

Let’s start with a scriptural overview of Passover. Take note of the phrases in bold, they’ll be critical later on.

Exodus 12
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

Keep in mind that the Hewbrew word shabbat (sabbath) does not mean seventh, it means to cease, as in to cease from labor. These other holy days like the first day of Passover can also be called sabbath days because no work is to be done. It does not mean they happened on a Saturday. Which means you usually have two sabbaths, or holy days, in one week during Passover—the first day of Passover and then the weekly sabbath.

Bread at the Last Supper

Luke 22 tells us that the feast of unleavened bread was approaching. In both verses 1 and 7 it uses the Greek word ἀζύμων (azymoon) for unleavened bread. Yet in verse 19 Jesus takes ἄρτον (arton), or leavened bread, and administers the sacrament. If the Passover had already begun and this was the Passover meal, Jesus and all his disciples would have been violating the commandments by having leavened bread. Imagine how foolish Jesus would have felt to have lived a perfect life right up to the end and then thrown it all away by eating the wrong type of bread for his last meal!

Matthew does the same thing in Matthew 26:17 and 26:26. He uses ἀζύμων (azymoon) to the describe unleavened bread but ἄρτον to describe the bread they ate at the Last Supper. Not to be left out, Mark does it also in Mark 14:1 and 14:22. If the Last Supper was the Passover seder, we have three witnesses that Jesus sinned, he was not without blemish when sacrificed, and we are all doomed.

No Manner of Work

When Jesus identified Judas as the one who would betray him and Judas left, some of the disciples thought Jesus had told Judas to go buy things to prepare for the feast.

John 13
26
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

As they were preparing to head to the Garden, Jesus again suggests they go buy stuff:

Luke 22
35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

If the Last Supper was the Passover meal, there wouldn’t be a need to buy anything for the feast…they had just finished eating it! More importantly, the Law of Moses required that no manner of work be done on the first day of Passover. If Jesus told the apostles to buy something that night, he would be telling them to sin. I suspect that the disciples would have been shocked by Jesus telling them to violate the Passover sabbath, but they don’t seem to give it any thought here. Furthermore, if they are eating the Passover meal, no merchants would be open to sell food or swords. Everyone else would be eating their Passover meal at home and doing no manner of work.

Scribes and Pharisees

If the Last Supper was the Passover meal, not only was Jesus confused, so were the scribes and pharisees!

John 18
8 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

Here it is the morning after the Last Supper. The scribes and Pharisees should have already eaten the Passover meal, yet during the trial they are worried about defiling themselves before they could eat the Passover! Throughout the last day of Christ’s life, the Jews were focused on preparing for a meal that they supposedly had already eaten the night before.

For brevity, I’ll just list some of the references that show the Passover meal had not occurred yet.

John 19
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Mark 15
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathæa, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

Luke 23
52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

Everyone involved here, from the disciples to the scribes and Pharisees, knew the crucifixion and burial had to be completed before sunset when Passover, and its high sabbath, began.

Conclusion

It’s important that we understand that the Last Supper occurred 24 hours before the Passover meal. Not only is this important in understanding the timeline of the crucifixion and resurrection, but also to understand the significance of the three spring feasts that were linked to Christ’s Passion: the feast of Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, and the feast of first fruits. These are intimately integrated into the last week of Christ’s life, and we’ll explore them next.

Passion Timeline: The Sign of Jonah

It’s sad how our false traditions cause us to not believe God. We become so convinced that our tradition is correct that even when God speaks the truth plainly and clearly, we set at naught God’s word and trust in our own understanding. We refuse to evaluate the evidence God provides us or question our assumptions. The timing of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is a prime example of how we ignore scriptural evidence in order to preserve the traditions we have inherited.

Our tradition tells us that Jesus was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning. But that is impossible if we believe what Jesus said about his own death and resurrection. Not only do we have to disbelieve Jesus to believe our tradition, we also have to disbelieve basic arithmetic!

Jesus gave the scribes and Pharisees just one sign about himself, and told them there would be no other. This one sign was the Sign of Jonah (Jonas is the Greek version of Jonah).

Matthew 12
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus makes it very clear, 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth. We have two other references to this sign in the New Testament:

Matthew 16
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

Luke 11
29 ¶ And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.

Jesus said he would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Let’s see how our tradition holds up to that sign.

Mark says that Christ gave up the ghost shortly after the ninth hour (3:00 PM). Matthew writes that evening was approaching when Nicodemus went to petition Pilate to be able to take Christ’s body. It was a mad dash to get Jesus’ body into the tomb before sunset. If we use the scriptural account that the tomb was sealed up basically at sunset, this is what we have:

Jonas 1

Not even close to 3 days and 3 nights. Now some modern apologists argue that any part of a day counted as a full day, so just one minute in the tomb on Friday afternoon would count as a full day. Let’s pretend that’s true:

Jonas 2

That gets us closer. Let’s apply the same logic to Sunday morning and assume that Christ wasn’t resurrected until one minute after sunrise.

Jonas 3With those leaps of logic, we can finally get to Christ being in the tomb for three “days”. But it is absolutely, positively IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to spend three nights in the heart of the earth with the timeline we have inherited! There are only two nights between Friday and Sunday, no matter how much you try to fudge it. Yet three nights was the one sign that Jesus gave of himself.

Isn’t is amazing how our traditions can blind us to simple truths? We can’t even count to three when we are blinded by tradition! We’ve even been warned about this:

D&C 123:7-8
…the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity. It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.

In the next posts I will document other false traditions we have about the last days of Jesus’ life and get us to a much more accurate understanding this timeline.

Old Testament Resources

Many of us are visual learners. If we can see information presented in a clear manner, we can see relationships that we wouldn’t normally see in the raw data. And if anything in the scriptures needs clarity, it’s the Old Testament! So here is some visual information to hopefully help us out.

I saw a version of this first chart a few years ago (I don’t remember where, but credit is due to whoever created the original version). I have recreated the chart with a few changes. Here is the new version of the chart:Fathers

Notice how many of the patriarchs had either a first-hand relationship with Adam or with Noah. Five knew both! Notice how many patriarchs were alive when Enoch was translated. It’s easy to think he was on his own when he was preaching, but even Seth, the son of Adam, was still alive when Enoch and his city were taken up. Why weren’t Seth, Enos, Cainan and the others in the city of Zion with Enoch? Is it just a coincidence that this happened during the brief period when neither Adam and Noah were alive?

Abraham was the first patriarch that didn’t know either Adam or Noah personally. To think that Terah was able to get first-hand accounts from Noah and Shem about the flood and yet still worshiped false gods. Notice how many of the fathers died during Abraham’s lifetime. Noah had just died and there were nine generations of Noah’s offspring alive  before Abraham was born. By the time of Abraham’s death all the fathers had passed away. (And what’s up with Nahor only living to 148?!? His great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Shem, would have been at his funeral!)

I have seen several versions of this next chart (one version is on Wikipedia) and decided to simplify it while adding an approximate time scale.

KingsNotice how the kingdom of Judah had an orderly succession of kings from father to son as the promise to David that his offspring will reign was fulfilled, whereas the kingdom of Israel rarely had a dynasty that lasted more that two generations. Also notice how close Judah came to losing the Davidic dynasty when Jehoram of Judah married Athaliah of Israel. Jehu murdered king Johoram of Israel and king Ahaziah of Judah during a state visit, allowing Jehu to assume the throne in Israel and Athaliah to become the (only) queen of Judah. Although she tried to kill all the heirs to the throne, one grandson was hidden and he eventually regained the throne.

If you’d like a high-resolution copy of these two, here’s a PDF: Old Testament

Things to ponder in the Book of Moroni

The Book of Moroni is an interesting work. Moroni never planned to write it – he  found himself with extra time and space on the gold plates and decided to go for it. Its structure would indicate that Moroni didn’t have a master plan — he documented some practices of the church, included some letters from his father, and wrapped up with some prophetic writing. It jumps from topic to topic without apologies.  It’s a Moroni mishmash, a spiritual smorgasbord, a gospel gumbo. It’s great.

When you examine what Moroni wrote, however, his church functioned differently than the modern church. Below I have listed some of the differences along with some questions. Unlike other posts, there are no explanations or links to other scriptures. Just questions we can all ponder.

Confirmation

Moroni 2
2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.

Why does Moroni teach that before conferring the Holy Ghost, the disciples must call on the Father in mighty prayer? If that was necessary then, why isn’t it necessary now?

Ordination

Moroni 3
1 The manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers—
2 After they had prayed unto the Father in the name of Christ, they laid their hands upon them, and said:
3 In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest (or if he be a teacher, I ordain you to be a teacher) to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.
4 And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.

We have the same issue with ordinations to priesthood office. Why does today’s process differ from the scriptures?

Sacrament

Moroni 4
1 The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it—
2 And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying:
3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

Why doesn’t the church kneel down for the sacrament if the Book of Mormon teaches that it is the true manner?

Baptism

Moroni 6
1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.

Why were elders, priests and teachers baptized if they had already been baptized before being ordained as elders, priests, and teachers? Why aren’t they baptized today?

Moroni 8
4 And now, my son, I speak unto you concerning that which grieveth me exceedingly; for it grieveth me that there should disputations rise among you.
5 For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children.
6 And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle.

10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.

Why would parents among Moroni’s church group need to be baptized if they were already part of the church? If they were part of Moroni’s church group, shouldn’t they have been baptized at the age of 8 and never again?

Moroni 8
22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing
23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.
24 Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.

If people who have no law are under no condemnation and baptism avails them nothing, why would we need to baptize someone who has died without the gospel? If these deceased people without the gospel are alive in Christ just like little children, why the emphasis on genealogy work and temple baptisms?

Church Meetings

Moroni 6
9 And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.

Why aren’t church meetings spontaneous? Doesn’t a printed program and rigid agenda prevent us from letting the Spirit lead?

Moroni’s Promise (Moroni 10:3-5)

Why is Moroni’s promise only unto the Lamanites? Why do we teach that his promise is to everyone?

Moroni 10
1 Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.
2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

He eventually does talk to everyone, but that’s about twenty verses later in the chapter. And the message is a less cheerful.

24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
25 And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.
26 And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.
27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?

 

 

 

Jerusalem and Zion

One of Watcher’s recent posts touched on his interpretation of the scriptures that the Jerusalem of the last days is in North America and not the Middle East. Obviously this interpretation flies in the face of the opinions of experts and common sense. Everyone knows where Jerusalem is, just look on a map!

Watcher included this quotation from Joseph Smith:

“You know there has been a great discussion in relation to ZION- where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation is, and which I am going to tell you. The prophets have spoken and written upon it; But I will make a proclamation that will cover broader ground. The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south and is described by the prophets, that it is the Zion where the Mountain of the Lord should be, and that it is the center of the land. When the Elders take up to examine the old prophecies in the bible they will see it.”

Let’s follow Joseph’s advice and examine the old prophecies while we also measure Watcher’s strange doctrine against the scriptures.

Ezekiel 28
25 Thus saith the Lord God; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob.

The house of Israel will be gathered into and dwell in the land given to Jacob. Now remember, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after his encounter with the angel. So other than the different names this is pretty straight forward. So straightforward that Nephi basically reiterated it:

2 Nephi 24
1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people shall take them and bring them to their place; yea, from far unto the ends of the earth; and they shall return to their lands of promise. And the house of Israel shall possess them

Elsewhere, this gathering is discussed. The remnant of the seed of Jacob is gathered in from the four quarters of the earth unto their own lands.

3 Nephi 5
24 And as surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth.
25 And as he hath covenanted with all the house of Jacob, even so shall the covenant wherewith he hath covenanted with the house of Jacob be fulfilled in his own due time, unto the restoring all the house of Jacob unto the knowledge of the covenant that he hath covenanted with them.
26 And then shall they know their Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and then shall they be gathered in from the four quarters of the earth unto their own lands, from whence they have been dispersed; yea, as the Lord liveth so shall it be. Amen.

Everything still seems straightforward. Straightforward, that is, until the resurrected Jesus starts talking:

3 Nephi 21
1 And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;

22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.

Jesus is saying that the latter-day members of his church will be numbered among the remnant of Jacob. And that remnant of Jacob has received the land of the Nephites for their inheritance. Furthermore, he says they will build the new Jerusalem in this land, and bring all those Lord’s people who are scattered into the new Jerusalem. And the Lord will establish Zion among these people living in the new Jerusalem.

One historical note to consider: when the printer’s manuscript was delivered to Grandin Press, the Book of Mormon was basically one massive run-on sentence. Every comma, period, and capital was added by John Gilbert, the typesetter. So “the New Jerusalem” could have been intended to read “the new Jerusalem” (which we will soon see is how it is in Revelation). Because we don’t know what was intended, we need to consider both options.

3 Nephi 20
21 And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel.
22 And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New [new] Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.

The resurrected Jesus makes it clear that his people are the house of Israel and the new Jerusalem will be located on the land of the Nephites, not the Middle East. More significantly, he says that establishing them in North America fulfills the covenant which he made with Jacob. This is where it gets interesting. Jesus is saying that the promise made to Jacob will be fulfilled when the people gather to the new Jerusalem in North America. He says nothing about a restoration of the Jerusalem in the Middle East where Jacob lived.

In the 1830s, the Lord reiterated that North America is a consecrated land according to the covenant.

D&C 52
2 Saying: I, the Lord, will make known unto you what I will that ye shall do from this time until the next conference, which shall be held in Missouri, upon the land which I will consecrate unto my people, which are a remnant of Jacob, and those who are heirs according to the covenant.

To summarize, Jesus seems to think that:

  • North America is the land given to the remnant of Jacob.
  • North America is the land where as many of the house of Israel shall come will build the new Jerusalem.
  • North America is the land where the house of Israel will be established according to the covenant made with Jacob.
  • Missouri is part of the land consecrated to the remnant of Jacob.

Let’s see what else the scriptures say:

D&C 109
64 And the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father.
65 And cause that the remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten because of their transgression, be converted from their wild and savage condition to the fulness of the everlasting gospel;
66 That they may lay down their weapons of bloodshed, and cease their rebellions.
67 And may all the scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the earth, come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before thee.

Judah

The children of Judah are prophesied to return to the lands given to Abraham. Keep in mind, Judah was a son of Jacob, so the remnant of Jacob would seem to include the children of Judah.

Section 133 on the surface seems to contradict the one location theory, as the Lord talks about the Gentiles fleeing unto Zion and Judah fleeing unto Jerusalem.

D&C 133
7 Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
8 Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.
9 And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about.
10 Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.
11 Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.
12 Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion.
13 And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord’s house.
14 Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon.

If you believe that the Jerusalem in verse 13 is in the Middle East, then you must also believe that the mountains of the Lord’s house are in the Middle East too. Which means you also must believe this prophecy does not apply to North America:

2 Nephi 12  / Isaiah 2
1 The word that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

If the Jerusalem in the Middle East is the mountain of the Lord’s house, then Jerusalem will be established in the top of the mountains and all nations shall flow unto the Middle East. Not North America (not even Utah). But if you believe that 2 Nephi 12 is talking about North America as the mountain of the Lord’s house that is established in the top of the mountains, then the Jerusalem in D&C 133:13 cannot be in the Middle East. But a new Jerusalem in North America works for both and keeps the prophecies intact.

Zechariah seemed to think that Jerusalem was a suburb of Zion, while also calling Jerusalem the mountain of the Lord.

Zechariah 8
3 Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.

Indeed, if Zion is in North America and Jerusalem in the Middle East, how could the Lord return unto Zion and dwell in Jerusalem? If Jerusalem in the Middle East is the mountain of the Lord, the 2 Nephi 12 prophecy is broken. Not only that, but several others are broken too.

Daniel 9:16,20
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

Joel 2
1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

Joel 3
16 The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
17 So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

Isaiah 66
20 And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.

If Zion and Jerusalem are on two different continents, these prophets are contradicting each other. Some think that Zion in North America is the mountain of the Lord, while others think Jerusalem in the Middle East is the mountain of the Lord. Isaiah 30:19 simply defies geography and the laws of physics.

Isaiah 30
19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.

If Zion and Jerusalem are on two different continents, even the Father himself is confused:

D&C 29
7 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;
8 Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.

One Gathering Location

The Father doesn’t decree that the elect will be gathered into two places: one in America and one in the Middle East. He wants all the elect gathered into one place, on this land. God repeatedly states he will gather his people into one place, and that North America is where he will gather his people. He repeats is so many times it’s almost overwhelming.

D&C 101
12 And in that day all who are found upon the watch-tower, or in other words, all mine Israel, shall be saved.
13 And they that have been scattered shall be gathered.
14 And all they who have mourned shall be comforted.
15 And all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned.
16 Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.
17 Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered.
18 They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion—
19 And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.
20 And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saints
21 Until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion.
22 Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;

D&C 103
22 Therefore let my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., say unto the strength of my house, my young men and the middle aged—Gather yourselves together unto the land of Zion, upon the land which I have bought with money that has been consecrated unto me.

D&C 105
13 Therefore it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season, for the redemption of Zion.
14 For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil—I will fight your battles.
15 Behold, the destroyer I have sent forth to destroy and lay waste mine enemies; and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage, and to blaspheme my name upon the lands which I have consecrated for the gathering together of my saints.

D&C 42
9 Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God.

D&C 45
43 And the remnant shall be gathered unto this place;
44 And then they shall look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off.

D&C 57
1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.

D&C 84
2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.
3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.
4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

D&C 125
2 Verily, thus saith the Lord, I say unto you, if those who call themselves by my name and are essaying to be my saints, if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them gather themselves together unto the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come.

D&C 133
4 Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry.

7 Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
8 Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.
9 And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about.

This call to Zion is made to all nations, to the Gentiles AND the Jews. The Jews are not told to gather in a different land. They are told to go forth unto the land of Zion. I can find nowhere in the scriptures where God commands that there are two locations for the gathering of his saints. There is just one gathering.

When talking to Enoch in the pre-flood times, God talked about gathering his elect from all over the earth into one location, not two.

Moses 7
62 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.

 

Outcasts

In another Isaiah prophecy, millennial peace, symbolized by the wolf and the lamb dwelling together, occurs in the Lord’s holy mountain.

2 Nephi 21 / Isaiah 11
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious.
11 And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah says the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah will be gathered together. Isaiah talks about this elsewhere.

Isaiah 56
6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
8 The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

Here he talked about the sons of the stranger that join themselves to the Lord, and they are brought to the Lord’s holy mountain. Nephi talks about these strangers too, and how they will join Israel in their own land (which we already determined is in North America).

2 Nephi 24
1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people shall take them and bring them to their place; yea, from far unto the ends of the earth; and they shall return to their lands of promise. And the house of Israel shall possess them

Which means that when Isaiah 56 talks about gathering the strangers and outcasts of Israel to the holy mountain, that must be in North America to be consistent with the house of Israel inheriting North America.

Other tidbits

If there was only one Jerusalem location in all of history, Enoch was probably pretty confused when talking to the Lord.

Moses 7
62 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.
63 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;
64 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.
65 And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years;

Here the Lord tells him he will gather out the elect unto a place called Zion, a new Jerusalem. Except Enoch lived before the flood. This conversation happened at least 1,000 years before Jerusalem was established. If the name Jerusalem has and will only be used to refer to the city in the Middle East then why would the Lord talk about it to Enoch? It would be like Jesus telling the Nephites about Helsinki – completely irrelevant to them. Because Enoch’s people were called Zion, I would not be surprised if they called their city Jerusalem. Then, when the Lord talks about a New Jerusalem, Enoch wouldn’t be confused. If the city of Enoch were called Jerusalem, it would also link quite nicely to the prophecies of its return.

Another interesting study is to look at how Jerusalem is used in the Book of Revelation. John uses the name Jerusalem three times, all three times he refers to new Jerusalem, a city of God coming down out of heaven.

Revelation 3
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Revelation 21
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Those references are all to a heavenly new Jerusalem (likely comprising the city of Enoch and others). We know John also talks about the Jerusalem in the Middle East. How does he refer to that location if he doesn’t use the name Jerusalem? When talking about the two prophets who are killed in the last days, John says:

Revelation 11
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

John is saying that the city in the Middle East where Christ was crucified is spiritually bad. But that location can’t possibly be the holy city he refers to in verse 2. The holy city is new Jerusalem. The great city is old Jerusalem. All the righteous things the Lord has planned for his Second Coming are not going to be happening in spiritual Sodom. There are obviously two different cities here: a righteous Jerusalem and a wicked Jerusalem. One is blessed and one is cursed.

I originally included a section talking about Zechariah 14 here. I received some feedback that made me question my analysis. I don’t want to post an analysis that I don’t have confidence in, so I have removed it while I do some more research.

 

Conclusion

When I started working on this post, I had no idea there would be so many scriptures that touched on this topic. It’s been exhausting to capture them all and put them in some sort of order. Once you see them all together, you realize how quickly they all start to fall apart if we try to force a two continent Jerusalem/Zion model onto them. The Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price all support each other on the location of latter-day Jerusalem being in North America.

Joseph Smith was right:

“The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south and is described by the prophets, that it is the Zion where the Mountain of the Lord should be, and that it is the center of the land. When the Elders take up to examine the old prophecies in the bible they will see it.”

Having examined the old prophecies in detail, I can see no other explanation. The latter-day Jerusalem must be in North America. It goes against all our traditions and common sense, but when we weigh in the balances our traditions and common sense against the word of God, our traditions are found wanting. In whom shall we trust?