Friday, October 10, 2014

Watchman, what of the night?

In Isaiah we read:

An oracle concerning Dumah:
Men call to me from Seir,
Watchman, what remains of the night?
Watchman, how much of the night is left?
12 The watchman replies,
Morning comes, though it is still night.
If you would ascertain it,
do so by repenting and coming back. (Isaiah 21:11-12)

The Hebrew calendar is a lunar-based calendar. Thus, the cycles of the moon, the rising of the sun, etc. were important events. The law of Moses tied certain practices to time periods set by these events. Thus, it was not uncommon to have a watchman posted so that at the earliest glimpse of the moon rise or sun rise, the people would know that God's timetable had moved to the next phase.

Likewise, God has always appointed watchmen to watch the night. These people are given to be an early warning sign of the things the Lord will do (see Amos 3:7). What's more, these people are meant to be a righteous standard to advance warning against the tide of Babylon among the people.

My Beloved had a vineyard
on the fertile brow of a hill.
2 He cultivated it, clearing it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines.
He built a watchtower in its midst
and hewed for it a winepress as well. (Isaiah 5:1-2)

The Lord is intent is that his vineyard bear fruit---not wild fruit, but his fruit, even eternal life. Throughout history, the priestly class has eventually succumbed to the forces of Babylon through the attrition made possible by supplanting God's word with the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Isaiah explains it from the Lord's perspective:

3 Now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and you men of Judea,
please judge between me and my vineyard!
4 What more could have been done
for my vineyard than I have done for it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it produce wild grapes?
5 Let me now inform you
what I will do to my vineyard:
I will have its hedge removed
and let it be burned;
I will have its wall broken through
and let it be trampled.
6 I will make it a desolation:it shall neither be pruned nor hoed,
but briars and thorns shall overgrow it.
Moreover, I will forbid the rainclouds to rain on it.
7 The vineyard of Jehovah of Hosts is the house of Israel
and the people of Judah his cherished grove.
He expected justice,
but there was injustice;
he expected righteousness,
but there was an outcry. (Isiah 5:3-7)

It is important to note that the punishments promised by the Lord aren't actually caused by the Lord. They are a natural result of the drunken stupor and slumber of the watchmen. Consider the recent Ebola inroads in the United States. The US has a solid history of ignoring the plight of dying Africans, despite the vast wealth and means of the country. If we had mobilized even 1/1000th of our annual defense outlays to set up isolation centers in West Africa 2 months ago, the epidemic would have ended. Because we didn't, we will endure an ever-increasing wave of ebola exports to the USA, and many Americans will die. This is not a direct action from God, but a natural result of our ignoring his commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. The destruction promised above will happen, and it will happen to the USA in our generation.

So what of the appointed watchmen in the LDS church? 

9 All you wild beasts, you animals of the forest,
come and devour!
10 Their watchmen are altogether blind and unaware;all of them are but dumb watchdogs unable to bark,
lolling seers fond of slumber.
11 Gluttonous dogs, and insatiable,
such indeed are insensible shepherds.
They are all diverted to their own way,
every one after his own advantage.
12 Come, they say, let us get wine
and have our fill of liquor.
For tomorrow will be like today, only far better! (Isaiah 56:9-12)

Not only are they not warning, Isaiah reduces them to dogs. It is not only that they choose not to bark, but they are so ignorant of things as they really are, that they are completely blind and unaware of what is actually important, relevant, and timely. Instead, they take their own advice as if it were God's word, they feed on the poor, and keep up their drunken stupor fed by false tradition and hubris. All is well, all is well.

So, if our watchmen are not warning us of the impending destruction, are not leading the charge to deal justly with our poor fellowmen, what are they doing?

Recently, the LDS church has spent a lot of money and time creating and publicizing the movie, "Meet the Mormons."

Consider the following reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

"Would you go out of your way to see an infomercial that was more than an hour long? Would you even pay for the privilege? That's what "Meet the Mormons" would have filmgoers do."

"Breaks the shocking news that LDS members 'come in all sizes, shapes and colors' and 'love God and believe he has a plan for all of us. Is this news worth $10.50 a ticket?"

"Slick, relentlessly upbeat propaganda that suffers from too many sins of omission."

"Meet the Mormons isn't substantial enough to screen on the first day of LDS 101; the church's most basic tenets - and controversial aspects - are elided completely."

They are spending millions of dollars, and encouraging members to spend even more by seeing the movie, renting out theaters, and spending tons of their own time, publicizing just how un-peculiar a people we are.

If the church were to spend millions of dollars out of their own purse, and encourage millions out of the purse of members, why not actually spread the message that God has asked us to spread, namely, of the destruction coming (D&C 88:81).

"17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

 19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

 20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

 21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul." (Ezekiel 3:17)

Why? Because it would be unpopular. If we spent the millions instead on caring for the poor, and preaching the gospel, we would bring in the types of people that are ready for the message. Instead, we are seeking to be popular. Rotting flesh doesn't attract butterflies...

Brigham Young: "When Mormonism finds favor with the wicked in this land, it will have gone into the shade; but until the power of the Priesthood is gone, Mormonism will never become popular with the wicked."     (J.D. 4:38)

"The President [Brigham Young] stopped with us. He sat at the head of the table and had me sit down at his right. The President, when everything was ready,asked a blessing, then all began to eat. He asked for some buttermilk, then crumbled some bread in it and began to eat. He conversed freely on the situation of the Saints in the mountains, and said that he dreaded the time when the Saints would become popular with the world; for he had seen in sorrow, in a dream, or in dreams, this people clothed in the fashions of Babylon, and drinking in the spirit of Babylon until one could hardly tell a Saint from [22] a black-leg. And he felt like shouting, `To your tents, Oh Israel!' because it was the only thing that could keep this people pure. Many of this people for the sake of riches and popularity, will sell themselves for that which will canker their souls and lead them down to misery and despair. It would be better for them to dwell in wigwams among the Indians than to dwell with the gentiles and miss the glories which God wishes them to obtain. I wish my families would see the point and come forth before it is too late. For oh, I can see the tendency in my families to hug the moth eaten customs of Babylon to their bosoms. This is far more hurtful to them than the deadly viper; for the poisons of the viper can be healed by the power of God. but the customs of Babylon will be hard to get rid of."
(Mosiah Hancock Journal, p. 47-48)

Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 30 Mar. 1990: “In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we were losing the ability to correct the course of the Church. You can not appreciate how deeply I feel about the importance of this present opportunity unless you know the regard, the reverence, I have for the Book of Mormon and how seriously I have taken the warnings of the prophets, particularly Alma and Helaman. Both Alma and Helaman told of the church in their day. They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity. Each time those conditions existed in combination, the Church drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the Church today. Helaman repeatedly warned, I think four times he used these words, that the fatal drift of the church could occur ‘in the space of not many years.’ In one instance it took only six years. (See Helaman 6:32, 7:6, 11:26.)” (Transcript of an address given at a Regional Representatives Seminar, 30 March 1990, entitled “Let Them Govern Themselves.”)

This is a fantastic commentary on Isaiah 28. You should listen to it.