Like children, whenever we get a little light and truth, the first thing we do is pretend that we are something special. We exaggerate what we've received, exaggerate our worthiness, and claim blessings that are not ours. We rush into things that we have no claim on in utter ignorance, filling in the blanks by making things up.
"For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." (Romans 10:2)
It's a real shame, because the only way to progress from where we are is to ask God how we can change to take the next step. Those who assume they already have never bother to ask God what is next.
I am no one special. I have no authority beyond the authority of God's word that I quote. Yet, seeing a discrepancy between truth and what is being preached, I have a duty to share the little that I know.
My goal is to give you something to pray about. Do your own research. Read Isaiah. Pray and ask God. Figure it out for yourself. Do not rely on me, or any other, for your relationship with God. This stuff matters. You ought not take these topics lightly. You ought to not assume that anyone talking about these things is right. You ought to have extreme skepticism. You ought to seek God on these topics until you have enough revelation to compare against.
There is a misconception that everyone who is gathered will be safe and isolated from the tribulations prophesied to come. That is false. Many, many people will be killed, even among the righteous. Joseph Smith said:
“It is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and ‘the righteous shall hardly escape;’ still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death; and the Savior has said, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’” ( History of the Church, 4:11).It is foolish to think of gathering as a finish line. It isn't. It would be more appropriate to think of it as the next rung on a ladder. As an example, think of David. He was called to be king of Israel as a youth. Despite a preliminary victory in slaying Goliath (an amazing demonstration of God's power), he had to live through a prolonged period of extreme hardship before actually realizing the blessing of being king. The gathering should not be seen as the acquisition of a blessing. Rather, it is the delivery of a new set of challenges. These challenges will vary for everyone.
The gathering will not occur as a finite, general event. What I mean is that you should not expect the one mighty and strong to announce himself, publicly announce a gathering, build a temple, and await the return of the city of Enoch. It is not going to happen that way. First, there will be a one might and strong, but his mission comes as a gradient. No one is going to know who this guy is when he starts his mission. It's not so hard to believe that if you imagine that it is very possible we will not have modern communication when his mission begins. Second, the gathering will begin as many small independent gatherings. This is something God showed me in vision, but I think I can persuade you with reason. What would happen if there was a public gathering? Suppose someone famous came on the scene with great fanfare and announced a gathering. Who would show up to that event? I imagine the composition would be much like the recent Boise conference. I know many if not most of the people there and consider them good friends. But would such a group of people qualify for higher law? Is that group, or one like it, living all of God's commandments? Certainly not. The light you receive is determined by your degree of obedience. A general group of people will not qualify for any greater light than they already possess. Now, if you could have God's discernment, it would be easy to select a subset of that group who would qualify for greater blessings. In the gathering, God will use angels to inspire groups to gather--groups that are clustered according to the strengths and weaknesses they need to progress. Each group will endure a custom set of trials designed to provide them with what they specifically lack. As these groups are refined, the Lord will instruct them to move and join with another group. People will be told "get up and take your family this way" until they reach groups, possibly of people they've never met before. This consolidation will mainly occur after there is no longer electricity, motor vehicles, or other modern technology. Each movement will be dangerous. It will require revelation to start and revelation to carry out: guidance, logistics, supply, etc. There will be plenty of hostile territory to pass, little food and water, etc. There will be plenty of opportunity to increase in faith, as well as ample opportunity to suffer. People will die, no doubt about it.
Once you enter into a gathered group, you become party to the collective state of the group. If a person in the group needs a certain trial to progress, the odds are good that everyone in that group will suffer through the same trial. For some, that trial will include pestilence. For some, hunger. For some, harsh conditions. For some, capture by occupying armies. For some, betrayal. And so on. People will suffer; People will die. It is only those who come through all of this that will make it to Zion, and many who merit Zion will nevertheless be numbered among those who die.
One of these coalescing groups will emerge as Zion. It is unlikely that many (if any) will know that such is the case at the beginning. If they did, hoards of unprepared people would show up, creating an environment where Zion would be impossible (this is what happened in Joseph's various gatherings). In order to have Zion, you have to have selective gathering. This can be accomplished in several ways, including great tribulation (so the wicked leave or die) or by withholding the actual location of Zion. If Zion were not established until after the lights go out, no one would know about it except those to whom God revealed it.
There is a notion that there will be no kings in Zion. That is only correct if you limit the definition of "king" to the world's definition. Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world. There will many kings (and queens) in Zion, and their kingship and queenship will have started long before that. A man's kingdom is his family, which ought to extend far beyond those he is genetically related to. A man's duty is to serve others. In Christ's system, you progress as you subject yourself to the good of others.
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.The pattern is given by Abraham. Abraham righteously led his family and then extended his service to those around him. Righteous men and women will purify themselves and become a ministering angel to those in the circles of influence. They will have constant opportunities to mediate for those they serve through willingly giving up comfort and resources that they have merited by their righteousness to those who do not deserve them. These will be instrumental in the conversion of the remnant (see 2 Nephi 10:9, 2 Nephi 6:7, and 1 Nephi 21:23). Though Zion is a community, it is established individually, as each person turns their heart to God and knows him more and more, until all know him equally. "And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." (Hebrews 8:11)
26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22)
The TempleSome people are terminally stuck in the false LDS temple paradigm. A temple is not a shortcut to God's blessings. You cannot sidestep the law required to receive a blessing. It might be easier to build a temple than it is to keep all of God's commandments. He might even recognize your sacrifice, as he did with Moses and Joseph Smith (Kirtland). But this wouldn't mean that you have achieved your goal (the Zion temple and everything that goes with it). It would simply mean that you have achieved the blessings had by the children of Israel in the wilderness (not much) or the people of Kirtland (disaster).
The purpose of the Zion temple is simple. It is to collectively reveal a new (higher) set of commandments. If you are not yet living the ones God gave previously, God is not going to reveal a higher law. It would violate divine law:
9 It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.If you want a dispensation of higher law, obey the law you have already! How many sinless people do you know? I know very, very few. Certainly not enough to build a temple. A temple will not magically change your heart. It is not a shortcut to the blessings reserved for those who actually obey God's commandments.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. (Alma 12:9-10)
Remember, also, that if you have a publicly announced gathering, a trendy gathering if you will, you are going to gather all sorts of people. If you gather all sorts of people, you are ensuring that God has to winnow your group through trials before you are down to just the ones who have merited the blessing.
Finally, building a temple is not something you decide to do. It is something God commands you to do. It is folly in the extreme to save for a temple before receiving revelation to do so. God authorized David to do so, instructing him that Solomon would build the temple. If you need any extra reason not to engage in this folly, consider that there are plenty of poor people for whom you have responsibility, as God never said that your responsibility ends with your "fellowship." The only way you can save for a temple is by breaking that commandment. If God commands you to save for a temple, than by all means do it. If he has not, you ought to flee from that folly.
While we are reconciling prevailing opinions against scripture, we ought to also consider the role of the Gentiles in the construct of the Zion temple: it is the remnant and not the Gentiles who build that temple. If your plan to build a temple is not preceded by the gathering of the remnant, it is impossible that said temple could be the Zion temple. At best, it is another Kirtland temple: of use to the few who are ready to accept it in order to prepare them to go out and do missionary work. At worse, it is a Moses temple: of no use to the hoards of unrepentant people except as a stumbling block to distract them from what actually matters.
There will be a temple, but none of what has been discussed requires it. You don't need a temple while the people still aren't living what has already been revealed. Until there is a people who are keeping all of God's commandments that have already been revealed, why would God command anyone to build a temple?
What You Should Do
- Keep all the commandments. "And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself." (JST, Genesis 9:21). Zion cannot come except to a people who keep all of God's commandments. As long as you are in willful disobedience, you cannot be a part of Zion.
- Serve your family.
- Serve your fellowman. Zion cannot come to a people who have not cared for the poor. This is not limited to the poor in your family, or some select subgroup (read: in your "fellowships"). It is a general commandment. There are billions of poor people in this world.
- Pray and ask God what you should do. Only those who have an instructional connection with God will get to and through Zion. When you pray, everything ought to be on the table. Don't be surprised if he asks something extraordinary from you, whether it be public (visible to anyone else) or private (not visible to anyone else).