Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Kingdom is Not of This World

33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
 34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (John 18)

There are two possible meanings to Jesus' comment that his kingdom is not of this world. The first is the most popular. It suggests what Jesus meant was that his kingdom is not currently on the earth, because if it were, then as a king he would have his servants fight. Since that was not happening, it meant his kingdom wasn't there yet. I reject this meaning. Jesus gave his apostles the keys of his kingdom. He said, the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matthew 12:28) He repeatedly told his disciples that the kingdom of God was at hand. He also told them that the kingdom was within them (Luke 17:20-21).

So if Jesus was not saying "my kingdom is not here yet," what was he saying? Perhaps Jesus meant "my kingdom is not after the type of the kingdoms of the world. If it were, I would naturally use the methods used by earthly kings to establish control, namely coercion via military might. However, my kingdom is not after the type of this world, but is after a heavenly type. Therefore, my methods are to do exactly what I am doing."

The world does not normally recognize God's kingdom as much of a kingdom, due to the difference between their definition of what a kingdom looks and acts like and what they see in God's kingdom. This is why some pretty dramatic things have to happen to "constrain" them to acknowledge God's kingdom as a real kingdom: "That the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ; therefore, let us become subject unto her laws." (D&C 105:32) But Jesus knows exactly what the kingdoms of the world are all about. Satan showed them to him during his mortal ministry. "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;" (Matthew 4:8)

Jesus tried to teach his disciples how the kingdom of God works:
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9)
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10)
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25)
These are not descriptions of some pre-exaltation piety, some stooping fawning servitude prior to gaining some worldly-powerful kingdom as a reward. This IS the kingdom. This is how celestial kings behave. This IS their power and glory. It consists in serving those who are lesser than you in some way. Jesus saw the distinction very clearly. He contrasted the supposed glory of the worldly kingdoms with the glory of God's way of doing things:
"For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these." (D&C 84:82)
Jesus later taught exactly how a celestial king acts vs. a telestial king:
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
 37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
 38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
 39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
 40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
 43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; (D&C 121:36-43)

These are the methods of telestial kings (and queens):

These are the methods of celestial kings (and queens):
-love unfeigned
-pure knowledge

The kingdoms of the world will melt down and be crushed until they submit to Christ: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Angels Appear to Men (and Women and Children) Today

Do angels visit men today? Yes, they do. Do they need to? Yes, they do.

There are over 130 references to angels in the Book of Mormon. The doctrine of angels and their necessity is one that the Book of Mormon restores.

Moroni says, "Neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness." (Moroni 7:29-30)

What do angels do?
Parley P. Pratt suggested these would be good reasons for an angel to come: "If this be the case, what then do we wish, in communicating with the eternal world, by visions, angels, or ministering spirits? Why, if a person is sick they would like to be visited, comforted, or healed by an angel or spirit! If a man is in prison, he would like an angel or spirit to visit him, and comfort or deliver him. A man shipwrecked would like to be instructed in the way of escape for himself and fellows from a watery grave. In case of extreme hunger a loaf of bread brought by an angel would not be unacceptable. If a man were journeying, and murderers were lying in wait for him in a certain road, an angel would be useful to him in telling him of the circumstance, and to take another road. If a man were journeying to preach the Gospel, an angel would be useful to tell the neighbors of his high and holy calling, as in case of Peter and Cornelius. Or would you not like to have angels all around you, to guard, guide, and advise you in every emergency?" (JD 1:13, Parley P. Pratt, April 7, 1853)

Orson Hyde said: "Says one, 'If an angel from heaven would descend and bear testimony that this work was of God, I would believe it. Why may I not receive the testimony of angels, as well as Joseph Smith or any other person? for God is no respecter of persons! If I could receive it, I would be satisfied then that the work is true.' But let me here remark again − suppose the Omnipotent Jehovah, that sits upon His throne of glory and power, was to descend and bear testimony, what further credence would you then want? You would want some one to tell you that it was really God Himself that had visited you, that you might be satisfied it was not an angel of darkness in the similitude of a heavenly personage." (JD 1:123, Orson Hyde, October 6, 1853)

Angels teach about Christ (see Moroni 7:22). Nephi's extensive eye-witness of Christ's ministry was guided by an angel (see 1 Nephi 11). 3rd Nephi as well: "Nephi—having been visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord, therefore having seen angels, and being eye-witness, and having had power given unto him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ..." (3 Nephi 7:15). (By the way, it is interesting that he considers having an eye witness of the ministry of Christ as a bestowal of power from Heaven. An endowment, if you will.)

This is a pattern we see several times in scripture: Angels don't just teach verbally about Christ, they often provide an eye-witness of his ministry to those they visit. How do you think the gospels were written by people who were not there? I also know of people alive today who are eye-witnesses of the Savior's ministry. They were given these experiences through angelic visitation.

Angels can warn people. Alma was visited by an angel to warn him that he would be destroyed if he continued destroying the faith of men (Alma 38:7).

Angels are assigned to teach us certain things that we won't get anywhere else. In 3 Nephi 17:24, the Savior sends angels down which encircle the children and minister unto them. Ministering means teaching. The Savior had lamented that the adults were unworthy of higher blessings (3 Nephi 17:14), but the children, being innocent, were worthy. Angels teach the worthy in preparation for higher blessings. See also 3 Nephi 19:15. Despite the fact that Jesus was present, there were things the angels were assigned to teach. This happens in Helaman 5:39 as well.

Interaction with angels is a normal pre-requisite to interacting with Jesus personally. Alma taught that angels converse with men to cause them to behold of his glory (Alma 12:29). In other words, they assist men in learning what needs to be learned prior to receiving the Second Comforter. 

Angels are a layer of interaction with Heaven that is higher than the Holy Ghost, but lower than the personal ministry of Christ. So the ranking goes:
1. light of Christ (to all men)
2. Holy Ghost (to some telestial men)
3. Angels (to "special vessels" of the telestial)
4. Christ (to the redeemed or Terrestrial)
5. The Father (to the Celestial)

So we see that those who obtain the Father have greater power given them to bring others further along in their faith through their greater knowledge. Those who have obtained the Son have greater power through their knowledge to bring souls to Christ. And so on. In this manner, God injects knowledge and faith into his children without damning them by stripping them of their opportunity to act for themselves on faith. Moroni put it this way:

"And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.

And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men." (Moroni 7:29-32)

Angels are appointed to watch over God's children and monitor their spiritual progress. They are the ones who open the gate to further interaction from heaven when individuals prove themselves. For example, the same angel who delivered Alma's rebuke watched over his constant faithful performance until he was visited with a mission to proclaim repentance to the city of Ammoniah (see Alma 8:15). Note how in the temple it is an angel who presents us to the veil and testifies of our worthiness in all things. Symbolically we are taught that an angel declaring our worthiness is what grants us an audience with the Lord. Paul said: ``Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.'' (Hebrews 13:2) Sometimes, angels appear in disguise to men as beggars or someone else in need in order to test them.

Angels appear to testify of God's messengers. Angels told Amulek that Alma was a true messenger (Alma 10:9).

Angels give words to God's messengers. An angel told King Benjamin what to say (Mosiah 3:2).

Angels call witnesses of the truth to call repentence to people---people with church calling and also independent of church channels. King Benjamin is an example of one with office who is visited by an angel and given a prepared message. An independent-of-church example is given in Alma 9:25-29. Alma himself, the presiding high priest, declares that an angel was visiting "many of his people, declaring unto them that they must go forth and cry mightily unto this people, saying: Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand;" (By the way, he didn't seem to have a problem with that. Nor did Nephi in the latter part of the Book of Mormon take issue with Samuel the Lamanite, who was also called by an angel to deliver his message--see Helaman 13:7, 14:9,26).

Angels protect the Lord's messengers when it is not the Lord's will for them to suffer. For example, an angel rebuked Laman and Lemuel once when they were beating Nephi (see 1 Nephi 3). 

To whom do angels appear?
The scriptures say that angels come to:
  • the wise
  • strong mind in every form of doctrine (those who consistently do what they know to be right and allow the Holy Ghost to reign supreme in their judgment)

Recipients of angels do not need to have any church office or responsibility. The people of Lamoni's court---common folks in both the ecclesiastic as well as civic sense---saw angels and conversed with them, and were taught things of God (see Alma 19:34). Prisoners in jail with Nephi and Lehi also were taught by angels (see Helaman 5:48). Women and children can receive angels just as readily as men: "And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned." (Alma 32:23).

I hope that it is clear that if we aren't receiving angels as individuals or a body of supposed believers, something is very wrong. Also, that we are missing out on light and truth that could otherwise be ours.

Behold I say unto you, Nay; for 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. (Moroni 7:37)

"When you have proven yourself faithful and true to all required of you by the "voice" that comes into your mind and heart, then it becomes possible for angels to visit with you." -Denver Snuffer

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

They're here: Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial

In D&C 76, the Lord reveals descriptions of people who abide a telestial glory, a terrestrial glory, and a celestial glory. You can and should go re-read that and study it.

In a gross oversimplification, the:

Telestial receive the Holy Ghost through terrestrial ministers (including angels).
Terrestrial obtain the presence of the Son.
Celestial obtain the presence of the Father and the Son.

Now, future situations aside, are there not those on the earth now pertaining to each of these kingdoms? There are. How do you prove it? Right now, there are those who have obtained---in this life---the presence of the Father and the Son. This is a blessing that can only be realized if they are of the celestial kingdom. There are those, right now, who have obtained the presence of the Son. This can only be realized if they are of the terrestrial kingdom. And there are those who have not received the Son or the Father, who are telestial.

21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
 22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
 23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
 24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

I think that most members of the Church would consider angelic visitation a rare event. There are many reasons for this. I think the trend is to think that it just isn't as necessary anymore. King Benjamin or Jacob might have needed a visit from an angel to give them what they should speak at General Conference, but since that is not the case for contemporary Presidents of the Church, clearly rank-and-file members should not expect angels. Or something like that. Well, a lot could be said on this topic. I want to be brief here.

With membership rather expecting not to see angels, it might be tempting to think that if an angel visited you you must be something special. At the very least, surely the Lord is condoning your life's path.

Here is some perspective which suggests otherwise. 

Scripture stories. Have men who previously received angels turned away from the faith afterward? They have. Have wicked men received angels in the scriptures, even in the midst of sin? They have.

The assignment into kingdoms. Do you recall that when this life is over we will all be assigned to kingdoms? Heavenly Father administers to the Celestial Kingdom, because the glory of lower kingdoms cannot abide his presence. Jesus Christ administers to the Terrestrial Kingdom, because the glory of lower kingdoms cannot abide his presence. Do you know where administering angels minister? To the Telestial Kingdom (D&C 76:88).

The moral of the story is that if you are entertaining angels, it only testifies that you are not a son of perdition. There is more to this, however. Receiving the ministering of angels is a part of the gospel we really should strive for. Angels teach us what we need to know but can't glean from other sources about how to prepare for Christ's presence. If it is a privilege afforded even to adulterers (Telestial kingdom) and mentioned in the conferral of the lower priesthood (D&C 13:1), shouldn't you and I start asking ourselves why we have not yet received angels (if we haven't)? At the very least, shouldn't we suspect we might be further from Celestial glory than we think?

We should strive to be worthy of the presence of God, and nothing less should satisfy us.

Misguided and Reprobate

Wicked and evil are confusing words that don't seem to have mutually exclusive meanings in our scriptures. You can use the following resources for others' work in looking up root words and translations:


Wouldn't it be nice to have explicit, exact words here? We don't have that luxury. I would like to suggest two distinct meanings that are among the bucket of those employed by the translators:

Misguided: One who acts in opposition to God under the false assumption of obedience to God.

Reprobate: One who acts opposition to God knowingly. Synonyms include apostate (the true sense of the word, total rejection of God's word).

Here is an example of being misguided:

"And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people; and they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people, insomuch that they were wicked even like unto the Lamanites." (Helaman 4:22)

Their laws had fallen away from the ideal. This does not mean they did not have serious lawyers, or no law at all. It meant the law they did have deviated from what they had before. Their ideas of the commandments had deviated from the ideal. And the Lamanites? You would be hard pressed to find Native American tribes who did not have religion. Yet, which among them preserved the fullness of the Nephi's gospel?

Consider the Pharisees as another example. I cannot say but that some were reprobate. However, the exchanges between Jesus and the Pharisees indicate that they were zealous for keeping their understanding of the law. This is why Paul could say:

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

This is a classic case of being misguided. I love the movie "Son of God" for how well it portrays the misguided piety of the leaders of the church in Jesus' day (whether or not it is factual, who knows). If you haven't watched that movie, I recommend it. There is a scene where they cut back and forth between Jesus being whipped, marched to Calvary, and crucified while the church leaders perform the sacrifices and rites associated with the Passover. The irony is not lost on the viewer: the priests were raised to believe that they would prepare an offering for the atonement of mankind, and they did. However, it was a human offering in the form of Jesus, and not an animal sacrifice. At least some of this men were very religious, indeed. As were most of those who stoned the prophets.

It turns out that examples of reprobate characters are actually kind of rare in scripture. This is probably because Satan more often tends to deceive us by bending or twisting the truth and our native dispositions rather than convince us to outright rebel against God. Almost all of the examples of sin I can think of in the scriptures are examples of individuals being misguided. Sure, David was in open opposition to God when he ordered Uriah killed. Sexual deviants were as well. But what about King Noah? He had bona fides in the priesthood, and probably had some really good reasons to build those towers and palaces and have those harlots. His priests agreed.

13 And now, O king, what great evil hast thou done, or what great sins have thy people committed, that we should be condemned of God or judged of this man?
 14 And now, O king, behold, we are guiltless, and thou, O king, hast not sinned; therefore, this man has lied concerning you, and he has prophesied in vain.

What about Laman and Lemuel? They really thought that the Jews were good people who kept the law and that there was no reason to destroy them.

 22 And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us. (1 Nephi 17:22)

Sincerity, piousness, sacrifice and ritual are not hallmarks of the righteous. They are at least as popular among the misguided as they are among the righteous.

We should be very concerned about our own status before God. We should revisit the scriptures, particularly the prophecies for our time. We should ask ourselves, "Lord, is it I?"

For example:

"For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire." (2 Nephi 30:10)

"And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked." (1 Nephi 17:37)

"O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled." (Mormon 8:33)

"I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man;" (D&C 63:33)

"And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire." (D&C 63:54)

"I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth." (D&C 63:32)

"Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn." (D&C 98:9)

"Wherefore gird up your loins lest ye be found among the wicked." (D&C 49:3)

"Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings." (D&C 88:121)

"And in his hot displeasure, and in his fierce anger, in his time, will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers;" (D&C 101:90)

"That I may proceed to bring to pass my act, my strange act, and perform my work, my strange work, that men may discern between the righteous and the wicked, saith your God." (D&C 101:95)

"But before that great day shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood; and the stars shall refuse their shining, and some shall fall, and great destructions await the wicked." (D&C 34:9)

"Yea, verily, to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked without measure—" (D&C 1:9)

...and many more!

So how do we discern whether our motivation to do good is informed by truth, hence we are righteous, or is informed by false tradition or error, making us misguided?

By their fruits! (next post)

By Their Fruits, By Our Fruits

We should weigh the claims of people based on the fruits they bear. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20). In my definition of "people", I include myself as an individual. How do you respond if someone asks you what you believe? How would Jesus answer that question?

John sent disciples to Jesus to find out if he was really the Christ. It seems he was second-guessing his initial testament that Jesus was the one who would take upon himself the sins of the world. I know John was not exactly asking Jesus "what do you believe," but his answer is still useful to this line of thought.

19 ¶And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
 20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
 21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus went about healing so many people? Or Peter after him? Mark tells us:

" 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
 18 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." (Mark 16:17-18)

Jesus not only taught "by their fruits," he lived it.

If you find yourself in the midst of people with less light and truth than you, how could you prove it to them? What is your go-to evidence of what you believe? How are you "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" (1 Peter 3:15) What do you say? What parts of your life do you invite them to "come and see"? Do you pull out your geneology chart? Do you recite how often you "go through the temple"? Do you casually mention how many hours a week you devote to "church service"? Do you explain how you are "not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican," how you "fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." (Luke 18:12) Or in modern parlance, do you talk about how you don't smoke, drink, or look at porn, that you fast once a month and donate 10% of your income to the church? Is this what we find in advised in God's word? Will seekers of further light and truth respond to your example?

Suppose one of these seekers were to show up at an LDS meeting. They hear all about priesthood authority, but all they see is the same sort of ordinances done in other churches. They hear about priesthood power, but only hear examples of the forms, such as sister Jones weeping about how grateful she is that her husband could give her sick son a blessing, referring to an anointing without mentioning an actual healing. There is the announcement to remember brother Gaines in your prayers, as he is sick and dying, but no one is dispatched to raise him. Upon further investigation, they find that Utah has one of the highest porn usages in the US, the highest rate of antidepressant usage and addiction, there is extreme differences among living conditions within the membership of the LDS church, many members who have never read many parts of the scriptures and few who study them regularly. What would you conclude if you were this truth seeker? Particularly, what would you think if the amount of light and truth you already possessed had brought into your life the fulfillment of the signs promised "those who believe" which were not wholly apparent in your LDS visitation.

What are the promised fruits of living the gospel?
  • Healing
  • Miracles
  • Tongues
  • Prophesy
  • Visions
  • Hearing the voice of God
  • Beholding of angels
  • Visitation by Christ
  • Ushering into the presence of the Father
We see all of these among the saints anciently. Individually and institutionally, do you see those gifts?

What fruits were apparent among the saints of Joseph's day? Were not all of the above listed signs prominently present? They were. Did you know that in Joseph's day, the Elders plainly advertised their ability to produce the signs that follow them that believe?

"As in the early Christian era, Mormonism challenged the world to believe, and declared that the signs Christ promised would follow those who complied with the formula of faith. Missionaries like Orson Pratt preached continually on the need of the gifts of the Spirit, as manifestations of saving faith. While on a short mission in Michigan Territory, Joseph Smith declared, "If you will obey the Gospel with honest hearts, I promise you, in the name of the Lord, that the gifts as promised by our Saviour will follow you, and by this you may prove me to be a true servant of God." Here was a conversion tool that was utilized by many early missionaries." (Hyrum Andrus, "Joseph Smith's Idea of the Gospel")

This was a major source of conversion in those days. It was not that the generation was seeking for a sign, per se, as much as they were looking for the evidence of true messengers that the Lord had promised to provide.

Because those saints had the gifts of God, they were able to go about preaching the gospel the same way Jesus did. The LDS endowment (particularly the pre-1990s endowment) teaches that the differences between true messengers and sectarian ministers is that the former are given something from heaven to give to men. The latter cobble together scriptures and philosophies of men and offer them to others. False messengers do not have tokens; They do not have signs. They do not know the path to the Father, for they have not walked that path. They have very little to offer. They are the blind leading the blind. As it says in Alma 13, true messengers are people who "on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God" attained some level of glory with God, and now teach others how to obtain the same, " that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men." (Moroni 7:32) The early saints were able to prove they were true messengers with signs and tokens from heaven.
"Mormonism was a unique phenomenon for its day, and to receive this new gospel, peculiar people were raised up in widely scattered areas of America and Europe, most of whom had one thing in common. They placed unquestioned trust in God's Spirit and were seeking diligently for the living manifestations of its power. They were looking for a restoration of ancient Christianity in its purity; and here, they contended, was its most essential characteristic." (Hyrum Andrus, "Joseph Smith's Idea of the Gospel")
According to Andrus, the promise of immediate interaction with God's power was "a conversion tool that was utilized by many early missionaries." (Hyrum Andrus, "Joseph Smith's Idea of the Gospel") As an example of this, consider Joseph's comment to a crowd while on one of his missions:
 "If you will obey the Gospel with honest hearts, I promise you, in the name of the Lord, that the gifts as promised by our Saviour will follow you, and by this you may prove me to be a true servant of God." (Journal History, October 16, 1834)

What boldness! Could you picture yourself saying that to someone when they asked you what you believe, or asked what religion you were? Note the absence of claims of permission. There were evidences of power.

Compare that to modern "power". The following is from "Preach My Gospel" and explains a modern missionary's purpose:
You are surrounded by people. You pass them on the street, visit them in their homes, and travel among them. All of them are children of God, your brothers and sisters. God loves them just as He loves you. Many of these people are searching for purpose in life. They are concerned for their families. They need the sense of belonging that comes from the knowledge that they are children of God, members of His eternal family. They want to feel secure in a world of changing values. They want “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23), but they are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12).
The gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith will bless their families, meet their spiritual needs, and help them fulfill their deepest desires. Although they may not know why, they need relief from feelings of guilt that come from mistakes and sins. They need to experience the joy of redemption by receiving forgiveness of their sins and enjoying the gift of the Holy Ghost.
As an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, you can teach people with power and authority that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah,” and that no one “can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:6, 8). As people come to accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation by priesthood authority, they can be assured that they “are not cast off forever” (Book of Mormon, Title Page).
The message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families. Because of the Restoration we understand God’s purpose for families...
On earth, family associations can be the source of some of our greatest joy. Satan is attacking the family on many fronts, and too many families are being destroyed by his efforts. The message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ makes it possible for families to be united now and in eternity. By living the principles of the gospel, families can experience peace, joy, and a sense of belonging and identity in this life. Through the light of the gospel, families can resolve misunderstandings, contentions, and challenges. Families torn by discord can be healed through repentance, forgiveness, and faith in the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 
So, the power and knowledge necessary to be redeemed from the fall has been reduced to having happy families. What is the modern equivalent to early missionaries' credentials, which were that the power of God in the form of signs promised in the scriptures would immediately follow them that believe? Again, to "Preach My Gospel": "When you were set apart by priesthood authority, you received the right and privilege to represent the Lord. You received a ministerial certificate that verifies that authority to the world."

Early missionaries were called of God and that was manifested by the fact that the gifts of tongues, prophecy, healings, and baptism by fire followed them wherever they went.

Modern missionaries' evidence of being called of God is a paper certificate.

To be fair, PMG goes further and states: "In addition to authority, you are also to exercise power in your work. The authority that you have received can lead to power. Indeed, spiritual power is one evidence that your authority is real. Spiritual power is a gift that makes it possible for you to do your work more effectively." However, does it list the gifts of the Spirit as evidence of God's power? No.

"Your power and authority should be evident as you work and teach. Power may be manifest in many things you do, such as:

•Being led by the Spirit to say what the Lord would have you say at just the right moment.
•Receiving guidance about where to go or what to do.
•Having your testimony confirmed by the witness of the Spirit.
•Taking part in ordinances of salvation.
•Giving priesthood blessings if you are an elder.
•Praying with and for the people you work with.
•Expressing love for the Lord, your family, fellow missionaries, and the people you serve."

ALL of these "witnesses" are obtainable from any Christian sect. It is unclear why they should serve as proof that the Elders are called of God.

Note that expecting signs of God's power is not a bad thing. It is not only justifiable but expected that those who come claiming to be true messengers of God carry with them evidences of his power. Korihor did more than simply ask for a sign. He refused to see the evidences already given him. He wanted something extra. How do we know he has had signs? The principle doubt of Korihor is that there will be a Christ. Yet, he knows that others have received of the gifts given by Christ, because he says that they "see a remission of [their sins]. But, behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind." (Alma 30:16). So we see that he had in fact been exposed to evidence that others' faith was yielding fruit, he simply chose to ignore it.

The Korihor story is nice to mention because it gives us an additional sign of a true messenger not mentioned above. Alma gave him the sign of receiving no earthly benefit for his ministry. This is the sign Alma gave Korihor to evidence that he was a true messenger (see Alma 30:32).

I have seen many who are dwindling in unbelief balk at the signs shown them given by true messengers. Like Korihor, they dismiss them as the "effect[s] of a frenzied mind." Why would you follow a spiritual leader who does not have spiritual experiences? Yet, they expect messengers to withhold their signs and tokens when asked for them, because they are "too sacred to share." The only scripture I know that cautions sharing spiritual signs and tokens simply states to use the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The timbre of that caution is set by the overwhelming train of God's word that warns us against burying our talent in the earth and otherwise neglecting to witness to others. How can you be a witness without bearing your witness? "I know...." how do you know? Peter did not say "ready always to tell the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" he said to "tell the reason."

Note that rejecting true messengers despite their signs and tokens is nothing new. It happened to Jesus and all the true messengers that ever lived.

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
 6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
 8 ¶The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
 9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.
 10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
 11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
 12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
 13 ¶They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
 14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
 16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
 17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
 18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
 19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
 20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
 21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
 22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
 23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.
 24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
 25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
 26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
 27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?
 28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.
 29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
 30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
 31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
 34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. (John 9)

The leaders of the church in Jesus' day just couldn't accept Jesus as a true messenger. Jesus came among a very religious society. Though he had authority, he did not overthrow the Jewish church. He did not come from the Sanhedrin. He had no authority in the Jewish church. He had no credentials. If Jesus lived today instead of ~2,000 years ago, the equivalent would perhaps be a baptized member of the church without any calling of notice. Remember that he had nothing that would make him desirable.

Like the Pharisees, we are very tied to titles. Should we be? Is the worth of a message measured by the credentials of the messenger or the source of the message? In other words, what is worth more: The word of God from a no-name, or an opinion from a church president?

We should not be. The implicit (and, more and more, explicit) trust we put in titles is at odds with the fundamentals of our religion. For example, "It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion" (Brigham Young, DBY, 248).

I can imagine what would be said today if Jesus (or any other true messenger) were to come to us the same way he did in those days. As you read these accounts, try to imagine what the modern equivalent would be:

"40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
 41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
 42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
 43 So there was a division among the people because of him.
 44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
 45 ¶Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
 46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
 47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
 48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
 49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
 50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
 52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." (John 7:40-52)

"1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching." (Mark 6:1-6)

"54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." (Matthew 13:57)

What is the pattern we see here? Jesus delivers a message the Spirit gives him to deliver (the word of God). Some people discern that it is true ("of a truth this is a prophet!"). There is no shortage of people who recognize that there is something unique about this message ("from whence hath this man these things?" "what wisdom is this given unto him"). Yet, what is the predominant response? "Is not this the carpenter's son?" We know this guy. He's not of high birth, he is not a graduate of the Rabbinical schools. He's not in the Sanhedrin. He has no church authority. Don't you know the scriptures say nothing of people from Galilee?

What would the modern equivalent of these retorts be? You are not a general authority. You have no stewardship over us. Don't you know the scriptures say that only those recognized by the church have the authority to preach?

But note that, in both cases, the focus of the discernment is on the messenger, and not the message. We know that it is the Holy Ghost that tells us what is right and what is not. And the Holy Ghost had pricked the hearts of the hearers to recognize that there was truth in this man's message. His message was from God, but he was not received as a true messenger because the people focused on the outward signs and not the signals from God.

Note that among those in unbelief, knowing the messenger is a hindrance to accepting the message. "Oh, Jesus? Yeah, right, he's from my hometown. He is critical of the brethren. He's unorthodox. No way his message is from God." "Oh, Jesus? Yeah, right, he's in my Elder's Quorum. Always making crazy comments in class..." Isn't it funny that we assume that Jesus would have been obviously perfect from a distance to all who looked upon him? Do you think it is possible that those around him in his youth could have had no idea who he was and what experiences he was having with angels, revelation, etc. during that time? Did people who knew Joseph magically flock to him during the time of the First Vision? No, they didn't. Most of his acquaintances thought he was crazy.

Now you might be thinking, "Yeah, but that was Jesus. He didn't need earthly authority, because he was the son of God." I submit that the authority he had (direct authorization and direct revelation) has always been required for a true messenger. Let me elaborate.

Joseph taught that "a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such." There is no power in doctrine that does not come from God. Jesus himself cited that the power of his teaching and ministry was derived from direct instruction from heaven. The Father commanded him to say X, and he said X. The Father commanded him to do Y, and he did Y. Jesus, the son of God, did not go about doing whatever he wanted while God ratified and honored it because of Jesus' title/role. Jesus, the son of God, showed us the perfect example of moving ourselves to what God wants done in order to encounter the power of God. The power of God is not found outside of his word. Joseph understood that and was trying to teach it. If Joseph spoke his opinion, it was not God's word. It was only to be heeded when God told him to say it, in which case Joseph would make the mode of reception known: "If anything should have been suggested by us, or any names mentioned, except by commandment, or thus saith the Lord, we do not consider it binding..." (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 136)

We have proven here that if an office holder in the church speaks words that are not given him from God, they are not speaking as a prophet, and "we do not consider it binding." But what if a man from outside the hierarchy speaks words which God gave him? We have proven with the example of the Master that these words are just as binding as if they had been uttered by a man with church office, as Jesus had no church office, and his only authority was the source of his message---the Father. Additionally, we have the examples of Samuel the Lamanite, Alma Sr., John the Baptist, Lehi, and many others to whom God gave a message without first giving them earthly authority through a church. Lest you believe that this was only a thing of the past, I suggest you consider that our canonized scripture says otherwise:

11 Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel twelve thousand out of every tribe?
A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn. (D&C 77:11)

Can anyone receive truth from heaven? John said that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10) Having a testimony of Jesus is a requirement for baptism in the LDS church. Joseph claimed his testimony of Jesus was what made him a prophet. He also said, "No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 328.) Isn't the reception of the Holy Ghost a matter of course for members of the church? Joseph Smith said, "Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 160.) Wilford Woodruff said, of Brigham Young, "He is a prophet, I am a prophet, you are, and anybody is a prophet who has the testimony of Jesus Christ, for that is the spirit of prophecy" (JD 13:165)

So what if we find ourselves without these gifts, individually and institutionally? What are we to do if we do not have the fruits of the gospel?

The answer is easy, repent! We cannot effect an institutional repentance. However, the scriptures show ample examples of individuals who connected with heaven even in the midst of evil, wickedness, and/or unbelief. These include Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, John the Baptist, and many others. An individual struggling to connect in the midst of wickedness is the rule, not the exception. We should take to heart the examples we find in those individuals who made it.

What do Abraham, Enoch, Melchizedek, Christ, Nephi (the first), and others from the scriptures all have in common?
  • They received the spirit of Elias, which is the gospel of Abraham, which is faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, from a preacher of righteousness.
  • They sought for further light and truth. This meant seeking the teaching of the Holy Ghost by using, among other things, the scriptures as a Urim and Thummim, and tenaciously following the revelation they received.
  • They received visions, dreams, voices, and visitations. They did what the true messengers said.
  • They received individual, personal ministry from Christ. They did what he said.
  • They received a fullness of the Priesthood from Christ.
  • Having the gospel of Elijah, they exercised the spirit of Elijah, which is to bring people to the church of the firstborn, which is to preach to anyone who will hear them the process of obtaining a redemption from the fall, which is coming into God's presence, where one receives a fullness of the Priesthood from God. This is always associated with a communal group living the laws of God as they have been revealed.
In conclusion, does authority imply truth? Or does truth imply authority? Did Jesus come claiming authority? Did he have priesthood bona fides? Did not so many reject him precisely because he had no priesthood pedigree?

What is the relationship between God's power and God's permission? If there be two people, one who claims God's permission and shows no power, and another who shows God's power yet claims no permission, which of these has God's permission?

Gileadi's Isaiah Commentary on the Temple

In this segment, Gileadi discusses Isaiah chapter 1 verses 10-17 (below). The full commentary is a must listen, and even this segment is amplified when listed to in context of the rest of the chapter (and rest of the book of Isaiah). I've reprinted Gileadi's translation below, then typed up the relevant segment of the commentary minus the quoted verses.

10 Hear the word of Jehovah,
O leaders of Sodom;give heed to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 For what purpose are your abundant
sacrifices to me? says Jehovah.
I have had my fill of offerings of rams
and fat of fatted beasts;
the blood of bulls and sheep and he-goats
I do not want.
12 When you come to see me,
who requires you to trample my courts so?
13 Bring no more worthless offerings;
they are as a loathsome incense to me.
As for convening meetings at the New Month
and on the Sabbath,
wickedness with the solemn gathering
I cannot approve.
14 Your monthly and regular meetings
my soul detests.
They have become a burden on me;
I am weary of putting up with them.
15 When you spread forth your hands,
I will conceal my eyes from you;
though you pray at length, I will not hear—
your hands are filled with blood.
16 Wash yourselves clean:
remove your wicked deeds
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil.
17 Learn to do good: demand justice,
stand up for the oppressed;
plead the cause of the fatherless,
appeal on behalf of the widow.

"Now this is the spiritual side of their lives. They are making sacrifices. Abundant sacrifices. So they are going to the temple. So they are multiplying all these offerings, sacrifices at the temple.

Well, isn't this kind of literal? Doesn't this kind of refer back to literal temple sacrifice as anciently? So how could this apply to a latter-day context? Good question, right?....

Yes, there is this literal connotation that certainly applies in Isaiah's day when there were literal temple sacrifices of animals. These animals are all clean animals. They are all kosher animals. What do the animals represent? The animals are proxies for the people who had offended, right? The animals were proxies....As far as a latter-day context is concerned, the animals, since they are a metaphor for people in the book of Isaiah, represent people, who are proxies for others. And who is that? We are. What sacrifices do we make? Well, we covenant to obey the law of sacrifice, and we sacrifice by going there: our time, and our talents, and you sacrifices lots of things. And so, there is a latter-day connotation here. Very much so when you apply it on this metaphorical level.

He says he's had his fill of our sacrifices. He doesn't want them. Why? He says, in verse 11 (quotes it). He asks the question, then he answers his own question. What is the purpose? To see the Lord, verse 12. When you come to see me. The question he asks in verse 11 is answered in verse 12. You go there to see the Lord, and if you are not there for that purpose, then everything else doesn't count for very much.

When you come to see me, who requires you to trample my courts so? That's a horrendous paradox, isn't it? Because you are here to see God, but instead, what are you doing? You are there like the dumb animals that were brought for sacrifice that didn't know what they were there for. Just tromping around the courts of the temple, polluting it in effect. Isn't that an awful situation? And you can see why he wouldn't want sacrifices like that, because you're not getting any closer to seeing the Lord that way, are you? It's a time to be astute, a time to be laid back, a time to be feeling a time to be in tune, a time to make an offering of your whole soul to God. And instead, you're just multiplying statistics."

It should listen to it.

More thoughts on the temple:
"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:8-10)