«Zion Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. © 4-12-14 All Rights Reserved. Lecture 6 Grand Junction, Colorado This is the sixth in a series of talks given in ...»
Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. © 4-12-14 All Rights Reserved.
Lecture 6 Grand Junction, Colorado
This is the sixth in a series of talks given in connection with 40 years of membership in the LDS
Church. At about this moment, 40 years ago, I had already been responsible for a number of
conversions and baptisms into the Church. In my zeal I was an obnoxious missionary, trying to
convert anyone I encountered along the way. I confronted everyone with zeal (more zeal than
knowledge in those days).
By this time 40 years ago, there were a number of baptisms that had taken place. The first one was 18 days after my own baptism which involved Ron Mahle, who I mentioned earlier. There was a Jewish fellow named Shapiro who converted. There were Pitman, Greg Ford, Steve Manchester and others I had helped to convert. Around this time, in April, on a Saturday or Sunday, I don't recollect which, there was a fellow who was in the military barracks where I was living who left his door open. I got up early in the morning and I was going to some church related activity.
As things were wont to be back then, the church was everything. Something was happening on your Wednesday and on your Tuesday and on Saturday. Church was certainly all of your Sunday. In any event, as I was leaving, this door was open and the occupant was sitting on his bed in the barracks.
Sensing this was an invitation to intrude, I said, "Hey Mike, what's going on?" He replied, "Oh, there are no good people left in the world today!" I said, "Yeah, there are! Get your stuff, come with me and I'll show you some!" He said, "Where am I going?" I told him, "Don't worry about it, you'll find some good people when we get there."
So he got his shoes on and put a shirt on and he came with me. We went to some kind of gosh awful activity like we did back in those days, and I introduced him to the Elders, (because the Elders were always there). And that was the end of that. Mike Kirby is now living in Colorado, he's been married in the temple, and he has several generations of his descendents who are members of the Church.
So let me tell you, missionary work is, and has been, the easiest thing of all to do, and I would encourage any of you who run into someone who is curious about Mormonism to talk to them. It's even easier today because people know a whole lot more about Mormonism today than they've ever known before. They know Mitt Romney. I mean when I began, the world did not even know about Donny and Marie, but now they know David Archuleta. There are a thousand things to talk about.
And then there is all that anti-Mormon crap, which, by the way, if you approach that - that is the best entrée. When they've got some complaint, some “absolute demonstrable proof that…” and you
can choose your bad issue:
-Book of Abraham
-Joseph Smith and plural wives
-Mountain Meadows Massacre Choose whatever you want, the subject is an invitation to talk. By the way, the more upset someone is about Mormonism, the more angry they are, the more emotionally connected they are to denouncing Mormonism, the easier it is to have a conversation with them. In my experience, it is Page 1 of 34 easier to make a convert from an emotional critic because they care about the topic. That is why they are emotional. So I would encourage all of you to share your religion. Perhaps in the exchange you will learn something true about the faith, as well. Some of the greatest criticism leveled against our faith is based on truth, and we shouldn‟t be afraid to correct our own misunderstanding when we encounter that. True religion ought to be a search for truth, even when it is uncomfortable.
Shedding our false traditions can be painful, but it is necessary if you intend to arrive at last at the truth. A false religion is unworthy of a faithful man or woman.
Zion is not just a topic. Zion has occupied the attention of every prophet from the days of Adam down to today. When I talked about covenants in Centerville, ultimately many of the covenants made throughout history have as their bedrock the assurance that in the last days God would bring again Zion. That was a critical component of the covenant made in the days of Adam. That was part of the covenant made with Enoch. To understand Zion, is to necessarily comprehend that there were covenants made by God with the earliest of our righteous ancestors that He intends to vindicate. To understand Christ's Gospel, it requires you to understand Christ's Zion.
Zion cannot be brought through a “Strongman.” The talk I gave about the priesthood in Orem was given in part to inform you about what is necessary as a priesthood component for the existence of Zion. But a Strongman will not work. Remember the character of those whom God has called in times past when Zion was offered. In the case of Enoch, who established Zion, he described himself as “but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?” (Moses 6: 31.) I‟ve explained in the talk on Elijah Reconsidered that “slow of speech” does not mean some speaking impediment. It meant he would rather not talk, because he was more reflective and contemplative than vocal. Enoch was not a “Strongman” in the Gentile fashion, but was a man of meekness and mildness, rather more like our Savior than like the rulers of the Synagogue. Likewise, “Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Num. 12: 3.) I have explained this in the talk on Priesthood in Orem. I will not repeat it again here. God cannot bring Zion through a man whom the Gentiles would regard as a “Strongman” but will instead use only suitable men, like those He has trusted before, and none else.
If you go to Doctrine and Covenants 84: 19, we read, "And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest." (I would add you have to have the Priesthood in order to have valid ordinances accepted by God.) "And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh." (And I would add further that Zion is a fleshly endeavor to be accomplished by living mortals. It is to involve living, breathing people.) Therefore, as you read these verses, you ought to recognize that the power of godliness being manifest to man in the flesh through the ordinances is a component, constituting the rudiments required for Zion. "For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory."
The glory of God is intelligence. The “rest of the Lord” is the fullness of His glory, or in other words light and truth. Or in other words, it requires a people who are competent in the things of God, who have an understanding which will reach into heaven.
Page 2 of 34 "Therefore he took Moses out of their midst, and the holy priesthood also." Thus ended even the possibility of Zion. As soon as the required authority was removed, the condition which was part of the rudimentary requirements for Zion came to an end.
Moses went up the mountain, and he talked with God, and spoke with Him face-to-face. Moses wanted to bring the people up there with him so that they, like he, would speak with God and be in His presence, face-to-face. That's what Moses sought after. At which point Moses' status as the leader would have ended because no one would need to say to another, "Know ye the Lord," for they all would know him. This is the prophecy about Zion in the last days. (Jer. 31: 33-34.) That accomplishment requires people to know God, and not merely an individual. When the people refused to rise up, that ended the possibility of Moses establishing Zion.
It did not end the people‟s desire to be merely led by a strong man. Because they kept Moses for another 40 years, wandering about in the wilderness, as they did. They trudged in a wasteland because they would not accept anything better, eating manna from heaven and grousing and bitching about it, as they did. But they had a strong man to lead them. So what? You can't get there by relying on the strength of a leader, even if the leader is the meekest of all men. That model will not work and cannot work.
Here's the incident described in Exodus 20:18 "And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was."
You can't have a model of Zion where there is some “Strongman” leading you.1 Moses is the perfect example of one of the strongest men in history. Zion failed in his day precisely because they wanted only a “Strongman” to support them, rather than assume the responsibility devolving upon them.
They wanted Moses to go speak to God for them, rather than them going to speak to God directly.
Zion requires a people to rise up and it cannot come otherwise. It will require you to have faith, which was the subject addressed in Idaho Falls. It was addressed in Idaho Falls because it was necessary to get that on the table before introducing the topic today. It will require that you repent to know God, the topic covered in the Logan talk, also required to understand the subject today.
If you do not comprehend the foundation, you will not understand the subject. You are not just going to walk into Zion and take up residency there. You must have sufficient intelligence in order to be comfortable there. Its glory must be within you. As I read a minute ago, "Which rest is the fullness of his glory," in other words, you have to possess light and truth, which is the glory of God.
(D&C 93: 36.) The contrast between a “Strongman” and a meek one is best illustrated in the two great opposites: Lucifer and Jehovah. In the case of Lucifer he proclaimed himself strong enough to save all: “Behold, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4: 1.) In contrast Jehovah submitted meekly to do the Father‟s will alone, saying: “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4: 2.)
It's amusing to me when I encounter Moses dealing with this vast revelation of all things in one verse. Nephi made a valiant effort to hint around it, and he defaulted back to the words of Isaiah to try to convey what it was that he saw. Isaiah made an enormous effort to put into epic poetry what it was he saw. And Moses, when he's given that same opportunity, his response in his record is that he,"beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created;" Well put Moses. I understand why you did it that way. Another description is given by Lehi, recorded by Nephi. That explanation reads: "and he saw and heard much." I understand why these former prophets do that, and there's certainly a reason.
Moses knew what it would take because he saw Zion. If you go to Numbers, there is an incident that happens in chapter 11, verse 26. Two of the men in the camp, Eldad, and Medad had the Spirit rest upon them so they began to prophesy. They did this inside the camp led by Moses. A couple of young men were alarmed and ran and told Moses this spiritual abundance was taking place, and this is in verse 28, "And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" Moses was not jealous of someone having revelation, he welcomed it. He understood what it would take to create a people of God. He was not jealous that there happened to be two of the people of God within the camp, demonstrating the gifts given to the people of God. The “Strongman” model with only one prophetic figure will not work if you seek Zion.
I'm going to read from The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I want to draw a contrast. I want to draw a comparison between the attitude we found at the beginning of the restoration, and the attitude that subsequently took over: "President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy."
(TPJS p. 237-238.) That was a call by Joseph Smith for the Saints to rise up. That was a call by Joseph Smith for the Saints to lay hold upon the promises he had heard from Moroni. We began talking about that topic back in the first talk in Boise. Joseph wanted the Saints to rise up and become a people of God, a people holiness, those who could and would were to commune with God. This is Joseph declaring it!
I want you to contrast that, with this statement:
"We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed, through which to make known His mind and will to the world." That's on page 42 of Gospel Doctrine.