Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ensign July 2009: A Quiet Sifting

My wife is a remarkable woman. She wrote this this morning, and I'm posting it here for you all. I fully support the principles she expresses herein.


Amidst many words of counsel in the July 2009 issue of the Ensign, came the message, in an insert called Surviving Unemployment, that members should "File for unemployment and other available government benefits". How can the church produce and distribute something so blatantly contrary to gospel principle and so offensive to the plan of agency, when the prophets have spoken specifically against this reliance on the arm of flesh? There is more to be said in that one phrase of the Ensign about the state of affairs in these latter-days than we realize. Let me explain.

Exodus 32:
1 And when the people saw that Moses adelayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us bgods, which shall cgo before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we dwot not what is become of him.
2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the agolden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a amolten calf: and they said, bThese be thy cgods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord.
6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought apeace offerings; and the bpeople sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
7 ¶ And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have acorrupted themselves:
8 They have aturned aside bquickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a cmolten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9 And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a astiffnecked people:
10 Now therefore let me alone, that my awrath may wax hot against them, and that I may bconsume them: and I will make of thee a great cnation.
11 And Moses abesought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
12 Wherefore should the aEgyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, band crepent of this evil against thy people.
13 Remember aAbraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou bswarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will cmultiply your dseed as the stars of heaven, and all this eland that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
14 And the Lord said unto Moses, If they will repent of the evil which they have done, I will spare them, and turn away my fierce wrath; but, behold, thou shalt execute judgment upon all that will not repent of this evil this day. Therefore, see thou do this thing that I have commanded thee, or I will execute all that which I had thought to do unto my people.(JST)
15 ¶ And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two atables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
16 And the atables were the work of God, and the bwriting was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
17 And when aJoshua heard the noise of the people as they bshouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.
18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that ashout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
19 ¶ And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he asaw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ banger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and cbrake them beneath the mount.
20 And he took the acalf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and bstrawed it upon the cwater, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
22 And Aaron said, Let not the aanger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are bset on cmischief.
23 For they said unto me, aMake us bgods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
25 ¶ And when Moses saw that the people were anaked; (for Aaron had made them bnaked unto their shame among their enemies:)
26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and aslay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
29 For Moses had said, aConsecrate yourselves to day to the Lord, even every man upon his bson, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a cblessing this day.
30 ¶ And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have asinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; bperadventure I shall make an catonement for your sin.
31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them agods of gold.
32 Yet now, if thou wilt aforgive their sin—; and if not, bblot me, I pray thee, out of thy cbook which thou hast dwritten.
33 And the Lord said unto Moses, aWhosoever hath bsinned against me, him will I cblot out of my dbook.
34 Therefore now go, alead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine bAngel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
35 And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

We must start with a few things that we know. We know that Moses is a type of Christ. We know the tablets he brought down are the higher law or gospel of Christ. We know that Aaron was the High Priest and chief officiator in the Aaronic priesthood, which pertains to all things temporal. We know that Aaron was the spokesperson for Moses. Joshua is an Israelite military leader, close to Moses, and the one who took over at Moses passing to lead the Children of Israel through battle into their promised land. Egypt represents slavery, and the world's denial of agency. The idol, particularly a golden calf, is a direct representation of a god of salvation and protection.

Now, let me recap the story in Exodus. Moses goes to talk to the Lord, where he receives the highest gospel law. The people went to Aaron and asked that they would make them gods because they did not know what had happened to Moses, the man who had delivered them from the Egyptians, why he had not yet returned. Aaron acquiesced and built an idol for the people to worship in Moses' absence. The people worshiped this idol, ate, drank, and were merry. The Lord told Moses to go down and see the people corrupting themselves with this false god. The Lord says he will destroy the people for their wickedness. Moses asks the Lord to stay His hand, that the Egyptians might not suspect folly and that the Lord may fulfill His promises regarding their posterity. The Lord tells Moses to go down execute judgment upon all those who will not repent. Joshua informs Moses as he returns that the people are becoming riotous, seeking for war. Moses, upon seeing the people's corruption, denies them the higher law by breaking the tablets. Moses destroys the idol. Moses asks Aaron what could have happened that Aaron would help them sin in this way. Aaron tells him that the people asked for the idol. Moses stood in front of the people and asked all those who are on the Lord's side to come unto him. Those who chose to stand with the Lord were told to slay some of the most wicked, of which their were 3000. Moses tells the people to dedicate themselves to the Lord and His law, from which blessings will follow. Moses goes to atone for the sins of the people. The Lord tells him that He will blot out the names of those who have sinned. The Lord commands Moses to continue in their journey, and He plagued the people because of the idol Aaron had made at their desire.

Here are a few more things we know. The Ensign is in many capacities the spokespiece for the church. In its role as describing techniques to overcome physical hardships, as in losing one's job, it is describing actions that fall within the scope of the Aaronic priesthood. In light of this, and the other things I've mentioned that we know, let me point out a few things from my recap.

The people do not understand where Christ is. They do not understand why He has not come back, or do not care what His is doing. They no longer want His higher law. Their hearts are far from His law and the blessings associated. Because they feel His absence, the absence of the One who has saved them, they ask the "church" to provide for them temporally, something that will make them feel more secure about their current position. The church not only allows such idolatry, but gives them a specific idol that represents Christ in His ability to save and protect, because the people asked. The church was not acting outside of its office, it was merely doing what the people wanted, which it has always done throughout our scriptures. Christ calls those who are on His side away from those who are not. The people are plagued because of their desires for this false god to provide for them and protect them. They have forgotten the Lord, their God. They have turned from Him to rely on the arm of flesh. The church, through the Ensign, has given them what they want. Those who are on the Lord's side know who they are, they know what to follow because they follow the Lord, and He has taught them better. This unconstitutional form of government which we now have, the great destroyer of true freedom, has been allowed, even sought for, by those who have even proclaimed to take upon them the name of the Lord. This is a false god they worship. A fleshy arm to which they look to heal, protect, and provide.

That one seemingly benign phrase in the July 2009 Ensign is a great sifter. It has separated those who lean upon the arm of flesh from those who trust the Lord. It has separated those who trade their agency for temporal security from those who follow and live the higher ancient law of liberty. It has separated those asleep from those awake. It has separated those who deny through their actions the divinity of the Constitution from those who live by its just and holy principles. It has been prophesied that there will come a time when those who are awakened to a sense of their awful situation will arise and live by the truth they have not only received, but have accepted. They will do so in spite of worldly ways and false security. These, and only these, will be free. Moses did not go down and explain the truth to the people and THEN ask who would be found on the Lord's side. He simply asked and took those who were awakened and ready to go. There is a time for learning, a time for repentance, and a time for judgment. There is a time to respond to prophetic command, and a time to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. We have stoned the prophets. We have worshiped false gods. We have been caught in our pride and faithlessness. We have been quietly sifted. Let those with an ear to hear understand. Who is on the Lord's side?


Michael Williams said...

I understand where you're coming from, but we can't overlook the fact that the Church's fast offering funds are being stretched to the limit right now. Nor should we forget that some people really do need government aid.

1) The Church's call for members to seek government aid when necessary is not a new one; it's just more urgent and emphatic than it has been previously.

Millions of families are unemployed or underemployed. Many of them are Mormon families, and I doubt that all of them have a year supply of food storage. Even the ones who do are unlikely to have enough cash on hand to get them through months of little or no income. But then again, cardboard boxes are still pretty affordable.

With the waning ability to provide temporal welfare for its members, the Church’s decision to RE-emphasize their role as last-resort welfare providers is probably more of a utilitarian one than a mechanism for sifting the more righteous from the less righteous.

2) I’m worried that the ideal Darwinian reality that you implicitly propose would have a slightly different outcome than just getting everyone off of their duff’s to provide for themselves. Let’s keep in mind that there really are people in this country that cannot take care of themselves, some of whom have no living family members. I’m not talking about people that have the capacity to earn a living but who nonetheless capitalize on the generosity of the government; I’m talking about people who really can’t earn a living. As much as we’d like things to be different, there exists no church or private charity organization that could provide the life-long (or at least long-term) care that these people need.

I’m not convinced that the government is the best vehicle to distribute necessary welfare funds and care, but I would hardly be willing to discontinue government welfare funds tomorrow and wait for a private solution to arise while the weakest among us go without the basic necessities of life and eventually die (hardly fulfilling the government’s Constitutional responsibility to “ensure domestic tranquility”).

I’m afraid that until the world is righteous enough for the law of consecration to be fully implemented, we’ll have to rely on compulsory (e.g. government) charity programs, perhaps even for the temporarily unemployed.

Shiloh Logan said...

Thoughtful statement, I appreciate that; however, I disagree with the basic premise of the argument. The long-time prophetic counsel has been to completely avoid such government sponsored programs; it has only been until recent years that the Church has changed policy. The Church's change in position, however, shows no hypocrisy, but keeps in line with all scriptural accounts wherein the Lord gives his children what they want -- even if it means that they reject him for the coffers of Egypt (temporal security provided by the earthly master of government).

Should this have been the only voice of warning issued, then perhaps you would be correct; however, for the members of this Church the voice of warning has stood for decades to obtain a years food storage, establish savings, get out of debt, and prepare for a time when unemployment/underemployment would increase and "job security" would be realized for the oxymoron that it is. In short, we have been commanded to be personally prepared for what is now at our doorstep. No member can escape the consequence of ignoring this counsel.

How many members actually have their year's food storage? Some estimates place the percentage as low as 5%, while only around as low as 20% - 30% have been estimated to even have a 3 or 6 month food storage. If the economy were to collapse tomorrow, would the members have a legitimate claim against the Brethren of the Church for not forewarning them? Absolutely not! The members have been warned for decades.

President Marion G. Romney often stated (especially in General Conference) that no member of the Church ever need to go to the government for assistance. The Church, he said, was designed to be that buffer for the member to help them in times of necessity. However, with such an overwhelming majority of the Saints rejecting the counsel of its leaders, where are the Brethren supposed to tell the members where to go for their livelihood, when the members have squandered their days of plenty and have laid up nothing in store? They must rely upon the "fleshpots of Egypt". When the members have relied upon the arm of flesh and have procrastinated the day of repentance and preparation, what is the Church to do? What more could the laborers have done in the Lord's vineyard before it must be burned? Must these members really be compelled in all things?

Yes, millions are unemployed, and, sadly, there are thousands of those who within our own Church who willfully neglect to prepare and are now facing the reality of becoming homeless and literally starving. Did no one read or listen to President Hinckley in 1998 General Conference give the message of Joseph in Egypt with 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine; and then again 2005 (7 years later) when he reiterated the same story? Are we seeing an emerging pattern? It is not difficult to see, but people often do not want to face the consequences of their neglect!

Shiloh Logan said...

Your last comment absolutely proved the point of this entire thread: When the members do not willing and humbly submit to the counsels of God, their only course for their very sustenance must exist through coercion; when the individual has procrastinated the day of his repentance until it is too late to do things willingly, only Lucifer's plan of coercion, forced morality, and compulsion will work to save them. They must thieve from their neighbor for their livelihood; Isaiah even speaks of this happening!

I'm not proposing we drop the government larceny programs tomorrow, because I know they will exist as long as this country remains economically viable. I'm asserting that the time is perhaps too late for anything to be done for the individuals who were not actively obedient to prepare and solidify themselves. Even in meager times, the most financially humble Latter-day Saint can put up some storage, and, as a blessing we're told that the meal and oil will never run out -- that miracles will happen to those that are prayerfully obedient.

As Ezra Taft Benson stated: "Now part of the reason why we do not have sufficient priesthood bearers to save the Constitution, let alone to shake the powers of hell, because, I fear, unlike Moroni, our souls do not joy in keeping our country free, and we are not firm in the faith of Christ, nor have we sworn with an oath to defend our rights." Where do you lead such a people when their very lives upon this Earth are weighed in the balance? We have been told that Christ will soon start preaching his own sermons. Perhaps this is merely the fulfillment of the command he gave to the fence-sitting members of the covenant in his day: "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations" (Luke 16:9). Speaking of the Church membership, the overwhelming majority of those not prepared have truly been unwise stewards, and great will be the fall thereof.

There will be many that will fall away from the Church when they find that they will not be provided for, because they did nothing to prepare! A vacation, a boat, a second mortgage on the house, a second or third car, a big screen TV, etc., etc., etc. were more important than preparing. It will be heartless to turn these people completely over to nothing at all, and government stands willing as a new caretaker (or, as Christ stated, "mammon of unrighteousness") to provide for them. Egypt is willing to receive all who did not prepare.

This sounds overly harsh, I understand. But the reality of the last-days IS harsh, and it does no one any good to make justifications for a life of complacency. Is this THE end of times? I don't know. But it is a sifting tool: Who has followed the Lord and obeyed the counsel of the prophet? If you haven't, well, at least they've told you where to go to be temporarily protected. What more could you possibly ask from the leadership?