Sunday, January 31, 2016
To A Witness
Guest Post by Josh Maskovich
I have been a silent observer for sometime now, but can remain silent no more. I have been blessed by the many testimonies given from many sisters and brothers concerning this very day we are living and what the Lord is now doing. This very post is an answer to my prayers and I believe the Lord requested I share these things at this time.
How We Condemn Ourselves
The Prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed, “The Savior has the words of Eternal Life—nothing else can profit us—there is no salvation in believing an evil report against our neighbor—I advise all to go on to perfection and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness. (Source: The Words of Joseph Smith, pages 365-367, and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 364-365)”
When we accuse and condemn others, we only condemn ourselves, period. We, who claim to follow our Lord and what He offers again in the Restoration, know better than to accuse and condemn others. Enough said on that point. I pray all of us, myself included, will take this to our very hearts and always have our own nothingness continually before us. In this, the Book of Mormon truly declared, we cannot even say aught of ourselves (Mosiah 2:25).
A Latter Day Witness Among Us?
Now for something that is most stunning and delightful. In a talk given on Friday morning, 12 May 1844, Temple Stand, the Prophet Joseph Smith read the 24th chapter of Matthew and gave a literal rendering of it, specifically touching on verse 14, which reads:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
What is most fascinating is the Prophet Joseph Smith’s word-for-word translation of Matthew 24:14—the key word zu, he chose to translate as to rather than for. (Source: The Words of Joseph Smith, page 402, notes 5-6)
With this understanding, Matthew 24:14 should be read as follows:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world to a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
After reading this, the Prophet Joseph Smith expounded further saying:
“The Savior said when these tribulations should take place [yet future?], it should be committed to a man who should be a witness over the whole world: the keys of knowledge, power and revelations should be revealed to a witness who should hold the testimony to the world.”
“It has always been my province to dig up hidden mysteries—new things—for my hearers. Just at the time when some men think that I have no right to the keys of the Priesthood—just at that time I have the greatest right.”
“All the testimony is that the Lord in the last days would commit the keys of the Priesthood to a witness over all people.”
“Has the Gospel of the kingdom commenced in the last days? And will God take it from the man until He takes him Himself? I have read it precisely as the words flowed from the lips of Jesus Christ. John the Revelator saw an angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth. The scripture is ready to be fulfilled when great wars, famines, pestilence great distress, judgments, &c., are ready to be poured out on the inhabitants of the earth.”
“John saw the angel having the holy Priesthood, who should preach the everlasting Gospel to all nations. God had an angel—a special messenger—ordained and prepared for that purpose in the last days. Woe, woe be to that man or set of men who lift up their hands against God and His witness in these last days: for they shall deceive almost the very chosen ones!” (Source: The Words of Joseph Smith, pages 365-367), also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 364-365).
A Few Things to Consider From This Talk
Keys? The Lord told Joseph the keys of the kingdom would never be taken from him, while in the world, neither in the world to come, but the Lord also told him that through Joseph, the oracles would be given to another, even unto the church (D&C 90:2-5).
His Church? – How does the Lord define His Church? (D&C 10:67) Does the Lord’s definition does not require a legal institution, or even more than one person for that matter.
Oracles? (I believe they are indeed, “the doctrines, the commandments, the revelations, the words contained in what Joseph Smith handed to us in the Book Mormon, the Lectures on Faith and the revelations given through him.”(See Lecture on Repentance, pages 4-5, given on 23 September 2013 at Logan, Utah).
Joseph further said, “The plea of many in this day is, that we have no right to receive revelations; but if we do not get revelations, we do not have the oracles of God; and if they have not the oracles of God, they are not the people of God.” (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 272)
An Angel? Joseph mentions an Angel, or a special messenger in this talk. Can the messenger yet be a mortal? What if they are in fact mortal, but have been in the presence of God, and yet return to their mortal life here on the earth with an assignment from the Lord, can such a one be a messenger? The scriptures are filled with accounts of this happening to God’s servants, so I say yes. Additionally,
…“angel,” the word is derived from a Greek word that simply means "messenger." The messenger can't be on their own errand. They have to have a message that is being brought from the Lord. Therefore if the message originates with the Lord and the message is delivered by a messenger, it does not matter if the one delivering the message is a mortal. We find in the Book of Mormon where Jacob was told what he was to preach by an angel the night before he taught. (See 2 Ne. 10: 3.) King Benjamin said his sermon was based on what the angel told him to teach, after awakening him at night.” (See Mosiah 3: 2-23.)
“In this context, both Jacob and King Benjamin were angels, or messengers with a message from God. Therefore, as long as they bear a message from the Lord, they fit the definition.” (See Lecture on Priesthood, pages 4-5, given on 2 November 2013 in Orem, Utah)
Additionally, for this talk see the Joseph Smith Papers Project, Journals Volume 3 page 248, note 1124, which comments, “In his discourse, JS interpreted the German translations of Matthew 24:14 to mean that in the last days, “the keys of knowledge, power, and revelations, should be revealed to a witness who should hold the testimony to the world.” Note 1124, further states, “JS used his interpretation to introduce a discussion of his own ministry, including the opposition he often faced, the revelations he had received, and his intention to “lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. He further stated the work would roll forth, not “by sword or gun,” but by the power of truth.”
Was Joseph referring to himself or a future witness? While I agree with what Joseph stated, I do not agree with the editor’s comment inserted in note 1124, because it supposes he applied the rendering of Matthew 24:14 to himself. Joseph stated this would happen “when” these tribulations spoken of in Matthew 24 take place—“and then shall the end come,” implying this was something yet future in his day.
Some scriptures to consider
There are so many scriptures and prophecies that talk about this our day, but I would like to highlight just a few, which I believe pertain to our day. The first is from Isaiah chapter 42, and although this in reference to our Lord and Savior (see Matthew 12:17-21), I believe they are also a “type of Christ” showing up in His “other servants” delivering His words and therefore equally applicable to our day, due to our similar circumstance and condition:
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
It should be noted Joseph Smith translated the following verses of this chapter of Isaiah:
19 For I will send my servant unto you who are blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;
20 And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness, if they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant.
21 Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not.
22 The Lord is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake he will magnify the law and make it honorable.
23 Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them, have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses; they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.
What does it mean to “see many things, but observe not, and open the ears to hear, but hearest not? (See Isaiah 6:9-10). Can anyone be converted and healed without observing and hearing?
In another scripture found in 3 Nephi Chapter 21, the Lord talks about what will occur when these things are “about to take place”—that is, when He shall be about to gather His people, (House of Israel) and shall establish His Zion. I commend the whole book of 3 Nephi, but will highlight just a couple of verses of something that I believe has occurred or is occurring in our time:
“For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them (see also 1 Nephi 14:7); and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil. Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him (the man) to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.” (3 Nephi 21:9- 11)
I too, testify that prophet is Christ and His words have already been spoken to us in our day. We must all respond to His words, because if we will not we will be cut off from among the people.
I testify in words of soberness and humility that the event spoken of by our Lord as recorded in 3 Nephi 21:9-11 concerns our time, the very time we live right now. I do not know Brother Denver personally, but I have listened and read every word the Lord has brought forth through him and testify the words he has delivered are in fact the words of Christ and are an authentic message from the most high God of Heaven, even the Father.
It is also my conviction the witness spoken of by Joseph Smith, in Matthew 24:14 is among us and has been sent by God. “He always sends a witness to remove doubts,” and thus He has.
The beautiful thing is, God does not intend to send a solitary witness of Him, but He intends to send and is calling many servants to do His work in our day in order for Him to bring again His Zion—His work, and not a man’s.
I continue to testify that this IS our day and we are in the very generation these things are to be fulfilled:
“And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; but they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:28-30)
And another sobering scripture for me is found in Psalms, “Oh that Zion were established out of heaven, the salvation of Israel. O Lord, when wilt thou establish Zion? When the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, Israel shall be glad. (JST, Psalm 14:7)
Sword of God’s Justice Hangeth Over Us
The sword of His justice surely hangs over us at this time. May the God of Heaven have mercy on us all, for the day of the Lord IS coming and it will be truly terrible for those of us who dwell on the earth.
Who will be able stand in that day? Indeed, what is coming will leave proud men speechless and hopefully any humble, believing people justified. Everything will indeed change.
So much more can be written concerning this and I realize there are likely many, who have already come to this knowledge. For you, I humbly plead for your patience and forgiveness, but feel strongly that I must add my testimony.
For anyone who has not yet received a testimony and knowledge of these things from our Lord, then I plead with you to go to Him and ask for this knowledge. He will surely provide it to you in abundance.
I have now done what I believe the Lord has asked of me and I do so declare this my testimony in humility and love.