Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Remnant of Israel - Why It Isn't Taught

We have said a lot about the "remnant of Israel" from the Book of Mormon in the last nine entries. There is still a considerable amount of material that remains to be covered and reviewed. We will get to that. At this point, it is worth stopping to ask a few questions about the material we have covered relating to "the remnant of Israel."  In order to try to add context and understanding before we continue, we need to digest a bit what we have learned to this point. Given the predominance of attention paid, and the sheer volume of precious plate space dedicated by the Book of Mormon writers to the topic of this peculiar remnant people; one question arises above all other questions:

Where is the teaching about the choice "remnant of Israel" both from, and within, the Lord's Church?

In my recollection, there has never been one single lesson taught in the church focusing on the remnant of Jacob (Israel) over the course of my entire lifetime. I have to discount the first thirty (or so) years of my life because I wasn't paying enough attention in those days to remember (or even know) what was taught and what wasn't. But, from what I am able to remember, the topic of the remnant of Israel and its divine and prophetic destiny has never been taught, or discussed. Has your experience been different than mine? Have I just coincidentally missed the teaching and discussion by our leaders and the curriculum department about the prophetic "remnant of Israel?" Well, I think we all know the answer, the topic simply is not taught.

So, the next sequential question has to be, WHY? Why, in the last half century (speaking of my own experience,) has a topic so prominent in the pages and chapters of the Book of Mormon been so missing in the teaching and discussions of the church?

Here are some possible answers:

1. What has been written by the Book of Mormon prophets and the words of the Lord Jesus regarding this special "remnant people" just is not that important to us.

2. We have the true church, inspired leaders, and a divine destiny. A "remnant of Israel" mentioned in the Book of Mormon has little to do with our divine destiny and us.

3. The remnant of Israel can be in the Book of Mormon and that doesn't change anything about us, His chosen people.

4. The "remnant of Israel" from the Book of Mormon has not been taught or focused on by our leaders. Surely, if we needed to know anything about these remnant people, our leaders would let us know and teach us about them so we could be prepared.

5. This kind of knowledge is reserved for prophets and apostles. The rest of us just shouldn't worry about it.

6. This is one of those topics people who are into "anti-Mormon" stuff always want to bring up. It's old news. We shouldn't read anything that opposes the church.

7. The "remnant of Israel" spoken of in the Book of Mormon, is us.

8. The "remnant of Israel" is a topic that should be left to the scholars. There are a lot of things in the Book of Mormon that we just don't need to worry over.

9. Our salvation is not at stake over a "remnant of Israel."

10. I didn't know there was a "remnant of Israel" mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

11. Brigham Young never mentions anything about "the remnant of Israel" in his chapter in the Book of Mormon!!? Does he? (ok?.....Ok!)

We could think of many additional responses that might be typical in our day. The point is, this is a central Book of Mormon precept and doctrine, ripe with meaning and direct application to every living person in the latter days; and it has been abandoned by those it was specifically given to.

It is nearly impossible to learn and understand the true doctrine concerning the "remnant of Israel" in the Book of Mormon without also learning the truth about the latter day Gentiles. This may actually be the reason the church has chosen to avoid the subject all together. To understand the "remnant of Israel," is to understand the Gentiles. To understand the Gentiles is to unravel the traditions of the church.

We should learn as much as we possibly can about the contents of the Book of Mormon. Nothing should be left unanswered. Every stone should be turned over, examined closely, and then looked at again and again. This is not the work of scholars and pundits. Learning and understanding the Book of Mormon, it's doctrines and prophecies, is between you and the Holy Ghost. Teachers can lead us to thoughts and questions that help move our enquiry forward. But the answers can only come from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

If you are satisfied that this topic relating to a "remnant of Jacob" (Israel) actually exists in the Book of Mormon, then you ought to try to understand it. If you have read the last nine entries to this blog, then you ought to at least have the idea that indeed, there is such a "remnant of Israel" mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

The church may not ever mention it. The church may not even understand it. Never the less, there it is in the Book of Mormon. You can understand the meaning of these things. The Holy Ghost has not lost the ability (or desire or commitment) to teach you these things. You must find a way to commit yourself to the discovery of truth without allowing that to destroy the Lord's church for you. The two ARE completely compatible. We can know the meaning of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come. The Lords church will still be His, perhaps even more so in your mind. This knowledge, any knowledge, can only come to us by the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Once the Holy Ghost teaches true principles, then we look at the church and the world, and we ask, "how should I now view these things." I have not ever been asked or told to abandon His church because of what He has taught me. I have been shocked, I have been angered, I have been disgusted, I have felt betrayed, I have been rendered to tears for my sadness, but I have never been told to leave. What men do does not change the Lord's position at the top of His church. He is still there. The church still belongs to Him. You, by the discovery of truth may simply be enabled to see it in a true context, more clearly, not like (as Paul said,) "through a glass, darkly." 

The Lord established His church in the latter days. It still is here. It still is His. He stretches out His hand still to it and to His children. He has given us the most precious gift to help us find our way back to Him. The Book of Mormon has been called a "urim and thummim." And so it literally is. We can come closer to our God by abiding its precepts as given us by the whisperings of the Holy Ghost,  than by any other earthly source available to us. That includes ALL other sources for our learning.

One of the foremost precepts of the Book of Mormon is the very one we have been learning about. There is a latter day remnant of Israel. They are the offspring of ancient Joseph through his grandsons Lehi and Ishmael. They have been trodden down and scattered by the Gentiles on this land as it was prophesied. The Gentiles have received the gospel of Jesus Christ and have brought forth the Book of Mormon and "other books" as they were prophesied to do. The Gentiles have fulfilled every prophecy in the Book of Mormon concerning them and their role and destiny in the latter days. The time now approaches that the remnant of Joseph's seed will receive the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They will rise up as foretold. They will return to the God who created them. They will know their Redeemer. They will be reminded by the record of the Book of Mormon about their fathers and Gods dealings with them. They will know they are of the house of Israel. They will know the promises of the Lord to their fathers. They will build a holy city, New Jerusalem on this land. They will establish Zion as the Lord brings it to them. The power of heaven will come down among them and He will make His abode with them. All of this is taught with power in the Book of Mormon.

The church may not teach these things. The Holy Ghost absolutely does.

As we continue to learn about the remnant of Israel, we will next discuss a stem, a rod, a branch, and a root.  Horticulture is next.

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