Here are my conclusions after lengthy study of the submission process surrounding the Lectures of Repentance. First: a review. Here are some of our past statements about our involvement with the Lord on these lectures:
“We testify that He has asked us to write these lectures and share them this way,” Lectures of Repentance, Preface.
This statement holds true. Only, take note of exactly what we said:
“These lectures have been prepared carefully through the application of the spirit of prophecy and revelation as best as we have been able to do so through fasting and prayer, but I could not have written them without having so complete a framework from which to draw from, as laid down by the Prophet and Seer, Joseph Smith, Jr. I do not count myself his equal. I haven’t seen the Lord. I see through a glass darkly at this point, but through the assistance of the “Lectures on Faith,” which have acted as a Urim and Thummim, or lights and perfections, the “Lectures of Repentance” have developed in the most natural way, like the dews on the grass in the morning. There was given line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, oftentimes only one or two phrases or paragraphs being produced in a day, and it caused me to marvel.” Preface, Lectures of Repentance
The way which the Lord asked me in answer to my prayers was through impressions (not personal visits), and to write that I see through a glass darkly. The process was a careful application, but not devoid of human weakness.
Next, here are the answers I gave to the scripture committee:
Scripture Committee Submission Criteria Question and Answers:
Those are a sufficient portion of the questions that deal with the most controversial aspects. They are still true as well in the context of how I presented information in the Preface:
“Judge for yourselves if the thoughts contained in these lectures are from the mind of God or not. Test them point by point. If the ‘Lectures on Faith’ give us the springboard from which to know about God, and then advise us how to begin to know Him in reality and not just in theory, then it will be as easy to test if these lectures are good or not, as it is to tell the day from the night. They testify of Christ, and I testify of Him by the small portion of the Holy Ghost within me, and from what limited knowledge I have of God at this point in my life as I have conversed with Him through a veil only. If there are mistakes in the ‘Lectures of Repentance’, then it will be proven in time by others who have more of the mind of God than I do, but it won’t be by peer review or endless debate. If what is written is sufficient to outline the true points of Christ’s doctrine concerning repentance, as it follows the inspired conclusions and expounds upon the ‘Lectures on Faith,’ then so be it.”
Someone on the scripture committee read the line, “If there are mistakes in the ‘Lectures of Repentance’, then it will be proven in time by others who have more of the mind of God than I do, but it won’t be by peer review or endless debate,” as very confrontational. It wasn’t intended to be. It was an honest remark and expectation that chosen vessels of the Lord would have to vet what I’ve written and make corrections to parts I don’t have experience with. Those who know the Lord personally, who have seen Him, and have a commission to determine the correct tests for what is scriptural and what is not can more accurately judge those parts I wrote to the best of my ability as an unredeemed person. My efforts on these lectures equate more to Sidney Rigdon’s contributions to the Lectures on Faith than to Joseph Smith’s, and I freely admit that in the tenor of the comments in the preface. My answers to the above four questions to the scripture committee about my thoughts on the Lord’s answers to my prayers are also seeing through a glass darkly. Here is what I have learned since.
John Pratt’s article as a sign on my submission:
“Today is 1 Dog on the Sacred Round, the day on which the laws of Moses found in Deuteronomy were given. It is also one of the holiest days this year, being holy on 8 sacred calendars. To celebrate, an article identifying the laws we are supposed to be following has been posted at http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2017/laws_of_god.html .
Enjoy (or repent, whichever applies),
“Wow! I just submitted the Lectures of Repentance for consideration to be included in the new restoration scriptures project and I had no idea of the significance of the day!”
The above interaction shows the anecdotal signs I believe in that prove to me that I did the right thing in submitting the material for consideration in the scriptures. But, I do not pretend to know all the reasons why, nor do I assume more about their meaning than the simple idea that I should take note and ponder their meaning. The scripture project is an evolving thing, and we all needed to go through this process to get to the point we are at now in discovering the scope the Lord wants on the project. My submission was part of that learning process, and it was good to bring these things to the light to be scrutinized.
Negative Reactions and My Response:
One commenter wrote that the language and style were off-putting, and found it contradicted scripture. He didn’t get around to mentioning exactly how. I wasn’t persuaded. Others have read it, including children, and been benefited. Perhaps it needed the benefit of presentations like I have started on this blog, explaining my motivations, and relating the scriptures and the message. Many have had the same reaction to the Lectures on Faith until they have become more popular of late, but the style is more like a teacher’s manual than it is simple statements. The message is plain, but it covers a lot of area in a small space. My use of older language (although it is not thee’s and thou’s, but similar technical sounding theological arguments), was before Denver Snuffer’s Testimony of John project highlighted that it was ok to cast scripture in modern language that wasn’t more formal, but in addition to that, the format of the lectures is instructive for providing a familiar layout.
A close friend of mine had some thoughts settle on him overnight after I mentioned the request for feedback about submitting them. He thought the format was clumsy, but he read through the material. He felt the timing was off, and more important parts of the scripture project needed to be focused on. I took his input seriously. He has since asked me to elaborate on the meanings in the Lectures in video / audio presentations, and I will continue to do that. I wasn’t persuaded about his comment that it could seem like I was being presumptuous. I think the Lord can speak for his own involvement in the Lectures and I never intended to be presumptuous. I just know God was involved in some way, and as I said, I see through a glass darkly on exactly how and why. All I can do is expound on a teaching level with the best of my understanding.
Which brings me to the scripture committee and the scope of the scripture project: They have been kind and I think we have learned similarly that less is more at this point in providing a set of scriptures that the Lord can accept, and in return give us a covenant in relation to it. I do not believe that seeing the Lord is the only criteria for judging if a person is a valid source of revelation. So, it is possible that the Lectures belong in the scriptures in some format, whether just as I have written them, or in a corrected form. But, we don’t have a good set of criteria that we have all learned as a group for what qualifies. Seeing the Lord is important in some way in relation to scripture writing, but he sometimes gives words to many different people in different ways. I don’t know to judge what rises to a level of scripture beyond saying it should conform to God’s character and attributes as outlined in the Lectures on Faith. But, who but those who really know God face to face can say they understand enough of God’s character to write legitimate scripture? For someone like myself, I can write by applying the spirit of prophesy and revelation as best as I can, but it takes someone more knowledgeable of God than me to judge if I did that well enough.
Impressions from Answers to Prayer
In conclusion, I haven’t been persuaded by the naysayers. Their arguments have some validity, which I have weighed out, but in the end, something was off in each of their arguments against the Lectures. They are just as blind as I am on these points, it seems. I have labored to try and dispel misunderstanding and ambiguities.
However, neither have I been persuaded by the praise I have received. Inspired teaching has reached the level of scripture at times. These lectures could be that. But, just because I am outside of the scripture committee circle, and just because I have taken long efforts to write this, doesn’t mean it ought to be in the scriptures on those points alone. Both of those praises have been advanced by some who have not even read what I wrote yet.
Later, I was talking to a friend about the process of submitting them, and he didn’t take a stance on the Lectures. While we were talking, I distinctly felt impressions in my mind about my lack of qualification to say whether these Lectures should be in the scriptures or not. They may be worthy of that designation, but in keeping with my preface that I see through a glass darkly, I am still a blind guide. I just don’t know if they should be, and I’ve only ever said I believe they should, and I envisioned them that way. I have fulfilled the obligation I had with my best impressions that I should submit them, and I have learned a little bit more as I’ve gone along. The Lectures seem to be outside of the scope of this scripture project, although not for the reasons I have heard from others so far. I can even answer the recorder’s questions positively enough to think they should be admitted on those grounds, but given the other impressions I’ve had about my lack of ability to say they should be accepted, I wonder if I am flawed in my judgment of those areas as well, or those criteria are insufficient (on their own) for determining scripture. I think we all still have a lot to learn, and these are interesting questions worth deep pondering for sure. God bless. Below are the answers to the recorder’s questions (which were put in the area on his site designated as his personal, non-official, thoughts), but again, I am not persuaded to take those answers and use them to promote the inclusion of the Lectures of Repentance in the scriptures.
Recorder’s Personal Writings about the Criteria, and My Answers (But Still Not Sufficient)
. Does the scripture emphasize a hierarchal or institutional structure rather than an equality among individuals? If the answer is yes, cast it out.
No, the lectures don’t do that
. Is the scripture to or about an individual without any other relevance to the body of the church as a whole? If the answer is yes, cast it out.
No, the lectures are for a general audience, as all mankind that is accountable needs repentance.
. Is the scripture revelatory or doctrinal in such a way that advances the reader’s knowledge of Jesus Christ and his desire to keep His commandments? If the answer is yes, keep it in.
Yes, the desire to keep his commandments is clearly evident in the intent to believe in God’s character and attributes and the connection that is made in the lectures between how keeping his commandments is a natural outcome of believing in the perfections of his character and attributes.
. Is the scripture historical without revelatory or doctrinal content? Nephi had two books; one on which he wrote the heads of the things given of the Spirit, which he should teach the people, and the other which contained the more part of the doings of the people and their wars and contentions. Same principle here. If the answer is yes, cast it out.
No, the lectures are based on scriptural teachings and the doctrine of Christ concerning spiritual matters.
. Does the scripture teach Terrestrial and Celestial principles, practices, and doctrines? If the answer is yes, keep it in. We need all this we can get.
Not sure what the exact differences are, or what definitions this question includes.
. Does the scripture contain anything pertaining to a covenant of land for the development of the New Jerusalem? If the answer is yes, keep it in.
. Does the scripture develop understanding of the Patriarchal Order? If the answer is yes, keep it in, because that which was in the beginning concerning government and priesthood will also be part of this covenant.
. Does the scripture develop a more complete understanding of the ordinances of Baptism, Sacrament, Marriage and Priesthood Ordination applicable to this new dispensation?
Yes, Keith in fact said there would be more revelation on the two types of baptism and Lecture 14 speaks on this topic and references Keith’s post on that idea. The approaches to baptism and sacrament are consistent with all that Denver Snuffer has mentioned expounding scripture on those topics.
To recap, I won’t be advocating that these lectures be included in the scriptures. They were submitted, but it may be wise to exclude them from the voting list. I just don’t know. That is out of my hands. Maybe someone who knows the Lord better will vet them and make corrections if needed. Maybe they are just useful teaching lessons. Maybe there is a better way to present the material. I will continue to do presentations on them to aid in understanding the message that includes things the Lord helped in illuminating for me. At this level, I still have a right to teach, preach, expound, and exhort all to come unto Christ, which is done through weak people like myself. There are also those who are chosen beyond that level to convey Christ’s words and put His name on it, and we are learning we want those messages in the scripture set for this project to take back to Him for approval. I do not know if these lectures rise to that level. That will be for others to determine, or improve them so they can be claimed as such.
In order to advance clarifications and present the Lectures of Repentance and the message it contains, I’ve been asked by my fellowship to do presentations on each lecture. Here is the audio of the first presentation. The lectures start with #8 and continue through #14, adding 7 lectures to the 7 in Joseph Smith’s Lectures of Faith.
How to Live During an Apostasy – 6 x 9 – pdf for download
How to Live During an Apostasy – eBook for download
This blog, cachevalleybaptisms.org , has been published as a book entitled “How to Live During an Apostasy.”
A good audience for the book is those who are still LDS who have the remnant spirit in them, but desire to serve in the LDS church still.
The index of Preserving the Restoration and how to form a fellowship and how to administer tithing posts are in the ending chapters.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1539709582/ Print edition
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071QZJX46/ Kindle Edition with links
The cost is as low as I could type it in on createspace for amazon. Some of their advertising channels still give $1 or less profit at that base rate, so I will donate it to the fellowships.
Here is the latest, some ambiguities have been fixed. See notes after preface. If you feel inspired to review it, please pray about it and share your experiences with answers to if it should be in the new scriptures. If you notice spelling or ambiguities, please mention them and I’ll see if other parts clear things up or if clarification is needed in the text.
I think the Lectures are done and have already had a proper vetting from those in fellowships who have already read it. After hearing Denver’s process, I realized I could add in a couple clarifying words to avoid a couple ambiguities that have been bothering me. But, I’d be interested to see a vote after people read and pray about it. I’m not worried, as in if the Lord wants it in the scriptures, and the committee decides for some reason not to, He could always pull a Samuel the Lamanite and say, why aren’t they in there?
I’ll tell you a little of the process in receiving the lectures, knowing that any channel for communication can be corrupted, so this by no means should lend credence to the lectures veracity simply because of the description of how I did it: In 2011-2012 Denver and I had some conversations about the 1835 D&C…he just remarked how remarkable the document was, and I was asking what I should study next and that was his suggestion. Nothing more than that. When I looked at them, and looked at the Joseph Smith papers, I noticed in the facsimile productions of the early documents that other gospel topics were on the bindings of notebooks, but were crossed out or unused. They used the notebooks to record other revelations instead. I really wondered if Joseph Smith intended there to be more lectures in the school of the prophets. I could see the whole outline for lectures of repentance and painstakingly pulled through the info from the veil and put “dressing” or “clothing” on it with the language structure of the first lectures. The Lord told me not to be too rigid, though, as this other subject would cause departures from the structure of the first set of lectures, and I allowed him to show me when and where. Always I would start out where I left off in the paragraphs by looking at the parallel paragraphs in Lectures on Faith. There were areas where I had to “zoom in” to the outline shown me in my mind’s eye to understand the nitty gritty details. I only had about an hour a week to work on it on Sundays.
I even used references to Ken Morley’s 1840 BoM page numbers and Earliest texts D&C because I wanted a set like that. I saw the current scriptures project in my mind’s eye as well, and wrote them with the vision of them being after the Lectures on Faith. For myself, I have come to the conclusion that the doctrine in the doctrine and covenants is incomplete without the exposition on repentance, baptism in water, and becoming as a little child (sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit) that these lectures provide. Multiple other topics may have been intended for the school of the prophets, yet these last lectures concisely cover all that is needed for the category of the doctrine of Christ inclusive (see the preface I wrote).
When I read them, I learn much more…. We use them as scriptures in our family. There were times where I couldn’t see parts of what needed to be written, simply because I was unprepared to write them. After life experiences, and major changes of heart, I took up the writing after a hiatus, and something new I had learned cleared the way so the scales were off my eyes and I could resume.
Here’s the most recent update based on clarifying ambiguities:
Also, the following clarifications of ambiguity were added shortly after the above publishing, but in time to maintain the
2nd edition status:
Lecture 9:42 “so long as the curse pertaining to fellowship (insofar as natural consequences prevailed) and the curse
pertaining to the office of Priesthood (meaning the birthright; D&C 124:91) continued in *Canaan’s generations
Lecture 11:5 “First, that anger with others and vengeance are condemned.”
11:15 “by avoiding anger with others, vengeance,”
11:21 “For in as much as anger with others, vengeance,”
A: “First, that anger with others and vengeance are condemned”
*“Ham’s generations thereafter” referred to Canaan’s line of descent implicitly, due to the scriptures concerning the
curse. So, to make the reference more explicit and avoid ambiguity as to which of Ham’s lines was referred to, it was
changed to “Canaan’s generations thereafter.”
March 22, 2017.
[Included after the preface in the 2nd edition]
Those are the kind of important ambiguities I would think need some clarification. Since the text is so close to a final format, less important ambiguities are probably resolved in context with a little thinking. Like the Lectures on Faith, there is a lot condensed into it for un-packaging. If you think there are doctrinal errors, first be open to learning something new, then take it to the Lord and like I said in the preface: “If there are mistakes in the ‘Lectures of Repentance’, then it will be proven in time by others who have more of the mind of God than I do, but it won’t be by peer review or endless debate.” I’m certainly open to correction, but don’t want things to be delayed by the interesting speculation we all do with our different opinions. If its pretty well grounded in scripture, which includes the Lectures on Faith I spring-boarded from, then I don’t see a need to change or leave out something on grounds of questions we all have. But, by all means, persuade me on hard errors if you see them, using scripture.
And so a little overview:
Lectures on Faith treats on the points of Christ’s doctrine:
faith————————–>leading to————————–>baptism of the Holy Ghost
Lectures of Repentance treats on the points:
repentance and baptism —-> baptism of fire and returning to the above path
(roughly; like a chiasm)
Here are my intended answers to the submission questions required by the Restoration Scripture committee:
● Have you gone to the Lord to verify that what you received is from Him? Yes.
● Have you asked the Lord if what you have written is correct? Yes.
● Have you asked the Lord if what you have written is intended for you/your family only or is for a wider audience? If it’s for a wider audience, who is that audience? Yes, the world.
● Have you asked the Lord if you should submit this to be added to the scriptures? Yes. See explanation of how I received them above, and the future vision in my mind’s eye that I had of their inclusion before the scripture project was even contemplated.
● Why now? Through study of the Restoration, prayer, and revelation, I have come to the conclusion that the doctrine in the doctrine and covenants is incomplete without the exposition on repentance, baptism in water, and becoming as a little child (sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit) that these lectures provide. Multiple other topics may have been intended for the school of the prophets, yet these last lectures concisely cover all that is needed for the category of the doctrine of Christ inclusive (see the preface I wrote).
● Why haven’t you done anything with the message before this? I have published this and it has been available for 7 months.
● What is it about the scripture project that provokes you to speak up now? It is the fulfillment of what I had envisioned in writing them for the Lord.
● What have you done before this to teach or preach the message? I have a blog at cachevalleybaptisms.org, have resigned from the LDS church so as to preach, teach, and baptize without hindrance, have received a call from the Lord on Sept. 25, 2014 to preach his gospel with power, after being sustained in a fellowship by 7 women, including my wife, on Sept. 21, 2014 (see the testimony I received at http://www.cachevalleybaptisms.org/2015/09/our-testimony-to-fellow-latter-day.html ). I waited patiently for a year after that testimony for my wife to be fully at peace before commencing my ministry. We resigned on August 23, 2015 as a family, united. I baptized several people through the bornofwater.org site. I have preached the message of the Lectures of Repentance consistently to the Riverdale Fellowship group email, the Cache Valley / Southern Idaho Fellowship, and the Little Zion Fellowship. I have gone on web TV to do an interview and publicized them there, along with the views present about repentance. See http://www.cachevalleybaptisms.org/2017/01/heart-of-the-matter-interview.html .
● If it were not for the scripture project would you ever have publicized this? I already have.
● What sacrifices have you made to preach the restoration to others? We have lost our church membership and community. See posts mentioned above.
● How long have you been preaching, sacrificing and teaching others the message of the restoration? Since Christmas, 1998, when I first received revelation from the Lord to serve Him.
I have moved the responses back and forth from emails into the comments section below and put the appropriate dates on them.
Two week review done on LoR, about 50/50 response. Submitted for review by scripture project.
I was always a little unsettled about paragraph 20 in the last lecture of the Lectures of Repentance, because I didn’t understand it (it goes beyond my experience, connecting with heaven that way). The puzzle pieces fit, and that was what I was given, but clarity was missing on my part with experience lacking. When Denver posted some recent things to Christians, it brought up the verse in Ephesians about “one baptism.” That put laser focus on what I was unsettled about mentioning two baptisms in paragraph 20, I knew it harmonized, but I wasn’t able to put it into words with my own brain. I prayed about it and before laying down to sleep, I got a flash of insight and wrote out two questions and answers for a catechism to Lecture 14, showing how the concept is similar to being “one” with the Father, and Son, yet we’re all separate beings.
Something still seemed missing, and in the morning another thought came and I wrote out 3 more questions and answers that fleshed out the concept more fully with the baptism being the same, but our approach and understanding of it may change at different milestones in our life, fitting more with the Savior’s seeming intentions for mentioning baptism twice with different results in His doctrine. The second edition with this added catechism is being reviewed and will be available on Amazon with today’s publishing date. It’s a good time to reduce the price to just the cost, as sending out the pdf has meant not many sales on Amazon. If you want a hard copy, it will be around $5. All past profits have already been donated to the fellowships to help the needy, and this change means there will be no more profits to monitor, which is one less thing for me to worry about.
Books can still be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Lectures-Repentance-Brian-F-Zang/dp/1537298984/ with the price set as low as Amazon will let me (basically at cost) with whatever small proceeds going to the fellowships and charity, if there are any.
As we talked about before, Denver Snuffer mentioned in his outline of how to preserve the Restoration that a new temple would need to be built:
“Heaven will look for a temple in Zion to accurately reflect the pattern of heaven. When they see it has been built, they will come to embrace its builders and kiss their necks (Moses 7:63). They will only come when we are their sons and daughters, fully restored to the Family of God, united with them in belief, covenant, knowledge, and filled with the glory of God, which is intelligence.” p. 144.
“There is nothing special about us, but there can be. We do not need hundreds of temples, but will need one to which Christ can come. We will not need to perform endless work for the dead until first there has been a covenant made by God with us. We must be first connected to the fathers in heaven. Only then can we do something to liberate the dead.” pp. 526-527.
Much is said about the revelation in D&C 85 about the one “mighty and strong,” (which we believe could be referring to Christ Himself) but not much is mentioned about Joseph Smith’s inclusion of a reference to Ezra. The pertinent part of the revelation reads:
And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God; While that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning. And all they who are not found written in the book of remembrance shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder, and their portion shall be appointed them among unbelievers, where are wailing and gnashing of teeth. These things I say not of myself; therefore, as the Lord speaketh, he will also fulfil. And they who are of the High Priesthood, whose names are not found written in the book of the law, or that are found to have apostatized, or to have been cut off from the church, as well as the lesser priesthood, or the members, in that day shall not find an inheritance among the saints of the Most High; Therefore, it shall be done unto them as unto the children of the priest, as will be found recorded in the second chapter and sixty-first and second verses of Ezra. (D&C 85:7-12).
In ancient times, citing a simple reference often served as a means by which to call to mind a host of related ideas from the setting and context of the quote that was briefly stated (see Jesus’ use of the first verse of Psalms 22 to call to mind the fulfillment of verses 7-8 and the rest of the Psalm while hanging on the cross — Mark 15:34).
Could Joseph Smith’s reference to Ezra 2:61-62 be using a similar technique to bring to mind a relevant storyline for when his prophecy was going to be fulfilled? Included below is the full story of the time when the Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, but were halted by opposition:
¶And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name: These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
¶The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore, Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women. Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five; Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.
¶And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the Lord which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments. So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities. And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening. They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid. They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
¶Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the Lord. Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off. Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
¶And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites, And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time.
¶This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time. Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.
¶Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time. The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?
¶Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.
The prophet Haggai declared the Lord’s response to the situation.
Haggai (words of the Lord in bold italics)
In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
¶Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
¶Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord. Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.
¶In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the Lord: Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.
¶And again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.
Part of Haggai’s prophecy could have been fulfilled when Jesus accepted the temple of Zerubbabel (later called the temple of Herod) as his house.
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Mark 11:17).
When Moses said to reject prophets who speak falsely in the name of the Lord when their prophecies don’t come to pass, the reverse is also implied: that a true prophet with a message from the Lord will have prophecies that do come to pass.
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:22).
Sometimes pieces of their prophecies come to pass while other parts refer to more future events (see 3 Nephi 15:6), and sometimes they are fulfilled more than once in a crescendo of relevance to the words spoken, kind of like themes. In the case of Haggai, the Lord accepted the house spoken of, as well as caused a great earthquake at his death, “Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” Despite this prophecy having end of days language, these facts about Jesus’ mortal ministry time period could already lend credibility to the idea that Haggai was a legitimate prophet. The question remains, do we face similar circumstances today, and do the principles involved in these scriptures apply when a current temple fund is suggested, and opposition is mounted, including cries that the poor will not be supported if a temple fund is established? According to the Lord in Haggai’s prophecy, the Jews of that day faced poverty because they were slow to build a temple. Modern-day revelation says:
Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. (D&C 124:39, emphasis added).
Based on this modern-day declaration, Denver Snuffer added, “God’s people are always required to build a temple. Therefore, there needs to be preparation for the coming commandment” (Denver Snuffer, Temple Fund Website).
Donations to the current temple fund effort can be made at thetemplefund.net.