I sought for the blessings of the Fathers and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same. Having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a Father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a high priest, holding the right belonging to the Fathers. It was conferred upon me from the Fathers: it came down from the Fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning (or before the foundations of the earth) to the present time, even the right of the firstborn (or the first man - who is Adam - or first Father) through the Fathers unto me. I sought for my appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the Fathers concerning the seed. (Abraham 1:1 RE)
Abraham desired to obtain greater knowledge through successive stages of obedience. The first step is to be a "follower of righteousness," the second is to obtain "great knowledge," the third is to be a "greater following of righteous," which leads to "greater knowledge," and so forth. In other words, the process of initiation into the Order is like climbing the steps of a ladder. Joseph Smith explained it this way:
When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and go on until you learn the last principle; it will be a great while before you have learned the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it is a great thing to learn salvation beyond the grave. (TPJS, p. 348)
The Holy Order also contains the rights of government and dominion over the earth. This was given to Adam, and upon his expulsion from the garden, he passed the rights of the Order, along with the Holy Priesthood and the true Gospel of Christ, down through his righteous posterity. This right to govern is devoid of coercion or compulsion, and is overseen by the Powers of Heaven, i.e., those who preside in a Heavenly Council. According to Denver, Adam was the earthly representative of that Council, which position was passed down through each of the Patriarchs, all the way to Abraham:
The Holy Order is not a worldly thing. It cannot be severed from the Powers of Heaven or the Heavenly Council. The presiding Patriarch of the Holy Order is the representative of the Heavenly Council who lives as a mortal on Earth. This is why the Patriarchal head of the Holy Order is the shepherd for the faithful, husbandman for the Creation, and the teacher responsible for dispensing Divine knowledge. That was who Adam was and what Abraham became. (The Religion of the Fathers, p. 31)
The Holy Order represents a link between Heaven and Earth. It is made up of servants who are commissioned by Jesus Christ to assist in the salvation of God's family. In the future meeting at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Adam (who is the steward over the earth) will present the earth to Christ, and hand back the reigns of government to Him, who will rule and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Christ Himself is that link between Heaven and Earth, it is He who bridges the gap between us and the Father, being Himself the prototype of the saved man. We must become precisely what He is to be saved, as Joseph taught in the 7th Lecture on Faith. But that process takes a long time, a "great while" after we pass through the veil and move on to the Eternal world. I believe, that the Holy Order provides the gateway to that process, the initiation that leads to the first rung of Jacob's ladder. Those called to the Order have a "holy calling" to teach and instruct others in how to enter the path. Alma explained that these souls had already proven themselves in a previous creation cycle. He writes:
And I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests after his Holy Order, which was after the Order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the Order of his Son in a manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. And this is the manner after which they were ordained: being called and prepared from the foundation of the world, according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works in the first place, being left to choose good or evil; therefore they, having chosen good, and exercising exceeding great faith, are called with a holy calling - yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such...
and thus, being called by this holy calling and ordained unto the High Priesthood of the Holy Order of God to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest - this High Priesthood being after the Order of his Son, which Order was from the foundation of the world, or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared form eternity to all eternity according to his foreknowledge of all things.
Now they were ordained after this manner, being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the High Priesthood of the Holy Order - which calling, and ordinance, and High Priesthood is without beginning or end; thus, they become high priest for ever after the Order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is, Amen. (Alma 9:10, RE, emphasis added)
It is only possible to "exercise great faith" in a mortal existence. Thus, these souls, who were "prepared from the foundation of the world," have already chosen good in a prior experience. Alma is not talking about a "proving" that happened in the pre-existent spiritual realm, because "faith and good works" can only be performed when one is separated from God and in a mortal condition. We know this because the Book of Mormon says as much. Alma said, in a different sermon, that "this life" was the time to prepare to meet God, and that if one procrastinates their repentance until after death, or if we "do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed" (Alma 16:37, RE). Jesus also declared the same thing to the Nephites (3 Nephi 13:2, RE).
Abraham expounded upon Alma's sermon in the revelation he received about the "noble and great ones." These righteous "souls" were chosen before they were born to be God's rulers (ruler means teacher). The scriptural definition of a soul consists of both body and spirit, which begs the question: did these souls have some kind of physical body? It depends on the definition of matter, which Joseph Smith explained as follows:
There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified, we shall see it is all matter. (TPJS, p. 203)
Whatever Abraham meant by soul doesn't really matter (no pun intended), the important thing, which Alma is proposing, is that these souls condescended to help us ascend. They are part of a Heavenly Fraternity, a Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) who have advanced further up Jacob's ladder and are extending their hands to help us climb up to where they are, and they are trying to get to where Christ is, and Christ has shown us the path to get to where the Father is. This is what I believe Eternal progression looks like.
In a new (and controversial I might add) revelation that Denver Snuffer received called the Testimony of Saint John, a more detailed version of John's gospel is told. After healing a man on the sabbath, the Jews were angry with Jesus, and He rebuked them by saying that the Father works every day. And then He explained to them what the phrase "Eternal lives" means as follows:
In the name of Father Ahman I testify to you, He who hearkens to my testimony, and trusts him who sent me, there is no end to his potential progression. His progress will not cease, for I will demonstrate the pathway of Eternal lives. (TSJ 5:4, emphasis added)
Joseph Smith also explained what Eternal progression looks like:
You have got to learn to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. (TPJS, 346-347)
Eternal progression can only move forward when one is separated from God and in a mortal, i.e., vulnerable condition. If we have nothing to lose, then we have nothing to gain. God created that condition as part of a test, or simulation if you will, on this telestial world. It is only in such a state that faith can be exercised, and repentance can be performed. Repentance is turning to face God, despite the storms and distractions of mortality swirling all around us. One has to reach upward towards Heaven and call upon God, "crying" unto Him to deliver your soul from Hell, and like Abraham, inquire about Heavenly knowledge. You have to prove to Him that you're ready to take the first step of initiation into His mysteries by being obedient to what He has already given to you. That is what I believe the Gods wants for us, and is the whole reason why They created this telestial world. They wants to share all of Their knowledge with us, but that requires the "sacrifice of all things," as taught in the Lectures on Faith. You have to lay everything on the line, you have to have something to lose. Once you do that, initiation begins.
That word telestial is an interesting one. Joseph Smith used it in a revelation about the three degrees of glory. It's Greek root, telos, means initiation. According to Hugh Nibley, teleiomai "means to be introduced into the mysteries," and the word teleiotes "is a person who has been initiated into some degree or other of the mysteries." Nibley explains that there is a deeper significance to the three degrees of glory. We live in a telestial state but are striving for the celestial world. Without a sufficient bridge we are stuck down here forever, and thus we need a stepping stone. We need part of Heaven to come down here and meet us in the middle. This middle-world is represented in the temple as the terrestrial, "the in-between world where the rites of passage take place." This world is symbolic of the Savior condescending to lift us up. This is the place, or tabernacle that Christ is always trying to get His saints to build so He can "come to his temple." The temple is where the rites, ordinances, and covenants are introduced to the saints, all of which are symbolic of the real thing; the real ascension we all have the potential to experience. Nibley asserts that "the whole temple represents teleiotes... because the ordinances bridge the two worlds - the telestial and the celestial " (See Temple and Cosmos, p. 28-29).
The word mysteries also has an interesting etymology from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Nibley explains as follows:
In a recent book, just out this year (1973), Morton Smith has shown at great length that the word "mystery," as used by the early Jews and Christians (taught in secret to the apostles), was nothing else than a series of initiatory ordinances, for achieving the highest salvation which today are lost and unknown to the Christian world. He says we don't know what they are; but that is what Christ meant by mysteries of the kingdom. He meant ordinances, which were necessary; and these he revealed to the apostles during his very confidential teachings of the forty days after the resurrection. The purpose of such ordinances is to bridge the space between the world in which we now live, the telestial world, and that to which we aspire, the celestial world. Therefore, the events of the temple were thought to take place in the terrestrial sphere. (Temple and Cosmos, p. 28)
The higher initiates who make up the Holy Order are charged with distributing Divine knowledge to the residue of mankind. According to Denver, some of this knowledge includes the following:
- Why this creation was organized,
- Man's position in the cosmos,
- Who the "hosts of heaven" were,
- That there was a cosmic rebellion in the heavens,
- That a cosmic covenant was established that framed the Creation, established conditions for mankind to gain experience, and through which mankind could progress,
- That all things in nature - including the light of the sun, moon, planets, and stars - were purposefully organized and governed by a covenant with God. (The Religion of the Fathers, p. 46)
In the same talk Denver goes on to explain that "the Patriarchs used ritual to convey a great body of information (a theatrical revelation) to initiates." He quotes Hugh Nibley describing how the Book of Abraham "appears to be a ritual text":
...the book of Abraham, far from being merely a diverting or edifying history, is a discourse on divine authority, which also is the theme of the three facsimiles. The [explanation] to the three plates make it perfectly clear that they are meant as diagrammatic of formulaic aids to an understanding of the subject of priesthood on earth. (An Approach to the Book of Abraham, p. 178, quoted on p. 47 of Ibid)
The Book of Abraham reveals the process of how Abraham connected back to the Fathers, it also reveals Heavenly knowledge about the stars, and is another account/witness of the creation story (which is in itself a ritual text). It also discloses how Divine knowledge can be corrupted and used by well-intentioned imitators, namely, Pharaoh (this will be discussed in my next post).
Denver, in the same talk quoted above, moves on to describe another Patriarchal Father whose account in the Book of Moses, (now included in Genesis in the RE), "also appears to be a ritual text." According to Nibley, Enoch was "the great initiate who becomes the great initiator..." He was able to convert enough people to build the first successful city of Zion, which was translated and taken into Heaven. Not only were these people converted to the Gospel, but they lived the higher law of having all things common and one can assume were individually saved and personally knew the Lord. They must've had a temple and performed the same rituals and ordinances that were passed down from Adam from the beginning. Again, rituals that were symbolic of having the real experience with Christ. Denver adds the following quote from Nibley on who Enoch really was:
His [Enoch's] is the independent intelligence always seeking further light and knowledge. He is the great observer and recorder of all things in heaven and earth, of which God grants him perfect knowledge. The great learner, he is also the great teacher: Enoch the Initiator into the higher mysteries of... faith and secrets of the universe; Enoch the Scribe, keeper of the records, instructor in the ordinances, aware of all times and places, studying and transmitting the record of the race with intimate concern for all generations to come. He offers the faithful their greatest treasure of knowledge. He is the seer who conveys to men the mind and will of the Lord. (Enoch the Prophet, p. 19, 21, quoted on p. 47 of Ibid, emphasis added)
I know there are many in post-Mormon/Remnant/Doctrine of Christ and other groups who believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and not a polygamist (and he definitely wasn't) but have thrown the temple out with the "bathwater" after exiting or being excommunicated from the LDS Church. Until recently, I was one of those people. Because I found evidence that that temple ordinances appeared to be copies of Masonic rituals, I figured it was "all of the devil." I assumed that Brigham Young had introduced all those concepts into temple worship because of he and Heber Kimball's membership in York Rite Freemasonry. I now believe that God introduced these ordinances first to Adam and Eve, which were then subsequently corrupted and imitated by their unrighteous posterity. I still believe that the LDS version of temple rites are a corrupted form, but what Joseph was originally trying to reintroduce was the real thing. For anyone searching for answers in this department I recommend Hugh Nibley's book Temple and Cosmos. He shows that temple worship has been a ubiquitous part of past cultures, each one diverse but based on a common thread. Here is just a snippet from his first chapter:
For the Egyptians and the Babylonians, as for us, the temple represents the principle of ordering the universe. It is the hierocentric [sun-centered] point around which all things are organized. It is the omphalus ("navel") around which the earth was organized. The temple is a scale model of the universe, boxed to the compass, a very important feature of every town in our contemporary civilization, as in the ancient world. (Years ago, Sir James George Frazer noticed a definite pattern among ancient religious cult practices: they all followed the same patterns throughout the whole world. He explained that as representing certain stages of evolution in which the mind naturally expressed itself in those forms. But since then the gaps between these various cultures have been filled in, to show that civilization was far more connected.) Civilization is hierocentric, centered around the holy point of the temple. The temple was certainly the center of things in Babylonia, Egypt, in Greece - wherever you go. (Temple and Cosmos, p. 15)
Denver also explains that temple ritual and the religion of the Fathers are interconnected:
The religion of the Fathers cannot be adequately conveyed if it is separated from ritualized knowledge. By using symbol, movement, gesture, dress, architecture, sound, orientation, and setting, it is possible to embed light and truth in a way to engage the mind, spirit, and heart of mankind. The temple can be the house in which it is possible to stretch the mind of man both upward and downward by the things presented there. "The temple itself was but a copy of the heavenly temple, the liturgy on earth as a shadow of the worship of the angels" (Margaret Barker, The Great Angel, p. 118). It is through the covenant-forming ordinances - including rituals - that the power of Godliness has been manifested to mankind. The Order of the House of God has and ever will be the same, even after Christ comes, and after the termination of the thousand years it will be the same, and we shall finally roll into the Celestial Kingdom of God and enjoy it forever (T&C 117:4). (The Religion of the Fathers, p. 47)
Another way to think of rituals is to consider them as parables. Jesus often taught in parables to deliberately veil deeper truths from those who weren't ready to receive them. Similarly, there are layers of meaning in scripture, as any avid reader of the Book of Mormon can attest, you can read the same verse multiple times and begin to see a new pattern or teaching emerging. Ritual reveals higher knowledge only to those who are prepared to receive it; those who have "eyes" to see and "ears" to hear. The rituals are never ends in themselves, but are always symbolic of real principles and laws that exist in Heaven. Because of the sacred nature of Heaven, and our separation from it, this may be perhaps the only way that God can communicate certain things to us. Remember that Jesus spoke things to the Nephites that could not be "uttered by man." Also consider the fact that Jesus taught certain things to His apostles in Jerusalem and Nephite disciples at Bountiful that were exclusively for them. Prophets like Nephi, Mormon, and others were stopped by the Lord when they were about to write more (the spirit stoppeth mine utterance).
It certainly appears from the scriptural record that sacred knowledge is guarded from those who would abuse, misuse, or would be prematurely condemned by it. If we were given knowledge faster than we are ready to receive it (by being obedient to certain laws), it would certainly condemn and destroy us. All things have to be done in wisdom and in order. From what I understand, the Holy Order is the buffer between us and Heaven, possessing the rights to distribute sacred knowledge to God's children. Those who are members of the Order have become Sons of God, after the Order of the Son of God, which has no beginning and no end. Those in the Order preside over us but do not demand our adoration or obedience. They are simply commissioned to teach us how to approach God ourselves, and unlike modern Church leaders, they are not servants employed at the gate to create a wedge between us and Christ. However, Adam was given dominion over the earth, and with the Holy Order was given the right to govern this earth. Denver described it this way:
The Holy Order really begins at the point of Adam, the first man, who is called "the son of God" in Luke 3:38. Adam, the first man, obtains the Holy Order in the beginning, and included with it, is the right to preside over all of the human family and then the right to minister to his posterity, and to continue to hold that presiding position until the end of time. (The Holy Order Fireside, transcript, p. 3)
Even though the Holy Order "presides over all the human family," it is not a vehicle for compulsion or control. Denver describes it as more of a burden than a blessing for those who are called into it:
When you think of the Holy Order after the Order of the Son of God, don't think of it exclusively as some sort of status... Think of fatherhood as an opportunity to nurture, to assist, to provide for, to care for, to bring along, to take what is innocent and malleable, and turn it into something that is God-like, responsible, capable, something or someone who can stand on their own two legs and defend the truth when called upon to do so. Someone that will themselves be a vessel of righteousness. Don't think of a father as a bully with a whip or a belt. What Abraham desired was to be a servant; that was what his ambition to be a father of nations involved. (Ibid, p. 8)
Ultimately, the Holy Order seems to be a symbolic representation of the Godhead. Perhaps that is the way They can reach out to Their children without Their glory condemning or destroying us. They reside in a higher realm, and elements in those higher dimensions vibrate at much higher frequencies. We reside in a lower dimension, where particles vibrate at much slower speeds. According to the laws of thermodynamics, when slow-moving particles come into contact with fast-moving particles they absorb the energy of that higher velocity, and can subsequently be destroyed by pressure and heat. Perhaps that is why a person must be transfigured to stand in the presence of God, so that one's resonance can be brought into harmony with God's. Musical instruments resonate with each other only when they are in tune. For example, if you pluck the E string on a guitar, and there is another guitar in the same room, and in the same tuning, its E string will also vibrate, without being plucked. This is called musical resonance, and the way to get in "tune" with God is by keeping His commandments. Denver explains that the Holy Order is a "surrogate" for the Father and Mother in Heaven, meaning a substitute, and perhaps part of its purpose is to bring God's children into resonance with Him (by learning light and truth and being obedient to it). Denver explained that:
...the Holy Order has, as part of its implication, the right of dominion over all creation. That was what it was established for and it came down from the beginning. It belonged to God. It is why God is God. In essence the Holy Order is to create of flesh and blood a surrogate for the Father and Mother. That's what the Holy Order was designed to accomplish. (Ibid, p, 6)
By now you might be asking what the Holy Order has to do with Priesthood. As far as I understand, it is synonymous with it, or included as a subset of the Order. When Denver introduced the subject in the talk referenced above, he quoted the following passage from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and inserted "Holy Order" for each time Joseph used the word "Priesthood":
[The Holy Order] was first given to Adam; he obtained the [first presiding position on the Earth], and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed. He had dominion given him over every living creature. He's Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the [Holy Order]; He was called of God to this office, and was the Father of all living in this day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held the keys, first on earth, and then in heaven.
The [Holy Order] is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The keys have to be brought from heaven, whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from Heaven it is by Adam's authority.
...He [Adam] is the father of the human family and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe but retains his standing as the head of the human family. (TPJS, p. 157, quoted in The Holy Order Fireside, p. 3)
As you can see, the Holy Order seems to be the larger fraternal umbrella that encompasses all Priesthood power. In the original quote from the TPJS, Joseph says that "Adam obtained the First Presidency," which Denver calls the "first presiding position." For most of us, that term conjures up images of those who preside over the corporate Church, but the true meaning is something otherworldly. This position has nothing to do with authority over an earthly institution ran by men, it is rather linked to Heaven, as Adam was the first representative of the Heavenly Council as I quoted Denver stating earlier. Those who are called to this position hold keys, Priesthood, authority, dominion, and power. I think it is what the original temple endowment meant when it invited participants to become kings and priests, and queens and priestesses to the Most High God. In fact, the word Melchizedek is a composite of two words, Mulek, meaning king, and Zedek, meaning priest. The most comprehensive definition of the Holy Order I have found is in the glossary of the Restoration Edition of the scriptures. It is a bit long but I recommend reading it. It more clearly defines the relationship between the Holy Order and the Priesthood. Click here to read it in its entirety.
More Clues From the Book of Mormon and the Apocrypha
Now as I said concerning the Holy Order, or this High Priesthood, there were many who were ordained and become high priests of God. And it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish. Therefore, they were called after this Holy Order and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb...
And there many, an exceeding great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God. And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest. Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same Order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the High Priesthood for ever. And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes--yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his Order, or it being his Order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.
Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem, and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abominations--yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness. But Melchizedek, having exercised mighty faith and received the office of the High Priesthood according to the Holy Order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent. And Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore, he was called the Prince of Peace, for he was the King of Salem; and he did reign under his father. Now there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater. Therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention... (Alma 10:1-2, RE)
Melchizedek was Shem, his father was Noah. Abraham paid tithes to Shem. This has been pointed out by Denver Snuffer and has also been substantiated in apocryphal writings. Denver talked about Shem receiving the new name of Melchizedek on page 6 of this talk. And in the apocryphal Writings of Abraham from the papyri found in Egypt in 1831, we have this verse:
Peleg was the son of Eber who was the son of Eber who was the son of Salah who was the son of Arphaxad the son of Shem, who was Melchizedek, which by interpretation is king priest, for he was a king and a priest to the Most High God. (The Book of the Order of the Ancients, compiled by Zen Garcia, Kindle Version, p. 48, emphasis added)
In the same book, Zen Garcia included The Book of the Order of Elijah the Prophet, the apocryphal writing that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It was supposedly translated from an unknown, ancient source. I introduced it in my last post, but it is a record of Elijah to his son Elisha containing the requirements for entry into the Holy Order. Just like all other apocryphal texts, it probably contains both truth and error, but as Jesus said in regards to apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts, "whoso is enlightened by the spirit shall obtain benefit by their careful study." The mission of Elijah is misunderstood by the LDS Church. He has not yet returned to "turn the hearts of the children to the Fathers," and that statement implies much more than genealogical work for the dead in temples. Elijah is coming back at some future time to create a link to something ancient, to "seal the hearts of the children" to the Patriarchal Fathers. According to the apocryphal book I've referred to above, the Lord said that:
...my servant Elijah shall not die but shall bear with him the keys of his ministry unto the heavenly city until the last days when I shall send him unto one of his seed whom I shall raise up to bear the fullness of this ministry again among the sons of men. (Elijah 1:6, p. 11)
This sounds like Elijah is in the city of Enoch with the Fathers awaiting the time where he will return. In the Restoration Edition of the scriptures the prophecy in Malachi about Elijah reads as follows, notice the word turn is changed to seal:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall seal the heart of the Fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their Fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 1:12 RE, emphasis added)
Joseph Smith said that word turn in the King James Old Testament should be rendered "bind or seal." There has to be some kind of link between the Patriarchal Fathers and the Latter-Day Zion or the entire world, and everyone in it, will be "utterly destroyed" when the Lord comes again. The mission of Elijah is not to seal us to our dead ancestors in the Spirit World, it is to seal us to the Fathers in Heaven (the Patriarchal Fathers who make up the Holy Order). Joseph Smith spoke about the mission of Elijah in a talk given on March 10, 1844, specifying that the Fathers we needed sealing to were "those who are in heaven." The Spirit World and Heaven are not the same place. To be saved, we need a link to Heaven, without that link, we are all damned, both the living and the dead. In the LDS edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, Oliver Cowdery declared that Elijah came and committed the "keys of this dispensation" into he and Joseph's hands (See D&C Section 110). This supposedly happened in the Kirtland temple in 1836, right after they saw a vision of Christ. It never happened. Joseph Smith never wrote about this occurrence in his journal or any other writings, and he only ever spoke about the coming of Elijah as a yet future event, right up until 1844. Oliver, now known to be a great exaggerator, made it all up, just like he made up the patriarchal blessing to Joseph Smith foretelling his return in the flesh in the last-days to become the "one mighty and strong." Some people currently believe this nonsense. Joseph is not coming back, and Elijah has not yet returned. The history of the Elijah debacle can be found in another talk by Denver Snuffer entitled, The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered, it's 42 pages long and the Elijah stuff starts on page 23, but you should read the entire thing for context (Enoch is a very important part of that context). Denver explains in this talk the reason why he thinks that only Elijah could fulfill the role of linking the future Zion back to the Fathers, because, among other things, he was the last one to be translated and taken into Enoch's city, and not the last one to hold the sealing power:
All of this does involve Elijah. He is not, as we often tell ourselves, the last person to hold the sealing power. That would have been Peter. Or, since we don't have accurate dates for their respective deaths, it may have been Nephi [Helman 10:7 LDS Ed.], on this continent. But you can know for a certainty that it was NOT Elijah. Therefore anyone who teaches Elijah's return is connected only to sealing power used to connect ourselves to our kindred dead, but which does not also include connecting us with the "fathers in heaven," does not understand the truth as yet. Joseph's description of Elijah's mission included a connection using Elijah's seals between the living and the "fathers in heaven." The kindred dead are beneficiaries of that also; but the link, the thing which would prevent mankind from being "utterly wasted" at the Lord's return, was this connection to the "fathers in heaven"...
Here then, we have finally arrived at Elijah's significance as the one who must first return. He was not the last one living who held the sealing power, though he did in fact possess it. Instead, he is vital as the last one to make the ascent from earth to heaven. He rose up through the fiery corridor, and went to God's presence. He joined the "fathers in heaven" who are to return. He last opened the way by his physical ascent. He will be the first to physically descend through the fiery corridor to return from heaven and dwell again on earth. His return will not be a temporary opening. We've had plenty of those. His return will open a permanent, fixed stairway between the "fathers in heaven" and those who are prepared for the return of Zion. Zion will be overshadowed by the Lord's glory. The fiery corridor, or pillar of fire, or ladder of heaven, or conduit into heaven, or chariot of fire, will be opened by Elijah's descent. It will remain over Zion and will be visible there. It will not be temporary. It will be the place from which the first preparations for the Second Coming begin. At that location a small group will be prepared to endure this opening. They, and those called to join with them, will escape being "utterly wasted" at the unveiling of our Lord in glory at His return. It is Elijah who will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children or, in other words, he will reestablish the lost corridor between heaven and earth that connects those in heaven with those one earth. (The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered, pp. 28-29)
Getting back the apocryphal book of Elijah, some of the keys that Elijah held were necessary to organize the "School of the Prophets" and the "Order of Enoch," two phrases used by early Latter-Day Saints. This is found in 1:7 of the book of Elijah, which explains how he left those keys to his son Elisha, who was ordained to the Priesthood by God's voice when he witnessed his father's translation. Denver teaches that keys do not grant someone authority over others, but they do unlock knowledge and mysteries. It seems as though certain keys are given to different prophets who have specific callings, I do not think they are all meant to be passed down. The LDS Church presumptuously assumes that their leaders have received all the keys of this dispensation, but only use for them for their pretended authority "over the flesh," and as any logical thinking person can see they are not unlocking any mysteries (unless you count corporate policy changes). Well, it is my opinion that Elijah's keys have something to do with reestablishing the Holy Order of God in the last days. We are told in Genesis that Adam prophesied by the Spirit that the "same Priesthood which was in the beginning shall be in the end of the world also." That Priesthood is part of the Holy Order, and it has the power to do this:
...break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course, to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God, to do all things according to his will, according to his command subdue principalities and powers... (Genesis 7:19, RE)
Interestingly, these same words appear in the Writings of Abraham taken from the papyri found in 1831. Abraham writes:
For God had sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by Himself [that] every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power by faith to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course, to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God, to do all things according to His will according to His command, subdue principalities and powers, and this by the will of the Son of the Only Begotten of the Father which was from before the foundation of the world.
And men having this faith and coming up into this order of God could be translated and taken up into heaven. (Writings of Abraham 99:2-3, Kindle version, p. 159)
Obviously, this Priesthood has not yet returned to the earth, but here we have two witnesses of its powers. No one need say that they are in possession of this Priesthood when it is finally restored, because we will all know by what they accomplish. Similarly, and Denver has also said this, the one who is mighty and strong will never say that that's who they are... because they won't have to. We will know by what they accomplish. That is how you tell the difference between pretenders and the real thing--by their works. The good news is that this Priesthood is coming back, just as Adam foretold, and will be used by the Lord's servants to help His people escape to Zion, and once there, to protect Zion. We have some very exciting--and terrifying--days ahead.
Requirements For Entry Into the Holy Order
- The aspirant must love the Lord with all his heart, might, mind, and strength, and he must love others as himself.
- He must covenant to live the Law of Consecration, which is the Order of Enoch, holding "all things common with his brethren according to the pattern set by" Adam and Eve, the "First Parents." Elijah declares that it was Cain and his people who first desired to have "private ownership of property" and that it was a "teaching of that evil combination" organized by Cain. (This one is a hard pill to swallow for me being a radical libertarian, but I can see how having "all things common" is a higher law).
- He must be "dedicated to seeing the face of God and receiving from him the promise of eternal lives" (this one jives with T&C 93:1).
- "He must keep the commandments and statues of the Lord his God..." which were give through Moses the lawgiver and other prophets.
- He must love what God loves and hate what God hates. He must repent, and be governed by principles of truth, righteousness, and justice. He must have "no more inclination to follow after the dictates of the flesh," expelling selfishness, jealousy, and contention out of his life.
- He must unite with others in the Order in "one heart and one mind."
- They must love all the "children of light" and hate the works of darkness and avoid intercourse with the "sons of Belial."
- "He must order his life according to the patterns which the Lord hath given, observing the hours of worship, the Sabbaths and the Holy Days to do them, neither omitting feasts nor neglecting the fasts of the Lord."
- "He must be one whose heart is knit unto the ordinances of God's law, who will strive diligently to preserve them in purity, neither breaking the laws, changing the ordinances, nor neglecting the everlasting covenants of our God." (See Isaiah 7:1, RE)
- When such a man cometh forward to present himself as a candidate for admission into the Order, he should be examined carefully by the elders of the community, and having been proven worthy, he must enter into a covenant in the presence of God, the holy angels, and his brethren of the Order by entering the waters of immersion.. [Baptism I presume?]
- When a man hath entered the into this covenant in the waters of immersion, the elders of the community are to lay their hands upon his head and bless him with the Holy Spirit of God. [Sounds familiar]
- At the end of each year, every member of the community is to be interviewed... the object of this interview is that every man in Israel may be made aware of his status int he community of God's elect, that he may measure himself against the perfect, eternal society of heaven.
- They are to abide by the decisions of the Presidency of the Order and the Family Council in all matters and be subject to the word of God as it is delivered through his prophets the Patriarchs in all matters doctrinal, economic, and judicial.
- Every one who seeketh admittance to the community of the Order must first be approved by the Presidency of the Order. [Does this mean there is a hierarchy?]
- He must then enter into a covenant of God in the presence of the brethren of the Order, binding himself by a solemn oath to consecrate all of his mind, all of his strength and all of his wealth to the community of God's elect. [Is the common fund controlled by the hierarchy?]
- He who is found acceptable shall then enter the Order of Enoch after the Aaronic order where, through obedience to the word of God, and the instructions of those who preside over him in the Priesthood, he may progress from one degree to another until he entereth the Order of the Father, the holiest of all.
- All those who have entered the holy order of God should be obedient to those who have been placed over them in the Priesthood in all matters, as especially those relating to the Order of Enoch. [I definitely DO NOT like how this one sounds] (These can found in chapters 4, 5, 14, 15, 16, and 18 of the book of Elijah)
Obviously, there would have to be some kind of hierarchy in the Holy Order. Recall that earlier in this post in the TPJS Joseph stated Adam was given the "First Presidency." He was given dominion over the earth and the right to "preside" over the human race. This language is similar to what Elijah has written above, but I get uncomfortable with the phrase obedience to those who have been placed over them in the Priesthood... as this triggers those familiar teachings so prevalent in the LDS Church that we must follow the Fifteen and be "obedient" to their council. However, that could be a corruption and an imitation of the true Holy Order, and the authority that those in the Holy Order possess over us probably does not mean what we think it does. As Denver said, it is more of a nurturing father than a bully with a whip. At any rate, we don't know how much of this apocryphal book is true and God will hopefully reveal more about the Holy Order the closer we get to Elijah's return. But in the meantime, I find what has already been given to us quite fascinating.
Elijah adds a few more caveats and tenets here and there that will resonate with many of you readers who are Remnant-ites. Here is a summary, and many of these are reminiscent of teachings from the Book of Mormon:
- Those who live after the pattern of the Holy Order must forsake the "vain traditions of his fathers." (See Alma 7:3, RE, and literally a host of other verses)
- He must acknowledge his weaknesses before God, which weaknesses the Lord would then make his strengths. (See Ether 5:5, RE)
- He must be "born again, a new creature in the Lord." (See Mosiah 11:28, RE)
- He must be "cleansed from his sins... through contrition and repentance." (See 3 Nephi 5:23, RE)
- "Only through obedience to those laws and that holy order which have been handed down from our Fathers who entered into the presence of the Lord and held communion with the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn can a man sanctify his life to commune with the Fathers who have gone on before." (See T&C 69:19)
- Enduring to the end is a requirement to be redeemed from the Fall. (See 2 Nephi 13:4, RE)
- Before God created the heavens and the earth, there was a counsel held and a plan "planned" "wherein the spirit of every man should have an appointed role." (See Abraham 6:1-3, RE)
- "Thus man was made free, even from the beginning to choose for himself the good or the evil..." (see 2 Nephi 1:10, RE)
- Man must repent when he chooses wrong, and then the Lord, in His mercy, can redeem them from their sins. (See Alma 8:15, RE, we can only be saved from our sins, not in our sins)
- The Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of acceptance. (See Alma 21:3, RE)
- Some of the fruits of the Spirit of God are: enlightenment, discernment, humility, patience, charity, vision, wisdom, trust, faith, confidence in the power of God, knowledge, self-mastery, sanctity, pure thoughts, abounding love, love for all who follow truth, purity, modesty, and keeping the mysteries of God to yourself. (See Moroni 10:3, RE, 1 Corinthians 1:48, RE, T&C 139:6)
- Those who walk in the path of the Spirit of truth shall "receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones and shall find wisdom and hidden treasures of knowledge." (See T&C 89:6)
- The fate of the "Sons of Perdition" is only known to "those who are partakers thereof." (See T&C 69:8)
- "Between good and evil there is an eternal enmity; they cannot exist together in peace." (See Genesis 2:18, RE)
- "Then will truth emerge triumphant and shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea." (See Habakkuk 1:8, RE)
- "...having been made pure and holy they might understand the hidden mysteries of the kingdom of God, those secrets which remain among the sons of Light..." (See Alma 9:3, RE)
- "...for in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every charge be established." (See T&C 151:2)
- "For this life is a time of preparation for meeting the Lord..." (See Alma 16:37, RE)
- "Be ye zealous to carry out every covenant and commandment which ye have received in the ordinances of mine house or ye shall be in the power of the devil..." (This one should sound familiar to some of you)
Among other things, the purpose of the Holy Order is to put in place a mechanism by which God can reveal from heaven what is necessary for the salvation of man on Earth. In every generation when God has provided salvation for mankind, it is the Holy Order used by God to fix what is broken, restore what has been lost, repair, heal, forgive, and reconnect those who are willing to give heed to the message sent from Heaven to enable mankind to become the sons of God. (Eight Essays, pp. 206-207)
At the end of the essay, which is 71 pages long, Denver explains what kind of person is entrusted with the mantle of the Holy Order. He writes:
The Holy Order, including the right to dominion, must return to the earth. It will be fully restored. It will be in the possession of those who will not covet it. Those who will not, like Cain, attempt to influence the conditions of salvation for the souls of men. The right candidates are those who look upon it merely as a burden to be held under the authority of God, belonging to Him, to be returned to Him, so that He can come and fix this broken world and bring wickedness to an end. If an aspiring, ambitious, vain person were to hold such a position, all of the Lord's plans can be frustrated. Therefore, we need to be like our Lord, the greatest of all, the most intelligent of all, who came here to serve, who knelt and washed the feet of others. He gave His life as a sacrifice. Despite His reluctance He partook of the bitter cup, to the dregs. He was slain, and He gave all glory and all majesty to the Father. That is the kind of person who will be trusted to hold the Holy Order. (Ibid, p. 267, emphasis added)
The two lines I bolded and italicized above are most interesting. Apparently, If the Holy Order fell into the wrong hands (someone influenced by Satan such as Cain), then the conditions of repentance for this creation could potentially be changed to the agency-destroying plan Satan proposed in the council before this earth was formed. The Great Plan of the Eternal God has the potential to be frustrated. Before learning about the Holy and Order and studying Denver's talks, I had no idea that such a scenario was possible. I thought God had control over those conditions of salvation and they were safe with Him. But this is not the case. Because God has given Adam dominion over the earth and the right to preside over the human race, if someone in his bloodline who was the righteous heir, like say Cain, was entrusted with the Holy Order and then chose to serve Satan, this devastating scenario could play out. Why? Because God is bound by His word. He has literally given a stewardship to Adam and his righteous posterity and has to honor that stewardship. This reveals that God is far more delegatory than perhaps many of us realize. This is why those entrusted with the Order have to be personally vetted by God; they have to be like Nephi (son of Helaman), who was given power over the elements and only chose to exercise that authority according to God's will. Cain failed, he offered up the fruit of the ground, and after his sacrifice was rejected and God called him to repentance, he employed plan B to murder Able for his "flocks," which were something different than mere sheep. According to Denver, the "flocks" of Able were his posterity. Cain wanted to control the seed line through which the Messiah was to be born, well Satan did anyway, so that those conditions of salvation could be changed to the Adversary's plan that was rejected by Father.
I will get into this in part VIII, as well as the other "Orders" that Satan has created as an imitation to the Holy Order, and also how Pharaoh (a righteous man), earnestly sought to imitate that same Order but was distraught when he discovered that his line of authority did not measure up. In the meantime, I recommend these two talks given by Denver Snuffer that I've been quoting throughout this post. He explains what the Holy Order is and how Satan tried to "capture this creation" through the attempted subjugation of the Order. We really are in a spiritual war (Ephesians 1:25, RE), the battles have been raging since that Grand Council in Heaven that transpired ages ago. The struggle is real, and it is far from over. I can only imagine that both sides will continue to ramp up before the Lord's return, God and His Holy Order on the one hand, and Satan with his counterfeits on the other. We all must choose what side we will be on, whether we will serve the true God, or the dark god of this world. Here are the talks, stayed tuned for part VIII...