Friday, November 1, 2013

Rule of Law: Ten to One

In the days of Moses, God gave the world Ten Commandments* consisting of 8½ negatives and 1½ positives. Many of the Twelve Tribes of Israel seemed in dire need of these “Thou shalt nots ...” which should perhaps be a déjà vu, “state of affairs” caution for our 21st Century, seeing as how most of our news and entertainment thrives on the breaking of these Commandments.

Then, some millennia after Moses received the Ten Commandments, a Pharisee put a question to Jesus:
... one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (New Testament Matthew 22:35-40)
And so, from ten mostly negatives, the law was condensed into two positives: love God and love thy neighbour as thyself.1 We can see, with minimal study, how these two commands transcend, yet clearly include the prior Ten.

Then in 1835 (published 1842), Joseph Smith translated2 some writings purporting to be those of Abraham where God’s will for mankind was expressed in a single, positive form:
And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them. (Pearl of Great Price Abraham 3:25,** bold emphasis added.)
This overarching (transcending/including) law and purpose was further elaborated by Joseph Smith in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. And though the framework of God’s instruction (apparently3) arose out of Joseph’s question about the Biblical plurality of wives, a broader meaning of “the new and everlasting covenant” is surely warranted in light of:
I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:12, bold emphasis added.)

... [Abraham] abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:37.) 4
Is this not the way of progression? From Ten to Two to One? When we have matured enough spiritually to go from perfection in the micro-details of the “Thou shalt nots ...,” then we advance into the positive guides of loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves.

Then line upon line, precept upon precept, we are prepared for the test and trauma of the One—the new and everlasting covenant to “do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us].”5

It will be new and different for every soul. It will try us to the nth degree, and may appear to offend the Ten and even perhaps the Two.6 Only those who know God by years of obeying the Ten and living the Two, who cannot mistake His glory or His command7 will be tried to that nth degree. Just ask Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Nephi, Joseph Smith, et al.8 Is that why we are warned against judging unrighteously? Who can know for sure if those who have lived the Ten and the Two have not been required to prove utterly obedient, against sense and reason, to the One? Divine perspective and endowment are beyond mortal capacity to fathom.9 They can only be revealed and gifted to those prepared; and may be utterly incomprehensible to those of us still struggling with Ten and Two.

If we shrink from the One, how can we possibly imagine that our new and everlasting covenant will ever be offered? Doesn’t Doctrine and Covenants 88:21-24 put us on notice.10


** Note added 24 September 2014: For those who have encountered the theory that Abraham 3:25 describes the plan of the adversary (commands, punishment, laws, measuring, testing, etc.), I refer you to my post of that date at

*See Exodus 20, Deut. 5, etc.; though these Ten could have been given previously and restored through Moses. A cursory reading of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy reveals an endless supply of “Thou shalt nots ... .”

1. The Two were also taught my Moses but it seems many people were in a state where they needed the “don’ts” spelled out. We find Moses’ statement of the TWO as follows: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Old Testament Deuteronomy 6:5; see also 11:1); ... but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: ... (Old Testament Leviticus 19:18).
2. This writer acknowledges that there is some considerable controversy about this translation, but the question is: Do we really know enough to judge between scholarly analysis and claimed revelation? How often is the test of faith resolved by a scholarly analysis? Is Joseph's translation/interpretation based on revelation of older, uncorrupted texts and facsimiles—like his inspired translation of the Bible? How probable is it, over thousands of years of Egyptian history, that texts and facsimiles were copied, changed, varied etc. for a myriad reasons, perhaps polemic, as was done with the Bible? Has not God given us enough seeming contradictions, contraries, and inexplicables to make us proceed with profound caution?
3. Admittedly, the provenance of D&C 132 is not known for certain. It was several years after Joseph’s death that it “came to light,” engendering some continuing controversy as to its full authenticity.
4. See also: Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:5-6: For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God. // Doctrine and Covenants Section 130:20-21: There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
5. Even as Christ: Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (New Testament John 4:34)
6. Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:36: Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. //  Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:59: Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me, and I have endowed him with the keys of the power of this priesthood, if he do anything in my name, and according to my law and by my word, he will not commit sin, and I will justify him.
7. Pearl of Great Price Moses 1:13-22
8. Doubtless, countless women, like Eve, Naamah, Sarah, Esther, Mary, Emma Smith (D&C 132:51), et al. could witness of the One, but for some reason their stories were seldom recorded. I believe we shall have them in time.
9. Doctrine and Covenants Section 76:1-2: HEAR, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior. Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out.
10. And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom. For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 88:21-24)