Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Lamb AND the Lion*??

Recently I came across the words of a father and son1 whose passionate advocacy of non-violence turned my thoughts to that subject. And once again, I found myself confronted with the mysteries of God, and with how easily our passions and philosophies can blind us to the full spectrum of:

who God is:
[Who] sittest enthroned, with glory, honor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgment, mercy, and an infinity of fulness, from everlasting to everlasting  (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 109:77);
what He says:
… for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good  (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 6:32);
and what He does.2

We have been told in various ways and times that:
Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out. His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand  (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 76:2-3; see also Old Testament | Isaiah 55:8-9).
Yet, like Job’s friends, we, too often, take rigid positions on God’s “permissible ways and means” and criticize those whom God Himself has lauded. Let’s take the example of Nephi1 as J. Madson does in his Claremont lecture.3

But first, let me say: I too am a pacifist who wonders why D&C 98 has seemed to receive such short shrift in this latter-day. I believe that war and violence are prime tools of the adversary to lay waste to as much of creation as possible, YET (if we observe full spectrum), war and violence seem to also be facets of God’s restoration, justice and judgment—a restoration, justice and judgment that cannot be robbed even by mercy4 (or even by one’s passion for non-violence).

Let us observe.

The scriptures are overflowing with references to God’s promises of restoration, justice and judgment:
Alma2: … the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful. Therefore, my son[s and daughters], see that you are merciful unto your brethren [and sisters]; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all  (Book of Mormon | Alma 41:13-15).

King Benjamin: Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever  (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 3:26; see also Alma 12:32).

Amulek: Yea, well doth he cry, by the voice of his angels that: I will come down among my people, with equity and justice in my hands. Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword  (Book of Mormon | Alma 10:21-22).

Samuel the Lamanite: And he said unto them: Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people; and four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people  (Book of Mormon | Helaman 13:5; see also Ether 8:23).

Jesus: And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles  (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 20:20).

Mormon2: Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you—lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver  (Book of Mormon | Mormon 5:24).

(Many other relevant scriptures follow the footnote section below.)
Granted, some may claim that all this violent imagery of sword, bloodshed, destruction “tearing to pieces,” etc. is merely symbolic; yet a perusal of history (especially BoM history) witnesses that there is real blood and real annihilation in God’s justice and judgment.

So back to Nephi and J. Madson. This is what I would ask Brothers R. & J. Madson (and every other soul persuaded by the Madson analysis of Nephi’s killing of Laban):

▪ Does your narrative of Nephi jive with God’s (1 Nephi 11:6)? Or with his own father Lehi’s (8:3)? Or with Nephi’s own witness in the very next chapter:
And it came to pass that thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith the Lord had commanded us (1 Nephi 5:20).
▪ Did God cut Nephi off? denounce him? deny him further revelation? Or did Nephi pass the excruciating test of:
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)?
Is this not the type of supreme test that proved Abraham’s loyalty, and will test the loyalty of every other soul that advances that far in faith and obedience to God?5 (Before you completely misinterpret this sentence, please read the blog post entitled, “Rule of Law: Ten to One” —web address and note also at footnote 5.)

▪ What if God’s justice finally caught up with Laban (God’s own due time) AND thrown into the mix was a supreme test for Nephi?6

▪ Hasn’t God demonstrated time and again that He is a God of discernment?7 Doesn’t He do what seemeth Him good—tailored to the needs of each and every soul—even if it appears bizarre or objectionable to us?

▪ Why do you call Nephi a murderer when God doesn’t? You talk of “proof-texting.” What is the word for disregarding voluminous text that counters your theory? Is that not the equivalent of “taking away plain and precious things”?

▪ What if you were a faithful, obedient servant of God and were constrained by the Spirit as Nephi? Or as Abraham?

▪ Whose “lack of imagination” are you really criticizing in Nephi’s “narrative”? Couldn’t God have provided the essential Brass Plates in myriad, miraculous ways? Why didn’t He? And why did He pick what was probably Abraham’s greatest aversion (human sacrifice) to prove him?8 Could “Thou shalt not kill” have been a passion of Nephi’s?
And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him  (1 Nephi 4:10).
We don’t know a lot of things, except we observe that God seems to target our passions / obsessions when He “proves us herewith.”

▪ So, if God doesn’t use His transrational powers to ease our way, is it always for lack of our imagination?9 or might God, at times, have some overriding transrational purpose—as we are “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [we] should do”  (1 Nephi 4:6)?

SIDE NOTE: It might be interesting to compare the parallels and inverses of these two scriptures when considering the Spirit’s words to Nephi:

Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 4:12-13 ~ … the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

New Testament | John 11:49-51 ~ And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

▪ Can your imagination consider that Laban’s sword could stand for God’s “sword of justice”—a term used several times in the Book of Mormon and by Jesus himself at 3 Nephi 20:20:
And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.
And while we are quoting Jesus:
And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people— Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off  (3 Nephi 20:15-17).

And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver  (3 Nephi 21:12; see also 3 Nephi 20:16; Mormon 5:24).
Also look at 3 Nephi 9:1-13; 10:14, and 16:9 to observe what the resurrected Christ declares He did in judgment in the Americas. (This was no metaphor!)

▪ Furthermore, could Laban’s sword have been preserved as a warning and witness of God’s attributes of justice and judgment? a witness that he who takes the sword [to get his own way versus God’s way—like so many in the BoM; like the Crusaders of old; etc., etc.] will perish with the sword (New Testament | Matthew 26:52)? Or as Shakespeare put it: “hoist with his own petard.” Or as Nephi phrases the broad application:
And the blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood (1 Nephi 22:13). (See a further parallel at 1 Nephi 14:3.)
▪ Can the fiery wrath /anger / fury of God always be explained away as a figure of speech designed to work repentance upon the hearts of men (D&C 19:7)? or did the Jaredites, Nephites, and countless others experience, in real time, the meaning of justice and judgment?

▪ How often has God Self-described as a God of justice and judgment, as well as of mercy?

I shouldn’t have to say this, but this post is not a pro-war pitch. It is a pitch to us pacifists to consider ALL the Godly attributes, so when Christ returns, we don’t find ourselves in a devastating (inverse) déjà vu. If the Jewish hierarchy and others could reject a long-anticipated Savior because He came as a meek Lamb when they expected an avenging Lion, what about us? What are we priming ourselves to receive the second time round? Only the meek Lamb? What if He comes as a Lion?10

Beyond decrying war, I think the Book of Mormon is a treatise on justice and judgment filled with pleas of a merciful God to repent and come unto Christ with a broken heart and contrite spirit and to yield to the enticing of the Holy Spirit OR face the unyielding Law of Justice and Judgment—which I suspect will “Do unto us as we did unto others.” (Again, see the last sentence of Alma 41:15.)

In summary, we may passionately disagree with the ways and means of restoration, justice and judgment that fill scripture text (especially the Book of Mormon); but, as I’ve said before: “The God we want isn’t always the God we get.” In the end, it will all come down to a matter of life and death.
He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you  (Book of Mormon | Helaman 14:31).

NOW A NOTE to all who assume they are a tried, true, and chosen people with God’s sanction to pursue war: I offer the words of the Lord to His “saints” through Joseph Smith (1832):
Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law. Therefore, what I say unto one I say unto all: Watch, for the adversary spreadeth his dominions, and darkness reigneth; And the anger of God kindleth against the inhabitants of the earth; and none doeth good, for all have gone out of the way  (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 82:4-6).
Isaiah has a lot to say about us too, if seeing we would but see.

Finally, I would suggest that God’s restoration (with judgment and justice) is so powerful and potentially devastating that it can only be justifiably engaged in by tried and true people of God under direct, unequivocal revelation from Him and within His revealed parameters. Spoiler alert: Tried and true is extremely rare in history, so it’s highly doubtful that any justice or judgment is being dispensed via God’s revealed word by any group or nation in this latter day. (For those who believe in the “chosen” USA, there are hundreds of informed, warning voices—Chris Hedges for one; Chalmers Johnson for another—detailing the dire and despicable state of affairs. My own brief observation of several years ago is at

So, is there any latter-day justice and judgment? Perhaps inadvertently as natural men and natural law11 pursue their own way—as oblivious as the tyrants of old to what they and we are bringing upon ourselves.

This post has become too long, so I will address other relevant questions in future posts, such as:

▪ Have Captain Moroni and others been as redacted as Nephi in the Madson writings and the lecture on non-violence?
▪ Do only the wicked destroy the wicked? (Mormon 4:5) or does God sometimes use others as His agents of justice and judgment? and
▪ Why we shouldn’t judge everyone who is destroyed in the flesh as wicked.

1. (See also the long comments section following that post.)
Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 26:24 ~ He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. ...
4. Book of Mormon | Alma 42:24-26 ~ For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery.
(See also Book of Mormon | Jacob 6:10; Mosiah 15:9, 27; Alma 34:16.)
5. . Also I will be posting in the near future an essay entitled “Questions of Evidence?” regarding who is speaking in Abraham 3:25, for the consideration of those who think it may be the voice of the adversary.
6. I will consider Mormon 4:5 in another post.
7. Some synonyms for discernment are: judgment, acumen, sensitivity, insight. Some might also say that God is “a God of the expedient” as LDSA did in the comments section of the blog post referred to in footnote 1 above. You did not like that word, but expedient is used 7 times in the New Testament and 106 times in the BoM, D&C, & PoGP, mostly in referring to God’s instructions.
8. As confirmed in Book of Mormon | Jacob 4:5 ~ Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.
9. Obviously and scripturally our unbelief, doubts, behaviors, etc. have an impact. (See 2 Nephi 27:23)
10. New Testament | Revelation 5:5 ~ And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.


Additional scriptures of relevance:

Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 6:15 ~ And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine. And they shall know that the Lord is God, the Holy One of Israel.

Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 10:6 ~ Wherefore, because of their iniquities, destructions, famines, pestilences, and bloodshed shall come upon them; and they who shall not be destroyed shall be scattered among all nations.

Book of Mormon | Alma 34:16 ~ … while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

Book of Mormon | Alma 41:1-4 ~ AND now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing. And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing. But behold, I will explain it unto thee. I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself. And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—

Book of Mormon | Alma 42:1 ~ AND now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.

Book of Mormon | Helaman 5:3 ~ Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.

Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 26:5 ~ If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began.

Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 28:35 ~ For do ye suppose that ye can get rid of the justice of an offended God, who hath been trampled under feet of men, that thereby salvation might come?

Doctrine and Covenants | Section 24:16 ~ And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall lay their hands upon you by violence, ye shall command to be smitten in my name; and, behold, I will smite them according to your words, in mine own due time.

Old Testament | Proverbs 13:2 ~ A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.

Old Testament | Proverbs 21:3 ~ To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

New Testament | Revelation 18:21 ~ And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

*Old Testament | Isaiah 31:4 ~ For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.

*Old Testament | Hosea 5:14-15 ~ For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

*Old Testament | Hosea 13:7-9 ~ Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.

*New Testament | Revelation 5:5 ~ And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

See also Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 10:6; 23:9+; 3 Nephi 9; 10:13.

There are too many to reference all, but searching and study will lead you forth.