Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Malachi 3, part 5

Malachi 3:10

 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

What does the Lord mean by the statement, “I will open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”? When a window is opened one can see inside to what was previously closed off.  Could it be that the windows of heaven are a sort of “veil” that separates us from the presence of God? Could the opening of heaven’s windows be the actuality of the veil parting and allowing an individual to see Angels, Jesus Christ, God the Father and the hosts of Heaven?[1] Joseph Smith, Jr. taught: “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.”[2] If the windows of heaven were opened to you would you feel that you “had not room enough to receive it”?  Joseph Smith, Jr also taught that if we live up to our privileges the angels cannot be restrained from being our associates.[3]  Many people who have had the windows of heaven opened unto them have described that for weeks afterwards they were filled to overflowing with love and peace towards all mankind.  Joseph Smith, Jr. recorded in his own hand the following account:
…I cried unto  the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and  to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a piller of  fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day  come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled  with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon  me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying  Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my  statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the  Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those  who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world  lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no  not one they have turned asside from the gospel and  keep not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their  lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger  is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit  them acording to thir ungodliness and to bring to pass  that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is?] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father  and my soul was filled with love and for many days I  could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me…[4]

Malachi 3:11-12

 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

This is Zion, a place which will be delightsome, productive, plentiful and blessed.  The people will be of one heart and one mind, they will dwell in righteousness and there will be no poor among them[5]. Zion will be a place of refuge for those who refuse to take up arms against their neighbors. The residents of Zion will be blessed because “…they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”[6]

Malachi 3:13-15

 13 ¶Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?
 14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?
 15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

The leaders of various institutional churches believe that through their ordinances, their rites and their traditions they are serving, preaching and teaching faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through him.  However, they “draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”[7]  Teachings have crept into modern religion which tell us there is no hell; and not to worry because “odds are everyone is going to be exalted”.[8]  The most destructive teaching by far is that there is no need to see the face of Christ in mortality, to have the windows of heaven opened unto you, individually and personally.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints even went so far as to state in a talk to LDS members in Boise, Idaho in 2015,”Of course, all of the righteous desire to see the face of the Savior, but, the suggestion that this must happen in mortality is a familiar tactic of the adversary.” [9]  It is a fascinating concept that individuals who claim that they have a deep faith in the Lord Jesus Christ believe that they do not need to see him until the here-after.  Why would someone not want to see Christ?  He has said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”[10]  Christ warns those Church leaders who teach that it is unnecessary to see Him in this life, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”[11] And again in Luke 11:52 Christ exclaims, “Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”  Christ calls these types of leaders, “blind” and taught, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”[12]

What is a seeker of Truth to do then?[13]  How can we open the Windows of Heaven and see Christ?  Evidence shows that perspectives, rules, traditions, expectations, assumptions and practices often serve as barriers that keep us from encountering the living God.[14] Therefore, it matters how we practice our faith.  We can begin by opening our eyes to false traditions, men and ideas that have become idols; learning and understanding the true nature of God; developing faith in him, supplicating him and then waiting patiently on him.  In the Lectures on Faith 3:2-5, Joseph Smith, Jr. taught:
2 Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
3 First, The idea that he actually exists.
4 Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
5 Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Denver Snuffer, Jr. wrote a first -hand, modern account as a guidebook to aid those seeking to come back into the presence of the Lord.  It is titled The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord through the Veil, published in 2006. 

[1] See http://www.immanuelapproach.com/2012/08/15/people-in-scripture-who-saw-god-appendix-5/  Since the New Testament scores of others have seen God and the Heavenly Hosts; the following is a sampling and is not an exhaustive list: numerous individuals written about in the Book of Mormon, Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Asisi, Joseph Smith, Jr., Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Denver Snuffer, Jr., etc.
[2] Burton, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith1977; History of the Church 6:50; Smith Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, published 1938;  Ehat & Cook The Words of Joseph Smith 9 October 1843, page 254
[3] Burton, Alma P Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith 1977
[4] Smith, Joseph, Jr. historical account of his first of many visions of the Lord, Jesus Christ, written circa 1832; see the following link http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/history-circa-summer-1832?p=1#!/paperSummary/history-circa-summer-1832&p=3; spelling and grammar kept as original; italicized and bold added for emphasis
[5] Moses 7:18
[6] Jeremiah 31: 34; Joseph Smith taught that “the ancient prophets (Jeremiah, for one) foretold it - "when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him … from the least to the greatest" (History of the Church, 3:380).  The Prophet Joseph Smith said that this promise has reference to personal revelation, to a visitation of the Lord to an individual (see History of the Church, 3:381); for extensive writings and teachings on the subject of Zion see DenverSnuffer.com (search Zion) as well as his numerous books and lecture series
[7] Joseph Smith History 1:19; Matthew 15:7-8 (Holy Scriptures Inspired Version); Matthew 15:7-9 (KJV); Smith, Robert Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men, Tradition in Modern Mormonism 2015; Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices, 2012
[8] 2 Nephi 28:8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
Gaskill, Alonzo L Odds are you’re going to be Exalted, Evidence that the Plan of Salvation Works, 2008
[9] To hear Elder Oaks talk in its entirety go here: http://mormonstories.org/boise-rescue-oaks-turley/; this quote begins just after the 1 hour mark.
[10] Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
[11] Matthew 23:13 (KJV); Matthew 23: 10 (Holy Scriptures, Inspired Version)
[12] Matthew 15:14 (KJV)
[13] Jesus Christ is the TRUTH: John 14:16 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
[14] Viola and Barna Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices, 2012 pg. xxxii-xxxiii