We have much in common with those of ancient times than we probably care to admit.
The accounts of the Tower of Babel and the people under Egyptus, are the accounts of those who refused to submit to this principle revealed “before the foundation of the world” (D&C 124:41, 132:5). They both wanted to bypass the requirements of the House of The LORD, and built counterfeit structures thinking that they could bypass the Lords pattern and return to His presence according to their “own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, Hosea 13:2, Abraham 1:26-27, Genesis 11:4, Ensign Feb 1994 “I have a Question” page 60).
Like ancient Babylon and Egypt, there is a popular notion going around Mormondom today that goes something like this: “No man can come between God and man.” This is a lie from Satan. As in ancient times, they seek to build their own tower to heaven.
Perhaps this is you or perhaps this idea has never even occurred to you before. Either way, this idea and its fruits will most likely cross your path during the course of your life.
It rears its ugly head in many ways, from the less faithful member who doesn’t want to obey the Word of Wisdom or pay his tithing to be able to go to the Temple, to the studious member who thinks he has reached a point of enlightenment such that he no longer needs “authorities” in his progress to achieve a personal relationship with the Lord. Whatever the case, it really boils down to pride, and thinking we are above the bounds the Lord has set, eternal principles that He Himself had to obey to get to where He is.
Now the reason why this lie is so popular, and is making a huge portion of you angry right now, is that portions of this “sacred cow” are true. Pride is what leads to anger. Our pride is held up by yet another false idol- that of our own philosophies mingled with scripture (D&C 1:16).
The true portion of this “sacred cow” we will get out of the way quickly; we should never let the faults of our leaders keep us from fulfilling the eternal requirements (which require going through said leaders, a.k.a “judges in Israel”), that will allow us to return to the presence of God.
This “sacred cow” contradicts the revealed word of God, pretending that we do not have to meet the eternal requirements to enter into Gods presence (“Passing the angels who stand as sentinels” Brigham Young JD 2:31), and suggesting that we can bypass (like the tower of Babel and ancient Egyptians) duly appointed representatives of the Lord to do so.
We think we are righteous and our leaders are wicked, and lie to ourselves thinking we can receive blessings we have not taken the steps to receive (D&C 130:20-1).
The Lord has set up “watchmen,” or “judges in Israel,” in these last days, and they stand literally and figuratively between us and the Lord. They show us the way, and introduce us in sacred places. Our pride is the only thing that can blind us to this clear fact.
God Himself set up this system in our day as we read in the Doctrine and Covenants:
- And whoso standeth in this mission is appointed to be a judge in Israel, like as it was in ancient days, to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children. (58:17)
- And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead. (64:40)
- Nevertheless, a high priest, that is, after the order of Melchizedek, may be set apart unto the ministering of temporal things, having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth; And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors upon testimony as it shall be laid before him according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen or will choose among the elders of the church. …But a literal descendant of Aaron has a legal right to the presidency of this priesthood, to the keys of this ministry, to act in the office of bishop independently, without counselors, except in a case where a President of the High Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, is tried, to sit as a judge in Israel. (107: 71, 72, 76)
God changes not and we can see this principle in ancient days in Deut. 16: 18.
Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
The claim along the lines that “no mortal man can determine the worthiness of others” clearly falls flat when we actually read the words of the Lord.
It is through these judges that the Lord has set up a process of who can receive saving and exalting ordinances which are necessary to enter into the presence of the Lord.
In the D & C 84:19-22 we read the word of the Lord on this:
“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”
Inevitably, someone will ask, “What about Joseph Smith? He didn’t have the ordinances or the priesthood at the time of the first vision. Surely this scripture can’t mean what you’re saying it does.”
This topic has been addressed numerous times since the 1800’s, here is one for your consideration:
“There is no law or commandment which declares that the Father could not appear to a man in person when the Holy Priesthood was not among men on the earth. In this day when the divine authority is here and men are appointed to officiate in its ordinances, there is no occasion for the father to come to any man who has no divine authority.” –Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:84-85
Without the required ordinances, which are administered by man, we cannot see the face of God and live. The prophet Joseph Smith taught this as well when he said,
“If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood (as seen above, and more can be learned on that here) of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord. Where there is no change of priesthood, there is no change of ordinances, says Paul.” TPJS pg 308 emphasis added
If we are to be like Christ, and receive all that He has, we must do it the same way He did, by receiving and obeying ALL of the ordinances of the Temple, guarded by judges, a system revealed in all dispensations by God Himself. The ordinances of Baptism and the giving of the Gift of the Holy Ghost (the first comforter) are necessary before actually receiving the Holy Ghost (as opposed to the light of Christ). The same principle applies to the Second Comforter, the “appearing of the Father and the Son” (D&C 130:3).
This is not “leader worship”; it is part of our worship of the Lord to submit to His will, even if we have imperfect men put into those judgment positions. Do we have such little faith as to think that the Lord didn’t realize that deeply flawed individuals would be placed as judges over us? To submit ourselves to the Lords plan, in spite of seeming contradictions, can be the ultimate “Abrahamic test” for many, but it really boils down to the questions, “Are we going to submit to the Lords will or our own?” If we think we can bypass the revealed pattern because of our fear (Matt 8:26, D&C 3:7, 30:1, 11, 63:17) imperfect men will prevent us from our path to God, we (imperfect man) actually prevent ourselves from conversing with God through the veil. By submitting to the Lords revealed pattern, at all costs, we prove ourselves worthy of such communion. This seeming paradox of “submitting to man” to enter the presence of the Lord is what our Savior has required of us and submitting ourselves to this principle is submitting to no one but the Lord.