In the Book of Numbers, we are told that the reason the children of Israel had to wander in the Wilderness was because of a lack of faith in God. While Moses had led them out of Egypt, many wanted to return to Egypt instead of conquer the promised land of Canaan, the land God promised to Abraham. God had promised them that they could take the land of Canaan and it was to be their promised land. Israel sent 12 spies to see if the land was ready, but 10 of these men sent “an evil report” saying there was no hope of driving the men out of the land, despite the Lord’s promises. In response, God told Israel that they would wander for 40 years, until the older generation had died off. If God’s people won’t follow him, does he simply wait until the older generation dies off? Does God work by attrition?
Many people thought Wilford Woodruff was wrong for issuing the Manifesto, which ended the official practice of polygamy. Many wondered if Woodruff was leading the church astray. In response Woodruff declared:
The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)
Tying this back to the first paragraph, does God remove obstacles, even a prophet of God, if he does not follow His will?
In 1969, Michael Quinn tells of a vote among the Twelve apostles to rescind the ban on black church members from priesthood and temple ordinances. The vote was unanimous; however, Harold B. Lee was not present for the original vote. Upon his return, he had convinced the quorum to re-vote, and overturned the previously unanimous decision. President David O. McKay died shortly after the vote in January 1970, replaced by Joseph Fielding Smith, who served a short time until July 1972. Harold B. Lee took over as prophet, serving less than 18 months before his death. Three prophets died in 3 years. Did God take these men out, in order to pave the way for President Kimball, a man more open to the promptings of the spirit?
Are we like the children of Israel, no longer walking by faith, trusting in God? In a recent comment at Wheat and Tares, one commenter didn’t desire any new revelations to be canonized, and felt that if the prophet were to come up with a new revelation, it would “betray his God and do what avowed opponents of the Church want.” Yet Joseph Smith didn’t seem to have a problem with people requesting revelations, and didn’t brand them as “avowed opponents of the Church.” As I stated in that post,
*The intro to D&C 4:7 says “The things of God must be sought after.”
*D&C 5: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, March 1829, at the request of Martin Harris.
*D&C 8: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Oliver Cowdery [because Oliver …] desired to be endowed with the gift of translation.
*D&C 9: Oliver is admonished to be patient and is urged to be content to write, for the time being, at the dictation of the translator, rather than to attempt to translate.
*D&C 89: Revelation given because Emma complained about tobacco.
I’m sure I could come up with more.
Apparently some think D&C 4:7 says “Don’t ask, and ye shall receive. Don’t knock, and it shall be opened to you anyway. Amen.”
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If we want revelation, we have to desire it. Apparently some don’t want revelation.
JI’s response that we shouldn’t ask the leaders for revelation sounded like this to me she doesn’t really want revelation. Or perhaps, to put it more charitably, JI doesn’t want the church to be perceived as giving into public pressure. Once again, Joseph didn’t have a problem in looking like he was caving in to pressure. As I said in another comment
But, like Emma, I see nothing wrong with asking the Prophet to seek guidance on an issue. I mean if you think about it, Emma being pissed off because she had to clean up tobacco spit seems much more trivial than seeking equality for women with regards to priesthood.
Yet Joseph asked anyway, over a trivial matter and got a groundbreaking revelation. And even when prompted, God didn’t always say yes to the request. As noted above, Oliver wanted to translate but was denied, and there was a lesson to us all in that.
Asking for guidance on female ordination might give a revelation similar to Oliver’s answer, and we shouldn’t be seen as unrighteous for making the request. Do you view Oliver as unrighteous in his request? Of not, why do you have a double standard for asking for revelation?
You sound suspiciously like the Book of Mormon. ‘a D&C! A D&C! We already have a D&C as need no more D&C!’
I fear that like the ancient children of Israel, we are no longer being led by God. We have prophets that tell us to quit asking for revelation. Is this because they aren’t really prophets, but are simply administrators? Loyal members, such as JI, think asking for such revelations is sign-seeking.
[JI] “God still speaks to man. But he doesn’t give signs to satisfy the demands of men.”
[MH] YES HE DOES! I’ve given examples of Emma, Oliver, and Martin (and could find more. This isn’t sign seeking, it is earnest faith. Unless you feel comfortable calling Oliver, Emma, and Martin sign-seekers. Please stop with the double-standard!
Going back to Pres Woodruff’s remarks–do we simply wait for attrition? Do we wait for God to remove the leaders who aren’t seeking revelation to simply die off, as God did with the Children of Israel, before we can enter the Promised Land of Revelation? Is this how God works?
I mean I’ve got a big problem with female ordination, and the new policy on children of gay parents. I’m afraid we’re being led by leaders who aren’t Pres Kimballs, but are like the spies of ancient Israel, afraid to act despite a church supposedly led by modern revelation.
I think it’s important to remember that God doesn’t always say yes to what we want. Oliver Cowdery wanted to translate. Martin Harris wanted to show the manuscript to others and was denied 3 times. I want revelation, even if, like Oliver, it is the opposite of what I want. If we are really led by a prophet, it shouldn’t be seen as sinful to ask for the prophet for a revelation on the important issues of the day. The Community of Christ far outpaces us in modern revelations. Comments?