Question: Why did the Saints leave Missouri before the temple was built?

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Question: Why did the Saints leave Missouri before the temple was built?

As far as the building of the temple, we still look forward to that day when it shall be built

Despite the fact that the Saints were forced to leave Missouri around a year after the "prediction" was given to build a temple in Independence, Missouri, they still hoped to return and see the prophecy come to fruition.

Everything Joseph Smith said concerning Zion and Missouri has come true. As far as the building of the temple, we still look forward to that day when it shall be built. To condemn D&C 84 as false prophecy is the same as condemning the Bible and all of its prophets, including Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord. He spoke the same language, using the same words, with the same meaning, as the ancient prophets did. The Bible vindicates Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God.

God changed His mind because the Saints were not obedient

Why would God give instructions for the building a temple if He knew the Saints would be driven out of Missouri? God changed His mind because the Saints were not obedient. The Lord can change His mind depending on the obedience, or disobedience, of His children.

Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. (Jeremiah 26:13)

The Lord can change His mind while His command is in the process of being obeyed.

And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. (1 Chronicles 21:15)

God will also change His mind if a prophet can convince Him that the change is warranted

Not only does the Lord change things in His own wisdom, He will also change His mind if a prophet can convince Him that the change is warranted (at least within the prophet's understanding):

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. (Exodus 32:9-14)

The Lord can even change His mind about the commands He has given

The Lord can even change His mind about the commands He has given. For example, what the Lord directed concerning circumcision changed.

He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (Genesis 17:13)

Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. (1 Corinthians 7:19)

The Law of what could and could not be eaten was changed.

Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. (Leviticus 11:4)

This chapter in Leviticus gives a list of what not to eat. It specifically mentions the camel, coney, hare, swine, eagle, ossifrage, ospray, vulture, raven, owl, hawk, cuckow, cormorant, swan, pelican, eagle, stork, heron, lapwing, bat, weasel, mouse, tortoise, ferret, chameleon, lizard, snail, and mole. Yet the Lord saw fit to change it.

Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. (Acts 10:12-15)

As circumstances change, what the Lord has directed will change also. The temple in Jackson County Missouri, the center place of Zion, the chief temple, did not have the necessity of being the first temple built. It has a specific purpose, which event will occur yet in the future. In December of 1990, plans were announced by the First Presidency of the Church to build a temple in St. Louis, Missouri. President Gordon B. Hinckley presided in the groundbreaking for this temple on October 30, 1993. The temple was dedicated in June of 1997. This temple marked the 50th operating temple and the first temple in Missouri. Although this is not the temple that is being discussed here, it is significant that temple building is taking place in Missouri.

That the Lord spoke of the future glory of Zion. The Saints were only to lay the foundation of Zion, not build it in its entirety. The foundation is the preparing for the event to take place. This "redemption" of Zion takes place in separate phases.

Christ did not utter false prophecy, but some of His prophecies just have not been fulfilled yet

Christ did not utter false prophecy, but some of His prophecies just have not been fulfilled yet. When the scriptures mention "generation," it has several meanings. Critics recognize this when speaking about the words of Christ or the ancient apostles and prophets, yet they deny any possibility of Joseph Smith having the same meaning, and restrict his mention of "generation" to approximately a hundred years. This double standard only shows the hypocritical arguments and deceptive means used to attack The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So let's now examine the purposes of the Lord and the sayings of Joseph Smith concerning the Saints, Zion, and Missouri to see if these things will sustain Joseph as a prophet of God.

The first phase to take place has to be the foundation:

Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you-that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come; And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; (D&C 58:6-7)

This revelation was given August 1, 1831, in Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, just over a year before D&C 84 was given to Joseph Smith (September 22 and 23, 1832). This shows the original intent of the Lord was to lay the foundation of Zion, not build it in its entirety. The question would then become, is there any indication of a time frame for these "things which are to come?" There most certainly is. A few verses later we read, "And now, verily, I say concerning the residue of the elders of my church, the time has not yet come, for many years, for them to receive their inheritance in this land." (D&C 58:44) So the time for the Saints to inherit Zion was not in their day, and wouldn't be for "many years."

There was also another term the Lord used to indicate that Zion would not be established during that time. "Therefore it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season, for the redemption of Zion." (D&C 105:13) By using terms such as "the time has not yet come," "many years," and "wait a little season" it is obvious that Zion would not be established during that time, only that the foundation would be laid.No matter how loudly or often McKeever and Johnson, or any other critic, say Zion was to be established fully by the Saints during the Missouri period, that was not the design of the Lord, nor was that the instruction given to Joseph.

So how was this foundation to be built? How could the land of Zion be built unless the Saints owned the land upon which to build? It couldn't! So the Lord told the Saints to purchase the land, so that the temple and other buildings could be legally built. That was the foundation. Zion cannot be Zion if someone other than the Lord's people owns the land. So the Lord gave instructions to buy the land, as a foundation, in preparation of the gathering.

Wherefore, I the Lord will that you should purchase the lands, that you may have advantage of the world, that you may have claim on the world, that they may not be stirred up unto anger. Wherefore, the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood, otherwise there is none inheritance for you. (D&C 63:27, D&C 63:29)

How much land was bought? According to Lucien Carr in his history of Missouri, it was over 250,000 acres.[1] The Lord was very clear that there were going to be hardships. "For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand." (D&C 58:4) And how severe would the tribulations be? "For Satan putteth it into their hearts to anger against you, and to the shedding of blood." (D&C 63:28) This is exactly what happened in Missouri. Businesses were destroyed. Over two hundred houses were burned down or otherwise destroyed. Twelve hundred people were driven out of Independence,[2]:427 with about fifteen thousand total being driven out of the region. Hundreds were murdered, some very brutally,[3]:494 and this included children. That the people would be driven out of "Zion" temporarily is without question. "Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered." (D&C 101:17) The foundation of Zion is in place, as prophesied; thus proving that Joseph Smith made a true prophecy in D&C 84.

Zion was to be an "inheritance." An inheritance is something that passes from one generation to the next. An inheritance is not something that you obtain immediately, but only at a future time:

And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts. And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away. (D&C 38:19-20)

They that remain, and are pure in heart, SHALL RETURN, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion. (D&C 101:18)

Again, let's look at the timing of these revelations, as it reveals a very important clue as to the intentions of the Lord. Section 38 was given on January 2, 1831, well over a year before section 84. Section 101 was given December 16, 1833, over a year after section 84 was given. The intention of the Lord never changed, only the expectations of man. The Saints will return to claim it. Their land was stolen from them. The members of the church still look forward to the day when they will return.

The Lord gave every indication that the Saints were to lay the foundation of Zion in Missouri

The Lord gave every indication that the Saints were to lay the foundation of Zion in Missouri; that they would be driven out, even "unto bloodshed;" and that the Saints would return and the land would be an inheritance. The words proclaimed by Joseph Smith correctly prophesied these events. Perhaps McKeever and Johnson should have researched some history in the matter as well as studied the Doctrine and Covenants to understand what happened, why it happened, what the Lord said, and what will happen.Just in case McKeever and Johnson would want to argue that the literal next generation of children of those Saints of the 1830's have not returned to receive an inheritance in Zion is evidence of false prophecy, let's examine that premise as well. There is a problem with this analogy. Children, just like the term "next generation," in scriptural terms, means any descendants, not necessarily the next literal generation. So, the "children" could be grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or any number of descendent generations. This is evidenced by the Bible.[4]

Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee (Genesis 17:5)

And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran (Acts 7:2)

Even Christ referred to Abraham as a father to those who were descendents by several generations.

Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? (John 8:53-57)

Notes

  1. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 3:XLIII, footnotes. Volume 3 link States as follows: "These estimates are by the late President George A. Smith, Church Historian, and hence are entirely reliable. They are quoted by Lucien Carr in his History of Missouri, "American Commonwealths," p. 181, and are also to be found in an Historical Address by George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. XIII. pp. 103. et seq."
  2. History of the Church. Volume 3 link
  3. History of the Church. Volume 5 link
  4. See also Luke 1:73, John 8:39, Romans 4:1, 4:16, and James 2:21 for scriptural understanding of this principle that children can be a descendant in any number of generations.