Let’s start with the good news. The Marvelous Work and a Wonder is, based upon solid scriptural and historical evidence, a future event. As Mormons, we are taught to believe that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the establishment of the church in 1830 and the surrounding events of Joseph’s day were the “restoration” and the marvelous work and a wonder spoken about in the scriptures. With all deference to LeGrand Richards and his book, the scriptures beg to differ.
This posting will outline many, but not all, of the evidences that point towards a future fulfillment of the Marvelous Work, when the Lord will send forth his servants to prune the vineyard for the last time prior to his coming in glory.
1. Ye Are Laying the Foundation of a Great Work
“…be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).
The Lord is telling Joseph that he is laying the foundation for something great to come in the future. Pay attention to the future tense of the following scriptures.
“And it shall come to pass that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles,” (D&C 35:7)
I have a great work laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved, and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand. (D&C 38:33)
2. Joseph’s Second Commission
Joseph spoke of his first commission and his second commission: “It is not necessary that God should give us all things in His first commission to us, but in His second.” (see TPJS p.104). The Lord alludes to this in D&C Section 88:
And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean; (v74)
That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you AGAIN to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you and the mission with which I have commissioned you. (v80)
Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come. (v84)
That last verse is particularly interesting because it refers to one final gathering of the elect to be done by the “first laborers in the last kingdom”. Who are these people? They are Joseph, Sidney, Oliver, and many others who were there towards the very beginning of the work. Interestingly, that designation doesn’t fall on Brigham Young who took two years to join the church and would not be considered one of the first laborers (see D&C 88:85).
3. The Lords’ Parable of the Redemption of Zion
In D&C 101, the Lord tells us how he is going to ultimately redeem Zion. It will be through one of his servants and it will happen with power.
43 And now, I will show unto you a parable, that you may know my will concerning the redemption of Zion.
44 A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants: Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon this very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive trees;
45 And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard.
46 Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower.
47 And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves: And what need hath my lord of this tower?
48 And consulted for a long time, saying among themselves: What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?
49 Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things.
50 And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.
51 And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees.
52 Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil?
53 Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?
54 And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer.
55 And the lord of the vineyard said unto one of his servants: Go and gather together the residue of my servants, and take all the strength of mine house, which are my warriors, my young men, and they that are of middle age also among all my servants, who are the strength of mine house, save those only whom I have appointed to tarry;
56 And go ye straightway unto the land of my vineyard, and redeem my vineyard; for it is mine; I have bought it with money.
57 Therefore, get ye straightway unto my land; break down the walls of mine enemies; throw down their tower, and scatter their watchmen.
58 And inasmuch as they gather together against you, avenge me of mine enemies, that by and by I may come with the residue of mine house and possess the land.
59 And the servant said unto his lord: When shall these things be?
60 And he said unto his servant: When I will; go ye straightway, and do all things whatsoever I have commanded you;
61 And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom.
62 And his servant went straightway, and did all things whatsoever his lord commanded him; and after many days all things were fulfilled.
The Lord then identifies who the servant is in this parable. He reveals it in D&C 103.
21 Verily, verily I say unto you, that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you.
The redemption of Zion failed to occur during Joseph’s lifetime, yet the Lord is clearly telling us that Joseph will be the servant who ultimately redeems Zion with power when he “breaks down the walls of the enemies, throws down their tower and scatters their watchman”!
Is it too much to believe that Joseph is coming back? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Would that not be a Strange Act, or indeed a Marvelous Work and a Wonder? We are told by the Lord himself that all prophecies within the D&C will be fulfilled. Do you believe the word of the Lord?
4. Joseph’s dream of his Kirtland Farm
Joseph records the following dream not long before his death.
“I was back in Kirtland, Ohio, and thought I would take a walk out by myself, and view my old farm, which I found grown up with weeds and brambles, and altogether bearing evidence of neglect and want of culture. I went into the barn, which I found without floor or doors, with the weather-boarding off, and was altogether in keeping with the farm.
“While I viewed the desolation around me, and was contemplating how it might be recovered from the curse upon it, there came rushing into the barn a company of furious men, who commenced to pick a quarrel with me. “The leader of the party ordered me to leave the barn and farm, stating it was none of mine, and that I must give up all hope of ever possessing it. “I told him the farm was given me by the Church, and although I had not had any use of it for some time back, still I had not sold it, and according to righteous principles it belonged to me or the Church.
“He then grew furious and began to rail upon me, and threaten me, and said it never did belong to me nor to the Church.
“I then told him that I did not think it worth contending about, that I had no desire to live upon it in its present state, and if he thought he had a better right I would not quarrel with him about it but leave; but my assurance that I would not trouble him at present did not seem to satisfy him, as he seemed determined to quarrel with me, and threatened me with the destruction of my body.
“While he was thus engaged, pouring out his bitter words upon me, a rabble rushed in and nearly filled the barn, drew out their knives, and began to quarrel among themselves for the premises, and for a moment forgot me, at which time I took the opportunity to walk out of the barn about up to my ankles in mud.
“When I was a little distance from the barn, I heard them screeching and screaming in a very distressed manner, as it appeared they had engaged in a general fight with their knives. While they were thus engaged, the dream or vision ended.” (Recorded 27 June 1844)
Note that the place the saints were attempting to live the law of consecration was referred to as “The Farm”. The reference to “The Barn” is likely a reference to the Kirtland Temple. This prophetic dream, if indeed true, suggests that Joseph is coming back to find the church in a state of apostasy and neglect.
5. Parable of the Three Watches
Read JST Luke 12:41-57. The Lord comes three times prior to his final coming in glory. He came in the meridian of time during the first watch, he came to Joseph during the second watch, and he will come yet one more time during the third watch to usher in the dispensation of the fulness of times prior to his appearance in glory to rule and reign forever.
We owe much clarity to this excerpt from the JST. Unfortunately, the saints in Nauvoo failed to contribute their means to publish Joseph’s complete inspired version. That is something that we will receive, I believe, when Joseph returns.
6. Not only to bring forth…But convince
Read JST Genesis 50:30 and 2 Nephi 3:11. These are prophecies about Joseph Smith.
And again, a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins, and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins; and not to the bringing forth of my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them in the last days;
Joseph has already brought forth the word. It appears his future work is to convince many of the word that has already gone forth (the Bible). This hasn’t happened yet, and it is my current opinion that this relates to Joseph’s translation of the Bible, of which we have but a small part. It may also relate to the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon yet to come forth.
7. Joseph Smith’s Own Words
In October of 1841, Joseph preached a sermon at general conference in which he said the following (see HC 4:426):
“The dispensation of the fulness of times will bring to light the things that have been revealed in all former dispensations; also other things that have not been before revealed. He shall send Elijah, the Prophet, etc. and restore all things in Christ.”
Again, note the future tenses of “will” and “shall send” and consider that fact that this was long after the Kirtland Temple appearance of Jehovah, Moses, Elias and Elijah as recorded in Section 110. It appears that the dispensation of the fulness of times has yet to fully usher in. (We will explore in more detail in a later post what dispensation we are currently in.)
8. Joseph Smith’s comment on Daniel 2
Latter-day Saints have been taught to believe that the current church is the Kingdom of God on the earth and that this kingdom is rolling forth as the “stone cut out of the mountain without hands” to one day brake in pieces and consume all other kingdoms. Joseph’s own words place this event in the future when in Nauvoo he said: “I calculate to be one of the ones to bring forth the kingdom that Daniel saw.” (HC 6:365)
If you think about this carefully, you will realize that JS had already brought forth the Book of Mormon, established the church, built the temple in Kirtland, and yet he was now in Nauvoo talking about being one to bring forth (in the future) the kingdom seen by Daniel. It is only when you understand that the church had fallen into apostasy by rejecting the celestial law of consecration, failing to redeem zion, etc. that you realize the impact of what Joseph is saying here. When you allow yourself to understand the nature of the apostasy of the church, it is only then that these scriptures and quotes actually have meaning.
I have also seen a quote by Brigham placing the rolling forth of the stone as a future event — can’t put my finger on it right now.
9. Sequence in 1st Nephi 13 & 14
A well-known scholar on Isaiah at BYU and convert to the church, Avraham Gileadi, wrote the following:
“Once while preparing to teach a Gospel Doctrine class on the Book of Mormon, I was struck by the sequence of events that Nephi was predicting for the last days.
“Within the series of events, recorded in 1 Nephi 13 through 14, the expression “a great and marvelous work” seemed to be out of place I had always assumed that the great and marvelous work of which the Book of Mormon speaks was the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“Yet, where I was reading, Nephi uses the expression “a great and marvelous work” as if it refers to another event, one that builds upon or completes what happened in Joseph Smith’s day. Nephi prophesies the restoration of the gospel in 1 Nephi 13:34-37, yet the great and marvelous work, which he refers to in 1 Nephi 14:7, appears to occur later.
“The great and marvelous work seems something final, something involving an enduring peace for some and destruction for others… it soon becomes apparent, for example, that it is a great culminating work of the last days that comes as a climax and finale to the gospel’s restoration. … I found that the Book of Mormon locates the main scenario of the great and marvelous work in the last days, some time after the gospel’s restoration…”(Gileadi, The Last Days, Pg 57)
Interestingly, Gileadi was excommunicated by the church in 1993, presumably for some of his writings concerning a “Davidic King” who would emerge in the last days apart from Jesus Christ. The church afterwards reversed course and nullified his excommunication, meaning officially it never happened.
We will explore the scriptures surrounding the Davidic King and his mission in the last days in a future post.
10. The Words of the Lord Himself in 2 Nephi 27
24 And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him: (In other words, he is talking to those who have the Book of Mormon to read)
25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men–
26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.
The Lord himself places his marvelous work AFTER the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and AFTER the people have removed their hearts far from him. He is also very specific in naming “this people”. Wow. Why do we not clearly see that this is aimed squarely at us?
There is a reason I chose to start off this blog focusing on the good news of the marvelous work and wonder yet to take place. There are many more evidences in the scriptures and in visions and blessings of early church elders which we won’t chronicle right now. I believe the Lord continues to have his hand outstretched to all who will reach out and grasp it. His arm is not shortened and in his loving kindness he seeks to draw all unto him.
The implication of the need for a restoration, or a marvelous work is plain and simple. There would be no need for such if we had not strayed. If we truly had the fulness, what need for a marvelous work? Modern Mormons don’t want to consider the possibility that we don’t have the fulness, because it has been drilled into our brains since day one that we do. When you start to awaken to our current situation you will likely go through the five stages of grief. I did, and it took months. There is hope on the other side. Christ is there to guide you as you rely on the Holy Spirit and the scriptures. If the awakening journey is not something you want to tackle right now, don’t read on. But if you are willing to search the scriptures and rely on the Holy Ghost to distinguish truth from error, then by all means, keep searching.
Next Up: We Don’t Have the Fulness.