Many times in holy writ the Lord applies the metaphor of blindness and deafness to those who would not seek to understand his teachings, including those of his chosen people:
“That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4:12)
The implication is that the opportunity to be truly converted is being rejected because of an unwillingness to “see” and “hear” the true message from the Lord. Isaiah is full of the same imagery regarding the last days:
“And in that day [referring to the time when the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon shall come forth] shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” (Isaiah 29:18)
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” (Isaiah 35:5)
“I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” (Isaiah 42:7)
One of the most compelling scriptures along these lines, however, is in the Joseph Smith Translation of Isaiah 42:19-23:
“For I will send my servant unto you who are blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness, if they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant. Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not. The Lord is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake he will magnify the law and make it honorable. Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses; they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.”
Here we have the Lord promising to send a servant to His people who are blind, and who will regain their spiritual eyes and ears if they will hearken to the servant. In their current condition they see and hear many things, but don’t understand. To me, this is a very clear reference to the marvelous work that will commence during the third watch when the “first laborers in the last kingdom” return to finish the mission they failed to complete in the second watch. It is a future event, which highlights the uncomfortable fact that “those who call themselves after my [the Lord’s] name” are the blind and the deaf.
Fortunately, the Lord is still in charge and will not forsake his people:
“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.” (Isaiah 42:16-18)
When one realizes the simplicity of the fulness of the gospel and the fact that we have changed the ordinances, and added additional ornamentation well beyond the baptism of water, fire and the Holy Ghost, will we not as a people be “ashamed” for trusting in our idols of brethren worship and extraneous temple ritual? Will we not be ashamed at our materialism and lack of understanding of the celestial law of consecration? Isaiah speaks prolifically about the children of Israel, and yet we still don’t see ourselves reflected in his words.
Isaiah has some harsh things to say about the watchmen who are also blind. I am hesitant myself to use such strong language against the leaders of the church because I believe that what is going on in the modern LDS church is largely the result of institutional inertia over many generations. As a pilot myself I can totally relate to President Uchtdorf’s analogy to getting off course by small degrees, leading to significant deviations over time. I often ask myself if they are actively trying to deceive, or are they just blind to the realities of the scriptures and church history that is the primary subject of this blog. My conclusion today is that they are blind — believing that they have the fulness of the priesthood and truly speak for the Lord when in fact there is much evidence to the contrary.
Just the other day I commenced writing down all the evidences I could think of that the modern Mormon church is in a state of apostasy. As of today, I am up to 20 and will publish my list at some point down the line. My only hesitation to publishing my list right now is that I am sure there are many more evidences to add to it, and my purpose is not to destroy faith. Without a proper understanding of the Joseph’s intercessory offering and the fact that the Lord has not forsaken his people despite their blindness, it is very easy for people to pull the ripcord and lose all faith entirely. Spiritual maturity and a willingness to search the scriptures are required for true understanding. In my experience, few people are willing to pay the price in the form of time and effort, leaving them vulnerable to easy answers provided prolifically by doubters and skeptics.
So let’s conclude with Isaiah’s description of the blind watchmen with a few of my comments interspersed:
“His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant (they don’t understand the true history), they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark (they are not warning the people to repent and prepare for Zion as they should); sleeping, lying down loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough (they need to keep building church portfolios and investments, while neglecting the poor and even oppressing the poor through a corrupt tithing system), and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every on for his gain, from his quarter (they rely upon the wisdom of men to build up their view of Zion while fully embracing the economy of Babylon). Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant (we continue to stumble along teaching that all is well if we just do our missionary work, pay tithing and build temples and meetinghouses throughout the world–this kingdom we are building will get bigger and bigger until it fills the whole earth).
As I am writing this another scripture comes to mind from 2 Nephi 28: 13-14:
“They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries (temples); they rob the poor because of their fine clothing (suits, white shirts and ties — the “uniform” of the priesthood); and they persecute the meek and poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up (it’s all about self reliance and the gospel of success — we are righteous if we are blessed with material possessions). They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations (celestial polygamy, masonic temple endowment), they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ (note that it doesn’t say followers of the brethren); nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
So there you have it. We are institutionally blind and deaf. Individually we can choose to open our eyes and ears to the simple truths of the fulness of the gospel. The choice is yours.