The 12 Tribes, Joseph Smith, and more
|Left: the caves of the Dead Sea
- see point 30
Predictive prophecies are in red. Other prophecies (teachings) are in black.
20. Of all Christians, only the Mormons recognise the twelve tribes
The Old Testament contains many prophecies regarding the twelve tribes of Israel. What happened top those prophecies when the New Testament came along?
Some evangelical Protestants (following Darby's theories, as promoted in the Schofield Bible) apparently believe that the twelve tribes have a separate series of prophecies to the Christians, and each will have a separate place at the Second Coming. But that is very difficult to justify from scripture. Other non-LDS Christians believe in the concept of "New Israel" - that is, the New Testament prophecies concerning "Israel" can be applied to the church. But if so, what tribe does each Christian belong to? According to the book of Revelation, the 144000 servants of God sealed at the end times are 12000 from each of the twelve tribes. And Christians can only enter the heavenly city through doors that have the names of the twelve tribes.
How many Christians even know which of the tribes they belong to, if any? Latter-day Saints do.
21. Bible prophecies of Joseph Smith
Genesis 50: the prophecies of a great "last days" prophet called Joseph. 'Wait a minute', you say, 'this is not in your version of Genesis 50'? Then it must have been lost. So how can I include it here? Because plenty of evidence survives to indicate an ancient Jewish tradition of a great prophet to come by the name of Asaph (or Joseph). The Dead Sea Scrolls speak of a priestly "messiah" (i.e "anointed one") to prepare the way for the kingly Messiah (The Messiah). Einar Ericson, in his tape on the Dead Sea Scrolls, remarked that he was giving lectures on this based on the scrolls, only to find that another man was already giving lectures on it based purely on Jewish legends that Ericson had never heard of. A significant theme indeed.
For more Bible prophecies of Joseph Smith, see the references to "my messenger" and "that prophet", discussed later.
This is only one of many prophecies that have been lost from the Bible, but restored through modern prophecy. The facts speak for themselves. For example, the Book of Mormon records a legend about Joseph's famous multi-coloured coat, but the legend is not in theBible. Critics naturally assumed that Joseph Smith had invented it. But over a hundred years after 1830 (when the Book of Mormon was published), a forgotten collection of Jewish traditions was found and translated into English. The story of Joseph's coat turned out to be authentic.
For more examples of ancient prophecies being restored, see the works of Hugh Nibley, published by FARMS.
Joseph Smith: his name survives in the Bible?
(See also: where to find the name of the church in the Bible)
Jesus was named in the Old Testament, yet the text as we have it now never says "someone called Jesus Christ will be born." But the context shows that someone referred to as the anointed one ("messiah") or the "son of God" would lead God's people. Terms like "anointed" or "son of God" are used in other ways as well, but the context is enough to suggest that some passages refer to an actual individual.
It is the same with Joseph Smith. His name is foretold in the same way that Jesus' name was foretold (though not as often, because Joseph Smith is not as important as Jesus Christ).
The key prophecies of the gathering of Israel in the last days sometimes refer to "Yaw-saph," which means "to add, join, or increase." But is is also the meaning of the name Joseph (see Genesis 30:24). So...
- When we read in Isaiah 11:11 that in the last days the Lord will set his hand "again" to gather his people, it literally says "he will set his hand Yaw-saph to gather his people.
- When we read in Isaiah 29:14 that "I will proceed to do a marvelous work" in the last days, it literally says "Yaw-saph will do a marvelous work" in the last days.
1. Just an ordinary word?
But the same word is used in ordinary ways in other places? Of course, just as the words "anointed" or "redeemer" have ordinary uses when not referring to Jesus. I am simply pointing out that, even if these verses are not specific pointers, Joseph was the only name possible for the someone doing the Lord's work of adding, joining, or increasing.
2. Not identical with 'Joseph'?
Yaw-saph is not exactly the same as the word for Joseph, but Joseph means Yaw-saph, as explained in Genesis 30:24. So, the Bible refers to Joseph (the joiner or increaser) and also to another "joiner or increaser" in the last days.
3. A verb and not a noun?
I am not a Hebrew scholar, so perhaps I have missed some crucial inflection or word ending. But according to my Hebrew lexicon, 'Joseph' is just the future tense of Yaw-saph. As for subtle meanings in ancient Hebrew, I gather that the grammar was not as subtle as modern English. Otherwise, how could scholars get such widely varying meanings from the same verse?
4. Still not enough evidence?
If you don't find this item convincing, that's O.K. It is only circumstantial evidence, and does not amount to proof. I only include it to show how the original legends of Joseph son of Joseph may not have been lost beyond trace.
Smith is a family name, referring to the fact that someone in Joseph Smith's ancestry was a smith. So we could call him "Joseph the Smith." Although the two names 'Joseph' and 'Smith' are not used together in the Bible, neither are the words 'Jesus' and 'Christ' in the Old Testament. People were generally known by just one title in each reference.
The word Smith, in the Bible, is always used in mundane ways - in the context of metalwork, woodwork, etc. Except for one time. One use of the word stands out as unusual.
Isaiah 54 describes the gathering of Israel in the last days. It comes straight after the famous chapter about the Messiah (chapter 53) and before a series of chapters about what Israel needs to do to be worthy of these things (chapters 55 onwards). This whole series of chapters seems to sum up Isaiah's prophecy, culminating in the famous "Cumorah" chapter (Isaiah 60 begins "arise, shine" - literally 'kum-ora'). Chapter 54 in particular seems to describe the modern day church (why not follow along in your Bible?)
Isaiah 54, verse by verse
- Verse 1: The strength of the (mainly) gentile believers (i.e., the church).
- Verse 2: The terms "stake" (tent pole) and "ward" (tent peg) are routinely used for LDS congregations.
- Verse 3: The church made its headquarters in a desert in the gentile world, then grew and grew.
- Verses 4-10: The church is compared to a woman.
- 4: The church began in 1830 as a persecuted minority. For over a thousand years before that, it had no prophets (it was like a widow).
- 5: But now it is God's true church once more
- 6-8: It was called again from a period of apostasy, but now the apostasy is over.
- 9-10: The church will never again fall into apostasy.
- Verses 11-12: The future will be glorious.
- Verse 13: "And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD"
- Verse 14: The church is far from its oppressors (spiritually they cannot damage it; physically it was safe in the deserts of 'the tops of the mountains')
- Verse 15: The church's enemies shall fail to stop it.
- Verse 16 "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work"
- Verse 17: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper."
This is the only time in the Bible that "smith" is used out of the context of other craftsmen, and in the context of a last days' prophecy. The word "bloweth" can be seen in the sense of "breathes life into" or "puts the spirit into."
Also, the word translated as "coals" is not the usual word for coals. It refers to the black, charred remains. It is only used three times in the Bible: Here, in Proverbs 26:21 (where glowing coals are compared with the black remains), and in Isaiah 44, where those who make idols are disparagingly referred to as working in just the black remains (e.g. they are not able to make anything worthwhile).
All this is quite consistent with the message. The church had been apostate (a widow, having lost the Lord), and so the fire had gone out. But God will send a smith to turn the dead remains into a living fire again, making the church an instrument in the hands of God.
Is this smith an individual or does he represent a group of people? Either way, Joseph Smith, and the other prophets (four of the first eleven church presidents were called Smith) fulfil this prophecy.
Additional circumstantial evidence comes from the name Hyrum, Joseph Smith's brother, who was assistant president of the church, and was martyred alongside Joseph. Hyrum (or Hyram) means "my brother is exalted."
22. The true church has wilderness experiences
|The Exodus: the people of God have often had to go into the wilderness, literally, in search of their promised land. Abraham did with his people. Moses did with his people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did - crossing the plains and prairies in the 1840s and 1850s, settling in the wilderness that became Utah.|
The Mormons did not want to leave their homes and go into the desert, but their neighbours forced it on them, thus ensuring that they followed the Biblical pattern. Other churches have summer camp meetings to pretend at being in the wilderness, but the Biblical church has the real thing, and always against its will.
23. No-one can become a minister by just feeling they want to
Exodus 28:1: God chose Aaron through Moses - Aaron did not choose himself. While in most churches, a minister "feels called" and presents himself for training, this is not how God does it. God chooses who he wants, regardless of their previous desires, and they do not usually receive training. Hebrews 5:4 makes this especially clear in the New Testament: "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." This is how it works in the Mormon church.
Nobody can decide to be a minister or a priest. God chooses whom he will, and usually (in my experience) chooses people who do not want to be chosen! Furthermore, in the Bible, teachers gained their authority by the laying on of hands of someone who could in turn trace his authority, by the laying on of hands, right back to Christ. (2 Timothy 1:6). Every Latter-day Saint minister is in the exact same position.
24. The Urim and Thummin revealed
Exodus 28: The "Urim and Thummin". No other church claims to even know exactly what these are, let alone claims to have used them in modern times. Once again, if we list the churches that might possibly be called "Biblical", the list only has one entry: the "Mormon" church.
25. God speaks to man "face to face"
Exodus 33:11: "And the Lord spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." This is how the Mormons teach that God speaks to prophets at the beginning of each dispensation. No other church makes this claim in modern times. Yet this is exactly what happened to Joseph Smith in 1820 and at key points in the next 24 years. (N.b. later in the chapter the Lord says he will no longer speak face to face with Moses. This is not a contradiction, but a change of policy as a result of Moses' request for more frequent manifestations of God's glory.)
26. Mormons trust the Bible even when others don't
Leviticus 18:22-23, Deuteronomy 22:5, etc. - unfashionable teachings: no homosexuality, women and men not wearing the same clothes, and other unfashionable ideas (many of them promoted by the apostle Paul in the New Testament. Many churches have ignored or denied teachings like this - for example, how many Christians will openly condemn the practice of homosexuality? If we wish to find a clearly Biblical church then we must find one like the Mormons who clearly and unambiguously teach such things.
Mormons are not embarrassed by Bible prophets
2 Samuel 12:7-8: Unlike other Christians, Mormons do not change the Bible to suit themselves. Take polygamy, for example. Every other church teaches that the Old Testament prophets were weak, so God allowed them to perform a sordid practice. But this goes against what the Bible says. It may not be popular, but the Bible teaches that these people were not weak, and God himself (at times) gave them polygamy. Mormons believe the Bible when other Christians would rather not.
See 2 Samuel 12:7-8, speaking to king David, "thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom" (emphasis added). Mormons do not support polygamy and have not done so for over a hundred years. But they did to a limited extent until 1890 (it actually took until 1904 to completely end the practice - Mormons think for themselves, and not everyone agreed with the announcement in 1890). This makes Mormons very much like the New Testament church - polygamy is definitely in its past, but the church will not deny what was once a commandment of God.
27. Every year the Jews hold a feast ...that looks forward to the Mormon Church
The Jews are a great people. Orthodox Jews understand and live the Old Testament prophecies better than most Christians understand and live the New Testament. Take for example, Leviticus 23:24: the Feast of Trumpets. This feast looks forward to the last days in many ways that are fulfilled by the delivery of the gold plates on the 22 September 1823. It is all rather technical, so I refer the reader to the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, volume 2 number 2. It's available on-line through FARMS.
28. The Mormons have the answers
2 Kings 2:11: Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. Why? The Bible leaves all kinds of questions unanswered. Others include what is the Urim and Thummim, why did John the Baptist baptize where he did, does Jesus' teaching regarding divorce and adultery apply to everyone, what is "the whore of all the earth", was the doxology in the original manuscripts, why exactly is a the atonement necessary, etc.? All of these can be answered through modern revelation as God has provided in the church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints - the "Mormons").
29. Mormons' faith is strengthened by new discoveries and new scholarship
Biblical archeology is often used as a very important aid to understanding the Bible. Many people find archeology a threat to their faith (for example, when it casts doubt on traditional beliefs like a universal flood). But archeology has been a good friend to the Mormons. Biblical archeology also makes the Book of Mormon story look ever more likely. For example, the Lachish Letters, a library of documents from the time of the fall of Jerusalem, casts new light on the possibility that one of Zedekiah's sons escaped, as recorded in the Book of Mormon. There are many other examples like this. If you want to follow this up in more detail, FARMS is a good place to start.
|A note about Zedekiah's sons
2 Kings 24-25 (and elsewhere). What happened to God's promises regarding Israel when most of the tribes were lost to Bible history? What happened to the lost tribes - who were all heirs to the promises, and not just those who returned to the Holy Land after the exile? The Bible contains clues. 2 Kings 25, for example, records the finality of God's judgement on the city at that time: all the host of Babylon fought against the city (verse 1), all the men of war fled (verse 4), all the houses were burnt with fire (verse 9), all the army of the Chaldees brake down the walls (verse 10) and so on. Yet when it came to Zedekiah's sons being killed, the word "all" is not used. Could it be that one escaped? The Book of Mormon ties up loose ends like this.
P.S. More recent research indicates that the word translated "son" can have several meanings. See FARMS for details.
While on the subject of scientific studies of the Bible, the study of the Bible as literature causes problems for believing Christians. Internal evidence indicates that many parts have been added to by un-named writers (the most obvious example is the book of Deuteronomy - written by Moses, yet containing an account of Moses' death). This is a great threat to many peoples' faith, as it suggests that the books have been changed over the years. But the one church that is not threatened by this is the Mormon Church. First, Mormons do not rely on the Bible as a source of faith - they get their faith direct from God. Second, the Book of Mormon shows how scripture can be edited and re-edited yet still be scripture... if the editor is himself a prophet!
30. Mormons have the most important "lost books"
1 Chronicles 29:29 and elsewhere: lost books. The Bible often refers to scripture that is now lost. Only the Mormon church openly professes to have scripture that is not in the Bible. Elsewhere I have noted two of the most important "lost books of the Bible" that the Mormons have - the record of Joseph and the Book of Enoch.
32. It's all about truth
Psalms 19:1-4: The heavens declare the glory of God. The more you learn about the natural sciences, the stronger your faith becomes! Or at least, that's how it should be.
Yet strangely, most Christians seem to find a conflict between science and religion. Why should this be? Surely truth is truth, wherever it comes from? Truth agrees with truth; those who love truth are not afraid of new discoveries.
The Mormon truth is unique and amazing in this respect. Put simply, it appears that the Mormons are more science-friendly than any other group - religious or otherwise. Does this sound arrogant? Judge for yourself. See the page on science and religion for full details.
Basically, if you really care about new truths of all kinds, you should be a Mormon.
32. Mormons live in a long promised day of righteousness and truth!
Psalms 85: the church in the last days. Psalm 85 speaks about a blessed time for the Lord's people (see also the "1335 year" prophecy in Daniel). The people are all doing what the Lord wants - "faithfulness from the earth and righteousness from heaven" (NIV translation). This was clearly not fulfilled in Bible times! (See the notes on the Jeremiah 31 prophecy.) David says "he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly" (verse 8). How can the Lord speak peace and keep his people from folly without prophets to guide them? Clearly David is looking forward to the church being led by prophets in the last days. Only the Mormon Church fulfils this prophecy. In fact, if we take the King James translation of these verses, the fulfillment is even more striking: verse 11 is translated as "truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven". This is fulfilled literally by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (a book of scripture that was buried in the earth) and the angels who came down from heaven at that time.
101 Bible prophecies: 1-11 | 12-19 | 20-32 | 33-38 | 39 | 40-55 | 56-70 | 71-79 | 80-86 | 87-101