Thursday, November 20, 2014

They Who Tarry

In the Bible we learn that the Lord gave John the Beloved a special blessing:

"Peter seeing him [John] saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true." (John 21:21-24)

In April of 1829 the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery inquired of the Lord to understand the meaning of John's blessing, and they received further revelation:

"And the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.

And I said unto him: Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.

And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desired of me that he might bring souls unto me, but thou desiredst that thou mightest speedily come unto me in my kingdom.

I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire; but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work yet among men than what he has before done.

Yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth." (D&C 7:1-6)
Peter, James and John Appear to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery

In other words, John the Beloved is still alive and ministering upon the earth.

But John is not alone in receiving such a peculiar blessing.  In the Book of Mormon we learn that there are at least three others who were permitted to tarry on the earth in order to bring souls unto Christ:

"And when he had spoken unto them, he turned himself unto the three, and said unto them: What will ye that I should do unto you, when I am gone unto the Father?

And they sorrowed in their hearts, for they durst not speak unto him the thing which they desired.

And he said unto them: Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, who was with me in my ministry, before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me.

Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.

And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father.

And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world; and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand.

And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;

And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me.

And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he touched every one of them with his finger save it were the three who were to tarry, and then he departed." (3 Ne. 28:4-12)

These same three Nephites later ministered to Mormon (3 Ne. 28:26) and his son Moroni (Mormon 8:11), and like John the Beloved, they continue their anonymous ministry (3 Ne. 28:25) on the earth today. 

Three Nephites Desire to Tarry

The question might reasonably be asked: "Have there been any sightings of the three Nephites or of John the Beloved?"  While at least these four disciples of Christ continue their ministry on the earth, they seem to be doing so, as the Lord's best ministers always have, very quietly.  

Nevertheless, in the April 1954 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Legrand Richards recounted the following miraculous event:

"A short time ago, when a committee was sent there by President Truman, they were told by Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, that it was their belief in a 'mystical force that would return the Jews to the land of Israel, that had kept them alive.

In the Jewish Hope, of September 1950, was an article by Arthur U. Michelson. I will not take time to read it, but he tells of a visit he made to Jerusalem, when he heard the experience of the Jewish army. They had only-one cannon, and were facing the Arabs with their well-trained and equipped army, and so when they used this cannon, they moved it from place to place so the enemy would think they had many, and every time the cannon was fired, they would beat tin cans in order to make a lot of noise so that the enemy would think they had many cannons.

I want to read what he said about what happened when the armies of Israel were about to give up:

'One of the officials has told me how much the Jews had to suffer. They had hardly anything with which to resist the heavy attacks of the Arabs who were well organized and equipped with the latest weapons. Besides, they had neither food nor water, because all their supplies were cut off . . .

'At this critical moment, God showed them that he was on their side, for he performed one of the greatest miracles that ever happened. The Arabs suddenly threw down their arms and surrendered. When their delegation appeared with the white flag, they asked, 'Where are the three men and where are all the troops we saw?' The Jews told them that they did not know anything of the three men, for this group was their entire force. The Arabs said that they saw three persons, with long beards and flowing white robes who warned them not to fight any longer, otherwise they would all be killed. They became so frightened that they decided to give up. What an encouragement this was for the Jews to realize that God was fighting for them.'

And then he told about another case when one man with a white robe and a long beard appeared, and they all saw him, and they gave up their arms. Now I do not know, but the Lord said that he would do something for the Jews in the latter days, and when he permitted the Three Nephites to tarry upon this land, he said:

And behold they will be among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles shall know them not.

They will also be among the Jews, and the Jews shall know them not.

And it shall come to pass, when the lord seeth fit in his wisdom that they shall minister unto all the scattered tribes of Israel, and unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, and shall bring out of them unto Jesus many souls, that their desire may be fulfilled, and also because of the convincing power of God which is in them (3 Ne. 28:27-29).

Whoever these persons were, they seemed to have 'convincing power' sufficient to cause a whole army to surrender.

In permitting these Three Nephites to tarry upon the earth until he, Jesus, should come in his glory, he must have had in mind some great things for them to accomplish in bringing about a fulfillment of his promises. Whether it was convincing the army of the Arabs to surrender, I do not know, but this I do know: That what is going on in the Holy Land should convince one that the Lord is moving rapidly toward restoring the Jews to the land of their fathers and is giving them that land and redeeming it from its waste condition, as the prophets have foretold." (Legrand Richards, The Word of God Will Stand)

Whether or not the three Nephites and John the Beloved were the beings who preserved the Jews in these particular battles is within the realm of speculation, and others have written at greater length on such topics.  

The lesson?  If translated beings with long beards and flowing white robes appear to you and warn you not to fight against Jews any longer, it would probably be wise to obey them.

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