Stiffnecked

Today I sent my wife back across the country.  Seems a bit out of odds that I am sending off my wife for another month or so.  It seems more like she should be sending me away.  A mission?  Military?  Work travel?  I could not help but think of Engelbert Humperdink’s, “There Goes My Everything” as we said adios again.  As President Stucki would say, “There is no such thing as a good bye in the gospel.”  I believe it is true.  No matter what happens, we will meet up again.

I find myself even further from her now.  I am now in The Dalles, Oregon.  She is in Richmond, Virginia.  That puts us about 2,800 miles of separation in one day.  Don’t we live in a day of miracles?  I can visit with her without any more cost than my cell phone plan.  I spoke to her in Detroit, Minneapolis, Richmond, and a host of other places in the past month.  I am always impressed when I send out a dozen letters in one day all to different regions on the United States, or even the world, and know they will arrive there.  Most of them within 2 or 3 days.  That is a miracle to me.  As I type this up, on a free internet signal, in a hotel room, my computer connects to the internet and will make it available worldwide within seconds of my pressing the send button.  Every person in the world could read it if they wanted.  That is a miracle.

If you cannot tell, I have thought about miracles today.  I listened to some of Harold B Lee’s stories about miracles.  I thought about the miracles in my own life.  I even wrote of the miracle of the Book of Mormon in a recent blog.  They are all about us.  Somehow though, I get so busy in my life not to recognize them.

This leads me to the scripture I have thought about from the recent reading of the Book of Mormon.  This is another one of those scriptures I memorized that summer but have not been able to retain.

“And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked.  And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith.”  (Jarom 1:4)

Far too often, I think I fall on the side of the stiffnecked.  In fact, I know I do.  I am just proud enough to miss so many of the blessings which could be easily obtained.  In some instances, more recognized.

There are plenty of ways in which I still need to repent and rise above the natural man.  Without beating up on myself too much, I do completely recognize that I am just humble and faithful enough to have some personal revelations of my own.  I end up with one or two in each journal, but they are there.  Meaning, I know that the Lord speaks to even me in my weakness.  Even in my weakness, I am abundantly blessed and am just humble enough to see some of those blessings and miracles all about me.

Dusk memorization

I have always felt a bit of an affinity for Jacob.  Of all the books in the Book of Mormon, this one seems to feel the most familiar, the one that speaks most directly to me.  If there is ever a book I just want to go back and read again and again, it is his.  I thought I would share some personal stories that relate to some of the chapters I read this evening.
“But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart.  Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.  O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his life; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.” (Jacob 3:1-2).
These two verses have always stood out to me.  I am not entirely sure why.  They just always have.  Indeed, enough that I have attempted several times over the years to commit them to memory.  Oddly, I have not been able to retain them.
During the summer of 2004 it was my goal to memorize a new scripture every day.  I failed miserably but I made a valiant attempt.  There are probably 20-30 verses that by the end of the summer I had committed to memory.  These two were two of them.  The next summer when I started spraying lawns again, I started by trying to recite all the scriptures I learned the previous summer.  Only 3 verses from the previous summer did I really retain.  I will perhaps get to them in another blog.  They are only in the next chapter.
However, again in 2005 I set out to memorize the scriptures from the previous summer and to add some more.  I remember distinctly walking through the yard of the Oliverson Family in Whitney/Glendale area outside of Preston, Idaho.  They have a massive lawn which must be over an acre.  As I walked back and forth across the lawn, I recited these two verses over and over again.  I carried a note card in my pocket with them written on it which I had to reference often to begin.  By the end of the lawn I had it set to memory.
I have to paint some of the picture.  It is nearing dusk and I was worried I may not finish the lawn in time.  I did finish in time and went on to spray the Hardcastle residence as well.  The sun was setting slowly, and you cannot necessarily speed up spraying a lawn.  To do so would be to apply less chemical and cheat the lawn owner.
I worked my way back and forth across the lawn like a dutiful farmer.  I was pretty sure nobody was home.  With the pump running on the truck, I could recite the scriptures out loud with little fear of anyone hearing me.  I must have painted quite the picture in the sunset.
There are other stories similar to this one.  For some reason I cannot still recite the words to the verses, but I can tell you probably three locations on where I know I worked on memorizing the verses.  Odd isn’t it?
What do the verses say.  They seem to explain the individual basis of the gospel for every person.  Pray, with faith, and all will turn out for the right.  But that just isn’t enough.  We must not just pray with faith and hope it will turn out right.  Nope, we are to pray and to receive the word of God.  It seems to me that when we receive of the word of God and then feast upon that word, which is also the love of God (as Lehi and Nephi’s dreams tell us).  This is expressly available to all who are pure in heart.  I find myself in a longing for this.  Mormon or not, these words are true.  Look to God, pray, and receive of his love.  We may, if we will be firm in our minds and devotion, forever.  How beautiful is that?
All the rest come after that.  If we try to do it a different way, it will be incorrect.  You can be baptized a hundred times and without learning to commune with heaven, it won’t do much good.  After all, if we haven’t learned to commune with heaven, what good is the Gift of the Holy Ghost?  What good is the endowment if we don’t learn how to communicate with the angels now?
There was no miracle at the Oliverson Home, except perhaps in my heart.  Those verses have yet to be fully committed to memory, but somehow their intent and meaning burn in my heart.  That is more important anyway.

Witness of the book

Perhaps I may be a little crazy.  I believe we fully and completely are enabled to witness miracles in our day.  Just like the days of old, it seems the miracles are probably all around us.  I always take the scriptures to mean that if we are in tune it isn’t that more miracles will happen to us (although faith may lead us to ask for more and receive more) but that we will more more recognizing of the miracles about us.  Hence, the great crime in seeking signs.  There are those always looking for signs to confirm or denounce their course of action.  Those people are like the waves of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.  But those who live by faith will not be seeking for signs, but will recognize them all about them.  We have one such miracle happening nearly every day around us.
“And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.” (2 Nephi 27:11).
I just never got this verse until my latest reading.  Even then, I may not still get it.  However, how in the world does the most vile of sinners read this book by the power of Christ?  Now, those who are familiar with it know this scripture is talking about the Book of Mormon.  The whole chapter and some previous talk about the coming of the Book of Mormon coming forth.  Viola!  The whole miracle of the book coming forth is by the power of Christ.  There is no other way this book could possibly exist except by the power of Christ.
Every day, wherever a page of the Book of Mormon is read, even when a Book of Mormon is trashed, it is by the power of Christ.  The mere existance of the book is a testimony of Christ working in our day.  It is not that the book will be read through the power of Christ like I had always thought, but it will be read, dropped, burned, ripped, coveted, loved, cherished, and hated all by the power of Christ.  Everything that happens to it is by the power of Christ which made it available to us.
It goes on more.  It will be through the power of Christ that all things are revealed.  It isn’t necessarily by a prophet, capital P or not.  It isn’t necessarily through the Priesthood, the church, or even the kingdom of God.  Just the fact that knowledge, history, wisdom, and all these things are flooding the earth is a continuing testament of the Son of God.
The next verse goes back to the Book of Mormon.
“Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witness shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his owrd unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.” (2 Nephi 27:12-13).
This is jumping back to references in Isaiah.  The book should whisper from the dust and the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.  What a strange and interesting idea.  I haven’t a clue what it all means.
What we do know is there are witnesses to the book who are faithful.  I always wondered why there were not more recent witnesses to the plates.  There was a time when I prayed to become a witness to the plates and the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  However, it seems these witnesses are to speak as if it were from the dead.  It takes faith to believe the testimony of a deceased person.  Just like Lazarus wanting to go back from the dead to warn his brothers.  If they won’t believe Moses or Joseph Smith, why would they believe a modern or living individual.  It doesn’t seem as necessary.  As I say that, I have no doubt there are those who have received such a witness in our day, but they are not called upon to bear that witness.  Just like Mary Whitmer, or Vilate Kimball, they receive witnesses for their own testimony but not to share with the world at large.
I may show some ignorance of church history, beyond their testimony written in ink, the extent to which the three or eight witnesses were called to bear that testimony also seems limited.  Martin Harris and Joseph Smith seem to be the only ones who went out of their way to share the testimony with others.  Many of them served as missionaries, some went on to convert some very notable names in the church, but I am not aware of them going out of their way beyond being questioned about their witness of the Book of Mormon.
Many receive the witness of the Book of Mormon but how many actually receive the vision, hefting, dream of the plates?  I don’t know?  Does it matter?  After all, the testimony of the Spirit is all that is important.
Then again, do we really need to see the plates.  If we have the Spirit of God, we will recognize the miracle of the cheap missionary handout version sitting in the glove compartment of the car.  If we have the Spirit of God, we will already have a witness of the Book of Mormon, whether or not we have a witness of the plates upon which they rested.

Manifesteth

Often as I survey the environment around me, I wonder about many of the charismatic gifts.  It is a fascinating world we live in.  Many churches teach that they were done away.  Others teach us that they must ever be upon us and always manifest as a true sign to the believers.  In the world of Mormonism, there is certainly a middle ground.  One I am always watching and listening for.
“But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them…And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.” (2 Nephi 26:9, 13).
There are those within the church who make the comment that if we have not seen the Savior, than we have obtained nor lived up to all that our religion has to offer.  However, does that really mean we have to see him physically and in person?  I certainly believe it is a possibility, but something that doesn’t seem common place.  To me it seems something much more sublime.  Dreams, Visions, and all the other gifts must be manifest by the Spirit.  Accordingly we are told, that if the Holy Ghost burns the witness into our heart, it is better than if we had physical verification of the Savior.
Rather than separating all the parts of this verse apart, like many others, why don’t we look and see that perhaps the working of mighty miracles, signs, and wonders may be methods of his appearing unto us?  After all, if we can feed the hungry and clothe the naked and it is as if we did it unto him, why could not the same being done to us be a witness of him in our entropy world?  What is even more, what if we were in tune enough the spirit witnessed to us the person was acting in the Savior’s place?
How else would we learn to see the countenance of the Savior in others?  How else would we learn to see the countenance of the Savior in us and if we are a saved being?
I certainly believe in the visions and dreams which give us greater insight into the Savior’s life.  The example of Orson F. Whitney or Melvin J Ballard are great examples of what is possible in that realm.  One of the latest testimonies of the same I have read came from David B. Haight.  It seems to me that after we have learned to recognize the voice of the Spirit manifesting the miracles and signs around us, then we may be granted a greater vision and view of the beyond.
One thing I am sure of, the boasting I sometimes hear is surely not what the individuals are relating.  I remember the tale of a sister who worked in the Washington D.C. Temple.  Apparently she helped close down the temple some evenings.  She then commented in her testimony of that the Savior lives and that he goes to his own.  She then repeated over and over about four times, “I know He lives.”  While it surely may be the case she knows and it seems she was trying to indicate, after all Lorenzo Snow’s experience was similar.  However, the Spirit was not present, and to paraphrase a Joseph Smith comment about those who do not prophesy according to the Spirit, “and there shall be many inquiries after them.”
However, if we have learned to recognize the Spirit through the signs and miracles around us, I know such blessings are available.  But would we ever really know for sure if anyone else knows?  Does it really matter?  If we haven’t learned to walk that path, and to recognize those miracles and signs among us, does it really matter whether or not another member really knows?
“The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.  Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand?  Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.” (D&C 88:44-46)  If we have viewed the creation of God by the Spirit, we have seen God.  Why do we need to see more.  This was Marion G. Romney’s testimony given to us again just last General Conference by Elder Hales.
“But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.” (Mormon 9:11)
Lastly, the questions I have posed are answered so clearly by Moroni himself.  He who appeared and was another witness of the spirituality of Joseph.  He surely would not have seen anything if he had not seen the miracles and signs of God all around him.  We know he wondered at the heavens in all their beauty and order.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?  For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.  And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.” (Moroni 7:27-29).
Just because Christ doesn’t walk among us doesn’t mean miracles have ceased.  Just because he dwelleth eternally in the heavens does not mean the mercies do not still descend upon those with faith.  Interestingly, the first example of the miracles that Moroni gives is that of an angel ministering unto us.  Perhaps we are to busy looking beyond the mark and are missing the signs, miracles, and angels all about us.  Indeed, the angels we are called to receive, but also to which we are also called to minister.

The proud always fall

Life continues to come upon me at breakneck pace.  I don’t mind, I am really enjoying it.  There are a number of things I do feel like I am neglecting which are more important.  This trend is not one I could keep up indefinitely.  Portland, Pasco, Spokane all in one week.  Last week it was Pasco, Wenatchee, Moscow, Boise, and more.  This coming week will be all over Northern Utah.  I took the weekend off some to get back into some family history, paid and unpaid.  A chance to do some missionary work (I gave away three copies of the Book of Mormon and had 3 less-actives out to church).  A funeral, visiting with a couple of widows, and time with two babies, and eating that partridge from the pear tree.
Having just written that last paragraph, I remember the time I was accused of telling those sorts of details to make myself look significant.  I often wonder about that when I have mentioned where I have been or what I am doing.  I have for as long as I can remember deliberately never ‘dropping names’.  I honestly think my not doing so has afforded me opportunity to meet more notable than I would have ever had the chance if I had sought them out.  Billionaries, politicians, actors, and who knows.  The best are those who have no name or station, but wisdom to share.  But what about telling of my adventures and travels.  Hmmm, if I do not mention the places I have traveled or the things I have done what would be left for conversation?  Thoughts?  The more I read it seems the less original thoughts there are in our day.  Are we really just to discuss history?  Then again, would we have history if nobody ever recorded where they had been or who they had met?
It seems to me the real problem is when we tell of laurels from ages past.  When we live in a surreal environment where the past keeps being relived with little relevance to the present.  Then I find I am in the presence of insufferable know-it-alls who are doing little in the present field of theater.  On the other end of the coin, there are others who seem to dwell in the present making decisions with little relation to significant points of the past.  With the disconnect we have some terrible side effects on our hands.
“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come: And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.” (D&C 98:24-25)
What do we share with others?  Do we live in a state of hermitage or do we share our experiences with places, people, and thoughts?  It seems we should be living our lives as an open book.  Talking, sharing, conversing, and listening to others.  To truly be learning and walking forward through life.  It really is the spirit that is most important, not necessarily what is shared.
Anyhow, it is not a clear relation, but this was in relation to the scriptures I read this morning.
“And I will punish the world for evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay down the haughtiness of the terrible.  I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.  Therefore, I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.  And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up; and they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into this own land.  Every one that is proud shall be thrust through; yea, and every one that is joined to the wicked shall fall by the sword.” (2 Nephi 23:11-15).
Doing things for our own purpose is pride and arrogancy.  In deed, it is Priestcraft, which interesting the upcoming chapters of 2 Nephi dissect and expound upon.  The proud will have nothing to do than to turn to his own people and flee back to their own land.  Even then, they shall be thrust through, taken down by other wicked individuals.  The truth will not only set you free, it will save you from death and hell and that endless wo.

Isaiah’s gift of prophecy

As I continue to read, year after year, there always appear to be different little bits that jump out at me more than the last time.  I assume it is circumstances, environment, and even a little degree of inspiration from time to time that point these out.  As I have gone through some of the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi I thought I would share a couple that stand out.
“Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.  Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.  And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not (2 Nephi 12:7-9).  Boy if that isn’t America, I don’t know what is.  We surely worship the work of our hands, the work of others, no end to our cards, we bow not down, we do not humble ourselves.  A nation is only made up of individuals.  I do believe our elected representatives do mirror for the most part those who elect them.
“And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor; the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.” (2 Nephi 13:5).  I think we have a term for this called zoning.  We not longer as or insist on moral or ettiquette, no we enforce it now by law.  We have made a mock of the law by having it apply to the finest details of our lives.  We want conformity and unity in everything forgetting each of us were created and endowed with separate gifts, capacities, and talents.
“Therefore, my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” (2 Nephi 15:13).  This is the negative of the classic, “And truth shall set you free.”  How often have we bound ourselves down with poor knowledge.  Our society isn’t one that puts much of a premium on history, the classics, or even most of the liberal education.
“Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight!” (2 Nephi 15:20-21).  This one doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation.  Look at politics for this one.  We see this with government, “I will tax thee, thou wilt tax me, and we will ascend together?” is completely false logic.  The transaction cost is terrible and we lose money.  That is if it was a straight tax.  The rich are taxed, but wisely are shifting the burden to corporations, which ultimately is right back on you and me.  Back to the no knowledge line….
Lastly, “And he said: Go and tell this people – Hear ye indeed, but they understood not; and see ye indeed, but they perceived not.  Make the heart of this person fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes – lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted and healed.” (2 Nephi 16:9-10).  Back to the old no knowledge problem.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is back on earth, restored, with prophets, apostles, gifts, and so much more.  Yet most go on in ways of ignorance, conformity, feel good, entertainment focused wasy.  But this extends to so many more ways than just the gospel.  In fact, in what doesn’t it apply?
The more and more I read Isaiah, the more I appreciate him.  Moreover, Mormon and Nephi surely must have seen great value in Isaiah to quote such long tracts from his words.  Mormon surely must have seen the importance to make sure entire segments were available in our day.  Too many cry he is too difficult to understand.  It doesn’t really seem to be the case, it is just whether they are willing to apply themselves.
All is not lost though, we have the truth.  If we live it, it will set us free!

Jewish Jerusalem

There is one subject that always draws the attention of any Christian, well one that knows any Old Testament and New Testament history is the restoration of the Jews.  For the most part, restoration has ceased to be a naughty word in our generation.  While most Christians now use the term ‘revival’ it has a similar meaning.  But the restoration of the Jews is one most Christians are well aware.  They and we know that the Savior’s second coming will come after their restoration to Jerusalem.  It is one of those signs we are supposed to know.  Accordingly, most have watched for the day and have even done what they could to expedite the process.  In that vein, here is a scripture I find revealing in the Book of Mormon.
“But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.  Wherefore, because of their iniquities, destructions, famines, pestilences, and bloodshed shall come upon them; and they who shall not be destroyed shall be scattered among all nations” (2 Nephi 10:5-6).
There is little debate this part of the sermon by Jacob has taken place.  They have surely known destruction, famine, pestilence, and the most horrid bloodshed.  The latest of which took place in the past century.  Even before then, the scattering was well under way.  If it were not for the scattering, Hitler probably would not have had so many opportunities to shed their blood.  We see the Crusades and innumerable other attacks on Jerusalem from a variety of people. Christians through the ages have recognized the need of the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land.
Over the centuries attempt after attempt has been made to relocate them back.  The Crimean war is a great example.  The French and Russians claimed it their prerogative to convert them and protect them. The Latter-day Saints recognized a different responsibility upon their shoulders.  They were to gather in Israel.  However, the Jew was to be last.  2 Nephi gives us another twist on the take from normal Christianity.
“But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance” (vs 7).
An interesting question arises here.  Who, or which of their fathers was this covenant made to?  What is more interesting is that this restoration is not supposed to start until they shall believe in Christ.  How much do they have to believe?  How many have to believe to start this gathering?  Who will start this process?  They don’t appear to believe yet, so have we really seen much of a gathering yet?
Then comes something more instructive, “And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance.  Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for he hath spoken it, and who can dispute?” (2 Nephi 10:8-9).
They shall be gathered in from their scattering by the nations of the Gentiles.  America and Britain definitely fall into this category.  Indeed, the leaders of these Gentile nations shall nurse them because the Lord has so abundantly blessed these nations.  What an interesting observation.  We certainly know many nations have aided in the return of the Jew to their inheritance lands.  How much has this been completed?  We do not know.
On a tangent, Jacob then goes on to say there will be no kings over this nation or land, and that this land is the decreed land of Zion.  None, Jew or Gentile, shall fight against this land and prosper.  A most interesting light considering the scriptures where different nations may lead this land, but there will be no kings, and nobody will ultimately conquer it.  He also states how the seed of Lehi will be afflicted in the land. Anyhow, back to the Jews, I cannot help but think of some comments by Brigham Young.
“The decree has gone forth from the Almighty that they cannot have the benefit of the atonement until they gather to Jerusalem, for they said, let His blood be upon us and upon our children, consequently, they cannot believe in him until his second coming.  We have a great desire for their welfare, and are looking for the time soon to come when they will gather to Jerusalem, build up the city and the land of Palestine, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah.  When he comes again, he will not come as he did when the Jews rejected him; neither will he appear first at Jerusalem when he makes his second appearance on the earth; but he will appear first on the land where he commenced his work in the beginning, and planted the garden of Eden, and that was done in the land of America.  When the Savior visits Jerusalem, and the Jews look upon him, and see the wounds in his hands and in his side and in his feet, they will then know that they have persecuted and put to death the true Messiah, and then will they acknowledge him, but not till then.  They have confounded his first and second coming, expecting his first coming to be as a mighty prince instead of as a servant.  They will go back by and by to Jerusalem and own their Lord and Master.  We have no feelings against them.  I wish they were all gentlemen, men of heart and brain, and knew precisely how the Lord looks upon them” (JD 11:279).
The restoration of the Jews had not commenced yet when Brigham stated those words.    They will return to rebuild Jerusalem before he will return.  The Gentiles will take them back, but their conversion will not start.
“Jerusalem is not to be redeemed by the by the soft still voice of the Preacher of the Gospel of Peace.  Why?  Because they were once the blessed of the Lord, the Chosen of the Lord, the promised seed.  They were the people from among whom should spring the Messiah; and salvation could only be found through that tribe.  The Messiah came through them, and they killed him; and they will be the last of all the seed of Abraham to have the privilege of receiving the New and Everlasting Covenant.  You may hand out to them gold, you may feed and clothe them, but it is impossible to convert the Jews, until the Lord God Almighty does it” (JD 2:142).
“This American continent will be Zion; for it is so spoken of by the prophets.  Jerusalem will be rebuilt and will be the place of gathering, and the tribe of Judah will gather there; but this continent of America is the land of Zion” (JD 5:4).

The role of music?

Here are two scriptures which caught my eye.  One of my greatest desires is the establishment of Zion.  It is with particular interest I read Isaiah and latter day scriptures about it.  These scriptures give us some insight into that celestial city.
“For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord, joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (2 Nephi 8:3).
“Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (2 Nephi 8:11).
There are a couple of points from those two scriptures alone which are similar.  They both point out joy, gladness, and music.  It is very telling that these characteristics are what will be brought to Zion or shall be found of those who reside there.  The question is, how are we doing on our joy, gladness and music (voice of melody and singing)?