1 Nephi 13:Verse 4
And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church.
1 Nephi 14:Verse 9
And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.
|1 Nephi 14:Verse 10
And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
Revelation 17:Verse 5
And upon her forehead [was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Revelation 17:Verse 18
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
(The "great city" is, Babylon)
Babylon, was the great city and city state of the ancient Near East, and became the "city of cities" for the time that she ruled from Mesopotamia to Egypt, and all the nations of the "fertile crescent." According to Herodotus, the Greek historian, Babylon was built "square" with a circumference of 56 miles, while the walls were 365 feet tall, and over 85 feet thick. One of the wonders of the world, the "hanging gardens" of Babylon were known throughout the ancient world. The great river, Euphrates ran through the city, giving life to an other wise, desert wasteland. Tradition ties the city of Babylon to the Tower of Babel, the first great city after the flood. Babel was founded by Nimrod, the descendant of Ham, the son of Noah. The scriptures tell us that Ham married into that line that could not have the priesthood (Abr. 1:21-27). Tradition, and scripture imply that Ham "saw the nakedness of his father" (Gen. 9:20-23) because he stole Noah's priesthood garment. Ham gave the 'garment of the priesthood' to his son, because, they were of "that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood" (Abr. 1:27). Believing that the garment held the rights of the priesthood, the garment passed through the descendants of Ham until Nimrod, who obtained the garment and a knowledge of the ordinances of the endowment, which are the "blessings of the fathers." Mocking the true priesthood of God, and the "government of Ham, which was patriarchal" (Abr. 1:25-26), Nimrod used these ordinances of the endowment, along with the "garment of the priesthood" to proclaim himself god and king of this earth. Nimrod was the first person to use these ordinances as a coronation ceremony, taking upon himself the title of "Son of God," thinking to replace him whose right it is to reign on earth and in heaven. With these ordinances, he claimed himself to be Master Mahan, that he could murder and get gain, for which, he used the garment of the priesthood. Building the Tower of Babel, Nimrod reconstructs, and ascends the sacred "primordial mound," where only the God of Creation may stand, "saying in his heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High" (Isa. 14:13-14). Nimrod, is the epitome of Satan. He took the "endowment of power" and the ordinances of the "firstborn" that can exalt man into the presence of God, and turned these ordinances into a temporal and prideful ceremony that would glorify him in the eyes of mankind, making himself the first king and ruler (that was not a patriarch) over the known world. The self-proclaimed honor and pride of Nimrod is reflected in all evil, and spiritual wickedness (D&C 133:14), and is patterned after, and under the direction of Lucifer, the son of the morning. The City of Nimrod, was the glory of the nations, the pride of the world, and the "great and spacious building" that Lehi saw in his vision of the "tree of life" (1 Ne. 8:26-27; 35-36). The "mystery" (Rev 17:5), or "Babylon the great" was the first seat and center of the false powers and priesthoods of Satan and Nimrod, the city where mortal man in cooperation and in conjunction with Satan himself, thought to overthrow the Father and God of all creation. This city of antiquity, became the earthly embodiment and symbol of the "pride of man," and the source and center of evil. Just as Jerusalem personifies the "Holy City," "Mount Zion" and "har el" the "Mountain of God." Babylon the "great city," on the other hand, represents "the mother of harlots," the "mother of abominations" and the "whore of all the earth."
The church of the devil is alive and well, from the governments of the world, to the hearts of mankind. Babylon, is the pride and emnity of the world, the great and abominable church of the devil, and there are "save two churches only" (1 Nephi 14:10). All belong to one church or the other, the church of the Lamb of God, where you love and serve "God with all your heart, and love your fellow man as yourself," or Babylon, the church of the devil, where you serve and love yourself as god.
Satan's first article of faith is that: "you can have anything in this world for money," this is the philosophy that governs the world, and the daily activities of virtually every individual. The precepts of "philarguria" the love and desire for wealth (1 Tim. 6:10; Mormon 8:37), are taught from birth to death in a temporal and Telestial environment where we learn to "serve" "mammon" and worship the god of this world. Our love and service can only be to one master, for "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24), you cannot "labor for Zion," and "labor for money" at the same time. The opposite of this "philarguria" or "love of money" is contained in the scriptures, in doctrines and concepts, that are often difficult to understand and many fail to recognize. "Take no thought of the morrow" of what you will eat, drink, or wherewith you will be clothed (Matt. 6: 25, 31, 34; Luke 12:22; 3 Nephi 13: 25, 31, 34; D&C 84:81), "for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (3 Nephi 13:34). The first commandment given to the church in this dispensation was: "seek not for riches" (D&C 6:7; 11:7; see also: Alma 39:14; Hel. 6:17; 3 Ne. 6:15; D&C 38:39; 68:31) but seek for wisdom; and, "the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich." Those latter-day saints that consider themselves active members of Zion, seeking for eternal life, must labor for Zion; for "if they labor for money they shall perish" (2 Nephi 26:31). The "desire" for more money than you need, (your wants should be your needs, and your needs should be your wants, see D&C 42:32-33; 51:3; 70:7; 82:17) is the root of all evil. There are "save two churches only," two organizations only, of which our attitude, actions, and worship can belong, to which church we belong, can only be answered by the heart of the individual, for "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21). The road to hell, is paved, not with good intentions, but "rationalizations," God will not bless you with more than your basic needs, that is the promise for the faithful:
(emphasis, and comments added)
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things ("these things" are the things of verse 31, needs) shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof .
And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good--to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted." (Jacob 2:Verse 18-19; emphasis added, see also; Mosiah 4:26). We can receive more than we need, "after" we "have obtained a hope in Christ," that "hope" is to have received "a more sure word of prophecy" about coming forth in the first resurrection. Then and only then will God bless us with more than we need, as long as we are seeking it, not to keep for ourselves, but to give it away.
There is the story of the rich young leader coming to Christ in Matthew chapter Nineteen seeking eternal life.
16 ¶ And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
25 When his disciples heard [it], they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Matthew 19:16-29).
Peter then questions the Master, saying since we have "forsaken all, and followed thee "what shall we have therefore?" The Savior then responds, instructing, that to those who have forsaken all that they have been blessed with, or will be blessed with, their families, relationships, investments, and even their life to follow Christ, will inherit that eternal life and exaltation, that the young man turned down, for the "love" of his money.
Like the young man that came to Christ, many Latter-day Saints keep the commandments, even from their "youth," and with the same desires of the young man, we obtain a "recommend" proving that we have been faithful in the Church of Jesus Christ, and are now worthy to seek further light and knowledge, and "eternal life" in the "Church of the Firstborn." Just as the man came to Christ, we enter into his presence in the "House of the Lord" and lay claim to the blessings and rights, and the rites and ordinances of exaltation, seeking the "endowment of power," and the very same "eternal life" that the rich young man sought. In word, action, and thought, and in the presence of hallowed witnesses we make sacred covenants at the throne, and altar of God, covenanting that we will give all that we have been blessed with, to the church (sacrifice), to the poor (gospel), and to God (consecration). In conjunction with these covenants we are taught, that if we fail to live up to the covenants entered into, we like Cain, will be in Satan's power (D&C 104:4, 8-9, 18; Moses 5:23). Many members transform the making and the renewing of our most sacred covenants into a social activity, and rejoice in a self-proclaimed righteousness for "attending the temple." Elder Neal A. Maxwell warns about 'honorable' "members who are skimming over the surface instead of deepening their discipleship" and who are "casually engaged rather than anxiously engaged. Though nominal in participation, their reservations and hesitations inevitably show through. They may even pass through our holy temples but, alas, they do not let the holy temples pass through them" ("Settle This in Your Hearts." Ensign, Nov 1992, 22:65-67). The great difference between the "rich young man" and his latter-day saint counterpart, is that he "went away sorrowful" because, in his honesty, he couldn't live up to the higher laws required for the blessing of "eternal life." Many Latter-day Saints leave the "House of the Lord" in celebration, claiming that temple patrons are not required to live up to "all" the covenants that were made at the altars of God that day. Even the children of Israel, withdrew from making these covenants, because of the greater obedience required to receive the higher laws, and blessings (D&C 84:19-25). To make a covenant in the name of God, and then fail to live up to the terms of that covenant, is to "take the name of the Lord in vain." When entering into a covenant with God, knowing that the stipulations will not be lived up to, is a mockery of God and the covenant making process. Speaking about these temple covenants in the scriptures, the Lord declares that he will not tolerate the making and breaking of these covenants "through covetousness, and with feigned words" (D&C 104:4), and that God will not be "mocked in these things" (D&C 104:6). Yet, there are many who celebrate their righteousness, justifying "feigned words" saying: "it is not required to live these laws right now" or, there must only be a "willingness to live these laws." Perhaps, the story of the "rich young man" and the astonishment of the apostles, would have a different ending and emphasis if the Lord had said, "you must only be willing to sell all that you have and give to the poor, but, it is not required right now for life eternal." What would be the reason that the Lord would put those seeking "eternal life" under obligation to live up to every covenant made, if every covenant made, is not required for eternal life. The scriptures teach, that by the disobedience in living these laws and covenants Satan will be able to exert his power over the individual making the covenant (see Moses 5:23; D&C 104:9). In primary, we learn that when God gives a commandment, he prepares a way to live that commandment (1 Nephi 3:7). The ordinances of salvation and exaltation that are realized by obedience to the covenants and commandments are not presented to members of the Church of Jesus Christ, to chose what they want in the 'all you want to obey gospel buffet.' The privilege does not exist for each member of the church to pick and choose those parts of the gospel, or covenants and commandments that are most convenient and easy to live in a chosen lifestyle. The phrase in the scriptures: "keep my commandments," carries with it no qualifying statements like, "keep the commandments you want," or be "willing to keep my commandments," or "someday keep the commandments." The covenant of baptism is obedience, and with that covenant is the stipulation to keep all the commandments of God (Mosiah 18:10), the Savior stated that "if ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15, see also Ex. 20:6; Deut. 11:1, 22). It is self-deception that justifies not living the covenants that are most difficult, blaming the culture, or society for selective and discriminate disobedience. The law of chastity sounds like a good law to live, but the law of consecration is different, obedience to that covenant is not required, just a willingness to live it is acceptable. It sounds sinful and blasphemous to use the same logic, and say: "I'm willing to live the Law of Chastity, but I don't need to live it right now." Does a "willingness" to live a law, justify the breaking of a covenant? The doctrines of the gospel do not allow an individual to receive the blessings predicated upon obedience to a commandment by not obeying that commandment (D&C 130:20-21). There is no blessing in a passive willingness. If only a willingness is required, why would the Lord require Abraham to show complete obedience in the sacrifice of his son Isaac. Moroni teaches in the Book of Ether, that we cannot receive a witness or blessings until after we have been true and faithful to the commandments (Ether 12:6), which requires the active participation in obedience, not just a willingness. The Savior teaches us and the rich young man who had great possessions and sought for the blessing of eternal life, that he "who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory" (D&C 88:22). Analogous, to this teaching the Lord states that "if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you" (D&C 78:7). Active membership in the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" doesn't require obedience to the "law of consecration," but an active membership in the "Church of the Firstborn" does. Likewise, a salvation in the Telestial, or Terrestrial kingdoms does not require obedience to higher laws either, however, eternal life in the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom requires the sacrifice of all. Doctrinally it is impossible to receive greater light, truth, and knowledge as well as the greater blessings and promises of the eternities without active obedience to higher laws and covenants. The rich young man seeking for eternal life had progressed as far as he could in his obedience to the revealed truth, he was true and faithful in all that was required of him in the public portion of his religion. Like Abraham, he wanted to become a greater follower of righteousness and possess a greater knowledge of light and truth, and sought for the blessings of the fathers, the promise of eternal life, priesthood and posterity (Abr. 1:2), and the glory of God. Seeking for these greater blessings, he realized that he could not live up to the covenants and greater obedience that would be required for the greater blessings desired, therefore, " he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions." The young man sadly learned form the Savior that "except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory. For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me" (D&C 132:21-22).
Pride is the great sin of the world, and the rich young man turned " away sorrowful," because, of this pride and the love of money. President Benson has taught us that members of the Church of Jesus Christ, are not exempt from the sin of pride, teaching us to beware "lest we become as the Nephites of old" (D&C 38:39) carried away in the pride of our hearts. The Book of Mormon teaches that Satan is the "founder" of the great and abominable church of the devil, and that the church of the devil is founded upon pride (1 Nephi 11:36). Satan's power comes to him by the pride of mankind, and with this pride he has established his church, and organization, the great and abominable Babylon.