Jesus Christ

 

 

What and where is the Kingdom of God? 

"A living Constitution", saith the Lord.

Hyrum L. Andrus, The True Design and Order of World Government , p.3-8
As we talk about this millennial program, we need to clarify that the foundation of the Kingdom of God is centered in the Holy Priesthood of God. If you ask what constitutes the basic nucleus of the Kingdom of God, the answer would be the Holy Priesthood. The Prophet made this statement: "What constitutes the Kingdom of God?" He then answered, saying, "Where there is a prophet, a priest, or a righteous man unto whom God gives His oracles, there is the Kingdom of God; and where the oracles of God are not, there the Kingdom of God is not." (Teachings of Joseph Smith, p. 272) Using this as a basis, let us see if we can say that the foundation of the Kingdom of God is the Priesthood. When the Kingdom of God is developed and begins to expand from this nucleus it develops in two different areas, the ecclesiastical and the political. In other words, it expands itself into a Church and a state; and both organizations have their center in the Holy Priesthood. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, for example: "Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests [political and ecclesiastical authorities] of the Most High, holding keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy." (Ibid, p. 322) The Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and those holding the fulness of the Priesthood may serve as both kings and priests unto God. For example, on one occasion President Brigham Young first discussed the organization of the Church with its various auxiliaries branches and departments. He then turned from his statement of the Church organization to the political area of the Kingdom. Having referred to the Church, he then said,
"This is what we are in the habit of calling the Kingdom of God. But there are further organizations. The Prophet gave a full and complete organization of this kingdom the spring before he was killed.... The Kingdom of God will protect [speaking of its political department] every person, every sect and all people upon the face of the whole earth in their legal rights; I shall not tell you the names of the members of this kingdom, neither shall I read you its constitution, but the constitution [that is, the constitution of the political kingdom] was given by revelation [that is, given to Joseph Smith by revelation.] The day will come when it will be organized in strength and in power." (J.D., XVII, 156)

The Prophet Joseph, then, had a rather full concept of the Kingdom and in turn delivered this concept to other presiding brethren prior to his death.
Under the Kingdom of God the Church is more particularly and appropriately referred to as a society-the Society of Zion. This new society has a religious foundation. And centered therein are the social aspects of society, which include an educational program and a recreational program. In addition there is an economic program, the law of consecration and stewardship, which is actually an economic order of the Melchizedek Priesthood. All these are integrated into the spiritual care of the Gospel.
The political program that centers as an independent organization under the Priesthood is the Government of God. The Government of God is concerned with the political law that will eventually be implemented and established as a means of instituting the millennial reign of Christ. The Government of God will use the Constitution of the United States as its basic document of government, so that, when the millennial reign is ushered in and Christ is established as King of king and Lord of lords, the Constitution will be the basic political law of the earth expanded to a world federation under the law and direction of the Priesthood.
The Prophet organized the political branch of the Kingdom of God just prior to his death. Today is March 11, 1965. If you were to go back to March 11, 1844, you would find that on that day the Government of God was organized. The Prophet called together a group of men whom he designated, initially, as a Special Council. Later he called this group of men the General Council. During the remaining period of his lifetime, there were some 53 men made members of the General, or Special, Council, some of whom were not members of the Church. Daniel H. Wells, for example, was a member of it, though he was not then a member of the Church. Joseph Jackson, later involved in the martyrdom of the Prophet, was also a member of it. There is some evidence that Thomas L. Kane may later have been made a member of it. I can get him up to the tent door where they were meeting, at least, but I have not as yet found the actual record that he was a member. But I personally believe that if we had the full record we would find that the reason Thomas L. Kane was such a friend of the Latter-day Saints during the Johnson Army episode was because he felt he had a political obligation to these people-that he was a member of their society, politically.
As I said, the Prophet initially called this interesting body of men the Special Council, and then the General Council. But because there were some 53 men made members of it during his lifetime, it later was nicknamed the Council of Fifty. I might say, parenthetically, that it was this Council and not the Church that organized and executed the westward movement of the Saints, from Nauvoo to the Rocky Mountain Basin, and it was this Council that colonized the Saints in the Rocky Mountain Basin. It was this Council that sent the first colony here to Provo, as a little frontier community in those days. This political body incorporated itself into and became the old provincial State of Deseret. That provincial state was actually the Kingdom of God organized upon the earth, in a practical way. One of its members, Benjamin F. Johnson, was a special "buddy," if you may use this term, of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was made a member of this Council and later wrote of it stating:
"About this time was organized his private Council of Fifty-the embryo Kingdom of God upon the earth-an organization distinct from the Church [note this, distinct from the Church], a nucleus of popular government which will exist for all people 'when the heathen are given for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as a possession to Him whose right it is to reign,' a government formed of representatives from every nation, principality or tribe upon the earth; a government of God, for the people and by the people, in which man will be taught to know his origin and to govern himself, which will continue through the millennial period as the outer wall or government around the inner temple of priesthood, until all are come to the knowledge of God." (Benjamin F. Johnson's hand-written journal, p. 94)

Here we see the basic concept of the Kingdom of God. To see this concept more clearly, let me turn to an analysis of a few of the scriptures that have a bearing on the subject. This kingdom has been spoken of prophetically by many of the ancient prophets. Daniel, as you know, was a great prophet as well as an important political figure in his day. The Lord favored Daniel with certain revelations concerning the political program to be established in the earth. Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 are, in particular, statements concerning the latter-day political Kingdom of God. You may recall, for example, the story of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the huge image. This kingdom of which Daniel spoke, that would be established in the latter days, was to be a political kingdom. It is naive and absurd, if you don't mind me being a little blunt in my statement, to assume otherwise. In this great panorama of kingdoms, Nebuchadnezzar was shown one world power after another: the Babylonian, the Medeo-Persian, the Greco-Macedonian, the Roman Empire (that divided as the body divided downward into the two divisions, one at Rome and the other at Constantinople) and, finally, the modern national state system. The complete termination of the so-called Holy Roman Empire, out of which the modern national state system developed, came to a historical conclusion with the French Revolution that followed our own American Revolution. This destroyed the last vestiges of the former system. Out of this period there came forth the seething sentiments, feelings, forces and impulses of modern nationalism. Modern nationalism, as a manifestation in our modern times, started earlier and was prominently expressed in the Treaty of Westphalia. But it was not until after the French Revolution that the development of our modern national-state system took place. And if you will go to the history of the 1830's and 1840's, you will find that this was a period of ardent nationalism throughout the western world.
Now, as Daniel predicted, in the days of these latter-day kings, the God of heaven would establish a Kingdom, and this Kingdom would eventually roll forth and fill the world. During the course of the Kingdom's development, the modern national-state system would be destroyed; and then the Kingdom of God would roll forth and take the place of this system, and eventually fill the whole earth. Now I think it's absurd to take the view that a Church, with only ecclesiastical authority, is going to take the place of a political system. The Kingdom of God, as it is expressed in Daniel's vision, must of necessity become a political system. For example, let me read some comments by certain presiding brethren who have spoken on this general subject. Here is President Brigham Young, who says,
"The kingdom that Daniel saw will push forth its law, and that law will protect the Methodists, Quakers, Pagans, Jews, and every creed there ever was or ever will be, in their religious rights.... The kingdom that Daniel saw will actually make laws to protect every man in his rights, as our government does now, whether the religions of the people are true or false." (J.D., II, 189).
Brigham Young isn't talking about a church in this statement, but about a political system that will make laws to govern people and protect them in their inalienable rights.
Orson Pratt also spoke of Daniel's prophecy, stating of Nebuchadnezzar's dream: "It was prophetic scenery, reaching to latter times, showing him how man-made governments should be destroyed, and how the divine government should succeed and triumph, and have universal and everlasting dominion on the earth." (The Seer, II, 310) Here is the concept the brethren have had on this subject. Certainly, the kingdom that Daniel saw was to be a church, and it was to have its center in the Priesthood. But it wasn't merely to be a church. Instead, it was eventually to become, in addition, a political system and fill the world.
Now the Kingdom, as Daniel saw it, will not develop its political character to full fruition until the great council at Adam-ondi-Ahman is held. That council will witness the official coronation of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the official launching of the Kingdom of God. However, as we study what has been said on this subject, it is apparent that the Kingdom of God in its political character will be developed sometime prior to that time, and at the Council at Adam-ondi-Ahman it will then be perfected and given to Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith talked about the council at Adam-ondi-Ahman situation in the Teachings, p. 157, stating,"Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. [This preparation is a subject in and of itself. There are certainly preliminary preparations made by Michael previous to the advent of Christ to that august body.] He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council.... The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given Him glory and dominion. [Now, what do we mean by dominion? We mean political power and authority.] Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family."
Let me now turn to the seventh chapter of Daniel and excerpt a few statements from what Daniel there says on the subject. Speaking of his vision of future developments, Daniel makes this statement: I beheld till thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit." In other words, his vision extended into the future until this particular point, when he saw that thrones were cast down and the Ancient of Days did sit. He then spoke about the things that transpired as Adam, the Ancient of Days, appeared first on the scene, and organized things in preparation for the advant of Christ. Then, speaking of Christ's advent, he says, "I saw the night visions, and I beheld, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom. [Now, what was given to Christ? Dominion and glory and a kingdom,] that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." Daniel later notes that the forces of corruption and of iniquity in the earth will successfully oppose the development of the Kingdom of God until he said, "the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possess the kingdom." He finally ends with this declasion, "And the Kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." Here, then, is the general prophetic picture of the establishment of the Kingdom of God in its political power, as a part of this great program of restoration. And as I view the matter, it is part of our obligation, as Latter-day Saints, to see clearly that which we ought to do to sustain correct political and economic principles, that we might work in a proper and legitimate way for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Now, there are certain things that we must do, that are preliminary to the development of the Kingdom of God. One of them is that we first preach the Gospel and develop the Church. President John Taylor once discussed this subject, stating, "We talk sometimes about the Church of God, and why? We talk also about the Kingdom of God [in its political character,] and why? Because, before there could be a kingdom of God [in a political sense, that is], there must be a church of God." He then gave two basic reasons this must be so, stating, first, "Because of the impossibility of introducing the law of God among a people who would not be subject to and guided by the spirit of revelation." If you are going to have a Kingdom of God, politically, you have first the need to have a people who are nurtured and cultured in the processes of revelation, have you not? And the first thing that you must do, then, in order to build a foundation for this Kingdom is to go out and preach the principles of faith, repentance, baptism and the Holy Ghost, and to teach people in the theocratic structure of the Kingdom. Another reason why the Church must, of necessity, precede the Kingdom is that this kingdom, instead of being founded upon dissension and division, is, instead, a kingdom of union and of brotherhood. As President Taylor discussed this part of the preliminary program, he first spoke about man-made efforts to establish the great society, If I may use a little modern terminology, stating, "They have started various projects to try and unite and cement the people together without God; but they could not do it." Then he mentions several of these systems that were tried in his day. He then said, "We have had peace societies, based upon the same principles. But all these things have failed, and they will fail, because, however philanthropic, humanitarian, benevolent, or cosmopolitan their ideas it is impossible to produce a true and correct union without the Spirit of the living God; and the Spirit can only be imparted through the ordinances of the gospel, Hence Jesus told his disciples to go and preach the gospel to every creature.... It was by this cementing uniting spirit, that true sympathetic, fraternal relations could be introduced and enjoyed." (J.D., XVIII, 137)
Here then, is the foundation necessary. If we are going to unite people together and achieve social justice without destroying their freedom, without regimenting them either with the whip or the carrot, we must first develop that element of spontaneity and that element of brotherhood that springs from within men as a result of the enlightening influences of the Spirit. Here is where the Kingdom of God concept goes right to the very root of things and provides the basis of spontaneity necessary to reconcile the two diverging ideals of freedom and union. There is no person in the Church but who knows that one of the greatest ideals that the Church preaches is individual freedom, and yet we are also told, without equivocation, that unless we are one we are not Christ's. But that oneness does not come by force. That oneness comes, instead, by a union of truth with truth; and by the influence of the Spirit men can begin to see eye to eye, and can have a true brotherhood, because of the influence that the divine light, truth, and power has within the individual. Here, then, is the very basic foundation of this Kingdom.

 


 


Message No. 3, Teachings of OMS


Message No. 3


Message No. 3


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