Perhaps one of the most important doctrines pertaining to the end times is the event referred to as the Marvelous Work and a Wonder. The term shows up in Isaiah and in the Book of Mormon.
Apostle LeGrand Richards wrote a very popular book about this event many years ago. In his book, he opined that the Marvelous Work began at the time of the LDS restoration movement in the 1830's. His book has had a huge effect on how Latter Day Saints view the events of the last days.
He was a colorful personality, and passionate orator. I was once on a committee that invited him to speak at a mission preparation seminar in my stake when he was quite old and nearing the end of his life and I will never forget watching him pull into the Stake parking lot and opening the car door to get out of his car while it was still moving. I thought he was going to run himself over! He was in his eighties and had the energy of a teenager. ( you can view or purchase this book at Google Books by Pasting this url into your browser http://tiny.cc/vde8A )
Many years after LeGrand Richards passed away, Avraham Gileadi, a Hebrew Scholar and convert to the Church began writing about the words of Isaiah. In one of his books he postulated that;
1) The Marvelous Work spoken of by Isaiah did not begin at the time of the LDS Restoration Movement nearly 180 years ago. Rather it was to be a future event.
2) The Marvelous Work would be associated with the coming forth of a Servant of Jesus Christ referred to by Gileadi as the "Davidic Servant" or "Davidic King" that would do a great work.
Here is an excerpt from his book, "The Last Days";
Once while preparing to teach a Gospel Doctrine class on the Book of Mormon, I was struck by the sequence of events that Nephi was predicting for the last days.
Within the series of events, recorded in 1 Nephi 13 through 14, the expression "a great and marvelous work" seemed to be out of place I had always assumed that the great and marvelous work of which the book of Mormon speaks was the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Yet, where I was reading, Nephi uses the expression "a great and marvelous work" as if it refers to another event, one that builds upon or completes what happened in Joseph Smith's day. Nephi prophesies the restoration of the gospel in 1 Nephi 13:34-37, yet the great and marvelous work, which he refers to in 1 Nephi 14:7, appears to occur later.
The great and marvelous work seems something final, something involving an enduring peace for some and destruction for others... it soon becomes apparent, for example, that it is a great culminating work of the last days that comes as a climax and finale to the gospel's restoration. ... I found that the Book of Mormon locates the main scenario of the great and marvelous work in
the last days, some time after the gospel's restoration..."(Page 57)
(Unfortunately Google Books does not provide this book for preview but you can purchase it http://tiny.cc/S4L8w )
The differing views of Legrand Richards vs Avraham Giliadi is indicative of a growing schism among believers in the LDS restoration movement.
The Primary purpose of this blog is to show from the scriptures and the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith that the Marvelous Work and a Wonder did not start back at the time of the LDS restoration movement during the 1830's as is commonly taught in the LDS Church. Rather, it is a future event that is to take place four generations after the restoration of the Church.
In fact, it will be shown in a later post that the Book of Mormon and the Modern Revelations don't refer to the time of Joseph Smith as the time of restoration, rather, the D&C refers to it as the time of the laying of the "FOUNDATION" preparatory for the future "RESTORATION".
Over the next few weeks I plan on providing at least 30 references from the scriptures and other credible sources showing this to be the case. Each post will contain a specific reference relating to this event and showing that the Marvelous Work is to be a future event.
Each of these posts will be numbered. It is strongly suggested that you read them chronologically to maintain continuity in thought as the concepts build upon each other.
A secondary purpose of this blog is to discuss the prophetic events of the "last days" and the "end times" in general.
I may, from time to time sprinkle the entries in this blog with fascinating facts about LDS Church History and LDS doctrine.
Lastly, the underlying purpose of this blog is to encourage you to take a deeper look at the word of God. I firmly believe there is a big difference between reading the scriptures and studying them. There is also a profound difference between studying the scriptures and Searching them.
We have been commanded to SEARCH the scriptures... this means that God has HIDDEN precious truths in them that cannot be accessed by simply reading or even studying them at a surface level. We must "drill down" to deeper levels of understanding looking for those precious truths that have been hidden within the Word of God.
As I provide these evidences pertaining to the Marvelous Work and a Wonder, I am going to show various ways to SEARCH the scriptures for hidden treasures of knowledge. As you begin to use these searching techniques under the influence of the Spirit, the words of the ancient prophets and the words of Jesus Christ in the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith will begin to make greater sense and will become unsealed.
As you begin to search deeper into the scriptures that you have read so many times over the years, you will begin to see things in the scriptures that you have never seen before. There is no way to adequately describe the experience you are about to have as the word of God opens up through the spirit of searching.
Only the evidences showing the Marvelous Work as a future event will be numbered in the posts. Posts pertaining to general information about the last days or doctrine in general will not be numbered.
For this first post, I am going to refer to the Joseph Smith Translation of the 12th chapter of Luke. It is from this section of scripture that I take the title of my blog and the title of this first entry because it actually provides an incredible reference to the three distinct times when the gospel is dispensed:
"For, behold, he cometh in the FIRST WATCH of the night, and he shall also come in the SECOND WATCH, and he shall come in the THIRD WATCH"
In this chapter of Luke you will find that Christ comes to the earth IN SECRET, like unto a thief in the night, THREE DIFFERENT TIMES.... during three separate "WATCHES" or PERIODS OF TIME DURING WHICH THE DISPENSING OF THE GOSPEL TOOK PLACE UPON THE EARTH.
These three secret appearances take place BEFORE he returns in his glory.
According to the Gospel of Luke, the FIRST WATCH refers to Christs earthly ministry in the MERIDIAN OF TIME.
As you read all of the following scriptural evidences that will follow this entry it will become clear that the SECOND WATCH refers to the general time period when the Church of Christ was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith during the 1830's when John the Baptist and Peter James and John restored the priesthood and the ability to organize the Church of Christ again upon the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith and also introduced the Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham. (as you continue through the evidences provided in this blog you will understand that modern revelation actually refers that this time period as the foundation rather than the restoration)
The THIRD WATCH (which I firmly believe is about to begin very soon) is referred to, among other things as the MARVELOUS WORK AND A WONDER and also as the DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES.
The diagram of the three watches at the top of the blog illustrates the three watches, or in other words, the three distinct periods of time during which the Gospel of Jesus Christ was dispensed upon the earth among the various branches of Israel. These three periods, or watches, are referred to by the Savior in the 12th chapter of Luke.
A dispensation refers to a period of time when God dispenses the Gospel to his children on the earth through an authorized servant that holds the necessary priesthood keys.
The graphic and the doctrine of the three watches will become more clear and make more sense as you read more of the posts.
One of the things that is pointed out in modern revelation is that the dispensation of the last times (which began in the meridian of time- first watch) is separate and distinct from the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham- second watch) and the dispensation of the fulness of times- third watch) is distinct from the first two watches, nevertheless, the dispensation of the fulness of times is contained within the dispensation of the last times even though it is not synonymous with it.
Modern revelation tells us that the dispensation of the fulness of times is contained within the dispensation of the last times:
"For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times."
In other words, the Dispensation of the last times begins... then, at a later time, during the dispensation of the last times, the dispensation of the fulness of times opens up to usher in the beginning of the Marvelous work which culminates in the coming of the Lord in glory.
The dispensation of the last times actually began during the 1st watch after the gospel was taken from the Jews to the Gentiles. The Gentile Church of Christ that was established by Peter, James and John, was RESTORED by them through Joseph Smith. Shortly after that, a secret event took place in the Kirtland Temple that ushered in the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham which we are still in it... Finally, the dispensation of the Fulness of Times began to usher in about 12 years after the restoration of the Church but then was hindered. (see section 128)
All of the great prophets prophesied that it would be hindered, however they also assure us that it will come forth at a later time.
Many believe that the dispensation of the fulness of times (Marvelous Work) began with the restoration of the church in 1830 (LDS Foundation Movement) however that cannot be the case as we are informed in section 128 that it was just beginning to come in about 12 years later when the Saints were in Nauvoo:
"...Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in [This epistle from the Prophet Joseph Smith was given in 1842! 12 years after the church was established!]..."
Notice how the Apostle Paul makes it clear that the Dispensation of the Fulness of times is not ushered in until the very end of times when ALL THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE GATHERED TOGETHER;
"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" Eph. 1: 10
In sections 124 and 128 and other unpublished revelations we learn that the successful completion of the opening up of the dispensation of the fulness of times was predicated on a reformation that was to take place in Nauvoo that would include the restoration of the fulness of the priesthood that had been lost, the completion of the Nauvoo Temple and the acceptable offering of the names of the dead in the temple after it was completed.
Unfortunately, the Nauvoo temple was not completed (as was prophesied in the parable of the olive trees in section 101) and the acceptable offering of the names of the dead was never offered in it.
Prophecy reveals, however, that after 4 generations from the generation that the church was restored, the dispensation of the fulness of times (Marvelous Work) will successfully usher in.
The 12th Chapter of Luke (JST) reveals that the Marvelous Work and a Wonder did not come forth at the time of the restoration of the Church in 1830 during the 2nd Watch. It comes forth at a later time, during the 3rd Watch!
Perhaps one of the most powerful testimonies and explanations of the three watches is contained in the allegory of the Tame Olive Tree by the Prophet Zenos in Jacob 5.
The 1st watch, or gospel dispensation is identified in verse 15 and occurs after ancient Israel of the Old Testament times has gone into apostasy.
Notice how the Lord of the Vineyard says to his servant “Come, let us go down”.
We know that there was a period of about 400 years from the last Old Testament Book of Malachi until the Savior came into the world. According to this commonly accepted interpretation of the allegory, the 1st watch begins in verse 15, after a LOT OF TIME passed by.
It represents the meridian of time when the Savior came to earth. During the 1st watch, the Savior visits four different branches of Israel, including the Jews in Jerusalem and the Nephites in America. Christ had told the Jews that he had other sheep that he must visit. When he visited the Nephites he said; “And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
He then went on to explain that he had other sheep beside the Nephites, the Jews and the Gentiles in and around Jerusalem in which he needed to take his gospel;
"And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.
For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.
But I have received commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them."
The 2nd watch, or gospel dispensation is identified in verse 29 and occurs after the apostasy of the branches of Israel that the Lord of the Vineyard visited in the 1st watch.
Again, notice how the Lord of the Vineyard says to his servant a second time “Come, let us go down”.
We know that approximately 1500 years of apostasy passed before the Lord prepared the world with the reformation and eventually the restoration of the Church through the prophet Joseph Smith. Indeed, LOT OF TIME passed by between the 1st and 2nd watches.
This amazing allegory reveals there are actually three dispensational watches identified in this allegory wherein the Lord of the vineyard and his servant go into the vineyard.
The 3rd watch, or gospel dispensation is identified in verse 70.
Unlike the other two watches, there is not a LOT OF TIME between the 3rd watch and the previous one.
This time, instead of saying “Come, let us go down” like he did in the 1st and 2nd watches, we are informed that;
“The Lord of the vineyard sent his servant and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him and brought other servants and they were few”
One verse later the Lord says to the servants;
“..if ye labor with your might with me, ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come”
Therefore, we know that the Lord does in fact labor in the vineyard again, a third time, during a third watch or dispensation, AFTER the LDS restoration movement of the 1830's just as he did in the first two watches although it appears that he first sends his servants to prepare the way.
I will be providing a much more detailed version of this interpretation later in this blog, but just wanted to provide this brief summary of the interpretation of the allegory to provide a 2nd scriptural witness for the above interpretation of JST Luke 12.
(It is critical that you understand what the three watches represents in the 12th chapter of Luke before you move on to the next post. If you need additional information please click here)