The Book of Mormon
Those who call themselves Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, point to Ezekiel 37:15-20, Isaiah 29:11, and John 10:16 to prove that the Bible prophesied about the book of Mormon. Could you give me some insight into what these passages are talking about?
The verses you cited are the most common verses in the Bible that Mormonism uses to try to show that the coming of the book of Mormon was prophesied about. As you are undoubtedly aware, Mormonism contains many teachings which are contrary to what the Bible says, (e.g. Adam was our God and Father; Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost; men are not spiritually dead by nature in Adam; Lucifer was a spirit brother to Jesus). It also is full of teachings of which the Bible makes no mention, (e.g. their doctrine of celestial marriage; the Army of Redeemers).
However it is also interesting to note that many of Mormonism’s cardinal doctrines and teachings cannot be found in the book of Mormon either. For example, the book of Mormon does not speak of ‘baptism for the dead’; of celestial marriage; of progression to godhood; or of a host of other essential Mormon teachings, ordinances, and the like. These teachings are found in the subsequent writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and in the so-called other revelations given to them through their priesthood.
In truth, though the book of Mormon is by necessity honored by them, it is not their main source of faith and practice. Nor is the Bible. Their other books and writings are actually their main source of faith and practice. Mormons naturally deny this. However their doctrines, ordinances, and practices say otherwise.
In my experience with their doctrines the book of Mormon is primarily used by them as a tool to bridge the gap, so to speak, between the Bible and their other books like “Doctrine and Covenants” and the “Pearl of Great Price,” in which their essential doctrines and ‘gospel ordinances’ are to be found. And what they want converts to Mormonism to do is to pass from the Bible to their other books of revelation by going over the bridge that the book of Mormon functions as. Hence the last of their Articles of Faith states, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” With this statement they first of all pay lip-service to the Bible, while at the same time impugning the reliability of the Bible, since to them it has not been consistently ‘translated correctly.’ By so saying, they also conveniently leave themselves the ability to discard, disregard, and/or adjust any of its teachings that they don’t like, or that they want to adjust to say something different, by simply saying that a particular statement, or verse, or passage in the Bible has not been properly translated. They then translate it, or interpret it, in such a way as fits their needs. So though this particular Article of Faith professes the Bible to be the word of God, it does not state this to be so unreservedly.
However no such reservation is made in connection with the book of Mormon. This, the Article states, is simply “the word of God,” with no question as to whether it is translated correctly or not. And later on the reason for this becomes apparent when the book of Mormon is used to move a convert’s confidence away from what the Bible says, to what the book of Mormon says, and then to move it ultimately to what their books of other revelations have to say. The Bible is honored by them; the book of Mormon is revered by them; but their other books of revelations are what are actually believed and followed.
Nevertheless the book of Mormon is essential to Mormonism. And as such it goes to great lengths to persuade people that the Bible prophesies about its coming; that it is ‘another testament of Jesus Christ’; and that it is the testament of Jesus Christ that not only pertains to those in the Americas, but to all men, seeing that (as they teach) it contains the “everlasting gospel in its fulness” and Mormonism is the only “True church on the earth.”
Now with respect to the verses and passages in the Bible that Mormonism uses to promote the book of Mormon, an honest handling of them in their particular contexts makes it plain and clear that they do not say what Mormonism says they say. (However Mormonism is not counting on anyone handling the verses honestly within their contexts. It doesn’t do this itself, and it figures others will not do so, or be able to do so.) So by paying attention to their contexts, and by paying attention to the outworking of God’s program and dealings with Israel, the following briefly and simply sets forth what the verses are talking about.
Re: Ezekiel 37:15-20 — The immediate context of this passage, along with the overall context of the outworking of God’s program with Israel, make it plain and clear that “the stick” that is written upon with the words “For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions” is not the Bible, and “the stick” that is written upon with the words “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for the children of Israel his companions” is not the book of Mormon. Nor does the joining of them “one to another into one stick” in Ezekiel’s hand prophesy about the Bible and the book of Mormon becoming the combined word of God in the latter days.
This is basically what Mormonism teaches, but the context forbids any such interpretation. For the context itself interprets what God “meanest by these” in verses 18-25ff, and it is plain and clear what they mean in the interpretation that it gives.
As verses 18-25 set forth, the “sticks” with the names of the two particular tribes of Israel written on them, along with the reference to the other tribes that became “companions” of either Judah or Joseph/Ephraim, represent the “two nations” “divided into two kingdoms” that the whole nation of Israel had become following the death of Solomon. As I Kings earlier on recorded, the whole nation was divided into two nations, and two kingdoms, after Solomon’s death. This was done in accordance with bringing upon Israel the Second Course of Punishment belonging to the Law covenant, which is set forth and described in Levitcus 26.
Now in the latter part of Ezekiel’s prophesies God is setting before Israel how it is that He will deliver them from all of the effects of the Law’s Courses of Punishment that they have brought upon themselves by their failure to keep that covenant. This God will do when He culminates His program and dealings with Israel, establishing them in their promised land and establishing His kingdom on this earth with them in their land. And in connection with rectifying the effects of the Courses of Punishment, specifically in Ezekiel 37:15ff God is prophesying about the issue of reversing the division of the nation that took place when the Second Course of Punishment was brought upon Israel.
As verse 22 makes plain, the two “sticks” represent the two nations, two kingdoms, status that Israel possesses as the result of Levitcus 26. But in putting the two sticks together into one stick, it illustrates for the whole house of Israel the reversal of this status. God is going to reverse the effects of Leviticus 26 and “make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.”
The prophecy and meaning of the two sticks is self-interpreting in verses 18-25. And as such it is blatantly obvious that what Mormonism says about it is a deliberately corrupt and false interpretation. What Mormonism says is of their own concoction. It is a lie that is dishonestly forced on the passage, and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the immediate context, or with the doctrinal role of Ezekiel’s prophecies in the outworking of God’s program and dealings with Israel.
Re: Isaiah 29:11 — According to Mormon publications, this verse is cited to substantiate the book of Mormon being the word of God because the book of Mormon is said by them to be “the sealed book of Isaiah, chapter 29, which it quotes and interprets.”
However as a careful reading of verse 29 shows, God through Isaiah is not talking about a book, or producing a book. Rather He is talking about a “vision of all” that He has given to Israel, which He says to Israel is “become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed,…” In other words, a particular “vision” that God has given to Israel becomes unto them “as the words of a book that is sealed”; i.e. though the “vision” is given unto them, it is like a “book that is sealed,” and as such they are not going to be able to understand it, even though they possess it and read it.
Therefore the issue in the verse is not the existence of a book, or the producing of a book, or the coming of a book. Instead the issue is the particular “vision of all” that God has given to Israel; and the “vision” is being likened unto “a book that is sealed.” Again there is no ‘sealed book.’ The issue of a ‘sealed book’ is only used in the verse as an analogy for the fact that Israel would not be able to understand the meaning of the “vision” that God gave to them through Isaiah.
Now “the vision of all” that the verse refers to is “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah,” just as Isaiah 1:1 declares that Isaiah wrote about. And as Isaiah 6:9ff previously set forth; and as Isaiah 29:9-10 states immediately before verse 11; God was going to judicially blind Israel so that they could not understand Isaiah’s “vision” right away. And as the context belonging to both of these passages relates, God would do this because of Israel’s apostasy. And it would not be until after He proceeded to do “a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder” by which He dealt with “the wisdom of their wise men” and “the understanding of their prudent men,” that God would lift the judicial blindness from off of Israel and they could understand Isaiah’s “vision.”
The “marvelous work” that God would perform was the cross work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and once it was accomplished God lifted the judicial blindness off of Israel, just as He said He would do and just as the opening chapters of the book of Acts testifies.
This is what Isaiah 29:11 is talking about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the coming of another book from God called the book of Mormon, (or called anything else for that matter), by which the Bible would be properly interpreted.
Re: John 10:16 — According to Mormon publications, “the promise concerning ‘other sheep’ was realized by the appearance of Christ to the Nephites,” and it is the book of Mormon that testifies to this. However God’s program with Israel says that John 10:16 means something else.
God had already identified the “other sheep” when He prophesied in Ezekiel about coming to “search my sheep, and seek them out”; when He prophesied about He Himself being “the good shepherd” in contrast to “the shepherds of Israel” who have been cruel to the Lord’s flock; and when He prophesied about setting up “one shepherd” over them when they are no more “two nations.” In Ezekiel 34 God begins prophesying about these things and begins describing His actions as Israel’s “good shepherd.” Then in chapter 37, (where we have already noted that He describes reversing the “two nations” judgment of the Second Course of Punishment of Leviticus 26), God goes on to describe how when all Israel is no longer “two nations” but “one nation in the land,” that at that time “they all shall have one shepherd.” The nation therefore will no longer be “two nations” with two folds of sheep.
So then in view of this prophecy, the Lord in the opening portion of John 10 is describing those aspects of His ‘shepherd ministry’ that were in effect at that time in accordance with the fulfillment of Ezekiel 34. But as He said in verse 16, “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.” In accordance with Ezekiel 37, those “other sheep” are the sheep belonging to Joseph/Ephraim and the house of Israel his companions, who are also known in the Gospel accounts as the Samaritans.
These “other sheep” were not being dealt with at the same time as the rest of the sheep of Israel, because God had said that He would deal with Jerusalem and Judea first. The “other sheep” are the Samaritans, and in perfect accordance with the prophesied outworking of God’s program with Israel the time would come in the program when these “other sheep” would be called. But not until the sheep of Jerusalem and Judea were dealt with first.
So then these are the issues that are being spoken about in these three particular passages. It is plain and clear from their respective contexts, and from the outworking of God’s program with Israel, that what Mormonism teaches from these passages is not only false, but a deceitful lie.
– K.R. Blades