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spamlds posted a topic in LDS Gospel DiscussionThis is an article I wrote for the Examiner a few years ago. I mentioned the evacuation to Pella in a thread earlier this evening and I thought some readers might want some more info. I hope this cuts-and-pastes from the Examminer OK. If not, the original article is found here: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-evacuation-to-pella-the-value-of-continuing-modern-revelation The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, by David Roberts (1850).David Roberts (1850). In Matthew 24, we read the prophecy of Jesus Christ against Jerusalem, uttered in 33 A.D. Because the Jewish nation, particularly its religious leaders, had rejected Jesus, he knew that a terrible judgment would come upon them. The astonishing specificity of the fulfillment of this prophecy was recorded by Josephus after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. I would like to use this prophecy to illustrate the relative limitations of written scripture compared to current revelation from living oracles in our day. The passage in Matthew 24 addresses questions posed by the disciples of Christ after Jesus prophesied the utter destruction of the Jewish Temple. They inquired, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world." There are three distinct concerns they have: 1) When will the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple occur, 2) What is the sign of the Second Coming , 3) and the end of the world. Thus this prophecy has as much to do with the last days as it did with the preservation of the Church in the fall of Jerusalem. After the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus, the gospel spread throughout the Middle East and eventually into faraway lands. Some of the apostles and other church leaders were martyred. The first of the gospels were written perhaps as early as 54-59 A.D. The early Church would have had the Jewish canon (which was still not finalized and wouldn't be until the Council of Jamnia in 90 A.D) and other texts considered sacred like the Book of Enoch. Various epistles and apocalyptic books were also circulated, but the New Testament wouldn't be constituted until the fourth century With that understanding, we can acknowledge that the ancient Church had a body of written scripture, although it was not, and would not be completely formalized for some time. It was guided by living revelators who had authority from Jesus himself. The Church of Jesus Christ had apostles and prophets for its foundation, with Jesus being the chief cornerstone. The Bible as we know it was not available to them. However, the Jews who rejected Christ believed they had all the revelation they needed for that day and for future needs. They had a closed canon of scripture, though it would be several decades before it was finalized and the last of the disputed texts rooted out and discarded. Certainly, someone had written down the prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem before the Gospel of Matthew was written, which most scholars believe was between 70-100 A.D. Even with the written word, there was no date, nor time specified when Jesus said his followers should flee Jerusalem. It is apparent that the center of the Church remained at Jerusalem until just shortly before its destruction. However, the believers escaped while some two million Jews in Jerusalem perished in the siege and battles, and some 97,000 carted off as slaves. How did the Christians know when to flee? In 325 A.D., Eusebius, commenting upon Josephus' account of the destruction Jerusalem, marveled that the Savior's prophecy in ever aspect was fulfilled so literally and completely. Josephus gives his assessment that the reason for God's judgment upon Jerusalem was because the Jews had succumbed to false messianic movements and clandestine groups of robbers that preyed on Romans and Jews alike. These analogs to the secret combinations described in the Book of Mormon are uncanny. Josephus also said it was the Jews' own confidence in their written scriptures that made them overly confident that God would deliver them, though they were steeped in wickedness and false, corrupt religious traditions: An "ambiguous oracle, likewise found in their sacred scriptures" was the cause of their pride, arrogance, and overconfidence. Does this not describe the attitude of modern Christendom, who use the Bible to determine who is saved and who is not, who is Christian and who is not? Like the ancient Jews who used their scriptures to reject Jesus and his apostles, so do modern "scribes and Pharisees" among Christian sects base their rejection of living prophets and apostles based on their man-made creeds and errant Bible interpretations. The very nature of written scripture makes it an "ambiguous oracle" subject to the interpretations of uninspired men. "...what more than all else incited them to the war was an ambiguous oracle, likewise found in their sacred scriptures , to the effect that at that time one from their country would become ruler of the world. This they understood to mean someone of their own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their interpretation of it." (Josephus, The Jewish War, trans. H. St. J. Thackeray, Harvard University Press, 1976, 111: 351—354. Vol. I—III, published in 1976; Volumes IV—VII published in 1979.) "Thus it was," said Josephus, "that the wretched people were deluded at that time by charlatans and pretended messengers of the deity." Yet, "as if thunderstruck and bereft of eyes and mind, [they] disregarded the plain warnings of God." The Jews had embraced false teachers and false messiahs who led them to their destruction. What were the plain warnings of God that came to them? It was these warnings that preserved the Christian Church in Jerusalem from utter destruction. Let's examine how those warnings arrived. Eusebius tells us: "...the people of the church at Jerusalem, in accordance, with a certain oracle that was vouchsafed by way of revelation to approved men there, had been commanded to depart from the city before the war, and to inhabit a certain city of Peraea. They called it Pella. And when those who believed in Christ had removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had utterly deserted both the royal metropolis of the Jews itself and the whole land of Judaea, the justice of God then visited upon them all their acts of violence to Christ and His apostles, by destroying that generation of wicked persons root and branch from among men. (Eusebius: The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, III.7.6 trans. Hugh Jackson Lawlor and John Ernest Leonard Oulton, London, S.P.C.K., 1954, p. 74.) The body of the Christian Church, which believed in living prophets were warned by revelation to "approved men" to relocate to a safe place. This is the function of the priesthood of God in the Church then and now. In 375 A.D., Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, wrote of the nature of this warning the Church received: "For when the city was about to be captured and sacked by the Romans, all the disciples were warned beforehand by an angel to remove from the city, doomed as it was to utter destruction. On migrating from it they settled at Pella , the town already indicated, across the Jordan . It is said to belong to Decapolis " Four years before the sacking of Jerusalem, an angel of God was sent to the living revelators in the Church of Jesus Christ, to tell the saints specifically when to flee and to where they must gather in order to survive. Every latter-day saint is familiar with the procedure. Men, called by prophecy and the laying on of hands, who serve without salary, possessing the gifts of the Spirit of God, are among us today who receive these warnings from God for our time. The destruction of Jerusalem is a type and shadow of things to come. In a day when men's hearts will fail them, when destruction threatens all people, those who follow a God to whom they have denied utterance, will parse scripture passages, seeking a place of escape and safety. They will wonder why no "Rapture" has lifted them up from the tribulation at hand. They will vainly seek to command in the name of Jesus, only to be overcome by the events of the times. In the midst of all this, a group of believers, who follow a line of living prophets, descending from Joseph Smith in the 19th century to the present day, will receive timely warnings, instructions, counsel, and commandments to prepare. Inasmuch as they follow those warnings, they will prevail as did the saints who escaped the destruction of Jerusalem. There is a world of difference between an "ambiguous oracle" of scriptures interpreted at the hands of people who say God is mute and will never speak again and the "more sure word of prophecy" to "approved men" who hold the keys of the kingdom of God on earth. This is the difference between the limitations of ancient, written scriptures and the power of current, modern day revelation to unambiguous, living oracles. Among the various sects of Christendom, only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by living apostles and prophets of the Lord Jesus Christ today.