Seeing They See Not
After Jesus gave the parable of the sower his disciples came to him and asked: “Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, BUT TO THEM IT IS NOT GIVEN. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: But whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore, I speak to them in parables: because SEEING THEY SEE NOT; and hearing they hear not neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matt 13:11-18
Many people have the idea that Jesus taught in parables to make it easy for the common people to understand what he was talking about, but here he clearly tells us that the purpose of the parable was to give a surface meaning which would make people think they see and understand, yet the real meaning would lie concealed, which real meaning is one of the “Mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Thus the people say “I see”, but see not. They say “I understand”, but they understand not just as Isaiah prophesied would be the case.
For some strange reason everyone who reads the Bible today believes that they are much smarter than the common people in the days of Jesus. They read the parables over, and also many other sayings of Jesus, and they say “I see, I see,” yet they see not. They see no more than did the common people at the days of Jesus. If this is so then what are the mysteries hidden in the sayings of Jesus and who can find them out?
Actually, many of the deeper interpretations were never written down in Jesus’s lifetime, but were passed down orally to those who were ready for the deeper doctrines and there were many things that were not even revealed to the apostles. Jesus said: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” John 16:12
Joseph Smith had a similar problem to Jesus in that he could not relate all that he knew. One time he said: “The design of the great God in sending us into this world, and organizing us to prepare us for eternal worlds, I shall keep in my own bosom at present.” DHC 5:403 He also said “It is not always wise to relate all truth.” DHC 6:608. Clearly, he followed this philosophy for when he was at one time expounding on some parables he was asked: “What is the meaning of the scripture, ‘He that is faithful over a few things shall be made ruler over many; and he that is faithful over many, shall be made ruler over many more?’ What is the meaning of the parable of the ten talents? Also the conversation with Nicodemus ‘Except a man be born of water and of the spirit?’ were questions put to me which I shall not answer at present.” DHC 5:325.
Why would not Joseph explain simple things like the parable of the talents and the conversation with Nicodemus? After all do not church members often hear the meaning expounded in Sunday school??? It’s obvious, isn’t it, that there are deeper meanings than that which we hear in the 2 1/2 minute talks. Let us see if we can find some of them out.
Nicodemus, we are told, was a ruler of the Jews. He was curious about Jesus, but since Jesus was condemned by the general authorities of the day he did not dare visit with him openly so he went secretly “by night.” He acknowledged to Jesus that he must be sent from God and Jesus told him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the SECOND TIME into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-5
Most of us are familiar with the orthodox interpretation of the above scripture. That is: To be born again means to be baptized which is a symbol of a new birth. This is also the meaning of being born of water. Being born of the spirit refers to receiving the Holy Ghost. This interpretation is well and good, but it CANNOT be the meaning that Joseph Smith refused to reveal, because the above orthodox meaning was already abroad in the church and was by no means a secret. Obviously, there is more than one meaning.
The key to understanding the writings of the prophets is to discern the manner in which they were written and that is this: God inspired all his holy teachers to write their words in such a manner that there would be as many TRUE correspondences as possible. By having more than one true correspondence to each parable, story or scripture more than one truth could be communicated in one writing. There would be the surface correspondence for the masses and two or more deeper correspondences for those who “search the scriptures”. Where the scripture is not corrupted there is generally a numerical correspondence which is interesting to delve into, but serves no purpose in this writing.
Nephi understood this key to interpreting the scriptures: “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” I Nephi 19:23 By using the spirit and correspondences Nephi was able to write clear interpretations of a large portion of Isaiah. If correspondences can be accurately worked out we can generally feel safe with the meaning ascertained.
Nephi felt comfortable in relating the scriptures of Isaiah and others to his people because they correspond and not because the original intent of the writer was meant only for his people. All writings inspired by the Holy Ghost has multiple meanings and applications because a lower truth always corresponds with a higher one.
One meaning then of being born again to see the kingdom of God is a physical rebirth or reincarnation, for the kingdom was not established in the days of Jesus and was a future event which was prophesied of by Daniel: “And in the days of these kings (Ten kings – Rev 17:12) shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” Daniel 2:44 A further reading of the entire chapter will tell us that this applies to a literal physical kingdom where the righteous will rule the earth. Such a kingdom is not yet here so how will a righteous man who lived in the days of Jesus attain it? He would have to be born again (reincarnated) to actually see this peaceful kingdom in the flesh.
On the other hand, there is also a kingdom of God within the person spiritually born again so we see that at least two interpretations have correspondences here.
Besides this scripture there was one other that Joseph Smith refused to comment on in his day and that was the parable of the talents and the statement “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” Matt 25:21
Let us quote the parable in full and examine it more closely: “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord’s money. After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliverest unto me five talents: behold I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
“He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliverest unto me two talents: behold I have gained two other talents beside them. His Lord said unto him, hell done, good and faithful servant; thou hast teen faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
“Then he which had received the one talent came and said Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
“His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of His glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” Matt 25: 14-32.
There are a number of correct correspondences to this scripture and several of them have been successfully enumerated but let us examine the core meaning which is not generally elaborated. To help understand this more fully the reader should compare it to Luke 19:11-27. This should also be read before continuing.
We find here several important points. First, the fulfillment of the scripture pertains to the Lord’s second coming and second he is speaking to his servants on whom he bestowed the keys and authority of the kingdom. Quoting from Luke, the parable begins: “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. and he called his ten servants, and he delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:11-13
Here we find that one of the main reasons the Lord gave this parable was because his disciples thought that the physical kingdom was going to manifest in their day, but Jesus explained that the certain nobleman (who was himself) was going to a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. The far country is the abiding place of Jesus until his return. In that age Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world so he had to go away from the world to “receive for himself a kingdom”. How is he going to receive himself a kingdom away from the world?
When Jesus went to the far country he was alone among the perfected sons of God from humanity, but he was the “firstborn among many brethren.” Rom 8:29. As disciples became worthy they were received by Christ as an associate in this far country and personally trained by him. This is how he was to “receive for himself a kingdom and return”. One by one after his resurrection he received worthy brethren who were anointed to be kings and priests and began to form the nucleus of the kingdom to come. When his kingdom in the far country was large enough he would then return and rule the earth fulfilling the scripture: “For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: AND WE SHALL REIGN ON THE EARTH.” Rev 5:9-10
While Christ was building a kingdom in the far country he was also concerned with keeping a foothold in this world so he called a number of servants and commanded them to “Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:13
This was a difficult commandment for his little band of troops which was expected to be upheld for several thousand years for numerous incarnations. Of these he said: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out (of incarnation) and find pasture.” John 10:9
Concerning those who were not disciples, but were to be citizens we are told that they “hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, we will not have this man to reign over us.” Luke 19:14.
Thus it was. After Jesus left, his little flock tried to “occupy” with the true doctrine of the kingdom, but the world would not have it and they hated the true Christ and made up one of their own that they could outwardly love. So here we have a prophecy of the great apostasy. Even though the gospel was restored in part we find here that the apostasy will be mostly in effect until he comes. For instance we read that “the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; UNTIL THE ANCIENT OF DAYS CAME, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints POSSESSED THE KINGDOM.” Dan 7:21-22. Thus we see that the kingdom will not be established with the saints in possession until Christ and the Ancient of Days return.
“And it came to pass, that when he was returned, HAVING RECEIVED THE KINGDOM, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.” Luke 19:15
We see that when Christ returns he will have already received the kingdom in this far country, but his first priority is his servants. He wants to know what they have done with the talents he has given them. And what are the talents? The talents are the gifts of the Spirit and the keys and powers of God delegated to them. In other words, the Lord expects his servants to keep the oath and covenant of the priesthood and magnify their calling.
Magnifying our callings goes a lot deeper than most realize, yet an understanding is very important for we are told that “whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.” D&C 84:41
The Lord was angry with the slothful servant because he broke his commitments and did not magnify his calling. He may have been a Sunday School teacher, Bishop, and many other things, but if he merely upheld the status quo and tried only to do what was necessary in his office then that was not enough. The priesthood is separate from any office and this is what the servants are under covenant to magnify.
To understand how this is successfully done we must examine the faithful servants: We know they brought their master an increase, but an increase in what? Was it converts? No. For it was an increase in something the Lord gave them before he left and he left them virtually no converts. He explained that he gave them the talents to “occupy till I come”. In other words the talents include the power to occupy a foothold for the kingdom in the world. Jesus established a foothold through the power of his faith while he was here and he expected his disciples to continue with “greater works” while he was gone so that the foothold that he established would have an increase.
We find that the slothful servant hid up his talent because he was “afraid”. In other words, it was more because of fear than laziness that he did not magnify his calling. It’s quite possible that he was very busy making use of every minute of time, but in the wrong activity, that is an activity that did not require any courage for it takes great courage to try and magnify the foothold that Christ established on the earth and why is this? The parable itself explains: “But his citizens HATED him, and sent a message after him saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Luke 19:14. Jesus also explained: “Ye shall be hated of all men for my namesake.” Matt 10:22. This explains why the wicked servant was full of fear. He feared the persecution of the world by those who hate the true kingdom of Christ and desire the status quo instead. “Verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive.” D& C 67:3
To boldly go forth and establish a dominion for Christ on the earth always brings fear and persecution from the unprepared. This is why we always have those wicked servants among us who are afraid and want to water down the doctrine of Christ and say that Zion is only the pure in heart (of whom they claim to be) and that no literal gathering of Israel is necessary unless Jesus himself were to come do it for us.
On the other hand, those who magnify their calling will be given an increase in dominion, in other words “authority over ten cities”. Luke 19:17 It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith said that Zion was to be established by the building of “cities” and interestingly the faithful will soon have the opportunity to build communities of light.
Some will be given authority over more than cities for it is written: “But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto; the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” Rev 2:25-27
This is the reward of the righteous servant; to receive an increase in dominion, but before he can receive an increase he has to at least work toward establishing a dominion to begin with.
We are further told in the parable that if one is faithful over a few things he will be made ruler over many. The meaning of this is multifold. He who is faithful in using a few spiritual gifts will be made a master over many. He who is faithful in magnifying the small amount of power he has will be given a greater fullness. He who wisely disperses the knowledge he receives will be given hidden treasures. And finally he who works for the literal establishment of Zion will be given dominions over cities and more which he will rule, and finally eternal lives in the eternal worlds where he will eventually have share dominion over earths and various solar systems.
On the other hand, the reward of the wicked servant was to be cast “into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 25:30 The wicked servant will think that the Lord will receive him with opened arms but to his dismay he will discover merely rehashing a few old platitudes is not enough to satisfy the Lord, but “Precept MUST be added to precept.”
Finally the master will command: “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” Luke 19:27 There will be great disruption before the coming of the Lord but the scripture also refers to a mental destruction. Old worn out ideas and dogmas will be slain by the powerful words and reasoning of the Lord when he comes, as well as by his servants who will pave the way for him, A man clinging to one of the many fables that Paul prophesied that men would believe in will appear to be a fool when placed beside one who has the fullness of the Spirit and their reasoning will not be able to stand. They will not abide the brightness of his coming which comes as a bright light and a whirlwind of pure knowledge executed with wisdom.
We can also see from this parable that one needs to understand reincarnation for a full understanding for the servants will toil in the world until the Lord comes and the patterns they set with their works will follow them from lifetime to lifetime and eventually from world to world.
Copyright 1996 by J J Dewey