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A Mormon perspective on the Jewish faith
I sat in stunned silence listening to a visiting Rabbi explain that many Jews today debate whether or not they are really a “chosen people.”
I know the Jews hold a special place in God’s heart. How do I know this? The Book of Mormon. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) have a unique perspective of our brothers and sisters of different lands and faiths. But in large part, the LDS affection and bond with our Jewish brothers and sisters seems to have gone unnoticed.
In the Book of Mormon, God speaks to prophets on the American continent as he did to those in ancient Israel. He tells us that the world will largely reject our modern book of scripture, saying that no more “Bible” is necessary.
God points out that the Bible was written and recorded by Jews. He confirms that the Jews are His ancient and covenant people, then asks if we thank them for our Bible. Answering his own question, he notes that the world has cursed and hated the Jews.
God warns us that he will hold us responsible for our actions with our Jewish brothers and sisters and states, “For I have not forgotten my people.” (2 Nephi 29:5)
During the rabbi’s lecture, he explained that when the Babylonians destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and scattered the Jews, they lost their priesthood. This priesthood, which Latter-Day Saints believe was restored from God through the modern-day prophet Joseph Smith, was only sent to the Gentiles because the Jews (as a whole) rejected Jesus Christ. (See Romans chapter 15.) But the Levitical line of priesthood authority still belongs to the Jews.
So a bishop or branch president (sometimes referred to as a judge in Israel) is called to preside over wards and branches (congregations) of the LDS church only when a natural decedent of Aaron (or Jewish person) is not available. A Jewish man who joins our church is immediately called to preside over it! In essence, we are building temples and organizing congregations, preparing for the day when the Jews are converted to Jesus Christ and return to take their place, which the true God and his son Jesus Christ have prepared for them.
The prophet Ezekiel talked about two sets of scriptures in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 37:16, verse 19, he talks about the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph.
In ancient times, scriptures were written upon papyrus and rolled up as a scroll upon a stick of wood. We believe the stick of Judah is the Bible. The ancient Nephites, who came to the American continent, were descended from Joseph. God’s dealing with them was recorded in the Book of Mormon — the stick of Joseph. Ezekiel prophesied that they would be “one in thine hand.” Latter-Day Saints today use a bound book of scripture containing both of these important works.
LDS members be-lieve by joining the church we are, by adoption, now members of the House of Israel. We feel an inexpressible bond of joy and love with our Jewish brothers and sisters. We fight racism and hate of all kinds by teaching our children to be loving and kind to all God’s children, to be obedient to the commandments and respectful of other people’s faith. We teach our youth to be good citizens and good examples, to honor their parents and sustain the law.
We are far from perfect, but we are trying. And we have a message of hope and a beacon of light that we are happy to share with those who are ready to listen, learn, consider and pray about our message, particularly our Jewish brothers and sisters.
— Susan Wolf is a freelance writer who lives on Vashon.