Ether chapter 13 establishes the fact that the first resurrection is composed of two tribal classifications of people that are saved through two distinct gospel covenants. The church refers to these two resurrections as the “morning of the first resurrection” and the “afternoon of the first resurrection”. You can read about them in Section 88:96-99
“And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.
And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh.”
It appears as if these two general groups are both a type of, and in fact represent descendants from the two ancient kingdoms that were led by those of Judah and Ephraim.
I would suggest that those mentioned in the 13th chapter of Ether as the “New Jerusalem” are redeemed through the “new” covenant that Christ initiated.
Saved by Grace through Faith vs. Works
From what I can determine, it appears as if the first group is saved by grace through faith in the name of Jesus Christ by accepting what the New Testament refers to as the New Covenant that Christ initiated through his sacrifice for all mankind.
It is also referred to as the “everlasting covenant” and the “fullness of the gospel” in various passages of scripture. This first group of saints are characterized in Ether as those “whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb”. Another distinction given them is that they “are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph who were of the house of Israel”. Ephraim and his fellows are of the seed of Joseph.
The second group is characterized as those that “have been washed in the blood of the Lamb” that have been saved under the fulfilling of the Old Testament “covenant that God made with their father, Abraham”.
The first group is associated with the remnant of Joseph, the father of Ephraim. The second are designated as the children of Abraham. These tribal distinctions are very important although the term children of Abraham is somewhat broad and vague and does not necessarily identify the second group as being from the House of Israel. However, there are additional scriptural keys in this chapter that provide more clarity.
Two other great keys to this thread are given in Ether. They are that the terrestrial children of Abraham are also from the house of Israel and both the resurrected inhabitants of the Old Jerusalem and the resurrected inhabitants of the city of the New Jerusalem both emerge in “This land” of America when they are redeemed and/or resurrected (Ether 13:4) (We know this because “there has been a type”, as previously discussed in this series (Ether 13:6-7)
At the time that both these two groups emerge, they have both been made clean and sanctified through the grace, mercy and justice of God and the atonement of Christ. Clearly there is no more enmity between them since both have become clean before the Lord.
Ephraim no longer has envy towards Judah and Judah no longer vexes Ephraim.
Indeed, Ephraim actually bestows blessings upon Judah when they come forth according to section 133. However, Judah does not come forth until after their pain.
And the Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh.
And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.
And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.
Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,
And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.
And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.
And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.
And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy.
Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows.
And they also of the tribe of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord, to dwell in his presence day and night, forever and ever.
Why must Judah experience pain?
Because they would not accept the grace through faith that is offered through the new covenant. They opted for the law of works and therefore had to suffer the demands of justice.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I..” D&C 19:16-17
The demands of justice require them to suffer for their own sins.
Where are the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem while Judah is experiencing their pain?
It appears that those of the morning of the first redemption are caught up into the cloud to descend with Christ at his coming while the rest of the inhabitants of the earth are judged according to men in the flesh and suffer the wrath of God on the earth. It appears as if some must suffer longer than others.
The Controversial Rapture Doctrine
Interestingly, Mormons very seldom speak about or teach about being caught up into the cloud to meet Christ at his coming. Protestants refer to this as the rapture.
Nevertheless, the “rapture” or “catching up” into the cloud to meet Christ at his coming is a very important and clearly documented part of LDS theology.
It is very curious that the rapture doctrine is not a major part of the Latter-day Saints consciousness, even among LDS prophecy scholars. (ironically, it probably does not apply to those of the apostate church who do not come out of her at the time of the first gathering, more on that later)
The New Testament clearly teaches about the rapture and Latter-day Saints accept the New Testament as scripture. Of course the word rapture actually never shows up in the King James Version of the Bible.
The word has been adopted in modern times by some evangelical Christians to refer to the “catching up” of the Saints to meet Christ in a cloud. Some Christian prophecy scholars point out that the word “Rapture”, in the context of eschatology, is an English noun derived from the Latin verb rapio, “caught up” or “taken away.” as found in the Vulgate rendering of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
The doctrine that the righteous saints shall be caught up to meet Christ in the clouds at his coming is clearly taught in the Bible.
Perhaps the most celebrated rapture scripture in the New Testament is as follows-
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thess. 4:15-18 see also 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29 , Revelation 20:1-5, Matthew 24:36-42)
Mormons accept the Old and New Testament as the word of God along with the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.
Interestingly, since the Doctrine and Covenants makes numerous declarations about the catching up of the Saints to meet Christ in the cloud, Mormons have significantly more rapture passages in their scriptures than Evangelical Christians do!
The Rapture Doctrine in Modern Revelation
Here are a few passages from Mormon scriptures that refer to the rapture doctrine-
“..be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. Amen.” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:18)
“..these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.” ( Doctrine and Covenants 76:102)
“And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.
And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:96-98)
The rapture doctrine is a very popular topic among many Christian prophecy groups as evidenced by the best-selling “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. In this 16 volume series they provide a dispensationalist interpretation of prophecies from the books of Revelation, Isaiah and Ezekiel.
Left Behind tells the story of the end times, in which the righteous have been “raptured,” up to Christ, leaving a shattered and chaotic world behind, which is eventually governed by the Antichrist who becomes the secretary-general of the United Nations.
A hot topic of debate between different Christian groups has to do with the timing of the rapture in relation to the last seven years tribulation that take place prior to Christ’s second coming in glory. Hence believers in the rapture are usually categorized into one of three groups; pretribulation, postribulation and midtribulation.
Joseph Smith taught the Raptue
According to the LDS seven volume history of the Church, Joseph Smith taught that-
“..all will be raised to meet him [Christ] but the righteous will remain with him in the cloud whilst all the proud and all that do wickedly will have to return to the earth, and suffer his vengeance which he will take upon them, this is the second death..”
The fact that latter day Judah never discusses and apparently does not believe in the rapture, even though it is discussed repeatedly in the scriptures they carry with them to church, is somewhat ironic since they apparently will not be participating in it. Rather, they will remain on the earth to be judged according to men in the flesh while those of the morning of the first resurrection are caught up in the cloud to descend with Christ at his coming.
Two Different and Distinct Gatherings
Since these two groups represent two different redemptions and glories based on two distinct gospel laws, it only makes sense that during the end times, they will not be gathered to the same place at the same time and therefore we should not be surprised to find that the narrative in section 133 supports this supposition. Notice the two separate gatherings that take place:
Prior to the above passages, section 133 makes it clear that those who are among the gentiles (Ephraim) and those of Judah, both gather to the land of Zion (America). It is after that general gathering to America that Ephraim and Judah are separated out to go to their own places of gathering.
Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.
And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about.
Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.
Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.
Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion.
And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord’s house.
Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon.
As you can see, the Ephraimite gentiles that repent, are gathered out first to Zion. Following that, those of Judah are gathered to the Mountain of the Lords House in Jerusalem which is in America, the land of the Abrahamic land covenant.
“Let them therefore” is an interesting phrase that applies to the directive of each group to go to their designated place of gathering. Does that imply the need for revelation from God’s servants dictating which tribal inheritance one must receive or does the phrase simply refer to the providence of God in motivating each group in their call to action? I suspect the later, but I don’t know for sure.
Ephraim is Gathered First
Clearly there is an order being revealed here. Those of and associated with Ephraim are gathered first. Those of and associated with Judah are gathered second. The same order is repeated at the time of redemption. Ephraim is redeemed first. Judah is redeemed second, after their pain.
From the passages in Ether, section 133, and other supporting scripture I am going to suggest that it is Ephraim/Gentiles that are designated in the 13 chapter of Ether that will ultimately wear white garments when finally redeemed and it is Judah/House of Israel that will be washed in the blood of the Lamb when redeemed.
Thankfully, the vexing and envying has ceased between these two tribes after they are both redeemed.
But is it possible that Ephraim, after all of those years of being vexed by Judah, actually play a part in the redemption of Judah?
In part 4 we shall review the part that Ephraim plays in the redemption of Judah, despite the vexing that had taken place.
Keep watching and please try not to vex or envy anyone.