Hello! Shalom! Aloha! Mabuhay!

If this is your first visit to Modern Apocrypha, I have only two recommendations for continuing on with minimal confusion:

1) Please begin with the first introductory post (found HERE) and work your way forward. Almost all the posts on this blog flow chronologically and will make more sense with the background and context of previous ones. Jumping in anywhere might be disorienting.

2) Please read along in the texts posted off to the right. I try not to summarize too much in the commentary and discussion, and being at least somewhat familiar with what we're discussing or I'm commenting on will be most beneficial and edifying for all involved. Plus, going along with the theme of this blog, any hidden truths to be brought to light will be found within the text itself and not necessarily within my ramblings.

Okay, fine, three recommendations:

3) Please read with an open heart, mind, and spirit. See what truths you can find in these works--ones which speak to you. Namaste : )

Thursday, July 28, 2016


All who desired to join their church, meaning their tribe, were adopted so they might be one family and unified in all things. I love that truth, that the church (with a lowercase "c", meaning the collective body of Christ's disciples) is a family--Christ's family--and should be unified in all things. That is the essence of Zion -- to live as a family in righteousness and peace, follow the Spirit at all times, and be unified and equal in all things (see Moses 7:18).

The children born into their tribe-church, whether born to Suran's descendants or those previously adopted, didn't need the rite of adoption. In LDS terms, they were "born in the covenant." However, children of parents who were unbelieving or less-than-faithful to the Law were adopted in so they could receive a portion of their inheritance. This process of adoption is the grafting of wild or broken branches into the covenant tree, using the favored analogy of the Lord and prophets throughout the ages.

Adoptions were performed by washing with water, referring to a baptism or other sort of ritual washing, and laying on of hands. After washing, the adoptee would be taken by a priest into the inner walled court where they would meet one of the patriarchs of Suran's tribe: Ahkman, Shurak, Kodal, or Gura's husband. Water taken from the temple basin was put into a "sado" and then sprinkled on the head of the adoptee and patriarch. (I'm not sure what a "sado" is, and it seems Elisha might not have either, since the original term isn't translated. It appears to be some sort of small container.) The priest then grasps the heads of both--the patriarch in his right, the adoptee in his left--with his thumb in the center of their foreheads (an interesting specification), and pronounces their union and binding (i.e., sealing) as father and child. One last thing that I just realized is that, physically speaking, it's much easier to place the thumbs correctly when the two being bound are kneeling or sitting facing each other. It's more awkward to contort the arms, hands, and thumbs into place with them facing the priest.

In the next post, we'll discuss how the early LDS Church performed similar ordinances of adoption by sealing individuals to "patriarchs" like Joseph Smith and others, which differed from the modern practice of sealing individuals to their lineal parents.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


The population of the people of Suran continues to expand, so they begin to build cities in all the region round about the temple. Ahkman lists these cities, but they seem to be in an odd order. The first ones are mentioned after the location of the temple, and the last are said to be close to Katagan on the north coast. So it appears these cities are listed in a rough hierarchy or order of distance from the temple, which is in the city of Suran at the far southwest of their land. The north "suburbs" are Set, Abrahama, and Zedek (note the Biblical names), and the east ones are Garal and Bori. The next rung is comprised of Lisayja to the northeast, Yapinyat to the north, and Srindam in the east. The final "outliers" near Katagan are Batas in the north and the city of the Tower in the east, which... has a big tower. Note that there are no cities to the south or west, probably due to geographical or political boundaries, such as mountains, ocean, tribal territories, etc. (My current thoughts are mountains to the west and other tribes to the south.)

Ahkman quickly mentions the seven primary rites they'd been commanded by the Lord in the records to perform at the temple, and all were required to comply so as to be obedient to God. (I wonder how they walked the line of requirement without falling into compulsion -- probably following the same principles laid out at the end of D&C 121.) These ordinances are Washing, Adoption, Sacrifices, the Teaching, Marriage, Ordination, and Healing. We'll delve into these specifically in the next few chapters, but each should be easily recognizable to LDS readers. (Remember. the modern endowment ceremony has been highly condensed down from the original several-hours-long ordinance full of teachings, lectures, and discussions. The ordinance of adoption, as practiced during Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's time, also has been discontinued.)


Ahkman rewinds a bit and recounts the construction of their temple, which followed blueprints found in the Great Scroll (and similar to those found in the Ezekiel selection). His people built it with the best materials they could acquire and decorated it with bamboo, narra ("Philippine mahogany", the national tree), gold, silver, and beautiful stones.

They started with the Most Holy Place and built the Holy Place east of it. On the doors between these two rooms were engraved two trees (similar to Solomon's temple), symbolizing the Edenic Trees of Life and the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was also a gated antechamber east of the Most Holy Place (a liminal space between levels) protected by a sword-wielding guard (representing the cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden and Tree of Life). (From the description, it's not 100% clear if the guarded antechamber is between the two rooms or to the east of them both. It sounds like the guard was for the Most Holy Place, but Solomon's temple had a similar walled porch or court to the east of the Holy Place.) This entire complex, the House, was a single building.

To the east of the House was built two pillars (again similar to Solomon's temple), one of bronze, the other of brick on which were written the most important parts of the law. There's too much discussion by Jewish scholars on the significance and symbolism of Solomon's pillars to post here (you can Google it and explore for yourself ; ), but preserving the law in writing upon the pillars is intriguing. There are Jewish and Masonic traditions about antediluvian descendants of Adam's son, Seth, who, knowing the world would be destroyed by fire or water, recorded principles of their learning and knowledge on two pillars of brick and stone, hoping at least one would survive the catastrophe.

To the east of the House were two walled courts, one containing the bronze basin (or laver in KJV speak) for ritual washing, the other housed the altar of sacrifice made from unhewn stone in the ancient tradition. As with Solomon's temple, it's unclear their position relative to each other. Depictions of Solomon's temple have the altar and basin side by side on a N-S line, aligned E-W between the gate and the temple, or the altar centered along that E-W line and the basin offset.

Round about the House and two walled courts was the upper court, and around that was the lower court, which were finished in an identical manner. Within the walls of these two courts were two "pedestals", one each on the east and west ends. I'm not sure what these pedestals could be. Maybe they were to hold sacred objects, or they could simply be referring to stairways between the courts. There were also chambers along the north and south walls of the courts (we'll see uses of these later), and to the east of the lower court was a gated vestibule (another liminal space).

Using my exceptional Excel skills, here's one possible depiction of the plan of Ahkman's temple complex:
Ahkman approves the construction of their beautiful temple, and they take the sacred writings and artifacts from the Cave of Treasures and store them in the Most Holy Place. (Were there small storage rooms or shelves, or was it just a big stereotypical pile of hoarded treasure? ; ) They also keep the people's own treasures within the rooms along the courtyard walls. (Did this act like a bank or just a safe deposit system?)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


This post won't get into the validity of prayer circles, which are well attested anciently, or the ritual of "veritable prayer" as Ahkman calls it, though they are closely tied to the present subject. (Quinn's article on LDS prayer circles is a good place to start from an LDS perspective, or much of Nibley's work in ancient religion for that matter ; ) Those practices are perpetuated today within Mormonism (though to a lesser degree than in previous times), however, the family altar around which prayers are offered is not. It has become one of many ubiquitous early Mormon practices that have slowly fallen out of sight, and thus favor, via cultural evolution and extinction of collective knowledge. (A good portion of the following quotes were found at this By Common Consent post on family altars.)

During and after the Nauvoo period, group prayer circles conducted in public and in private were common occurrences. In a talk at the Nauvoo temple site in 1845, George A. Smith recounted:
When we come together and unite our hearts and act as one mind, the Lord will hear us and will answer our prayers.... Whenever [we] could get an opportunity [we] retired to the wilderness or to an upper room, [we] did so and were always answered. It would be a good thing for us every day and pray to God in private circles.
When Brigham Young led the Saints west, he carried the practice forward where prayer circles were conducted in various buildings, including the Lion House, the Salt Lake Endowment House, and stake and ward buildings, to receive the Lord's will concerning various Church and family affairs. Members at this time were encouraged to have prayer circles in their homes if they, like other Church buildings, were dedicated by the priesthood to the Lord and possessed an altar for prayer. In 1855, Brigham Young preached on the importance of prayer in family circles:
Again, suppose a family wish to assemble for prayer, what would be orderly and proper? For the head of the family to call together his wife, or wives, and children, except the children who are too small to be kept quiet, and when he prays aloud, all present, who are old enough to understand, should mentally repeat the words as they fall from his lips; and why so? That all may be one.... There are times and places when all should vocally repeat the words spoken, but in our prayer meetings and in our family circles let every heart be united with the one who takes the lead by being mouth before the Lord, and let every person mentally repeat the prayers, and all unite in whatever is asked for, and the Lord will not withhold, but will give to such persons the things which they ask for and rightly need.
Wilford Woodruff recorded an 1858 visit to Brigham Young's home and his understanding of the family altar in such prayers:
I attended the prayer meeting in the evening. President Young said the family altar was the same as an altar in the prayer circle. It is for parents and children to join hands over the altar and pray.
Early on in 1846, Brigham Young recorded the dimensions of the Nauvoo temple altar, after which these early family altars were patterned:
The altar is about two and one-half feet high and two and one-half feet long and about one foot wide, rising from a platform about 8 or 9 inches high and extending out on all sides about a foot, forming a convenient place to kneel upon. The top of the altar and the platform for kneeling upon are covered with cushions of scarlet damask cloth; the sides of the upright part or body of the altar are covered with white linen.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the central nature of the family altar in family prayer was consistently preached from the pulpit and in Church periodicals. In 1881, Joseph F. Smith taught:
It is absolutely necessary that the Latter-day Saints should come together in the family capacity, and kneeling around the family altar, call upon God for his blessings morning and evening.
Later that year, John H. Smith also references the family altar in teaching the importance of family prayer:
Now, I am sanguine that there are many who call themselves Latter-day Saints, who have neglected their duty in this respect, and many a son is permitted to grow to manhood, whose father has never asked him to bow with them at the family altar. This is a serious neglect upon the part of those who have named the name of Jesus, who have come up to these mountains to be taught in the ways of the Lord.
Sometimes, it seems, prayer at the family altar became very regimented among certain members. Men tended to usurp the prayer duties, leaving women and children out of the ritual. In 1899, George Q. Cannon spoke in general conference on the matter:
I will say here that we should give our wives and children the opportunity to pray in the family circle. There are men who think that unless they pray the Lord does not hear the prayer, and they are in the habit of doing all the praying in their families.... We should ask our wives and our daughters to pray. Let them do some of the praying in the family.... Brethren, do not get the idea that the Lord will not hear your wives and daughters. He does hear them, and He hears our little children. I would give them the opportunity as soon as they are old enough, to ask a blessing, and to pray around the family altar, and to ask for the things that are in their hearts.
In 1905, Hyrum M. Smith promoted the use of the family altar as a means of spiritual self sufficiency:
You should not feel to complain, even though one of the Twelve, or the First Council of Seventy, or even the First Presidency, find it impossible to be with you. You should read the word of the Lord from the books, and kneeling down around the family altar, you should commune with the Lord and ask Him for wisdom, judgment and enlightenment. You should depend more upon Him and less than some of us do upon those who constitute the authorities of the church.
It's not certain when altars began to wane in the Mormon home. The 1926 Improvement Era included instructions for Mutual Improvement Association Home Study that included reference to the family altar but noted that the kitchen table had become more prominent. In 1973, Hartman Rector, Jr. became the last to utter the phrase "family altar" in general conference as he described how "the temple became a 'heavenly family house,' the sealing room became a 'heavenly family room,' and the altar of the temple became a 'heavenly family altar'" as men and women are joined across it and "made 'one,' a family in the Lord."

The following chart depicts the relative frequency (not actual count) by decade of the phrase "family altar" in LDS general conference talks. This serves as a good proxy for its prominence within LDS communal knowledge and practice. (Data was taken from Corpus of LDS General Conference Talks, one of my favorite tools over the past couple years. Check it out! : )

There has never been official Church counsel against or authorized prohibition of prayer altars within Mormon homes. The practice seems to have just faded into oblivion and has now become associated with fundamentalists and apostates. The closest thing affecting the Church at a local level and tangentially related to family altars is a 1978 letter from the First Presidency to bishops and stake presidents discontinuing special ward or stake prayer circles previously held in temples or ward, stake, or other buildings. Designated rooms for those practices in local buildings were thereafter repurposed.

One final quote from the LDS Bible Dictionary: "Only the home can compare with the sacredness of the Temple." This seems to be echoed in Ahkman's instructions to his people.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Ahkman continues to teach the people about the various required sacrifices described in the Great Scroll and that they should now return to the temple to begin offering them. He also perpetuates the distinctions between the families that Suran established, with Ahkman as high priest, Shurak as king, and Kodal as prophet, and this division of labor would continue along these familial lines. Ahkman's family alone would now take on the responsibility of administering in the temple and church. Surely, just as Suran passed on his patriarchal priesthood, the children of Shurak, Kodal, and Gura had access to the conferral of the same, but only Ahkman's line was ordained to offices within the Order of God and given ecclesiastical authority to perform temple rites and minister in the church.

Ahkman also discusses baptism, saying that God has commanded all people to be baptized by immersion to signify they follow the example of Christ and as a type of His own baptism to fulfill all righteousness.

He then closes his discourse requesting each family build an altar in their home similar to that found within the temple. It is to be in a designated sacred place apart from the world around which they will gather in "veritable prayer" (i.e., true order) to God. The dimensions of this altar are ~40.5 x 18 x 40.5"  (L x W x H), and it sits on a ~76.5 x 54 x 22.5" block on which those praying kneel while facing the altar. This notion of prayer altars within the home should not be a novel idea nor come as a surprise to LDS readers. We'll see why in the next post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


aklatan sons of levi

Since the people of the Aklatan claim descent from Levi, built a temple wherein they performed sacrifices and other ordinances according to their scriptures, and prophesied of another temple built by their descendants before the third Jerusalem temple, I thought it would be interesting to visit the Lord's prophecies and other prophetic teachings concerning the "sons of Levi" and sacrifice in the last days.

Malachi prophesied:
And [the Lord] shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3; 3 Nephi 24:3; see also D&C 128:24)
John the Baptist told Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery:
Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. (D&C 13:1; JSH 1:69)
Joseph Smith expanded on Malachi in a 21 March 1841 funeral sermon:
Yes brethren, the Lord will purify the sons of Levi, good or bad, for it is through them that blessings flow to Israel, and as Israel once was baptized in the cloud and in the sea, so shall God, as a refiner's fire and a fuller's soap, purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and as silver, and then, and not till then, shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord as in days of old and as in former years. (punctuation added)
The Lord taught Joseph Smith when He asked the Nauvoo temple to be built:
Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations,... are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. (D&C 124:39)
Wilford Woodruff recorded on 18 Dec 1857 Brigham Young's plans for a room in the Salt Lake Temple to be used for animal sacrifices:
Under the pulpit in the west [Aaronic priesthood] end will be a place to offer sacrifices. There will be an altar prepared for that purpose so that when any sacrifices are to be offered, they should be offered there.
In Joseph Smith's only known written discourse on 5 Oct 1840, he taught:
Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that He talked with [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which he blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice, which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord....
The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice by the servants of the Most High in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses; which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings.
Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness. It is true that the Savior had authority and power to bestow this blessing; but the sons of Levi were too prejudiced.... Why send Elijah? Because he holds the Keys of the Authority to administer in all the ordinances of the priesthood and without the authority as given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.
These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the Prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses' day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.
So what do we learn from these passages?
The Lord will purify Levi's latter-day descendants so they can participate in the final restoration of the Patriarchal priesthood, offer righteous sacrifices, bless the house of Israel, and redeem Judah and Jerusalem. The lesser or preparatory Aaronic priesthood will then be removed at that time, with only the higher priesthood remaining.

The Lord's temples are places where all ordinances pertaining to the higher priesthood are to be performed. One of those higher ordinances requested by the Lord to be performed in the Nauvoo temple (or any of His temples) were sacrifices in memorial of those performed by the sons of Levi. (None ever were.) And Brigham Young planned for the performance of the same in the Salt Lake Temple. (None ever were there, either.) If sacrifice, then, is an ordinance that accompanies the fulness of the Priesthood, the complete priesthood as was had among the Patriarchs was not exercised in Nauvoo and is not currently exercised among the general body of any Judeo-Christian denomination.)

The Patriarchs obtained their priesthood keys directly from God by His declaration (see Nephi in Helaman 10), and all ordinances they performed will be restored (but haven't been yet) in the last days. Elijah was the last prophet to hold the priesthood keys necessary to administer all ordinances (Peter, didn't then?), and he will restore them before the final restoration so that all ordinances can again be performed. (Joseph used the future tense in this statement. Was he speaking generally, meaning that Elijah had already given him all the keys at the Kirtland temple before the final restoration? Or was he saying Elijah gave him what was then necessary and would return again and restore the rest?)

In any case, the sons of Levi will play a key and pivotal role in the last days in blessing scattered Israel, redeeming Judah and Jerusalem, and restoring the fulness of the Priesthood and its ordinances to the earth. Their sacrifices will be performed with authority from God in His holy temple.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Before continuing, Ahkman offers a little personal chronology, saying he's been a servant of the Lord for 21 years and high priest for 8. I take this to mean his conversion or baptism was 21 years prior, and that Suran died 8 years previous. While Ahkman was ordained to be high priest before his father's death, Suran served in that capacity through the end of his life.

As part of his teachings to the people, Ahkman reviews the ten commandments Moses received from the hand of God. There are some interesting tidbits and insights within his paraphrase of the commandments that are worth noting:

1) Don't worship any other gods than the Lord God. This was definitely pertinent to Suran's people who were converting from animistic, polytheistic, etc. belief systems.

2) Don't make any graven (i.e., carved) image or create any image of things in heaven, earth, or water, and don't bow down to worship them. While most followers of this commandment interpret this as a prohibition against creating idols to worship, even in Ahkman's reading, there is an opening for stricter alternative interpretations, like Islamic aniconism, which prohibit the depiction of any of God's creations.

3) Don't take upon you the name of the Lord in vain, for doing that which isn't of the Lord in His name is a lie and dishonors Him in the eyes of men, and those who do such won't be held guiltless. This is an interesting spin on this commandment. Most interpretations describe this as guiding one's language, esp. in oath-making or in keeping promises. However, here it alludes to one's covenant relationship with the Lord, esp. in taking the name of the Lord upon oneself in baptism and other sacred ordinances, and that un-Christlike behavior of disciples of Christ or performing acts without express consent and authority from God directly violates this commandment. It would seem to be a much more expansive and serious commandment than many realize.

4) Remember the Sabbath day, for we're given to labor six days, but on the seventh day, we take our rest and don't perform any work, for this day is given of the Lord to man that we might be relieved of the hardships we must endure. As Jesus said, "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

5) Honor your fathers and mothers, for when you bring honor to them, you bring honor to all generations of your people. I like this image of honoring generations of your ancestors along your family line, or chain, or tree. It strengthens familial bonds, requires us to explore our family history, and even helps us practice charity.

6) Don't kill, for it's not given to destroy things God created. This perspective also lends itself to the broader interpretation of not taking the life of any living thing, instead of being more narrowly focused on the murder of humans. While living beings procreate, they are not creators in the same way as God. And what has God created? Everything -- the earth and all living things. (And even the earth is a living thing according to LDS theology.) God has power of creation and destruction, over life and death; those are not man's to take unto himself.

7) Don't commit adultery, meaning sexual relations with someone who is given by God to another. (This process of being "given by God" will be discussed later in Ahkman 18 and beyond.) It is interesting that Ahkman distinguishes adultery from what is often termed fornication or premarital sex. It doesn't say how dealing with that transgression would be approached, or even how serious a sin it was perceived to be.

Another interesting note is that if a woman is anointed a Holy Woman she can be given to more than one man. Speculation on the interpretation of this phrase can run far and wide, and this brings up more questions than answers. This title, Holy Woman, is only mentioned again in Angulu 8 & 15. In the latter, the resurrected Jesus teaches of divorce and says that unless a divorce is the result of adultery/fornication or the wife is a Holy Woman, she and her next spouse will be guilty of adultery. So, one who is anointed as a Holy Woman can be lawfully married to more than one man. Is this simply describing serial monogamy, or does this leave the door open for polyandry, too? (Polygyny/polygamy will be instituted among Suran's people beginning in Ahkman 18.)

In Angulu 8, Holy Woman is also used as a title for Mary, the mother of Jesus, by the wise men, but the angel Gabriel also says she will be "anointed as a Holy Woman" to conceive and bear the Son of God. This seems to be more than just a title. This process, calling, ordinance, or whatever sanctioned and legitimized Mary to lawfully bear the Son of God while also being legally married to Joseph. Either way, interesting stuff.

8) Don't steal because it's not good to take the someone else's property. 'Nuff said.

9) Don't bear false witness against your neighbor. Simple enough.

10) Don't covet your neighbor's property, but be content with what the Lord has given you. I like the flipside of that coveting coin -- being content with what you have. Everything we have, even (or esp.) our very lives, comes from God. Everything we think we "possess" is God's, which He has lent to us. He blesses us beyond measure and often beyond what we deserve (see King Benjamin's speech and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount).

Ang Aklatan


Laws of God point to Christ
At the gathering of Suran's people at Katagan, Ahkman teaches them the history of their people, instructs them of the laws and covenants God made with their ancestors which were written in the Great Scroll, and explains their meaning. (This will serve as an expansion on what we discussed in Suran 8, HERE.) Now, their Levite ancestors had many laws that were complex and hard to obey. (The rabbinic tradition maintains the existence of 613 commandments in the Torah! And by the time of Christ, the Pharisees had accumulated thousands more regulations through oral tradition. Their focus on the law and holding it up as a light had become idolatry.) But the descendants of Ophir didn't have so many laws. Ahkman wondered how these disparate laws could both be given by God, so he goes to the source (as we always should) and prays to know more concerning this issue.

God tells him that both of those peoples were to be His chosen people because they were elect and special to Him, so He caused the two ancestral laws to come together. (Yes, God works with separate chosen people living different laws and following different trajectories toward Him.) He had offered the greater law to the children of Israel in the wilderness, but they had rejected it. So he gave them another lesser law to prepare them to eventually accept the greater one. However, the earlier inhabitants that God led to the islands didn't have the law of Moses. They were already following the greater law passed down from the Fathers (the patriarchal order) and didn't need those preparatory things. But, as we read in and discussed with Suran 8, when the two people came together on the islands, there was much contention because they refused to accept the laws of the other. So, in order to unify these separate but special people, God created a unified law that meshed both the Patriarchal and Mosaic orders, laws, commandments, and practices.

God tells Ahkman that Suran's people will follow this selfsame unified law which was given to their ancestors. He will also reward their faithfulness since they have become a special and chosen people and have found favor with Him, and He promises to remember and bless them forever. I think this is a key to remember, too -- no matter their starting point, individuals and groups of people can become chosen of the Lord through their faithfulness.

Ang Aklatan

Monday, July 11, 2016


Ahkman and his brethren send their children throughout the northern land to teach the tribes the words of the Great Scroll, and many are converted to the Law of God and believe. After many years, Shurak (the king or political leader of Suran's people) sends a message to all the people requesting they gather to Katagan (Kabigan Falls), the "hidden sacred place" in the northern mountains where Ngameke taught Suran and Suran's family was baptized. Everyone gathers to the place and assembles themselves according to families around the pool there (as did King Benjamin's people in Mosiah 2:5).

Ahkman, the high priest over the temple, addresses them, explaining the importance of that place, its symbolism, and its connection to past people of God -- Adam, Moses, and Machir. (Adam and Moses we know, but Machir is a relatively unfamiliar character. The books of Numbers and Joshua say he was the firstborn of Manasseh who settled his people in Gilead after the Exodus. He's not mentioned anywhere else in the currently published Aklatan.)

Ahkman teaches that Katagan is a similitude of Mt Horeb (Sinai) and the garden of Eden. Just as Adam was cast out of God's presence, walked past the tree of life, the angel (and his flaming sword) who guarded the entrance to the garden, and the river that split in four directions, so too, to enter God's presence, Moses climbed the mountain of God past a spring of water and the burning bush, and conversed with God face to face.

Also, God had commanded Moses to construct a tabernacle after this pattern in front of which were placed an altar and basin of water, which the high priest would need to pass and be washed in to enter the Holy Place. Again, after entering the Holy Place, he would pass the candlestick to enter the Most Holy Place. In the same fashion, Ahkman teaches, Katagan has a pool of water, and the people must pass it and many trees that lead to the top of the mountain there--it's in the same pattern as other sacred places where God has spoken to His prophets.

Ahkman explains that all of this is a similitude of the journey of man, namely, that as we have all left the presence of God, to return we must pass through water and fire to converse with Him in His presence. The LDS endowment ceremony follows this same pattern -- a symbolic journey of man out of and back into the presence of God via baptism by water and fire, washings and anointings, covenant making and keeping, until one is found faithful, cleansed, purified, and sanctified to converse with the Lord and ultimately enter God's presence.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


At the end of this encounter, the Lord reiterates that Ahkman's desires are good and as long as he and his seed are righteous, they will receive the blessings offered them. But if they break their covenants with the Lord, those blessings will be withdrawn. He warns Ahkman that a time will indeed come when his descendants will fall away from God's covenants for many generations. However, the Lord will cause the covenant He made with His disciples in Jerusalem to come to Ahkman's descendants, and they will live by this covenant for a time. Yet, this covenant from Jerusalem will not be an end unto itself but will prepare them for a full restoration of their ancestral covenant with the Lord.

Even though the Spanish conquest of the Philippines was destructive and oppressive in many ways, the Lord had a hand in it because it brought Christianity and the knowledge of Christ and His Gospel again to the islands. For centuries, the Catholic flavor of Christianity prepared Ahkman's descendants to receive and accept the fullness of the Lord's covenants and blessings He has to offer them.

After they receive this fullness, they will prepare the way for the Lord's second coming. (Here also the Lord mentions in passing that He will visit Ahkman's people after His mortal ministry.) One of the primary ways they will accomplish this is by building a temple, which will precede the Lord's temple in Jerusalem and signify its near completion. This temple will be built according to the instructions provided in Ezekiel and the Aklatan.

Here are some interesting tidbits about this future temple provided by the official website:
- It will be built at the southern base of Mt Banahaw in southern Luzon (pictured above), and it and the land will be designed after Ezekiel's description. (LINK)
- The Great Scroll of Suran and the Book of Kilinga will be published after temple land is acquired and construction begun, respectively. (LINK)
- Donations toward building the temple and making items and clothing for use in it are posted (though haven't been updated in quite some time) HERE and accepted HERE and HERE.

In any case, Ahkman descends the mountain comforted in knowing God has blessings in store and a special place for him and his children.


Logo of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas
In Ahkman, we see a type of Abraham, and as part of Ahkman's Abrahamic covenant, he's also given a land of inheritance to be passed on through his generations. This land of inheritance is pretty much the same as described by Jesus in Visions 3 (and later in Buka 8), namely all of the Philippines, Taiwan, and the surrounding islands. But the Lord also promises to guide Ahkman's descendants to other lands of inheritance throughout the world.

Again, the Lord promises Ahkman that his seed will be numerous and spread abroad in the earth and mix with the seed of all nations. If we take Ahkman as a principal ancestor of modern Filipinos, we've definitely seen this promise come to pass. As of 2013, there were over 10 million Filipinos living overseas on every continent. Over 3.5 million of those live in the United States, where they represent the second largest Asian American group, with Tagalog the fifth most spoken language. Filipinos have been inhabiting areas that would become part of the United States since the late 16th century.

In the final portion of this Abrahamic covenant, the Lord also prophesies that Ahkman's seed will bless the people of the world with their wealth. As they spread throughout the world, they will gather riches and bring them to their land of inheritance. They will become powerful because of this worldly wealth, but they will use these riches to bless others. Unknowingly, they will heed the admonition of Jacob, son of Lehi (see also Jesus' words at the end of Matt 6):
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good--to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and to administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.