Thursday, May 21, 2009

FLDS Beliefs 101 - Prophecies

Prophecies are an integral part of the FLDS theology. They believe they have a prophet and that he has the spiritual gift to prophesy about the future. To understand what drives the FLDS, it is very important to understand their belief about the future, because it drives their day-to-day behavior.

The prophecy that is discussed the most, is a prediction about the end of the world. The FLDS believe that before Jesus Christ returns for his second coming, there will be a terrible destruction. The wicked will be destroyed, wiped off the face of the world. The most faithful FLDS who have been living their religion and obeying the prophet will be lifted up, protected from the destruction and then returned to the earth. All faithful FLDS want to be numbered with those who will be lifted up because they believe that day is very soon. They believe they will be still alive when it happens.

The FLDS prophets have identified timeframes for the important date. In fact they have predicted a specific date several times. This point is contended and denied, yet it is very evident in Warren Jeff’s taped teachings that there were specified times predicted. Let’s examine this prophecy in more detail.

Destruction

From the teachings of Warren Jeffs: A great destruction will occur. There will be a great war that will kill two billion people. Blood will flow in the streets of Salt Lake City, it is “the wickedest city on Earth” and will be destroyed. Following that, there will be a massive earthquake that will “kill quite a bit of those that are left - besides diseases and other things.” Fire will come down from heaven. “This land has to be cleansed of all the [wicked] people.” All the gentiles (non-FLDS) will be killed. Jeffs continually preached that “the Lord is about to wipe the wicked off this land.”

It was said that Rulon Jeffs prophesied that a great earthquake would hit the Salt Lake Valley and the two lakes (Utah Lake and Great Salt Lake) would come together. (Utah lake is currently about 250 feet higher and 30 miles away.) LeRoy Johnson reportedly predicted that Hoover Dam would burst and the waters of Lake Mead would flood Las Vegas. (Pretty amazing because Las Vegas is 900 feet higher than Lake Mead.)

Lifted Up

The important exception to this apocalypse is that that the righteous FLDS will be spared from this terrifying destruction.

“Everybody is going to be wiped out except the priesthood people under president Jeffs, who have kept ‘sweet.’ They will be lifted up while the judgments and destructions wipe the wicked off this land – then they will be set down again.” “Your only survival (from the large earthquake) will be to be lifted up. It will be the greatest earthquake ever to come on the earth. . . .Only those who obey President Jeffs will survive.” “We will actually be lifted up. The spirit of God will come from Heaven and take hold of any person who is filled with that spirit through their own obedience. The fire from Heaven will protect us. I yearn that you will believe. Don't doubt. This is real and it will happen in our day.”

Not all FLDS will be chosen

A chosen 2,500 has been mentioned that will be lifted up. This of course creates stress among the followers. If they aren’t picked by the prophet, they will be left behind to be destroyed. Warren Jeffs taught, “five wise priesthood people, out of the ten, will be lifted up. We have another story, how there will be two walking in the field. One will be taken and lifted up, and the other will be destroyed.” “But among us, the priesthood people, not all of us will survive. It will only be those who keep sweet. We don't want to go down with the wicked. We want to remain with our prophet.”

Obeying the prophet is the key

“You must have the faith, the trust in God and in His prophet, to go and do anything the prophet says. Even if we have to face mobs, even if destruction faces us, if we're obedient, the Lord will fight our battles. This time, the Lord will actually lift us up to protect us, as the destructions take place – or fire will surround us to keep the mobs away, if we live by faith, trust the word of the prophet and we obey. The Lord won't protect a disobedient people.” (WSJ 12/28/95)

“There is coming a time, young people, that we face, that we have to be worthy to be lifted up and protected. The Lord promised this would happen. When that moment comes, when whatever the destruction is that faces you, you have to be able to say, ‘Heavenly Father, I have been obedient to your prophet, to my parents. Will you protect me now?’” (WSJ, 2/5/96)

“The angels from heaven, with fire and power from heaven, will come to our homes one day, and all those who are prepared will be lifted up. Those who didn't see what is wrong with this and that in the world - those who are like the gentiles - will be left behind.” (WSJ 11/2/95)

When will this happen?

The FLDS prophets have stated narrow timeframes when this will occur, but officially the leaders state: “The Fundamentalist Church and its officers have not made any predictions in regard to the exact date of the Second Coming. It has long been the teaching of the church that no man knows the hour or the date of that event."

But evidence seems to point to these specific predictions. Leroy Johnson said to followers on Feb 3, 1980 in Creston, British Columbia, “We only have about 20 years until the Lord has to accomplish his work in this dispensation.'' In 1984 he prophesied: “We only have until the year 2000 to do this work.” “As to the year 2000, there will be a period of peace upon this continent for a thousand years.”

One member stated, “We started getting heavy sermons in 1989 that the economy was going to fail within 2 years and that we were to have at least 3 months of food storage. In 1994 we were told the calendar was off 4 years and the great millenium was actually going to be in 1996. Then in 1998 the Great destructions were going to be any day now. There has been so many Destruction Prophecies with the dates come and gone I cannot relate them all.”

In 1993 Warren Jeffs told the students at the church school, Alta Academy, that they this would be their last year in school because the destructions would arrive. Warren Jeffs' taped teachings indicate that in 1996 he taught the students at Alta Academy that they only had four years left. “We only have four years left, young people. The time is so short.” (WSJ 2/8/96)

In 1998 the Alta Academy in Salt Lake City was closed and followers were told to move to Hildale/Colorado City. Jeffs taught, “The main gathering for this people is in Short Creek. We know it as Colorado City. The people will gather - those that survive the destructions.” (In later years he stated that Colorado City was cursed, so this prediction may no longer be taught.)

Writer John Llewellyn wrote: “On three occasions before Rulon Jeffs died, he called a select 2,500 from his 10,000 members and instructed them to buy food and clothes and prepare to be lifted up. A plot of ground had actually been set aside designating the exact place of the gathering and expectant lifting. Before and after the ‘lifting up’ the faithful would need food and clothes. The utmost faithful purchased food in loyal anticipation, but the day before each gathering, Rulon called it off with the excuse that the Lord was giving them more time.”

The last of these three occasions occurred on 12 June 1999, a date set by Rulon Jeffs. “When the day came, the people gathered in the parking lot of the LSJ Meeting house at 6:00 a.m.” After an opening song and prayer, the group was addressed by one of their leaders. Then “everyone formed a prayer circle and held hands as a prayer was said. Forming a procession, they then made their way to Cottonwood Park, a distance of about two blocks, and engaged in a day long celebration. During the day, people went to the store to buy a supply of groceries to take with them. However, before the day ended, word came down from the prophet [Rulon Jeffs] that the people lacked the faith for this event to take place. They were told that another date would be set for it to happen, thus giving them a little more time to repent.”

FLDS have countered that this never happened, for example: “the bit about the people ‘gathering in fields and parking lots, awaiting the lifting up’ is fictitious. . . . a lot of people were told that by people trying to make fun of the FLDS, but that never happened.” However others say, “It is a truth, they believed that the only reason they were not lifted up was because they had failed in their faith. There are many more who spoken of this event.”

As 2000 approached the FLDS were observed stockpiling food for the big event, which dissidents in town derisively labeled ``the pickup.'' Also there were a flurry of marriages taking place. But Colorado City Mayor Dan Barlow, who also acted as a spokesman for the FLDS Church, called the ascension story “absolute foolishness'” and denied that Jeffs has made any such prophecy. “I see where you're going with this. You're trying to make us look like those nutcases in San Diego who committed suicide waiting for the flying saucer. . . . It isn't coming from anybody who knows. I don't know who's making it up.''

But a former member countered, "We were told in meetings that the year 2000 . . . it's been prophesied that's when the destruction will come."

In the five-page pamphlet, Warren Jeffs advised members to “sharpen up our preparation'” for the return of Christ, and he equated his father's move to the border communities as a final step. “Our prophet is so concerned that we be prepared. He is wondering if there is time for the things he is having done right now, in moving and building. He knows all the evil powers are concentrated against us.''

Most versions of the story have the righteous members lifting off from the base of a juniper-covered hill south of town known as Berry Knoll, which is said to be the site for the temple the church had hoped to construct one day.

One member wrote, “I do believe Rulon Jeffs did predict the world was going to end in 2000. Workers were called back to Shortcreek and equipment and jobs in California and Salt Lake were left behind. I believe some families where financially strapped afterwards, too. . . . Something to ponder, because the count has gone to 500 instead of 2500 last I heard.”

Well, nothing happened in 2000. No destructions, no lifting off. Warren Jeffs explained to the people that God had blessed them with more time to prepare. Next, there were predictions that there would be a massive terrorist strike during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. This could be the start of the destruction. Jeffs explained the "time was short" and had all the FLDS pull their children out of public school. They instead attended "priesthood schools," various private schools that were organized or home schools.

“During the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT, the people were literally banned from Salt Lake City because it was told that it would be bombed and/or destroyed. This was where the great destructions were to begin. . . . for about the 6th time. After the World Trade Centers were destroyed the FLDS trucks were also banned from Los Angeles because the west coast cities were going to be nuked or great earth quakes were going to drop the cities on the west coast into the ocean. Most of the truck drivers from here haul from between Los Angeles and Salt Lake and other surrounding areas.”


Sign in front of Eldorado Chamber of Commerce

As the FLDS started building in Eldorado Texas, and as 2005 approached, there were rumors that April 6, 2005 would be the “lift off” date. But officially, the FLDS denied that there was a 2005 end-of-time prophecy. Nevertheless, many eyes were looking at the YFZ Ranch in 2005. Former members pointed to a secretly recorded audio tape in which Jeffs told a group gathered for a weekly “work day” that the church would be “lifted up” on that day. The lift-up was to be followed by world-wide “destructions.”


One member disillusioned by all these predictions wrote, “Warren has predicted the end of the world a lot more than 3 times though. The final destructions are usually timed to come just before a request for a major contribution.”

And even more recent, “Warren had a revelation that the destructions can't start until the temple is finished and his people are lifted up.” Jeffs has even gone so far as to tell the people to pray for the end of the world. "Warren has been enforcing perfection. That is why people have been getting kicked out. It used to be we worked with each other to help and improve. Warren says there is no more time to repent Warren has been enforcing perfection. That is why people have been getting kicked out. It used to be we worked with each other to help and improve. Warren says there is no more time to repent."

Are these near-term predictions part of a control strategy by FLDS leaders? By keeping them in fear are they keeping them in line? Or is the end of the world really just around the corner?

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