15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ 17 And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18 And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ 19 say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand.
Mormons say the stick (which can also be translated as ‘scroll’) for Judah is the Bible and the stick for Joseph is the Book of Mormon, and the joining of the two sticks is God restoring the gospel and giving the Book of Mormon to the world as scripture along with the Bible.
Regardless of whether the sticks are just sticks, scrolls or symbolism for something else, the passage does not support the LDS interpretation. This is another example of Mormons focusing only on parts of a passage that support their view. Verse 21 describes God gathering the people of Israel and bringing them back to their land. Verses 24-28 say David will be their king forever. The focus of the passage is God restoring Israel, not the gospel. Since Israel doesn’t have David as its king, the sticks have not been joined.
19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
A key phrase here is “until the time.” Since heaven received Jesus until the time for restoring, it means Christ will return from heaven when all things are restored. Plus, this says ALL things will be restored. As we saw in Ezekiel 37, one of those things includes King David ruling on the earth again. Since Christ has not returned and David isn’t king, the time of restoration has not happened yet.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Mormons claim the “fullness of time” started when Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to restore the gospel. But there’s no indication that this is a prophecy of future events. Paul uses the terms “we” or “us” 7 times in verses 3-10. Paul was writing to encourage the Ephesians by talking about spiritual blessings believers have in Christ. It doesn’t make sense that Paul would suddenly start talking about an event that wouldn’t happen for 1600 years.
Secondly, this passage doesn’t say anything about the gospel being lost or needing to be restored. Paul was writing about the blessings the believers have in Christ. But if the LDS interpretation is true, many of the believers at that time would see the church lose the gospel. Why would Paul include that in a passage about blessings?
10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
See, many will fall away. That’s the apostasy when the church lost the gospel. So how can the gospel be proclaimed to the world if it’s not restored? There’s a few things wrong with that argument.
Firstly, it says “many” will fall away, not that the whole church would fall away. The same applies to false prophets leading “many” astray.
Secondly, there are still many falling away and many false prophets. If that’s the definition of apostasy, then the apostasy is getting worse.
Finally, nothing in this passage suggests the gospel will need to be restored. If the restoration of the gospel is such an important event, why doesn’t Jesus mention it here at all?
11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”
Mormons claim this prophecy was fulfilled in 1828. Joseph Smith wanted an Egyptian scholar to verify his translations. So he wrote some Egyptian hieroglyphics on a piece of paper along with their translations and had a friend, Martin Harris, take them to Professor Charles Anthon. According to Harris, Anthon gave him a certificate verifying the translation. But when Anthon found out the hieroglyphics came from an angel, he tore up the certificate and asked to see the gold plates to translate them, but Harris said he couldn’t because part of them were sealed. Anthon later denied he ever verified the translation. Mormons say Harris’ version of events is still credible because he went home and gave money to Smith to help found the church.
There’s a few problems. First of all, Anthon was never actually given the book like the passage describes. All he saw was a paper with a few hieroglyphics. Secondly, why couldn’t Anthon translate the plates that weren’t sealed? He wasn’t saying ‘I can’t read them.’ He was saying ‘You won’t let me read them.’ Finally, the LDS version of events doesn’t even try to explain who the person was who couldn’t read.