Wednesday, November 25, 2015

From the Foundation of the World

I grew up believing that the sacrament was instituted by Christ among his apostles just prior to His death.  It was similarly instituted among the Nephites after his resurrection, as described in 3rd Nephi.  Indeed, the web site makes the following statement:

On the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ met with His Apostles and instituted the sacrament (see Luke 22:19–20).

Imagine, then, my surprise as I read from the Inspired Version of Genesis 14:17-18:

And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he break bread and blest it; and he blest the wine, he being the priest of the most high God,  And he gave to Abram, and he blessed him, and said, Blessed Abram, thou art a man of the most high God, possessor of heaven and of earth;

I find this information to be very interesting.  For me, several questions arise.  Why is this concept not taught in LDS study manuals?  If the sacrament existed prior to Christ administering it to the apostles, where did it originate?  Why is there no other specific mention of it in the scriptures?  When did the practice die out, that it had to be restored?

Based on this discovery, I believe the sacrament is something that would have been practiced beginning with Adam.  Although current LDS leaders now deny it is true, early LDS leaders believed that Melchizedek and Shem are the same person (  I find the argument that Melchizedek and Shem are one and the same to be persuasive, and therefore I will assume that they are indeed the same person.  If that is the case, then based on the chronology outlined Lectures on Faith and in the Old Testament, there was an uninterrupted line of high priests (those who actually saw into heaven) going back from Shem to Adam, and that is the likely source of Shem's knowledge of the ordinance.  Further, if Adam engaged in this practice, it was probably revealed to him by an angel.  In other words, it is pretty important.  I suppose you could say that the sacrament is one of the ordinances that has existed from the foundation of the world.

This calls to mind the quote by Joseph Smith - "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed."  If that is true, what should we make of the changes to the ordinances?  What changes, you ask?  How about:
     *  Water instead of wine (3rd Nephi 18:19)
     *  Blessed by young boys instead of the presiding authority (D&C 20:50)
     *  Kneeling is forbidden (Moroni 4:2, D&C 20:76)
     *  Tiny amounts of bread and wine/water (3rd Nephi 18:4)

When we read historical accounts of the administration of the sacrament in Joseph Smith's time, they look markedly different than what we do today.  It has only been 171 years since Joseph died and we have seen many changes.  Small wonder, then, that the ordinance was corrupted from the time of Abraham to the time of Christ.  Or from the time of Christ to the time of Joseph Smith.  It makes you wonder, at what point does the Lord look at our changes and say, this is no longer valid and I no longer recognize what you are doing.  Fortunately, that can never happen today because we live in the last dispensation where we can never be led astray.  Aren't we lucky!


  1. I am astounded to realize that a such a core ordinance of the Gospel has been changed and confused so much!

    Do you know if the Inspired Version of Genesis is available online, or where I could get a copy?


    1. Hi Keith,

      I like this version of the Joseph Smith translation:

  2. Jake,
    I believe there are at least two other changes to the ordinance as currently performed. One is that in pictures I have seen from early days in this dispensation, the (elderly) priest blessing the Sacrament has his arms raised in the air. Another change, the church no longer forbids non-members from partaking of the Sacrament, only those who have been sanctioned by the church (disfellowshipped, excommunicated, etc.).
    Thank you.
    James Russell Uhl

  3. Even more important, aside from changing the ordinance, the purpose of the ordinance has changed. The sacrament is used today to renew our baptismal covenants and point us to repentance. The original meaning of the sacrament is for us to remember the Savior and to point us to the next step in our journey, which is to take his name upon us and become sanctified. The only tie to baptism and repentance is that we should have taken those steps before meaningfully partaking of the sacrament.