As we observe freedoms in our nation being systematically eliminated on a daily basis and political leverage flagrantly overriding law and order—while few in leadership positions evidence willingness to dissent—I am reminded of what brought God’s people together when facing tyranny in scriptural times. Wasn’t it that they “remembered the captivity of their fathers” and God’s mercifully delivering them out of bondage? Not that all were delivered—only those who remembered the captivity of their fathers and called upon God to intervene.
I wondered when first reading of the saints’ being “led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched–out arm” at the time Zion is to be redeemed (Doctrine & Covenants 103:16–17). While the prophet Joseph Smith is the subject of an appended revelation about the parable of the vineyard (Doctrine & Covenants 103:21–28), the person who leads the saints out of bondage “as Moses led the children of Israel” echoes Isaiah’s prophecies of God’s end-time servant who delivers Israel from bondage and leads them to promised lands (Isaiah 49:6–13).
I doubt that any but those saints who fulfil their role as “saviors of men” in those days will participate in these redemptive events while their compatriots—those who became “as salt that has lost its savor”—are “trodden under foot of men” (Doctrine & Covenants 103:9–10). Who, for example, were the “saviors of men” whom God delivered out of bondage who gained distinction as the founders of the great nation of America? Who were those same wise men who devised a formula that would ensure the freedom of all lands if diligently followed?
Because Latter-day Saints know these things full well, and have many scriptural references to them, it seems we have an extraordinary obligation to “remember the captivity of our fathers” and wake up to our role as saviors of men in increasingly repressive times. How else shall the prophesied great and marvelous work occur of additionally delivering the Jews, Ten Tribes, and Lamanites out of bondage to receive lands of inheritance? Don’t Isaiah and Book of Mormon prophets predict that these things must precede our Lord’s coming in glory?
Although we love the prophet Joseph and hold him in the highest esteem for restoring the gospel and delivering the saints out of spiritual bondage, do we really want him to live another mortal life in which his visage is marred—requiring a miracle of healing (Isaiah 52:13–4; 57:18; 3 Nephi 21:9–10)—in order to lead the saints out of physical bondage? As God has given the saints “a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:14), where is the scriptural pattern for Joseph’s additionally doing that? There is none.
Do Latter-day Saints remember their pioneer ancestors who were led out of bondage to inhabit the Intermountain West? Which scriptural pattern of deliverance from captivity might apply to us as our bondage sets in? Will not remembering the sacrifices made by ancestors bring us together in a common cause of calling upon God to intervene? As the prophet Joseph served as a savior of men, shall we not pass on this gift in the coming days as we serve as saviors to the house of Israel? Do we really expect God’s end-time servant to do it all by himself?