Mormonism’s many similarities to Judaism
Mormonism is more akin to Judaism than any other Christian religion. The doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints view the religious history of the world as a continuum flowing from the “plan of salvation” established by God before the earth was created. Mormons appreciate the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings as much as they appreciate the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, which comprise the canon of the Church. Mormons look forward to and desire to participate in the gathering of Israel and the return of the Lost Tribes of Israel. In fact, most Mormons are descendants of Epraim, whose seed was dispersed among the nations. Mormons are either descended from or adopted into the many tribes of Israel.
Some Mormon scriptures are of special interest to Jews. The Book of Mormon is a history (both religious and secular) of Lehi ben Menasseh and his descendants. Lehi prophesied in Jerusalem with other prophets just prior to the Babylonian captivity. He tried to bring the people to repentance. Jeremiah was imprisoned, and Lehi’s life was threatened. The Lord led Lehi, his family, and a few others into the wilderness. They took along with them the Torah, all the writings up to the reign of Zedekiah, and a genealogy of Lehi, all engraved on brass plates. The Lord led these people down through Arabia and then by sea to the Americas.
When they had arrived in this promised land, they prospered as a people. They kept the Law of Moses looking forward to the coming of Messiah. They had many prophets who taught them the plan of salvation. They also discovered another people, called the Mulekites, who had also been led away from Jerusalem. The Mulekites were descendants of Judah; Mulek was a surviving son of King Zedekiah. The two societies combined. Divisions and wars plaged the people over the centuries whenever they dwindled in unbelief. When they were righteous, they flourished. In the meridian of time, Messiah visited them.
The Pearl of Great Price includes previously unknown texts. The Book of Abraham was translated by Joseph Smith, Jr. from Egyptian papyri. The Book of Moses, given by revelation, adds lost scripture to the Torah, reveals more about the creation, and tells us more of Moses’ encounters with deity.
Mormon boys, at age 12, receive the Aaronic priesthood. There are three levels of the Aaronic priesthood — Deacon (age 12), Teacher (age 14), and Priest (age 16). The office of Bishop is an Aaronic Priesthood office, and a literal descendant of Aaron (a Cohen) can claim the office. Bishops are leaders of congregations. They still work at their chosen professions and perform the duties of both a rabbi and temple president. Hard work, but most bishops serve for only five years.
Mormons also have a higher priesthood, called after Melchizedek to keep from uttering the name of God too often. Young men age 18 may qualify through their worthiness and faith to receive the office of elder in the Melchizedek priesthood. The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name, to perform ordinances, to act in leadership positions, and to perform such miracles as healings. All Mormon missionaries hold the Melchizedek priesthood.
Of all the faiths on the earth today, Mormonism is the one that qualifies for the title of “Messianic Judaism.” The gospel encompasses all of God’s work on the earth, from Adam and Eve until the present time. Adam knew and taught of the entire plan, as did Moses. The following is from the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price…
“…he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain, And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.
“And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?” (Moses 1:1-3)
“And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all” (v. 6).
“And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered” (v. 8).