The Gift of Translation Returns in the Endtime
A common theme in The Book of Mormon is the coming to pass of “all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.” (3 Ne. 1:16) Surely, if a prophet has “the testimony of Jesus” which “is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10) we can trust that his words will indeed come true. With this in mind, one of the most fascinating prophecies made by many ancient and modern prophets is the return of the gift of translation.
We know the Book of Mormon was written for us in our day, but do we really understand the extent? Avraham Gileadi explained: “When Book of Mormon prophets. . . depict events from their own history…they are under constraint—based on the Jewish scriptural methodology they use—to do so only if those events typify the future” (Gileadi, Endtime Prophecy, p. 374) Thus, if The Book of Mormon contains accounts of translated beings—which it does—that is an indicator of things to come.
Alma expressed his desired that he “were an angel, and could have the wish of [his] heart, that [he] might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth.” (Alma 29:1) He later experienced the truth of his testimony that God “granteth unto men according to their desire” (Alma 29:4) when he became a translated being. Mormon records that “that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of,” further noting “the saying went abroad in the church that he [Alma] was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses.” (Alma 45:19) “Even as Moses” is an indicator of translation, for Moses was a translated being.
Nephi son of Helaman is another example of a translated being in The Book of Mormon. He was baptized by fire ((Hel. 5:23), was ministered to by angels (Hel. 5:48) preached repentance (Hel. 7:17), prophesied (Hel. 8:27), discerned the thoughts of the hearts of the wicked (Hel. 9:41), sought the Lord’s will and declared His word with unwearyingness (Hel. 10:4), was given the sealing power that all things would be done according to his word (Hel. 10:5, 7) was teleported or conveyed by the Spirit from place to place (Hel. 10:16-17), and persuaded the Lord to replace war with famine, and the famine with rain (Hel. 11:4-17). When his time was through he, in similar fashion to Alma, “departed out of the land and whither he went, no man knoweth.” (3Ne. 1:3)
Perhaps the greatest account of translation in all of the scriptures is the record of the three Nephite disciples found in 3 Nephi 28. These faithful three desired to bring the souls of men unto Christ (3 Ne. 28:9) and were promised they would never taste of death or endure the pains of death, but would “live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men” (3Ne. 28:7-8). They were also promised a “fulness of joy” and “that they might not suffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world” (3Ne. 28: 10, 38).
These examples from The Book of Mormon serves as types and shadows for the latter-days when the same blessings will be made available again. Consider these prophecies by modern prophets:
The Prophet Joseph Smith: “Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this Priesthood. There are many things which belong to the powers of the Priesthood and the keys thereof, that have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world; they are hid from the wise and prudent, to be revealed in the last times.” (History of the Church, 4:209-210)
President John Taylor: “How perfect it was in the days of Enoch we are not told, but everything that they had revealed to them pertaining to the organization of the Church of God, also pertaining to doctrine and ordinances, we have had revealed to us, excepting one thing, and that is the principle and power of translation; that, however, will in due time be restored also.And if they in their day built a Zion, we have one to build in our day, and when this shall be done and everything is in readiness, the Zion which the people of Enoch built and which was translated, will descend from above, and the Zion of the latter days which this people will build, will ascend by virtue of this principle and power, and the former and the latter-day Zion will meet each other, and the dwellers in both will embrace and kiss each other, so we are told in the revelations of God.” (Journal of Discourses, 23:33)
President John Taylor:“Enoch was not, for God took him.” And we may add, Enoch’s city and Enoch’s people were not, for God took them; they were translated. The principle of translation was a principle that at that time existed in the Church, and is one of the principles of the Gospel, and which will exist in the last days.” (Journal of Discourses, 26:90)
President John Taylor: “What are we going to do? We are going to build up Zion. What then? When Zion is built up—and it is not built up yet; but it will be built up; and when that is done Jerusalem that is spoken of shall be built—and we are a long way from that—but when that is built up and the glory of God shall rest upon it, upon every dwelling of Mount Zion as it did in former times—then we will build up our Zion after the pattern that God will show us, and we will be governed by his law and submit to his authority and be governed by the holy priesthood and by the word and will of God. And then when the time comes that these calamities we read of, shall overtake the earth, those that are prepared will have the power of translation, as they had in former times, and the city will be translated.And Zion that is on the earth will rise, and the Zion above will descend, as we are told, and we will meet and fall on each other’s necks and embrace and kiss each other.” (Journal of Discourses, 21:254-255)
Isaiah’s kings and queens of the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:23) who bring about the literal gathering of the dispersed house of Israel, and John’s 144,000 servants of God who “bring as many as will come to the Church of the Firstborn (D&C 77:11) constitute the same group of people. In order to perform their role as proxy saviors, this group will need to receive the gift of translation.