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(C) Copyright 1998 By Massimo Franceschini all the rights reserved.

Was the Gospel first preached by Jesus, or are there some clues that Joseph Smith was right when he said it was taught to man from the beginning?

The first clue arises when we read in Genesis that Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to the Lord. Although it is well known that the heathens also offered sacrifices unto their gods, yet we know that Abel's sacrifice was accepted by the Lord, and that Cain's sacrifice was rejected. When the Lord failed to accept Cain's offering we read in Genesis, "And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."

In my opinion, the words "If thou doest well" means that someone (either God or Adam) had to have taught them how to offer a proper sacrifice, otherwise how could Cain know how to offer one that was acceptable without an explanation? We also know that he offered the fruit of the ground instead of the firstlings of the flock, as Abel did. The meaning of offering an animal sacrifice was to represent the Lamb of God who would perform an Atonement for all of mankind. Therefore, if, in the very beginning of man's history we see they were performing acceptable sacrifices in a manner that represented Christ's death, it seems to me that they also had to know that it represented a way for them to be forgiven of their sins. That's what the gospel of Christ is all about. Later on in man's history we read, "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all" (Genesis 14:18-20).

Notice that Melchizedek offer Abraham "bread and wine." These are the symbols of Christ's atoning death. Furthermore, we know that Melchizedek was a priest. In Hebrew 7:11-17 we also learn, "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."

Melchisedec was a priest. That means he held a priesthood. Jesus was was given the same priesthood that Melchisedec had. Therefore, this priesthood which Jesus had was not something new. It was had at least as far back as in the early days of Abraham. Furthermore, we know that Jesus was made a high priest. If he held the same priesthood as Melchisedec, that means Melchisedec was not just an ordinary priest, but a high priest as well.

However, notice that when Paul talks about this priesthood he refers to it as an "order." Melchisedec is <b><u>one</u></b> man. An "order" means many people. Apparently Melchisedic wasn't the only one who held this priesthood. He must have belong to an "order." And, if this priesthood was greater than the Levitical priesthood, which the tribe of Levi held under the Mosaic law, and this priesthood held the power of perfection (which the Levitical priesthood didn't) then it seem obvious that the people of Melchisedec's day had the Gospel.

Very interesting at this point is Numbers 16:10

"And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee:and seek ye the priesthood also?"

But the sons of Levi had already the priesthood, so it means clearly that they had knowledge about a greater priesthood otherwise why they were looking for another priesthood according to the words of Moses?

In Hebrew 7:24 and Hebrew 7:3 we further read, "But this man , because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually."

We can see that Melchisedec was like unto the son of God in that he "abideth a priest continually." If this is so, then why should we be surprised to learn that there are people in the last days who hold this same priesthood?

In Hebrew 4:2,6 Paul declared, "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them [the Israelites]: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: "

Here we have a declaration from Paul that the Gospel was preached to the Israelites when they were in the wilderness during their journey from Egypt. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Moses received the full Gospel from God the first time he was on the mountain for forty days. But when he came down from the mount and saw the disobedience of his people, he destroyed the tablets. When he went back up into the mount the second time, the Lord did not give him the same gospel. He took away the higher portion of it (that part that pertains to the Melchisedec priesthood), and gave them instead a lesser portion of the gospel (that which pertains to the Levitical priesthood.)

Although this is not easily see in the Bible, nevertheless I will try to show that this was the case. In Exodus 15:22-27 we read, "So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters."

Here we see a story that is full of symbolism. The waters of Marah were bitter (false religion). God sent to them a tree to purify the waters (Gospel). At this point God gave them a statute and an ordinance and there He proved them, and gave them commandments, and they came to Elim where there were twelve wells (Apostles) and seventy palms tree (Seventy evangelists).  In other words, Israel had become like bitter water because of their worship of false idols. The gospel would purify them, but God first gave them "a statute and an ordinance" and commandments to prove their faithfulness. If Israel did as God asked, they would receive the full gospel with twelve apostles and seventy evangelists who would give Israel living water. But, as Paul wrote, they were not obedient, thus they never received the fullness of the gospel.

Finally, Paul himself declares in Colossians 1:5,6,23: "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:... If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; And which was preached to every creature which is under heaven."

It is interesting this verse because Paul is saying"Was preached".

 

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