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In one month, we will come upon the tenth anniversary of the deadly tornado that coursed across Salt Lake. On August 11, 1999, Utahans stood in awe as nature unleashed a whirlwind packing wind speeds as high as 150 mph. As many of you may remember, the tornado cut a swath across downtown, shattering glass and ripping off roofs. The Delta Center took a direct blow shortly after the tornado touched down. Follow a northeast path; it then shredded a temporary tent set up for a retail event. Here is where the storm’s only fatality occurred. Moving quickly, the storm then hit temple square, ripping the east doors off the tabernacle, uprooting the famed ‘Sweetheart Tree,’ and shattering panes of glass of the rotunda in front of the Christus statue located in the North Visitor’s Center. The tornado then crossed North Temple and toppled a crane on the site of the assembly hall construction. Its final target was the area around the state capitol where roofs and trees were forfeited to the fury of the storm.

Here is a graphical representation of the storm’s path from Salt Lake City’s Tornado’99, a Deseret News book published shortly after the event.


This was a unique event. It was the only tornado to hit Salt Lake City in its recorded history. Such a rare event should be notable; but is there a deeper spiritual meaning to this event? Why would He who controls the elements allow such an event to transpire? Should we, as members of His church, have taken a message from this whirlwind that struck at the center of Mormondom?

As I pondered this question, I was reminded of the scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 112:

23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.

24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

So… it appears here that the Lord is issuing a warning, not just to the church but to ‘all flesh.’ We are to look forward to a ‘day of desolation and lamentation.’ The image the Lord uses in this circumstance is that of a whirlwind or tornado. This is certainly appropriate given the images recorded of the devastation of 8/11/99.

The warning here is clear that we, the inhabitants of the earth, are in for some trying times. What should be of more interest to us is that the ‘housecleaning’ is to begin with us. I believe that ‘house’ as the Lord uses it here, can have a dual meaning. It can signify both His temple (D&C 94:1) and His people (D&C 103:22).

First, let’s look at those ‘who have professed to know my name.’ In Isaiah 52:6, we read that ‘my people shall know my name.’ I would suggest that there is a spiritual link between knowing His name and membership in His kingdom. I would suggest that this may have a deeper meaning and the topic of another discussion. For now I would assert that knowing the name of God means to know who He is, what He does and how He does it. A similar discussion on the conditions pertaining to His church is found here. But what if I only ‘profess’ to know the name of God but don’t really follow through? I would align this with ‘talking the talk but not walking the walk.’

We find a similar thought expressed in D&C 56:1 as follows:

HEARKEN, O ye people who profess my name, saith the Lord your God; for behold, mine anger is kindled against the rebellious, and they shall know mine arm and mine indignation, in the day of visitation and of wrath upon the nations.

The section continues with a chastisement of several members for stiffneckedness, pride, and selfishness. I suggest that the message here, as well as in Section 112, is that we, as members of His church, need to repent.

Next, consider what the Lord means in reference to those of us who ‘have not known me.’ Knowing Christ is essential to eternal life as we read in John 17:3:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

To gain eternal life, we must be cleansed by His blood and receive sanctification:

And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; (3 Nephi 27:19-21)

We are sanctified by receiving a remission of sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. As stated in 3 Nephi 12:1, Christ, himself, administers the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. I believe that this is an essential component to knowing Christ and to Him knowing us.

The final warning in D&C 112 is against those that blaspheme against God in the midst of His house. Blasphemy could present itself in many ways. Certainly using the name of God in vain qualifies. To speak against God is another way it is presented in the scriptures. But what does it mean to blaspheme in the midst of his house. Is house, in this context, his people or his temple, or both?

First , as a people. Is it blasphemy to make light of the things of God? Do we utter mindless blessings on food or utter the pat answers with our head and not our heart? Is it blasphemy to stand before the congregation and announce our testimony of God by reciting a travel dialog?

Second, as a temple. Has the Lord’s temple been a site for conducting the business side of the corporate church? Is God pleased when we assign spiritual strength to the works of men? In 3 Nephi 27:11, the Lord speaks of His church in these terms:

But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.

Do we blaspheme our God when we replace His works with the works of men? It would seem so since those who do so end up at the same place as the rebellious described in D&C 56:1

So, in summary, I would suggest the long forgotten tornado of 1999 can easily be categorized as a warning to the members of the church. How important is the fact that this act of nature occurred where it occurred, that it struck with such force to the sacred places of the church, that it seemed to be aimed directly at the assembly hall under construction? Such should be the subject of our pleadings with our God. What does this mean to me?

What think ye?

10 Responses to “The Salt Lake Tornado – Ten Years Later”

  • NEPT:

    I appreciate this post, Spek. I happened to be leaving SLC on the very day this tornado struck, just a few days after having been married in the SLC temple, and was left pondering its implications. I’ve think you’ve done a fine job here illustrating the fundamental point that God sends warnings before judgment, and it is up to us to heed the warnings or deny them.

    A read an interesting post over on threewatches.blogspot.com entitled “We will build with hewn stones” regarding this very principle. In the post is included a video with voice-over from a radio show hosted by Sid Roth. His guest is a rabbi named Jonathan Cahn who links various scriptures from Isaiah to the response of New Yorkers, politicians, and the nation alike after the events of 9/11/2001. It is extremely intriguing. Suffice it to say that when God sends a warning, some respond by rebuilding even “bigger and badder” that which was destroyed. In essence, they fight against God because they choose not to recognize their folly.

    On a different note, another thought popped into my head while reading this post. Verses 25 and 26 from D&C 112, which you quoted, caught my attention. The Lord states that the day of vengeance will begin upon his house (v.25). I realize you might define “house” in this context as “people”, but what if he really was speaking of his temple. The next verse (v.26) then becomes rather tantalizing. That is, the day of vengeance begins with those among professed LDS who have blasphemed the name of the Lord in the midst of his temple. Could this be what Paul was meaning when he said “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”? I suppose an event like this would be paramount to blasphemy, and just cause for the Lord to being his day of vengeance at his house. Who might be that man of sin?

    Talk about implications.

  • I checked out the post by Watcher which I find incredible. Could it be that we have a warning to the church followed twenty-five months later with a larger warning to the nation?

    As to your reference to the use of house as temple, I wouldn’t be shocked if there were dual meanings to the use of the word in D&C 112. As I was reading your comment about the man of sin, I was reminded of a statement that George P. Lee made in his letter to the Church leadership where he made the following accusations:

    “7. I have heard a few of you declare that you are greater than ancient apostles such as Moses, Abraham, Noah Isaiah, Isaac, Jacob and etc. This reflects the attitude of all of you.
    8. I have heard one or more of you declare that you can change anything Jesus had said or taught. This also reflects the attitude of all of you.”

    What would it mean to have apostles with this kind of perspective? While George P. Lee has not made himself the best character witness, I do put credence in what he says he observed because others have candidly portrayed the GA’s as having the normal human tendencies of pride, ego, etc.

    How easy would it be for people in their position to succumb to the power and prestige? Could they believe in their best intentions that they are doing the work of the Lord when then make plans to renovate downtown Salt Lake? And amass massive ranches? Or thousands of meetings houses? I see no difference between that and the rationalization encountered when the Holy Roman Church built Saint Peter’s Basilica and controlled 2/3 of the wealth of Europe.

  • First of all, great observation there on the scripture in 112. The whirlwind goes through the house…

    I have always, since the moment it happened, felt that it was a bit too much of a coincidence that the place the tornado hit Just so happened to be Temple Square. Not only only that but the incredibly gaudy, reminiscent of the hanging gardens of Babylon, conference center was just beginning to be built. This huge building came at great cost to the people of the church and the community, there was even a controversy over quarrying sites. Now inside this building you can see the idols of all the church presidents displayed in the lobby.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hall_of_prophets_conference_center_slc.jpg

    The odds of this incredibly unique Whirlwind passing right through the temple and the new construction site of the great and spacious building, I find very had to be reconciled without divine guidance.

  • Rob:

    In regard to signs such as this that seem blatantly obvious to me…Why was a Temple that the the Lord allowed to be destroyed because of internal iniquity among the Saints?…Years latter to be RESURECTED between “TWO SEAS”? And done so on a Particular DAY on the Jewish Calendar? And why in the Churches own discription of that same Temple, dose it refer to it’s appearance as being that of a PALACE? And why was the NEW TABERNACLE of HIS PALACE also placed between two inland seas? And why dose Ezeckiel tell us to beware of the IDOL Prohet? One who has maybe caused some of us to rely on the “ARM OF FLESH”. Do we not WORSHIP what we IDOLIZE? Dose not the IDOL Prohet/Man of Sin/ Beast,…Temporarily leave this world for some unspecified time and then return to assume the role of God, seated in Gods Temple? Is this not a Strange Act that the Lord allows ? (Thess. ch2 JST) Would this be the GRANDADDY of ALL DELUSIONS that would certainly fool those who IDOLIZED a Man of the FLESH? What would you be looking at if you were looking at the IMAGE of the BEAST? Maybe a Body on loan to someone else? Some one who has power to work false Miracles and maybe convince a good number of Saints and others for that matter, that “SEE…NOBODY CAN MESS WITH ME BECAUSE I AM GOD. I HAVE SUDDENLY COME TO MY TEMPLE AS THE SCRIPTURES SAID I WOULD” “Now if you don’t belive me, I have many credible wittnesses that will testify that I already came to you as a thief in the night and walked among you in secret and made myself known only to the “WISE VIRGINS” who I commanded to keep these things a Secret until this day. As proof of my validity, do you not remember that I proclaimed certain Scriptures as having been fulfilled when I was among you as a thief in the night?”

  • Rob:

    Where we not warned to not let SECRET COMBINATIONS get “ABOVE” us?
    Too Late. But that’s ok. It was all apart of the Lords Plan to weed the Tares from the Wheat. This is why he alows such a thing to occur…Free agency…He will not deny the Tares what they truely want and need to do, in order to amass evidence against themselves in order for the Lord to proclaim Righteous Judgement upon his ENIMIES. Do you know why the Lord chose to use the Wheat and Tare comparison and tell us not to pluck the Tares before it is TIME? It’s because you cannot tell the difference between the Wheat and Tares until the Wheat bears FRUIT. It then leaves the Tares exposed because they don’t bear fruit. Then they are easy to decern. Who exposes thier Works of DARKNESS after the CURVE has been thrown? Now the REAL MAN of God comes forth with the power of God to not only expose them for who THEY really are but also to RESCUE the small little Righteous Remnant who have been paying Hell for some time now for reading thier Scriptures a little TOO closely as the Lord COMMANDED us to do. It’s going to be a no-brainer decision for those who have no brains for study. Thank goodness for the Spirit!!! Even those who lack knowlege but recognize His voice will make the RIGHT choice. None of this is really much of a Mystery if you understand what motivates Men of the World as opposed to Men of God. It’s a Mystery to most at this time because all ten Virgins have dozed off and become mezmorized by Babylon in our midst. Some just need to be awakened. And what a SUDDEN and RUDE awakening it will be for the Righteous among the Remnant but not so dramatic for the Elect among that same Remnant. There be 12,000 of those somewhere scattered in Ephriam. They are to be the Lords Special OPS force to recieve an Endowment of Power and Knowlege to ASSIST our Lost Brothers who will need to recieve this same endowment so we can Work together again for the Cause of Zion and our TRUE GOD and His SON.

  • landofthelongday:

    dc 112:25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

    heres some interesting meanings in hebrew for house

    Most of the relative meanings stem from the root bayith 1004

    1004 bayith
    – a house
    – especially family, (the church family)
    – court, [temple square]
    – door, [ripping the east doors off the tabernacle]
    – hangings, [and shattering panes of glass of the rotunda]
    – home
    – palace, [SL temple a place for kings and queens]
    – steward, [The tornado then crossed North Temple and toppled a crane on the site of the assembly hall construction.] (where our stewards will address their family)
    – tablet, [the area around the state capitol]
    – temple, [SL temple]

    1040 Beyth `Eden from 1004 and 5730;
    – house of pleasure [Delter Center]

    490 ‘almanah of 488;
    – a widow;
    – also a desolate place:-
    – desolate house (palace),
    488 ‘alman
    – in the sense of bereavement;
    – discarded (as a divorced person):- [the tornado cut a swath across downtown]
    – forsaken.

    1007 Beyth ‘Aven from 1004 and 205;
    – house of vanity; [it then shredded a temporary tent set up for a retail event.]

    1406 gag
    – a roof; [and ripping off roofs.]
    – the top of an altar

    1045 Beyth `Ashtarowth from 1004 and 6252;
    – house of Ashtoreths;
    6253 `Ashtoreth
    – the Phoenician goddess of love (and increase): [uprooting the famed ‘Sweetheart Tree,’]

    the tree is happy now, it no longer has to witness anymore sadness
    love your article

    notes:
    strongs hebrew dictionary

  • land,

    Interesting observation.

    You have a similar situation with the Greek word ‘oikos’ which is found in the Lords quote of scripture as he cleared the temple.

    “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

    In the Greek, the word means house, family, lineage, and temple which is consistent with the multiple uses that are found in D&C 112.

    Thanks for the comment

  • Rob:

    Land, very informative observations. It sure adds to the picture of this metophore. I like the detail that draws very specific conclusions and is an amazing example of the Lord speaking to us through an event that was obviously intended as a warning.

    I’m very greatful for those who like yourself, share these things for others to see. It gives me greater comfort as a father, to be able to guide my Family along a very unpopular but necessary path.

    The pressures are great within the church to steer us away from truth and I am so greatful for those who are willing risk seeking it, rather than be compromised for the sake of seeking comfortable refuge among the misguided masses.

    “Safety in numbers” is man’s attempt to define peace in the Arm of Flesh.

    The chuch’s offical repsonse to the Tornado disaster was no more than it’s response to any other disaster…All we need to do is just get in there and clean up this mess and prove to the world that we are good at collectively cleaning up PHYSICAL messes.

    When the church jumps in to help with other disasters, where is the Prophets warning to those people that they must repent and is the REASON for the disaster.

    Of course there are individuals within those disasters who have not displeased the Lord but overall, you don’t get hammered with acts of God for no good reason. That’s why they are called ACTS OF GOD.

    But the SLC Tornado, as well as any other disaster that is not followed by a warning from the Lord’s Prophet, is being treated as though it were mearly and act of Random Nature as opposed to an act of God.

    And the response by the church is proof that the Lord’s People are no longer giving God credit for anything, including this Blatant Strong Warning.

    I thank all those who are helping me as a father to have the courage to persue the truth.

  • Rob:

    I just read an article on the Atlanta Tornado that struck Atlanta during the March 2008 Olympics.

    The article was written by a Christain making the Very same observations that this is a warning from God to the World, in the very same maner that descerning members have made concerning the SLC Tornado being a warning to His House.

    I’m sure it is no coinsidence that BOTH of these observations have been made in the order they have, and WHO made them. And 9 years appart…The number of Judgement.

    The Lord’s House has First been Warned and now it appears the World has recieved it’s Warning message.

    What better way for the Lord to warn the World than to do it at a Gathering of the World’s people in a country that is to be the First to be destroyed ?

    And the “Whirl Wind” is that sign common to BOTH

    Now that both the Lord’s House & the World have recieved their NATURAL sign & Warning, the next Warning should come in a way that will be a little easier to descern for those who are dozzing and unable to recognize a sure sign when they see it.

    The Lord will send His Messenger to Wake us up & once again issue the FINAL WARNING !

    Once that warning has gone forth, then the Great Judgements will fall upon the World.

    And the Last Final Judgement does not come in the form of a warning but rather by the return of Christ.

    We sure are getting close to that time we have been anticipating for so long.

    Most people are looking for the return of Christ but I am more concerned with events leading to His return, for now.

    There is too much for us to DO regarding PREPAIRING for the Lord’s Return, to place our hopes of the Lord’s return as our primary focus in the imeadiate future.

    It’s only WHEN we BEGIN undergoing the seperation of the righteous & wicked and have a True Prophet to follow, that we will gain the Hope & Understanding of expecting the Lord’s return.

    HE becomes that Signal & Understanding that the Lord is knocking at our door.

    All these Signs such as these Tornadoes and others that have poped up recently such as 911, are all very pronounced HEADS UP signs of Exciting Things to soon Arise for the righteous and sad & terrifying things to arise for those who ignore these signs.

    Can you imagine what it’s going to be like stuggling to make our way to Zion ? Probably not much of a struggle for those who have ALREADY put in the necessary STUGGLE TIME reqired to make one’s self ready for recieving the Lord’s Highest Blessings. But none the less a Spiritual Struggle in trying to assist those of lesser Faith to overcome their iniqities in a time of such ultimate chaos and destruction.

    The New Jerusalem is said to come FROM Heaven. And who is it that BRINGS that ? Those of the Lord’s Covenant People who had already proved themselves worthy to be called to this task and GO THERE to recieve their Power & Authority to begin this Great & Marvelous Work and RETURN to carry it out !

    These are people who have suffered standing for the Standing for the Truth once they discovered it and have been under pressure from their own people to REJECT it.

    I don’t want to see ANYONE go down in these coming judgements but I am certainly looking foward to & hoping I am one of those who REJOICES at the Voice of the Lord when he comes.

    I’ve had just about enough of this Garbage going on that I can take.

    I feel I’m in desperate need of a Spiritual Enema.

    The “Judgements”….Ones mans JUNK & another man’s TREASURE !

  • Samantha:

    I remember when I was 11 in downtown Salt Lake City and the pool had been closed because of bad weather (they saw lightning) so I ended up turning around and walking home, on the walk back is one I will never forget.
    I remember I was on 200 east and about 500 south (not exact on that) near the community center and across the park with that special tree containing the Holy Virgin’s image in sap.
    The sky was very orange in color and a loud roar filled my ears. A VERY strong wind was pushing me north, to my luck that was the direction i was headed, otherwise i doubt i would have been able to continue walking. I honestly had NO clue what was going on with the weather obviously. I was super poor at the time and didn’t have a “real” home so I shared one with God at the Central Christan Church where my mom also worked. You know the one, across the street from 7eleven to the east and the public library to the south. As soon as i walked through the rattling glass doors my mom burst into a raging panic about how i should be in the basement… then i’m informed of what happened and life goes on. Ironicly i move to oklahoma a couple months later.
    A freakier side of this story… a very holy man and a very good friend of mine had one day been angered by the behavior of the city. I was very young and didn’t quite understand but his message was clear. He damned the city for it’s actions and called upon God to take agressive action. Then the tornado arrives about a week later.
    anyways, my memory of this event today had me research and i found this map which is quite freaky considering my walking path is visible on the map O_O;

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