Sunday, March 21, 2021

Come Follow Me: D&C 29

 Come Follow Me: D&C 29


This revelation was given almost six months after the Church was founded in 1830. A conference would soon be held in Fayette, New York, where a branch of the Church was quickly growing.

Perils follow after sins

We begin to see Joseph's revelations become more complex, often covering several issues, but also discussing new doctrines and ideas in preparation for the Second Coming.


"Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that at this time your sins are forgiven you, therefore ye receive these things; but remember to sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you." (vs 3)

 Here is a forewarning that will plague the young Church for the next several decades: "sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you."  Within a year, most of the saints will be forced from New York to Kirtland. Then, driven from Kirtland by apostates to Missouri. From Missouri, mobs will imprison Joseph Smith for six months and drive the members out of the state. In Nauvoo, they would soon experience the martyrdom of the Prophet, and expulsion from the United States. In Utah, they would struggle with locusts, famine, and military invasion.  Much of the perils would come at least partially due to their own sins. Arguments, contention and apostasy from the Church would suffer one privation after another - usually because the saints were not yet ready to be Saints of God. They would not be united in all things, and so the Destroyer was able to tear them apart.

The 2nd Coming and Unity

In this revelation, the Lord shows important concepts regarding the 2nd Coming. More would follow in other revelations (including D&C 45, 87, 133).

"And, as it is written—Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive..

"And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;

"Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked." (D&C 29:6-8)

Again, we are to be united. United in prayer, united in desire, united in effort, united in Christ. If we are not united, then Satan's doctrine of contention can overtake the Saints and destroy them. 

Here, though the Church isn't quite 6 months old, it is given a very huge responsibility: to find the elect in the world and bring them to build Zion. This is the same work Enoch was called to do in his day, though he had more time to accomplish it. He was to gather the elect out from among the wicked and perfect them prior to the end of the world (in Enoch's case, the Flood of Noah).

They are to be prepared (their hearts and in all things) prior to the coming tribulations and desolations. If we do not prepare ourselves, are we not ourselves among the wicked? Whether the great tribulations predicted are the American Civil War, world wars, plagues, Covid 19, or other greater disasters, the only escape is to build Zion and a perfected people. No other place will be safe.

"For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand."(vs 11)

"For a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth—yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one." (vs 13)

There are some religions that believe Jesus already came in the form of a man/woman. Others that believe Jesus doesn't have a 2nd Coming. This clearly states, as does the New Testament that Jesus' Second Coming will be in power and great glory. It will be a day when the wicked are destroyed. It is a thrilling thought to have the Lord dwell with us on earth for a thousand years. However, first comes the times of great tribulations. As noted above, if we are not united and righteous, the plagues and disasters will overcome all the members of the Church. Only in establishing a Zion people will we be able to have a holy place, a safe place, to withstand the great destructions of the last days.

The righteous dead will be resurrected. They will be clothed in holiness, so that they may be one with Jesus. Only in unity, in this At One Ment (of one mind), in Oneness, can Zion endure the last days and be ready to be presented to Christ as the jewel it needs to be.

Great Destruction prior to the Coming of Christ

While the great earthquake will bring for the dead, imagine the destruction to the world....

Prior to the glorious day of the Lord's coming, there will be signs in the heavens and on earth. The Sun and Moon will stop shining. Huge meteor storms will seem like the stars are all falling from the sky. All that the wicked can do is weep and wail. It will be even like the weeping and wailing of the Jaredites, just prior to their final destruction. 

A great hailstorm will destroy the earth's crops (vs 16). Do you have your food storage and more to spare?

In verse 17, the Lord will take his vengeance upon the wicked "for they will not repent." They choose wickedness and destruction over salvation. Pride will destroy the wicked. There will be no salvation, because they refuse to accept the salvation that Christ offers.

Flies will come forth and eat men's flesh, leaving maggots to feed on them. Is this literal? Metaphor? Or is it both literal and metaphor? Plagues of flies often follow mass death, disease, and bloody wars. Thnk about the next description. Such will be the disease and plagues that their tongues will be stopped, flesh fall from their bones, and eyes from their sockets (vs 18). This has reference to Zechariah 14:12, which states:

"And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth."

The New Living Translation calls them "walking corpses." Here is your Zombie Apocalypse.

In the previous verse in Zechariah, the Lord proclaimed that Jerusalem would be a safe place:

"And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." (Zech 14:11)
So, as we compare this with D&C 29, we can see the true importance in building up a Zion that the Lord will see fit to protect.

Whore of all the Earth

Verse 21 tells us that "the great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth," will be cast down and destroyed. Some Protestants and Latter-day Saints think this is the Catholic Church, but in the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us that this wicked church fights against Jesus and his apostles. The Catholic Church may have problems, but it is not the "whore of all the earth."  Instead, when the apostle John spoke of the whore of the earth, he was referring to the Roman Empire of his day, probably under Nero (who wore the mark of the beast, 666). In our day, it would be an Empire that fights against Christ, the agency of man (vs 35}, and righteousness. Will this empire include churches? Probably. Any group or organization that will embrace the "abominable church" or empire will be part and parcel of its wickedness.

After the Millennium

D&C 29 jumps forward then, beginning in verse 22. 

"And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;

"And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth." (vs 22-23)

At the end of the Millennium, a period of peace, love and unity, Satan will be loosed again. He will tempt the Saints, leading many to believe in him and reject the Savior. They will become Sons of Perdition, knowing the resurrected Christ, but choosing the dark instead. There will be one final battle of good versus evil, where the wicked will be finally destroyed off the earth. Then the consumed earth will be changed from its Terrestrial to a Celestial state: a new heaven and earth.

"But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth—yea, even all.

"And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father;

"Wherefore I will say unto them—Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (vs 26-28)


Michael is noted as an archangel. Michael is the heavenly name for Adam. An archangel is an angel of high rank. It comes from Greek, meaning "chief angel." They are a key part of God's divine council. We read about them in Isaiah 6,

"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

"Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

"And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

"And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke." (Isa 6:1-4)

In this instance, the seraphim are (or include) the archangels. We also see the "holy angels" in the Vision, D&C 76,

"And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.

"And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness;

"And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever." (D&C 76:19-21)

The sanctified are the martyrs from all ages, those who have died for the cause of Christ. Again, the holy angels are those before God's throne as part of his divine council.

By tradition, there are usually seven archangels. Seven is a number meaning completeness, and is important in the Bible and in the Restored Church today. Seven days in the week, Seventh day is the Sabbath, Quorum of Seventy, etc. 

Today, most religions definitely recognize three of the archangels:

Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Michael and Gabriel are noted in the Bible, while Raphael is found in the Apocrypha. Other possible archangels include: Metatron (often identified as Enoch), Uriel,  Raguel, and Remiel. Some groups have 10 archangels, some less.

Sons of Perdition

We get almost a comparison between the holy angels and the sons of Perdition, those who decide to be the enemies of Christ.

"And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father;

"Wherefore I will say unto them—Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

"And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power.

"But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit." (vs 27-30)

Remember, the Lord has yet to reveal to Joseph Smith his teachings on the Three Degrees of Glory. It is still a concept of heaven and hell. Those on his right hand, do they include telestial beings who will receive a level of salvation? Yes, but only because they barely repent and accept the atonement.  It seems strange to include them on Christ's right hand. But where else would we put them? All those on the left are sons of Perdition.

"Everlasting fire" as we learned in D&C 19 is not fire that lasts forever. "Everlasting" is one of God's names. "Everlasting fire" is God's fire. The Lord leaves us wondering in these verses about the long term final fate of the wicked. They cannot come to the Lord's kingdom, "for they have no power." Only Christ has such power for any of us. Only through repentance, faith in Christ, and changing to a level of righteousness, can the power of Christ ransom any of us from everlasting fire. The only question is: do sons of Perdition have the ability to repent and believe in Christ? Can they, worlds down the road, soften their hearts and believe enough to merit a kingdom of glory?  God does not reveal this to us. Instead, we are left to speculate. We simply do not knowgod's. Saying they can never repent and be saved is as much a speculation and saying they can. Again, "all [God's] judgments are not given unto men."

The Fall and Redemption

Beginning in verse 34, the Lord discusses the Premortal Existence,  Adam, the Creation, agency and the Fall. Lucifer used his agency to rebel against God. After being thrust down, Satan used his agency to destroy God's plan, first in the Garden with Adam, and later with all mortals. He is the one that God allows to bring much terror and tragedy into the world. 

God lays out for us two choices: Zion or the wicked world, Christ or Lucifer. We are agents to ourselves to decide what we will become and whom we will follow.



Sunday, March 14, 2021

Come Follow Me: D&C 27-28

 Come Follow Me: D&C 27-28

 D&C 27

Joseph went to find wine for a Sacrament service.  Along the way, he was stopped and told that wine was not necessary, but water could be used instead.  The little church had a growing list of enemies, to obtain wine for the service from a trustworthy source was becoming more and more difficult.. Here we see that the Lord is a pragmatic God.  If something isn't available, the Lord will often make allowances. 

In the early days of Nauvoo, the saints were allowed to do baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi River. The Word of Wisdom was initially given as guidance, and not a commandment.  When Joseph lost the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, the Lord had him translate Nephi's record instead.

What we find in all of these instances is that God will work with us, according to our need and diligence. Can't use the wine? Then use water.  No temple baptismal font? Use the river until you can finish the temple.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson was sent by the Church to oversee the relief effort in Europe after World War II. He noted later:

"The Saints in Europe taught me a new appreciation for the priesthood of God. I heard them bear testimony of their gratitude for the priesthood in their homes. Many families who had been isolated from other representatives of the priesthood during the bombing and during sickness told of their gratitude that they had in their homes the authority and the power to lay their hands upon members of their families, and under the inspiration of heaven invoke God's healing power upon them.
    My brethren and sisters, this is a priceless blessing. I heard them speak of their gratitude that in their homes while isolated from the rest of the members of the mission, they were able to administer the sacred emblems. Yes even at times when they did not have bread, they used potatoes or potato peelings as the emblem but had the sacrament administered to members of their own household." (Ezra Taft Benson, "The Aftermath of War")

The Lord is pragmatic, and will work with his children. If they can't use wine, there is water. If bread is not available, potato peelings are acceptable as an alternative in time of need.


 D&C 28

Sadly, the Church seems to continually go through periods where false revelation and pretenders step up to challenge the prophet. We read about it in the Book of Mormon with false prophets like Korihor and Nehor. We learn about it frequently in the early Church with Hiram Page's seer stone, in Kirtland - where an early member thought the Spirit was having him act like a baboon. Upon the death of Joseph and Hyrum, several people, including William Smith, Sidney Rigdon and others would step forward to proclaim leadership. When Wilford Woodruff ended plural marriage, new apostates would step forward with their own claims. Today, we see people leave the Church and follow apostates like Denver Snuffer, as they disagree with modern prophets.

On this first event, already occurring in 1830 when the Church was just a few months old, so many people were sucked into Hiram Page's revelations that it even drew in Oliver Cowdery. How was Joseph to resolve this without having a mass revolt?  In the Lord's wisdom, the revelation is directed to Oliver. It would be Oliver who would go to Hiram and the church members with the new revelation, and explain that while all members may receive personal revelation, only the Prophet can receive revelation for the entire Church.

Joseph Smith also had seer stones: one brown, one white, one green. He primarily used the chocolate brown one for translating the Book of Mormon. Joseph saw in vision how to find these stones. 

So, what was the difference between Joseph's stones and Hiram's stone? Was it the stone that made the difference? Was one from God and the other from a different source that caused one to receive God's revelations and the other receive revelation from the devil?

I'm of the opinion that Hiram's stone could have received personal revelation from God. However, Hiram allowed his own pride to corrupt the stone and its source. In the Book of Mormon, we read regarding the Interpreters that they can reveal many things, and can be dangerous if a person looks for things they ought not (Mosiah 8:13). Hiram looked where he should not have, and it corrupted him.

We see the same thing in fiction and in modern life.

In Lord of the Rings, the white sorcerer Saruman was corrupted by looking into the Palantir (a crystal ball), and looked for things he should not.

In today's world, many of us have a technological seer stone connected to the Internet. Our phones, tablets and computers all give us the ability of learning great knowledge about the kingdom of God and his creations. The Internet can also be a great danger to those who look where they ought not look. In looking at things God would forbid us see, many good people have been deceived and corrupted by pornography, conspiracy theories, and false ideas.

In our own seer stones today, we can find both God and the devil. It is up to each of us to decide which we will follow. Who is our prophet? Who is our God?


Sunday, March 07, 2021

Come Follow Me: D&C 23-26

 Come Follow Me: D&C 23-26

D&C 23

This is a series of brief revelations to Joseph, some of his family members, Oliver and Joseph Knight. Interestingly, the Lord tells all but one of them they are under no condemnation. They are in good standing with God.

However, Joseph Knight was a different story. He was called upon to pray in public, but turned down the offer. Later, as he attempted to pray in private, he was seized upon by a devil. He told his family to get Joseph, who came and performed the first casting out of a devil in Church history.  Joseph Knight was called in this revelation to join the Church, which he did. He remained faithful his entire life.

D&C 24

In this revelation, Joseph is called to visit the congregations of the Church that were beginning to grow. He is told that he would never have abilities concerning temporal things, but only in spiritual things. We will see many of his temporal adventures will fail - such as the Kirtland Safety Society (a bank). At his death, Joseph held all the debt of the Church, which included loans for building the Nauvoo temple. Even as a prophet in Missouri, he would be forced to make ends meet by chopping wood for others in winter, so his own family could eat.

Imagine being the chosen one of God as a prophet, and being told this. If Joseph Smith were a fraud, one would imagine he would instead seek to be financially secure by receiving the tithes and offerings of his followers. Instead, he worked harder than most  temporally, just to make ends meet, and then tack upon that his spiritual role that had him traveling, and often in hiding from his persecutors.

D&C 25

The earliest sections of the D&C contain many personal revelations to people asking guidance of God through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  D&C 25 is the only section containing a personal revelation to a woman: Emma Smith.  Meeting Joseph in 1825 while he was working with Josiah Stowell,  searching for buried treasure.  Joseph would return to Harmony Pennsylvania several times to court Emma.  Her father disapproved of Joseph the treasure hunter courting his daughter, and so they eloped.

Emma must have felt isolated, with much of her family considering Joseph a fraud or crazy for his claims of angelic visits and a book with gold plates.  Yet, Emma was present with Joseph on the night he obtained the plates from the Hill Cumorah.  Later, she would be his scribe and assist him in hiding the plates from others who attempted to steal them.

Emma patiently waited and served Joseph.  She saw Oliver, Martin and David become the Three Witnesses.  Soon after, 8 others would be additional witnesses of the gold plates.  She would listen to Joseph describe receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods with Oliver Cowdery.  She saw these many men come into the home to receive personal revelations from Joseph, many being called to special responsibilities and missions.  She was the woman in waiting, never directly involved in the revelations or events that occurred.  Yet, she was also the woman who patiently went through the many trials: watching Joseph arrested dozens of times or being tarred and feathered.  Seeing most of her children die in childhood. Visiting Joseph in Liberty Jail, Carthage Jail, and other jails along the way.  Escaping Missouri alone with her children, while Joseph was imprisoned and mobs wandered the hills looking for Mormons to harm.  Watching the wagon slowly bring the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum back from Carthage.

So, when she did receive her revelation, the Lord seemed to explain that her position would not include a center position in the early events of the Restoration.  She was told to patiently support and strengthen her husband, and to be a source of joy and good cheer.  Perhaps one of her two defining responsibilities in the LDS Church was her assignment to put together the first hymnbook (the other being the first Relief Society President of the Church).

When we consider how important music is in the Church today, we can owe it all to Emma.  Many of the hymns she selected are still found in our hymnbook today.  The hymnbook inspired many members to write hymns, several making it into the first hymnbook, Some well known poets/song writers in the early Church included Eliza R Snow (O My Father), William W Phelps (Spirit of God - in the first hymnbook and sung at the Kirtland Temple dedication), John Jaques (O Say What is Truth), Joel H Johnson  (High on the Mountaintop), Parley P Pratt (The Morning Breaks), and many others.  Today, we have the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, Gladys Knight's Be One Choir and many other local choirs and performance groups that inspire millions.  Indeed, “the song of the righteous is a prayer unto” the Lord.

Emma was faithful to Joseph throughout his life, and served the poor and needy throughout her own life.  She definitely is an elect lady.
D&C 26
In this revelation, Joseph is told to prepare to hold a conference in the West. This would occur in Kirtland, where a new center for the Church was springing up. 
The concept of "common consent" was now reaffirmed. This becomes a check on the leaders and on the members, as they would have to show they consented to actions, revelations, ordinations, callings, etc. Today, we still continue in common consent, with every General Conference, stake conference and ward conference confirming people in their leadership roles. New revelations accepted as doctrine go through the process of common consent. It is a checks and balances that helps prevent human error does not creep into the work of the Church.