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.

No comments: