Sunday, August 29, 2021

Come Follow Me: D&C 94-97

 Come Follow Me: D&C 94-97



 Kirtland Temple - author's photo


 D&C 94

A few important concepts come from this section. First, the Lord commands building an office building for the First Presidency. In giving the direction, we read,

"And ye shall not suffer any unclean thing to come in unto it; and my glory shall be there, and my presence shall be there.

"But if there shall come into it any unclean thing, my glory shall not be there; and my presence shall not come into it." (vs 8-9)

The office of the First Presidency would be set apart as a sacred space, a temple. Whereas Latter-day Saints today think that temples are for sacred ordinances, because that is what our temples today are dedicated to, in Joseph Smith's day they could be dedicated for a variety of activities. Here, we see two sacred edifices directed to be built: one for the management of the work, and the other as a printing office:

"And again, verily I say unto you, the second lot on the south shall be dedicated unto me for the building of a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures, and all things whatsoever I shall command you.

"And it shall be fifty-five by sixty-five feet in the width thereof and the length thereof, in the inner court; and there shall be a lower and a higher court.

"And this house shall be wholly dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, for the work of the printing, in all things whatsoever I shall command you, to be holy, undefiled, according to the pattern in all things as it shall be given unto you." (vs 8-10)

We may not always think about how the sacred work outside our modern temples are as important and sacred as what's inside our temples today. The work of God, guided by prophets and sent forth in print and multimedia, must be "wholly dedicated unto the Lord," holy and undefiled.

As a missionary in Bolivia in 1979, we had no choice but to preach the gospel without copies of the Book of Mormon to share. There were none available in the entire country. For six months, we could tell people about the book, but when they asked where they could obtain one, we could only encourage them to patiently wait, and have them focus more on living prophets at the time. We found out that there were thousands of copies being held prisoner by the Bolivian import office, insisting on $5 per book to allow them in. The mission president told them we wouldn't pay that kind of ransom. After six months, while I served in the mission office, the government contacted us, saying they needed the room for other incoming items, and asked us to take the Books of Mormon. We picked up several thousand copies printed in Brazil. These had been rejected by missions in Argentina, because the section containing the Book of Ether was turned upside-down in the book. yet, with their physical flaws, we rejoiced to have the sacred words to share with others.

Sadly, I do not have any, as I gave away my two copies to people on the airplane returning home at the end of my mission.

Still, imagine the gospel today without a printing office, or multimedia program. Bible and Book of Mormon videos, sacred hymns online, Liahona and Friend magazines, Church News, General Conference, and so much more would be unavailable to the average member or investigator. From this beginning section discussing a printing house, the Church has developed a multimedia empire that reaches into almost every nation and in hundreds of languages.

Imagine if our homes and chapels were dedicated to the Lord, undefiled and holy. Temples could dot the world to bring forth the Lord's work to perfect the saints (ministering, FHE), redeem the dead (family history work),  missionary work, and care for the poor and needy. Some families set aside one room in their homes for just this purpose: a quiet room for prayer and meditation, study of the gospel, and to feel the Spirit of God, a holy place in the midst of the worldly chaos.

D&C 95

More instruction is given regarding the Kirtland Temple.

"For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to prune my vineyard for the last time, that I may bring to pass my strange act, that I may pour out my Spirit upon all flesh—

"But behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are chosen.

"They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day.

"And for this cause I gave unto you a commandment that you should call your solemn assembly, that your fastings and your mourning might come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, which is by interpretation, the creator of the first day, the beginning and the end.

"Yea, verily I say unto you, I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high" (vs 4-8)

They would be condemned for two things. First, for contention in the school of the prophets. Second, for not focusing their efforts on building the temple in Kirtland. 

Today, no one serves a mission without first being endowed. Apostles could not do their work without first receiving the endowment of power. The gospel could not go forth effectively without the endowment of power.

I remember in 1979, when the Cochabamba, Bolivia stake was organized. All the stake presidency and bishops were sent to General Conference in Utah, where they received their endowments. Stakes cannot be fully established without endowed leaders. The work is so important and sacred, the Lord deigns to give this power to all who need it.

In the last few decades, the Church has made it easier for members to receive their endowment. Under President Hinckley, temple building vastly increased, building over 50 temples within just a few years. Now, under President Russell M. Nelson, we have built or announced over 200 temples. Unlike when I joined the Church as a teenager in 1975, temples now dot the earth. That is how important it is for God to give us this blessing.

D&C 96

The Kirtland Temple would be built upon the French farm, along with the other holy structures (First Presidency offices and printing house). The rest of the farm would be divided up into stewardships by the bishop.

The day will come when what we "own" may be asked of us. We will receive a portion or inheritance from the Lord through our bishop. Will we be ready to willingly give up ownership on our large homes, swimming pools, cars, and valuables, in order to provide for the poor and needy, as well as to further the Lord's work?

Endowed members have entered into a special Order, the law of consecration. While we may not live it as a Church right now, we can live it as individuals and families. What is it that God would have us do or give, so that His great work may move forward? Have we considered where God wants us to not only live, but to serve and bless? Do we ask God what we should do with at least a portion of our wealth (beyond tithes) to help the poor and needy?

Are we living our temple covenant to live a consecrated life?

D&C 97

This is a warning to those unwilling to live the law of consecration. Many of the members living in Missouri were not living up to their covenants. The Lord commanded a school to be run by Parley P. Pratt, so that scripture and knowledge could expand among the saints.

However, the Lord gave a commandment to these members:

"And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;

"Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

"But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples." (vs 15-17)

Sadly, at the time of this revelation, the saints in Jackson County Missouri were agreeing to leave the place. The city of Zion would not yet be built, nor its temple established. However, the focus of the Lord on building temples in Kirtland and Missouri would expand. Far West, Missouri would have cornerstones set for a temple, before the members were driven from the place. Nauvoo's temple would be under construction in less than a decade.

"And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible.

"And the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there;

"And he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower.

"Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zionthe pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn." {vs 18-21)

Here, the Lord describes Zion in a new way. It isn't just a city in Missouri. It is an idea and an ideal. Zion is the pure in heart. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed,

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8)
God dwells with the pure in heart. God dwells in Zion, regardless of where it is found.

Zion and temples are inextricably connected. You cannot have Zion without temples, and you cannot have temples without a Zion people. It is in the ordinances of the temple that we begin to understand our relationship with God and Christ. We are invited to be disciples and to inherit all that God has, becoming holy even as Christ is holy. The temple teaches us how to be holy. Zion is where the holy dwell.

We are to be holy, undefiled, dedicated to the Lord. We are to be Zion, the pure in heart.



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