Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Come Follow Me: D&C 133-134

 Come Follow Me: D&C 133-134


D&C 133 was given in November 1831 while the Saints were still living in Ohio, prior to the Kirtland temple, or the trials of Missouri. It reveals many important concepts leading to the future of Zion. Yes, we again are going to discuss Zion, as it is one of  the key concepts of the entire book of Doctrine and Covenants.

The Lord who shall suddenly come to his temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you.

For he shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God.

Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry. (vs 2-4)

The city of Zion (Independence, MO) was established only 3 months prior to this revelation. A temple lot with 24 temples (some for ordinances, most for administration buildings) was also planned. Today, our understanding of these verses differs largely from how the early Saints would have understood them. They couldn't have imagined a Church with no center city of Zion, but with over 350 stakes, and instead of a couple planned temples, to have hundreds.

Still, the call is the same: "sanctify yourselves." We are to make ourselves holy, so that God's work may move forward. Without a holy people, there can be no salvation for the living nor the dead. Zion, in its purest and truest form, could never be established. There would be no safe gathering place nor refuge from the storms to come. Zion's stakes must be holy. They cannot be protected by God if they are worldly.  Looking back, we see how the greed and selfishness of the early saints was a key part of their failure to establish Zion. Dissension and contention inside allowed enemies from without to prevail.

Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.

Call your solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord.

Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (vs 5-7)

We still have the call to gather to Zion, or rather, her stakes. We are to leave Babylon. The actual Babylon is an ancient city lying in ruins in the Middle East. Modern Babylon, however, is alive and kicking. It has no boundaries. It is found wherever the wicked have power and influence. Unlike Babylon, or Sodom and Gomorrah, the wicked can reach into our homes through electronic means today. 

They influence us, whether we realize it or not. Look at how quickly social mores in the United States and elsewhere have changed over the last few years. Murder is on the rise in many cities. Sexual dysphoria and confusion are rampant. People seek to society for answers, rather than to God.

And so, we are all commanded to call upon God. We live in a day, when the Prophet encourages us to seek "pure truth, pure Doctrine of Christ, and pure truth." (President Russell M. Nelson, October 2021 opening remarks). This leaves open the question of whether we are seeking impure truth, doctrine and revelation. Do we allow Babylon to cloud God's truths? Do we hear the appealing siren songs of the world, better than we hear the pure word of God?

Yes, being faithful to the truth is hard, especially when so many around us are sitting in the great and spacious building, mocking us. It is easy to see why so many become ashamed of the gospel (or the portion they have received before), and slink away from the Tree of Life into mists and paths unknown.

But Zion will grow. Her stakes will be strengthened and expand around the world. Zion and her stakes will eventually be the only safe places for refuge in the world. This depending on the saints being sanctified. It will be a time for all "among the Gentiles" meaning both Gentiles and others to "flee to Zion" for safety.

Verses 17-25 show us that Christ will return in great power and glory.  However, there may be several major visits, the first at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, where144,000 elders will have God's name "written on their foreheads" or will be sealed to God. Scriptures suggest these will receive their calling and election made sure, then be sent out on a final mission for Christ, to bring in the remnant of the elect among the Gentiles and pagan nations (perhaps India, China, and the Muslim nations). 

Christ will then stand upon the Mount of Olives, during Armageddon, where the Jews will see him as their returning Messiah and believe. 

During this time of great upheaval, we see that there will be massive earthquakes and the "north countries" will first be flooded by the great waters (vs 22-23). Perhaps the world will blame it all on climate change (whether real or not), rather than see it as God commanding the world to repent.

And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.

And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.

Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,

And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.

And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.

And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.

And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.

And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy. (vs 26-33)

Who are those from the "north countries"? Some suggest they include the lost tribes of Israel, which if it is true, could include people living north of the land of Israel (Russia, Europe). They would hear the words of their prophets, which may include missionaries and priesthood leaders, and move to the Americas. That their enemies will be a "prey" to them, suggests they go with priesthood power. A highway being cast up in the great deep could be a new land bridge at the Bering Strait, allowing people to cross from the Old World to the New.

Some think that as America becomes Zion (as the wicked are destroyed), Babylon will become stronger in the Old World. This would cause many, perhaps even Latter-day Saints dwelling in unsafe stakes, to "remember their prophets" including the living prophet, and gather to Zion in the Americas. The desert and everlasting hills hint at their destiny: the United States. 

Or it could be both or neither of these theories.

It is at this time that the final preaching will occur, when the gospel will be sounded in every nation. Whether it is in person, or over the Internet, we do not know. However, then will come the official Second Coming of Christ in glory. The wicked will be destroyed, and the righteous will be gathered and blessed.

Yes, terrible things will occur in these last days. Yet, we must remember to hope for the Coming of Christ. It will be a wonderful and joyous time for the saints who have fled Babylon and sought refuge in Zion and her stakes.

D&C 134

Given in 1835, it was written by Oliver Cowdery, then the Assistant President of the Church, and presented to the Church to add to the new Doctrine and Covenants.

We learn that "government is instituted by God" as anarchy becomes a greater danger than government. When government works best, it protects "the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life." It reinforces the concepts found in the Declaration of Independence of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property)."

 Today's leaders speak much about religious freedom. We find this same thought in section 134, "We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others..." (vs 4).

As with housing discussions in Utah, the Church has encouraged laws that protect rights, as long as they do not infringe upon religious and other liberties.

We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights....that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly.... (vs 6)
There were Latter-day Saints involved in rioting in many cities in the summer of 2020, as well in the attack on the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021. These are acts of rebellion and sedition. The questions come to, where is the line where government no longer protects our inalienable rights, forcing people to rebel? Clearly, our living prophets do not believe that the time for violence and rebellion is here. They continue to encourage us to seek change through peaceable means, which can include peaceful protest. 

We are therefore, to uphold the laws, and peacefully fight against the ones we disagree with. Christ taught us to be peacemakers, not violent zealots. Zion will be established in peace, not through war. A Zion people will be made through following Christ's call to humility, patience, peace, and charity.

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