Come Follow Me Insights (Doctrine and Covenants 125-128, Nov 1-7) – powered by Happy Scribe
I’m Taylor and I’m Tyler.
This the Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today, Doctrine and Covenants, sections 125 to 128.
So to orient ourselves with these particular sections, there is a lot happening in this time period that’s being covered. So just to put us on the same page, you have March of 1841. That’s where we get section 125 and section 125 is not a big doctrinal section or a Grand Theophany.
It’s an administrative revelation.
It’s an administrative revelation setting up a new city across the river across the Mississippi River from Navu in the Iowa territory, and the Lord wants them to call it Zarahemla. They’re going to establish other towns and cities over there on the iOS side of the Mississippi River in subsequent months and in the coming years. Then you get to July of that year, 1841, and you get Section 126. So this one we’re going to talk about is for Brigham Young. Then watch what happens. I’m going to leave a gap here because we get over to September 42.
This is September 1, when you get the first of the two letters, which are Section 127. And then we’ll get to section 128 next, which comes a week later in September of 1842, September 6, you get 128th. Now, why the gap? Because there’s a lot that’s going to happen in Navu right there between July of 1841 and September of 1842. You’ll notice we’re skipping a year and two months. By the way, we’re now less than two years away from the martyrdom, and we’re getting really close to the winding up scenes.
And it’s here where Joseph is in hiding and he’s on the run from warrants for his arrest from Missouri from the Missouri group, because there’s an attempt on Governor Lilburn BoG’s life. And we’ll talk about that in its context right here. The significant elements that we want to include are the beginning of the Release Society and Joseph beginning to now prepare and give his first endowment ceremony to some people in Navu and then slowly growing that and we’ll talk about that and some of the beginnings of that.
So this is kind of the bird’s eye view of where we are today.
What’s important here is sometimes we might be convinced because there’s these canonized revelations and a gap that somehow revelation must have ceased and really revelation is ongoing. But some of it just doesn’t get canonized in our scripture. So you might even consider today there is ongoing revelation and inspiration to guide the Lord’s Church, but it’s not showing up in the doctrine and covenants. And so that’s why we often hear how important it is to read the General Conference talks on a regular basis because it is the modern day scripture for us.
And these things were significant revelations very important. And it would have been great how they’ve been put into the Canon. They’re not. But they’re still deeply important for the governance of the Church as well as for truth, for how the restoration is to roll forth.
Absolutely. So let’s dive in to section 125. Again, this section is more administrative. It tells them in verse one, that’s the will of the Lord in the territory of Iowa, that they gather themselves together under the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name. Then they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come. So it’s a simple thing to gather my people over here in the territory of Iowa and build up the city.
Specifically, he lists in verse three a city opposite the city of Navu and let the name of Zarahemla be placed upon it. And he tells people to come in from the different parts around East, West, North, south, come in and take their inheritance as well as in the city of Nashville, not Nashville, Tennessee, Nashville, Iowa, over there in the Iowa territory as well. And in all the stakes which I have appointed to say with the Lord, he’s establishing once again these stakes of Zion, these gathering points for Saints to come to to strengthen one another, because there’s just power in coming together.
And the naming of cities is interesting here because it follows some conventions we see throughout the Americas. We have a lot of cities that are named after cities from the past or from the Old World. Like today, you can find cities named Paris throughout the United States or Moscow. Consider the fact that we have a place called New York. It’s not York. It’s the New York or New England, or it used to be called New Amsterdam, New York.
New Orleans, on and on. Yeah.
So calling this placemla is kind of following this pattern of let’s name places based on important locations. Section 126 is interesting because it’s directed specifically to Brigham Young. And as we know, Brigham Young is this crucial force in the Church. He becomes a second President, second Prophet after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. And many of us think of Brigham as this great American Moses who like Moses at the time of the children of Israel, leading them to the desert to the promised land. You have this American Moses, Brigham Young, who leads the Saints through the desert to the promised land.
And we see him as a city builder, a pioneer, the lion of the Lord. All those things are true. What we may miss is that after he was baptized in April of 1832, the first nine years of his time in the Church was primarily focused on serving missions. We may often miss that Brigham Young was a great missionary. In fact, his original identity as a member of the Church was as a missionary. So let me just share with you the number of missions that he served before this revelation was received.
You start to see why this revelation is so significant for Brigham, and I just find it a very tender revelation for how God knows his servants individually and their needs. So here’s some of the missions that Bergam Young served. He’s baptized April 1, 832, according to records, he’s offserving a mission that summer, preaching to others what he’s learned later, in December of 1832, he goes to Canada. He does a mission in 1833 to New York, another mission to New York and New England in 1835, another mission in 1836 to New York and New England.
Obviously, those people needed a lot of help from Bergen Young. Then in 1840, we know that he is one of the key leaders on the mission to Britain.
Does so much good to bring six to 8000 converts into the Church and to strengthen the Church after the difficulties that we’ve been seeing in Kirtland and Missouri. And he’s gone for a year. He gets back and he’s been away from his family for quite some time. And we get this beautiful revelation. And I just love how it begins. This first sounds like the words of Joseph Smith says, Dear and Wellbeloved, Brother Brickam Young Verily thus saith the Lord unto you. Now here’s what the Lord says directly to Brigham Young.
My servant. It is no more required at your hand to leave your family, as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me. I have seen your labor and toil in journeys for my name. I therefore command you to send my word abroad. Don’t send your body abroad. You’ve done that a lot. Now it’s time just to send my word and take a special care of your family from this time henceforth and forever Amen. Now I haven’t done the research on this, but I wonder.
It’s my sense that Brigam Beyond never served another mission after that in the typical sense of server mission. That’s why he served in many, many ways. But it’d be interesting to look that up further if he served any missions after this point, or if he actually fulfilled the command from God to make sure he was there for his family after he had served so many missions. They were from six to nine missions before this revelation was received. Let me share a few words from Bergen himself about the experience of heading off on a mission to Britain under very difficult circumstances.
Here’s what he said. You might recall. But many of the twelve went and they were under health problems. Financial straights, he said. We started from home without purse or script. Basically, they didn’t have a wallet. They had no money, and most of the twelve were sick, and those who are not sick when they started were sick. On the way to Ohio. Brother Taylor, that’s Brother John Taylor was left to die by the roadside. My old father Coulter, though he did not die, I was not able to walk to the river not so far as across this block?
No, not more than half as far. I had to be helped to the river in order to get into a boat to cross it. That was about our situation. I had not even an overcoat. I took a small quilt from the trundle bed, and that served for my overcoat while I was traveling to the state of New York when I had a core Saturnet overcoat given to me. Thus we went to England to a strange land, the soldier in among strangers. So I just love the tenderness from the Lord that he knows Bergam young, and he knows all the toil the labor, the sacrifice that Bergam has done on behalf of the Lord and on behalf of the Lord’s children.
God knows you. He knows of your toils your neighbors. And if you listen to His voice, you will also hear Him telling you the things that will uplift your soul and give you peace in times of trouble.
Beautiful. And many of you will remember seeing some of the Church produce videos of Brigham Young and barking on that mission when he leaves his family in the grand shout hurrah for Israel as they leave under those difficult circumstances. Now, let’s get into 1842 into this time period that isn’t in our doctrine and covenants. But, wow, the things that happened here affect the Church today and back then, as much as almost anything that we’ve read thus far this year, here’s the fascinating thing. The Relief Society started.
It’s begun because of some righteous desires of some women who come up with an idea. So initially it’s in the spring of 1842, when Sarah Granger Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret Cook, they got talking about their idea of sewing clothing for workers constructing the temple there in Navu. And Sarah Granger Kimball is fairly well off. She’s fairly wealthy in comparison to other people in Navu. Her husband is not a member of the Church, but is sympathetic to her living her religion, and she wants to do something grand and she wants to contribute.
So she talks for seamstress Margaret Cook, and they come up with this idea. And then they say, Well, wait, we’ve got all these other ladies in Navu who could help us with this effort. I love the fact that they then go and petition these other women to join them in this effort. And they ended up writing a Constitution and bylaws for their organization. And they submit it. They submit their Constitution. They’re written by laws done just by these women in Navu. They give it to Joseph Smith to review it.
So Joseph looks at their documents and he says, quote, they are the best he had ever seen. But he said, this is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord, and he has something better for them than a written Constitution. I will organize the women after a pattern of the priesthood. That’s interesting, he says. You’ve done a really, really wonderful thing here. But I’m going to organize you in a beautiful pattern. So it’s now March 17, 1842, when they gather in an upper room of Joseph Smith’s redbrick store, they’re in Navu, and there are 20 women that are present as well as some men.
And the Relief Society is born that day, March 17, 1842, with Emma Smith put in as the first President of the Relief Society. She presides in that organization. And there’s great power there. And in that first set of interactions, there’s a great debate among the women about what they should be called, and most of them wanted a certain name. But it was Emma who said she loved the word relief and what it entailed and what it embodied and what she wanted this group to be able to do to bring relief to those who were struggling.
And so she prevailed with the group, and they voted and decided they would call it the Relief Society. Now that organization was disbanded short time after the death of Joseph Smith, 44. And then it was reorganized in. So there are a couple of decades there where the Relief Society isn’t functioning. But then it restarts in Utah. And today is, I believe, considered to be the longest running and largest woman’s organization in the world. And the errand of Angels is given to the Relief Society. And it is incalculable the amount of good that is done in helping bring relief to the sick, the afflicted, the downtrodden, the homeless, the fatherless, those in prison, everything.
This was one of the most amazing revelations that we get in the dispensation of the fullness of times. And yet nothing’s canonized. So just because it’s not in the doctrine and covenants, don’t skip over it. This is a significant revelation and a significant event.
Let me write down some words that relate to the word relief, and you’ll just see the beautiful connections there are with this powerful word. So if you look at the etymology of the word relief, these are some of the words that’s connected to, and I’m going to read them out. I want you to think again about what the Release Society stands for. This word alleviate, elevate, elevation, elevator, leaven like we get in the parables of the unleavened bread or what we find in the Old Testament of leaven and unleavened bread, a lung crucial for breathing in and out so that you can have life interesting connection and even relevance.
So these are just interesting connections we have with the word relief. And of course, this does not contain all that relief means in terms of the actions and service and love that is spread throughout the world by God’s daughters who choose and purposely live according to His commands.
Okay, now let’s go with the second major event that is happening in this year period where we’re not getting any sections recorded in our canonized, doctrine and Covenants. So on May 3, 1842, in the upstairs room of the redbrick store, Joseph has brought in some plants and some foilage, and he’s done the best he can to create an interior feeling necessary to teach some pretty important principles that he’s going to call the endowment. So he has there. Brigham Young is included in the group. Hiram Smith, William Law, Hebrew C.
Kimball, Willard Richards, William Marks, Nual K. Whitney, and George Miller, two bishops, and then a close friend, Judge James Adams, from Springfield, Illinois. Those nine men are brought in and Joseph is excited to share with them some things. And we get our first presentation of the endowment. Now throughout the rest of the end up to his death in 1844, Joseph is going to continue to initiate other men as well as some women. Emma is going to have an integral part in presenting this endowment ceremony in the Navy in the early Navu period.
And so you have this group of about 50 men and women that called themselves the Anointed quorum or the quorum of the Anointed. That’s how they referred to themselves. Anybody who had gone through this experience with Joseph had now entered and joined this quorum of the Anointed. From their view, that’s how they referred to it. Now it’s important to recognize that right before this, Joseph has become interested in very shortly before this, he becomes interested in masonry there in Navu. Keep in mind, Joseph SR. Was involved in Masonry.
Hiram Smith, his brother was a master Mason and now in Navu. Joseph quickly works his way through the rinks of the Masonic Lodge there and becomes a masturmason, and then shortly thereafter introduces this endowment. This has caused a lot of people to scratch their head and ask a lot of questions, and they’re valid questions regarding the crossover between the Masonic rituals and what happens in the Temple endowment. The Church has prepared a wonderful video in there. Now, you know, series. If you look up on the Internet and we’ll provide a link for this particular one where they talk very clearly and very openly about Masonry and the Temple.
And the fact is, if you look closely at the Masonic ritual, there is crossover in some of the clothing and some of the procedures and in some of the wording at certain points during the endowment ceremony, and this is disconcerting to some people. They want the endowment to be this Brandt new revelatory thing. That’s a standalone in isolation of everything else in the world.
As if it’s not connected to anything, as if God does anything in a vacuum. Let’s actually play upon this or actually build upon it. We’re going to start talking about section 128 129, and it’s Joseph Smith giving additional revelation based on insights from Scripture. And I don’t ever hear anybody complaining. So here in DNC 128, verse 16, he reads one Corinthians 1529 about bachelors of the dead, and Joseph Smith, through inspiration and revelation, is inspired by reading past Scripture to bring forth new knowledge. And we all understand that we look at James One five.
Joseph Smith is inspired to go pray, to learn. It turns out that Joseph Smith is learning from his experience in ways that helps educate people and teach them how to be more like God? We might ask all of ourselves, have you ever been in a moment where you read a book or see a newspaper clipping or have a conversation, and it prompts inspiration or understanding that gets you closer to understanding God’s work or gives you some form of revelation? And I find it beautiful that God uses potentially everything in the world to encourage us to be uplifted and drawn closer to him.
And the endowment literally means the process of being clothed in knowledge and glory and goodness, and that’s what God wants. And you’ll note that over time the process of the endowment has been updated from time to time. God’s okay with that. Just like he updates Scriptures, he provides a new revelation for new context and new understanding, so we can just fill deep appreciation that the circumstances were such that Joseph Smith was exposed to Masonry, which has these beautiful storytelling techniques to teach people about God’s love.
And that inspired Joseph to reveal something that’s so important for us today. And let’s just talk briefly about the endowment. If you think about the Scriptures, it’s God’s revealed Word, and sometimes it’s revealed through a narrative format. It turns out one of the most powerful way for humans to learn is through stories and narratives. And we look at the Bible. For example, we have these stories of Adam and Eve, the story of Abraham receiving covenants and promises from God. And what the endowment invites us to do is to actually participate in living scripture.
And the endowment experience is we welcome you. God welcomes you into the story of Salvation, and he allows you to interactively act out the plan of Salvation. He explains to you creation. He explains to you the fall of Adam and Eve, and each of us participate as if we were Adam or Eve falling out of the presence of God and then having to be redeemed by Jesus Christ and be brought back in His presence. It’s a very powerful way to immerse people in the story and in the plan of Salvation.
Sure, we could read about it. We could document with bullet points, but from an educational and a learning standpoint, one of the most powerful ways to get people to learn in a longstanding fashion is to immerse them in the story itself. And that is what the endowment advice us to do.
Now, before we move on to section 127, let’s make something else very clear here. The endowment is steeped in symbolism, kind of like the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible. It shares its message often through symbolic allegory. They’re trying to paint a picture for you through symbols now we’ve used the example before in a previous episode last year where we talked about let me repeat it using a different word here. If you look at this in your own thoughts, just quickly describe that. Now, chances are that 99 plus percent of you instantly started thinking the first image that came to your mind is your own car.
If you have one or you pictured four wheels and a hood and a windshield and windshield wipers and an engine and gas and an exhaust system and a steering wheel. And that’s really quite silly, because what did I ask? I said, think about that. What is that? Well, let’s be technical here for a minute. That is a black C and an A and an R, and they all happen to be capital letters on a whiteboard. That’s it. That’s all that is. These are symbols they’re placeholders for the real thing.
But your brain instantaneously jumped from the symbol and didn’t get stuck on the symbol. You looked beyond the symbol to this rich body of experiences that you’ve had that are represented by this really simple English word that we have all agreed is pronounced car. That’s it. Now, when we go to the temple, our invitation is don’t have your focus beyond the symbols or exactly what is said, what we wear or the different ritualistic procedures, but constantly be looking at the layer upon layer upon layer of potential representation of those symbols, what they’re supposed to allow us to learn at varying degrees or varying levels as we continue to go back again and again and again, we’re learning a foreign language.
We’re learning symbols that are teaching us things that we didn’t know before. But there’s a beauty and a depth and a purpose there that’s encapsulated behind all of those front facing symbols that if we’ll pay the price and if we’ll go to God and ask him, he’ll help us unlock that meaning at different levels for different purposes in your life, when you need the most, it will be instructive. Now, let’s get into Section 127. 128. Notice we’re in September of 1842. Now, some interesting things have happened shortly before this that have caused 127 and 128 to become letters to the Saints, rather than speeches to the Saints.
Because Joseph in hiding. Why? Because there was an assassination attempt on Governor Lilvern Boggs in Missouri. And there were many people who speculated who would want him dead. Well, clearly, Joseph Smith would want him dead. And or in Porter Rockwell, Joseph’s personal bodyguard is kind of a colorful character in Church history. And so this rumor and this potentiality gets started, even though Joseph hasn’t left the state of Illinois. And there are hundreds and even thousands of witnesses that he’s there on the week of and the day of and the night of this assassination attempt.
And he says, I had nothing to do with it. And by the way, or in Porter Rockwell said, later on.
I love this.
He said it wasn’t me because if it had been me, I wouldn’t have injured him. I would have killed him. Ordinance forms that confidence shot. It’s just kind of a funny part of that story.
It does make me laugh, and we don’t mean to be flippant that somebody’s life was under threat, even somebody like Governor Boggs, who was still a child of God. But it puts Joseph in peril yet again. And there are people who are seeking to extradite him to Missouri, where he’d already been in prison for months. It’s not going to go well if he gets put in Missouri. So for the safety of his own life and for the progress of the Church, he goes into hiding.
Yeah. So Andy Hedges wrote a great article on this whole series of events because there’s a lot going on with the legal issues between the two States, Missouri and Illinois. And for five months, basically, Joseph is going to be in hiding and on the run to varying degrees all over an illegal claim, because under the law, under the US Constitution, for one state to turn over one of its residents to a different state, it means that that resident has to have been in the state and committed the crime and then fled to another state in order for the extradition to be legal.
And Joseph was not in Missouri when this happened, and he’s willing to show all the evidence. And Missouri doesn’t have any proof that he caused this attempt on Governor Boggs life. And so the whole foundation of the claim is on very faulty premises. And it takes about five months and a new governor to be put in in Illinois and the district attorney to get involved, to cut through all of the bias and all of the attempts to just get their hands on Joseph and bring him to Jackson County, Missouri, where they can kill him, basically.
And so because of that, Joseph finds himself on the run and going and hiding. And Emma and some of the faithful leaders of the Church around him are doing what they can to keep him safe in different places. And they’ll do a variety of things, like one of his friends will take his horse and with no rider on it go walking across the Mississippi River to the other side in plain view of the people looking for Joseph thinking, oh, he must be over there. And so they’ll go over there.
And how long he’s been in Navu, in a house and they’ll move him around and they’re doing some things to keep these constables off of his track. But it’s kind of sad that Joseph wants to be out with the people. He wants to be building the Kingdom, but he has to end up in hiding.
There’s a lesson here. It’s very easy to lie. It takes enormous effort to show evidence. It takes a lot of effort. It takes humility. It takes clear eyed thinking, and I find it really sad that people were more willing to lie and falsify to actually get to the truth and the evidence. And unfortunately, humans are still fallen today. And we still see this today that people, for their own nefarious purposes to seek after power and pride, will lie and convince other people to believe lies for their own benefit, for their own empowerment, but not for the good of the people.
And instead of slowing down and saying what’s the evidence here for the claim. And it’s interesting that God always wants us to be true seekers. One of the Ten Commandments is doubt shall not lie. And these people in Missouri who probably claimed to be Christians, we’re breaking one of the Cardinal Ten Commandments and showing disloyalty to God’s Covenant. And I think all of us can ask ourselves, Lord, is that I Lord, am I making sure that when I make claims about anything in the world, I’m doing so with good evidence and good faith, instead of simply making claims that make me feel better or ideologically support an opinion I have but end up actually detrimentally impacting those around me and perhaps even my society.
Yeah. One of the problems here is that John C. Bennett we talked about last time he has recently been excommunicated and part of his effort to try to overthrow the Church and to attack Joseph is to sign multiple affidavits and send them to Governor Boggs and the leaders in Missouri saying, it’s Joseph, it’s Joseph. So this idea coming from an insider who used to be right there with Joseph, it makes it far easier for them to believe this narrative that, oh, yeah, it must be Joseph. Let’s get him so we can get our revenge.
Now, now, here he is in hiding. His first letter comes out. Look at verse one, and I hope you can sense a different tone than perhaps if you’re reading a section 84 or section 88 or section 93, for instance, of the Doctrine Covenants, where the Lord is speaking through Joseph in these high lofty revelations, this is Joseph in this situation, look at his words, by the way. Verse one, look at its length. This is three sentences as all this huge verse one, listen to the tone for as much as the Lord has revealed unto me that my enemies, both in Missouri and this state were again in the pursuit of me, and then as much as they pursue me without a cause and have not the least shadow or coloring of justice or right on their side in the getting up of their prosecutions against me and in as much as their pretensions are all founded in falsehood of the blackest die, I have thought it expedient and wisdom in me to leave the place for a short season for my own safety and the safety of this people.
That’s one sentence. It’s like he’s venting here in this letter. But watch what happens now when you shift over to verse two. As for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envian wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life. And for what cause? It seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end or bad, as you may choose to call it judgy for yourselves.
God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad, but nevertheless, deep water is what I am want to swim in it all has become a second nature to me, and I feel like Paul to glory and tribulation. For to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out from them all, and will deliver me from henceforth and behold and low. I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken. It reminds me of one of my favorite verses in my favorite hymn, how from a foundation, a verse that says, when through the deep waters I call thee to go, the Rivers of sorrow shall not be overflow, for I will be with thee thy troubles to bless and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
You can sense Joseph has he’s progressed from these various experiences through New York and Pennsylvania, over to Curtin and then Missouri, and in Liberty Jail, and now in Navu, there’s been a softening and you sense that in this verse two, he’s not spending as much time he’s mentioned it, and it’s a big deal. But then he’s more quick to jump to the solution rather than his problem.
As we’ve been talking about this, it’s significant to note again, the difference between Joseph speaking under inspiration versus Joseph speaking in the name of the Lord. And in section 127 and 128, we literally see from one sentence to another that shift. And as we look at verses four, five, and six and seven, you can actually see the difference between Joseph’s own personal expressions, often under inspiration. When verses times he’s actually speaking in the name of the Lord. It’s really incredible. You look at section 128, which we’re not going to yet, but just how long those verses are just the kind of vocabulary that is used, the tone, the sentence structure, it’s quite different than most of the rest of the doctrine Covenant.
So if you want to really determine or see where the voice of God is coming out, you can see that in fact, we were talking earlier. Wouldn’t be interesting to be able to color code the Scriptures based on who’s talking or what time period it is, and to be able to better see that. Oh my gosh, this is directly the quoted voice of God versus this is Joseph Smith as a man speaking under inspiration, so they’re similar, but also very different things.
So here Verily. Thus, if the Lord comes in verse four regarding the work in his temple and the work on the temple to keep building it. So here’s Josephine hiding, he can’t be up the temple helping encourage the people. So he’s like, keep going, keep going, keep building this thing. And then he gives them some instructions regarding the baptism for the dead. Notice there’s been a whole series of baptisms performed for the dead, but there oftentimes is no recorder present. So he’s saying, So we have no record.
Yeah, it’s been a little haphazard of these baptisms. And so this is the section that makes that very clear. Verse six, let there be a recorder and let him be eyewitness of your baptisms and let him hear with his ears that he may testify the truth. Sayeth the Lord, why? So that whatever is recorded on the Earth may be recorded in heaven. And he’s using this ceiling idea. And we’ll come back to that in section 128, book of verse eight, for I am about to restore many things to the Earth pertaining to the priesthood.
Saith, the Lord of hosts.
Say, is Joseph the Prophet? Even though Joseph’s name shows at the end of this epistle, God is almost interrupting Joseph Smith. He’s like, Joseph, I know that you’re feeling lots of things, but this is my work and I need to have you say some things in my name. And so it’s almost like this mutual conversation going on that God has to grab Joseph’s attention and say, I have something to say here. These things need to hear.
Now notice that Joseph switches back to his own voice very clearly in verse ten, I will say to all the Saints that I desired with exceedingly great desire to have addressed them from the stand on the subject of baptism for the dead on the following Sabbath. But basically I couldn’t do it. It’s not of my power. So I’m going to do this all by letter. And then he prays for them and closes, signing the letter with his name. Then a little less than a week later, section 128 comes and he starts out saying, yeah, as I stated in the letter before that, I would write to you from time to time, and I’m going to give you information on many subjects.
I now resume the subject of the baptism for the dead. It comes back.
Because that subject seems to occupy my mind and press itself upon my feelings the strongest since I have been pursued by my enemies. That’s interesting. I’m being pursued by my enemies and the subject that just won’t leave me alone. It’s just pressing on me as baptism for the dead. That’s fascinating.
Sealing powers and bringing families together. That’s not what I’m thinking about when I’m in distress.
Interesting. So he then gives more instructions about this recording. And in verse three, you get this instruction. There were four wards in Navu. And by the way, today in our Church. We use that word Ward all the time, but it begins not as a religious thing in Illinois. At the time, a Ward was a district or a voting precinct, a geographic area for political purposes. That’s it. So you move into that house, it happens to be inside of that geographic boundary. You are in that political Ward.
Well, the Church just used those Ward boundaries to denote their congregations. And to this day, in the Church, in more established areas, that’s the word we use.
And it’s powerful because we don’t go shopping around for a Bishop, right? We don’t go shopping around for a congregation like you move into a place. And that is your Ward family, your community. And so God, purposely, I think, has put this together and allowed it to persist because it creates the opportunity that we have to learn how to live in a covenantal community with people that we may not have chosen to live with. Otherwise, you think about marriage. Two people choose to be in a Covenant, a relationship you think about Award.
We all have to kind of figure out who we are and how to get along. And in some ways, there’s more opportunity to learn about yourself and others in Award environment than perhaps even in a marriage, because here you’re kind of a bound unit like we’re on eternity together in Award. There’s just a lot of differences, but we are in the covenantal community, and there’s a real opportunity to practice the gospel when we have to deal with differences.
So verse three is setting up this precedence to say every Ward needs their own recorder. And then verse four, we need a general Church recorder. We have got to keep good records and have them be accurate and witnessed, newly witnessed, and then notice what he does in verse six. Further, I want you to remember that John the Revelator was contemplating this very subject in relation to the dead when he declared, as you will find recorded in Revelation 2012. And I saw the dead small and great stand before God, and the books were opened and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.
And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works. And he goes on to describe that that book is a record kept on the Earth. Of what of these saving ordinances, of the things that God has given to the Earth to connect them with heaven. That it’s in order that it’s not just done and then forgotten. It’s recorded and it’s systematized. And he calls it the Book of Life. Here. Now, in verse eight, he introduces once again this idea of the ceiling power.
Whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven. What you loose on Earth will be loosed in heaven. And he’s taking this to the level. Verse nine, he says, it may seem to sum to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of a power which records or binds in Earth and binds in heaven. That’s giving an awful lot of power to men on the Earth. To say that you have power to bind in heaven. But he then verifies it verse ten again for the precedent.
He then quotes Matthew 1618 and 19, where he tells Peter, Whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth, shall be loosed in heaven. And then verse eleven, he takes it to this level. Now, the great and grand secret of the whole matter, and the Summam bonum, the ultimate application of the whole subject that is lying before us consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy priesthood for him to whom these keys are given. There is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the Salvation of the children of men.
And then he describes, this is where we get glory and honor, immortality, eternal life, the ordinance of baptism by water. And he says, this is in likeness of the dead. It’s like a death burial and a resurrection. That doctrine is taught in the New Testament as well. So you get the bottom part of verse twelve, making that very clear distinction. Hence, this ordinance was instituted to form a relationship with the ordinance of baptism for the dead being in likeness of the dead. And then he talks about the baptismal font being down below underneath verse 15.
And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over as pertaining to our Salvation, for their Salvation is necessary and essential to our Salvation. As Paul says concerning the fathers that they without us cannot be made perfect. Neither can we, without our dead be made perfect. Did you catch that you sitting here with in the generational chains so you might have children and grandchildren, or you might be an individual.
It’s okay because you all have ancestors. You all have this tree back here that branches out. Well, eventually that tree comes back together until you get to our first parents, Adam and Eve. Right. And what Joseph now is starting to see very clearly is, wait a minute. Our mission isn’t just to go out and preach the gospel to every nation kindred tongue and people and baptize them. It is that plus baptizing everybody in the family all the way back to Adam and Eve. And he’s seeing the fact that I need my kindred dead just as much as my kindred dead need me to do their work.
This is a powerful little motivator for me when it comes to family history work and temple work. I’m not just learning stories about random people. I’m learning about my own past, my own history, and when I go and do something for them that they can’t do for themselves. That’s how we become Saviors on Mount Zion. We become a little bit more like Jesus by doing this vicarious or proxy work, standing in for them and doing things that they can’t do for themselves in the process. We are not just helping save them, but we’re providing stepping stones, generational stepping stones for all of us to be linked as one family back to Adam and Eve as well.
We can’t be saved without our dead and our dead can’t be saved without us. Temple and family history work is it goes hand in hand with our missionary efforts. Elder Bednar has said they are not separate efforts. They’re the same thing focused on different sides of the veil basically is the way I see it, trying to invite all to come unto Christ and enter into these covenants with Him.
So this leads into verse 18, after he’s quoted Malachi five, chapter four, verses five to six. But look at verse 18. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel. Also, for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fullest times which dispensation is now beginning to usher in a whole and complete and perfect Union and welding together of dispensations, keys and powers and glory should take place and be revealed from the days of Adam even the present time.
I want to just focus for just a minute on that word perfect. But I love that he uses these other words as well. Whole and complete. We often think of perfect to be without blemish unspoiled sinless. Those things are all true, but the word perfect in a Covenant context, means to be complete, to be whole.
Fully if you think about it, if you go back to the Abrahamic promise, the Abrahamic promise includes that all the kindreds and all the people of the Earth will be blessed through Abraham and his posterity, which includes us. And so there’s this huge connection. Everybody gets bound into one great hole and things cannot be whole or complete or full. If members of the family of Adam or the children of God are strands that float off into the ether. God wants every single strand wherever you fit in the tree of life.
God wants you grafted in. Otherwise the tree is not whole. It isn’t perfect because it’s not complete. That’s why we need you. God cannot fully complete His work without you. You are part of this perfect, complete all the entirety. That’s what’s going on here. And you can imagine Joseph Smith, even in the throes of being persecuted and in hiding, is having this glorious grand vision of how God is working to save everybody. Now we have to choose to be brought in. We have to choose to be grafted in.
We have to choose to have those ordinances work for us. But that is God’s work. It’s for everyone to be saved.
And it’s fascinating to me to watch Joseph’s understanding unfold as he shares these things in section 127 128. His full attention is on the baptism for the dead that everyone needs to be baptized in next week’s lesson. We’re going to see that it’s as if the Lord is saying yes, that’s absolutely true. As well as we now need to have a welding link, a ceiling performed to seal the whole family together in one big, United whole, an entire, fully sealed family, which is going to come in the next lesson.
So it’s this line upon line. Precept upon precept. Here a little. There a little, and you just watch it unfold in the Scriptures. Now, as he winds down with this letter, look at verse 19, remembering Joseph is on the run in hiding, being oppressed. Look at verse 19. Now, what do we hear in the gospel, which we have received? A voice of gladness, a voice of mercy from heaven and a voice of truth out of the Earth. Glad tidings for the dead and a voice of gladness for the living and the dead.
Glad tidings of great joy. Then he asks in verse 20, what do we hear again? Glad tidings from Kamora Moroni, an angel from heaven. You come down halfway through, he says, you hear the voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light. And then you get the voice of Peter, James and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna County and Coldsville Broom County on the Susquehanna River, possessing the keys of the Kingdom and the dispensation of the fullness of times.
And what do you hear in verse 21, the voice of God in the Chamber of old Father, Whitmer, and Fayette. And at other times you hear the voice of Michael the Archangel, the voice of Gabriel, the voice of Raphael, and of diverse Angels from Michael or Adam down to the present time. What are they doing? They’re declaring their dispensations, their rights, their keys, their honors, their Majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood. Given how line up online precept upon precept here a little and there a little now he finishes with, in my opinion, these are some of Joseph’s most profound words he’s not saying.
Thus saith the Lord. This seems to be Joseph’s voice in this letter that he’s writing. But, wow, he’s speaking very powerfully, very prophetically here, brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. By the way, that’s really good advice for us today, because if you spend your time looking backward at what was wrong or the injustice or the trials or the tribulations, you’re probably not going to be going forward because human beings generally move the direction they’re facing. So he’s inviting everybody to go forward, not backward.
Courage, brethren, and on on to the victory. Let your hearts rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Let the Earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Emmanuel, who hath ordained before the world was that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison. For the prisoners shall go free. Let the mountains shout for joy and all Ye valleys cry aloud and all Ye sees and dry lands tell the wonders of your eternal King and Ye Rivers and Brooks and rills flow down with gladness.
Let the Woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord and Ye solid rocks weep for joy and let the sun moon and the morning stars sing together and let all the sons of God shout for joy unless the eternal creations declare His name forever and ever and again I say how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven proclaiming in our ears glory and Salvation and honor and immortality and eternal life, kingdoms, principalities and powers. And then he tells them the great day of the Lord is at hand.
And we’re going to make an offering in righteousness. So we as a Church as a people, what are we going to do? We’re going to finish a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation. So as we finish today, we just want to leave you with our assurance that God does work with imperfect people to accomplish his grand designs. And there will be occasions when you get promptings, when you get ideas, when you get revelations and you act on those.
But there will be other times where you just have to go forward to the best of your ability, trusting in God that He’s guiding your efforts and your steps and your words and helping to build up his Kingdom, not just on this side of the veil, but on the other side of the veil as well. Know that he lives. Know that he loves you and we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Spread light and goodness.