Posts Tagged 'Witnesses'

2 Kings Chapter 2

Elijah was a prophet in Israel during the reign of Ahab. He had performed miracles, showing that the Lord was God of Israel. Israel was in a state of wickedness, and they worshiped false gods, in particular Baal. Many of the prophets of the Lord had been destroyed by the hands of the leaders in Israel. Elijah had done a great amount of work for the Lord, and had been told through the spirit, that Elisha was to be called to follow after him. When Elijah found him, he cast his mantle on him, and Elisha joined Elijah and walked with him for a time.

1 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el.
3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

The time came for Elijah to be taken up by the Lord, and Elijah and Elisha were traveling together. Elijah told him to stay where they were, but Elisha was committed to stay with him, so they both travelled to Beth-el. The prophets in Beth-el went to Elisha and asked if he knew that the Lord was about to take Elijah from him, and Elisha told them not to worry because he already knew that. Elijah prepared to continue on to Jericho and told Elisha to stay in Beth-el, but Elisha would not leave him. They went to Jericho and the prophets there asked if Elisha knew that the Lord would take Elijah. Again, he told them not to worry because he knew it. Elijah told Elisha to stay in Jericho, because he had been told to go to the Jordan, but Elisha would not leave him. They went together to the Jordan. Fifty prophets watched from afar, as Elijah and Elisha went to the water of the Jordan. Elijah smote the waters with him mantle, and they divided. Then, Elijah and Elisha traveled on the dry ground.

Elisha is a good example of devotion and dedication. He had given up his own wants when he had willingly followed after Elijah. Then, here in this chapter, he was given every opportunity to let Elijah go on his own, but he would not leave him. He had committed to be his companion in the work of the Lord, and remained faithful to Elijah as he journeyed. The Lord prepared Elisha for his own calling as a prophet, by inspiring the prophets of Beth-el and Jericho to tell Elisha that Elijah was about to leave him. Elisha knew the time was coming, and decided that he would continue with Elijah, further preparing himself for his own call. He never turned from following after the prophet. We are currently living in a time much like Elisha. Not that anyone would want to say it, but it is clear that our living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is growing weary and may not be with us for much longer. We can follow the example of Elisha, by remaining faithfully devoted and dedicated to our prophet, dear. Now is not the time to turn away from him. It is important for disciples of Christ, to continue to listen and heed his words, for he will be the mouth-piece for the Lord, for as long as he lives.

What would be the purpose of repeating the miracle of dividing the waters, as Moses had done, and as Joshua had done with the Jordan as well? It might have been done as a witness to those who watched from afar. That they would know that Elijah was indeed prophet of the Lord.
Furthermore, it stood as a witness to Elijah and Elisha, that they were doing what God desired for them, because the power to do this miracle was in fact given by God. Additionally, it was a reminder that these men were true men of God, to be heeded and followed just as the people of Israel had followed Moses and Joshua. Another possible reason, is that they were doing was God was commanding Elijah to do, and as mortal men they needed a way to get to the other side of the Jordan. As Nephi teaches in 1 Nephi 3:7, “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” The Lord prepared a way for Elijah to go where he had been told to go. The Lord will always prepare a way for us to go and do those things He commands.

9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Once they were on the other side of the Jordan, Elijah told Elisha if there was anything he wanted to ask of him before he was taken away from him. Elisha asked that he have a double portion of the spirit that was with Elijah to be with him. A double portion was how the people of ancient times referred to the inheritance of the firstborn son. It is like Elisha was asking him to bless him as a firstborn son, in the things of the spirit rather than with physical things. Elijah told him, that it would happen, if Elisha witnessed him being taken away by the Lord. If he did not see him, it would not happen for him. They walked and talked together, when a chariot of fire went between them and Elijah was taken by a whirlwind into heaven.

It may have been possible for Elijah to tell Elisha that his desire was fulfilled, but doing things this way, gave an added witness to Elisha that the Lord was there for him in his service. Also, Elijah was not going to do anything contrary to the will of the Lord, and so he left this miracle to the Lord. This way of performing miracles, was why the Lord could trust Elijah with the sealing power he held. Only those who would not do anything contrary to the will of God, would be authorized to have the sealing power and use it among men on earth.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

Elisha did witness it and tore his own clothes as he mourned for Elijah. Elijah’s mantle had fallen, so Elisha picked up the mantle and went back to the waters of the Jordan. Then, Elisha used the mantle to part the waters of the Jordan as Elijah had. He crossed on the dry land and the prophets witnessed it. They recognized that the same spirit that had rested on Elijah, was with Elisha. The went to him and honored him as they had Elijah. The miracle of parting the waters could not have been done by a man alone. This is why it is such a spectacular event in the histories of the Israelites. Only a man, who has the power of the Lord with him, could do this thing. Both Elijah and Elisha were able to perform this miracle though the power of God.

When I think of the power to control the waters, I am reminded of a story in the life of the Savior. The story of being caught up in a horrible storm with his disciples. As he slept, they worried they were going to perish. When they woke him, He spoke and used His power to calm the waters and the wind. The men with him were amazed at this miracle, and wondered about the man Jesus (See Luke 8:22-25). Only with the power of God can things of nature be controlled in this way. A great lesson in this, is that with the power of God, things that seem impossible are possible. We can and should seek to have this spirit and power with us, just as Elisha did in his day.

16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.
17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.
18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

The prophets told Elisha to send strong men to look for Elijah in case he had been moved to a mountain or valley some where, but Elisha refused. They continued to tell him to do this, until he gave in and told them to send men. The men looked for three days, but did not find him. They returned to Elisha in Jericho and he told them that this is why he had said not to send them.

19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.
20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

The men of Jericho went to Elisha and told him that the city there was great, except that the waters were not good and the land was not producing. He told them to bring a jar or a bowl, with salt in it. They did and he went to the waters of Jericho and threw the salt into it. He told them that he had healed the water by the word of the Lord, and that the land would no longer be barren and the people would not die because of the waters. The waters were healed according to his words.

23 And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Elisha left Jericho and went back to Beth-el. On the way, some youth came out of the city and mocked him because he was bald, meaning possibly that they saw him as old. It seems like this was much like a gang of youth, who would do this same type of thing today. These are the type of people who would try to instill shame or fear in others just for the sport of it. Elisha cursed them for mocking him, and two bears came and killed 42 of them. Elisha returned to Samaria, by way of Mount Carmel.

One of the things that this chapter causes me to reflect on, is the idea of a mantel in a calling. When a person is called and set apart by the Lord (through his servants), they have a spiritual mantel placed upon their shoulders. It is that thing, which gives them gifts of the spirit particular to the needs of that assignment. It is not something you can physically see, but I believe it can be seen with spiritual eyes. For example, just prior to the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley, I watched Thomas S. Monson speak without sensing the mantel of his calling. Then, the first time he spoke after he became the new President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had been praying for confirmation that he was called of God to be the prophet and president. When I saw him speak, my prayer was answered and I could see and feel, with my spiritual eyes, the mantel that was now upon his shoulders. It was a huge blessing to me, to know that he was called of God to lead the church. I am certain that President Monson feels the weight of the mantel upon his shoulders spiritually, just as Elisha would have physically felt the mantel of Elijha upon his own.

I think it is good to note also, that the Lord did not leave his people without a prophet to lead and guide them. There have been times when people did not have prophets because of their own transgressions and how they used their agency to kill the prophets, but at this time, the mantel was passed to another. We live in a time of continuing revelation. In order for revelation to continually come from God, we must continue to have prophets called to lead and guide his people. I feel that it is important to have a testimony of a newly called prophet in our modern times, and so I have taken to the habit of fasting and praying to know that a man has been called to lead and guide us as I mentioned above, before they are sustained by the vote of the church in conference. Since doing this, I have been blessed time and time again, by a witness of the spirit, that the new prophet or apostles are indeed called of God to do this work. This is the kind of experience that the men who watched had, as Elijah left and Elisha returned and parted the waters.

1 Kings Chapter 8

Temple

The temple was built in Jerusalem and was prepared to be dedicated to the Lord. This chapter tells of the final steps needed to take this grand building that Solomon had built and make it truly the House of the Lord rather than just a pretty bulding. It begins with the following:

1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.
2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
4 And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.
8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.
9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,
11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.

The leaders of Israel were gathered together, so that the ark of the covenant could be brought to the temple, from where it had been placed prior to this. Once assembled, the elders had a feast. The priests and Levites brought the ark, as well as the tabernacle and all that went with it, and placed it within the holy place of the temple, just as they had been commanded in the tabernacle under the direction of Moses. The congregation of Israel made sacrifices in great number. It was placed under the wings of the cherubs, as it’s permanent location. There was no intention of it being moved again now that the there was a permanent structure instead of the portable tabernacle, so they removed the staves which were connected to the ark in order to carry it as they traveled. The two tablets of stone, brought down from the mount by Moses, which contained the words of the Lord regarding the covenants of Israel, remained in the ark. A cloud and the glory of the Lord filled the temple to the point where the priests were unable to stand and minister. The cloud showed the people that God accepted the temple.

The cloud was a physical representation of the presence of God among the Israelites. There was a cloud that led them from Egypt and was there when Moses received the law. There was a cloud with the tabernacle as they wandered in the desert. When they could see the cloud, they knew that God was there. Sometimes I wonder how people today, including myself, would behave if they were able to witness a physical representation of God in this way. I believe that we do not have this experience as a people, because we live in a time, even the latter days, when greater faith is required of us. In order to stand in the battle we have against evil, our faith must be strong. We can have our own personal witnesses after we act in faith. A personal witness has the power to convert our hearts and shape our character in ways that draw us nearer to God.

12 Then spake Solomon, The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
13 I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.
14 And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)
15 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,
16 Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
17 And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
18 And the Lord said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
19 Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.
20 And the Lord hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
21 And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.

King Solomon gave a blessing upon the congregation of Israel. He praised God for fulfilling the promise he made to his father, David. He spoke of the word of the Lord to David, telling him that his son would build the house to His name, which David desired to build. David spoke of building a place for the ark, which contained the words of the covenants made between God and the Israelites who were brought out of bondage in Egypt.

22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:
23 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:
24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
25 Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.
26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.
27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.
30 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.

Solomon prayed to the Lord, giving praise to God. He asked that the Lord also continue to fulfill another promise made to David, which was that David’s line would continue on the throne according to their faithfulness. He asked if God would dwell among them, even though the house they build could not contain Him. He prayed that the temple would be watched over as His house, with His name, and that the prayer of Solomon would be heard, as well as the prayers of those who would turn towards the temple, that they might be forgiven.

31 If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:
32 Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.

Solomon prayed that all their oaths would go before the altar of the Lord, and that they would be judged by them to the condemning of the wicked and blessing of the righteous.

33 When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:
34 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.

He prayed that when the people fell away and were brought down by their enemies, repenting and praying to the Lord, they might be forgiven and restored to the land of promise.

35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
36 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.

He prayed that when times of drought, brought upon them by sin, caused that they returned to the Lord and to the temple, then God would hear them and forgive them, teaching them to walk in righteousness through the word of God and revelations, and allowing the rain to come upon the land of promise.

37 If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;
38 What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:
39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
41 Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake;
42 (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;
43 Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.

He prayed that the prayers of those who suffered from any plague, whether upon the land or in one heart, would be heard. He prayed that God would forgive them and bless each man according to his heart. He prayed that as long as they live in the promised land, they would fear the Lord, and that any who left their own lands seeking for the Lord, praying towards the temple, could be blessed by having their prayers answered. He prayed that people all over the earth would know the Lord and fear Him as the people of Israel feared Him. He prayed that all would know that this temple was the Lord’s house.

44 If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:
45 Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;
47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:
49 Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,
50 And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:
51 For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:
52 That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.
53 For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.
54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
56 Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:
60 That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.
61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

Solomon prayed that those faithful who prayed towards the temple would be blessed in the battles with their enemies (at least those who God would command them to fight). He prayed that sinners, who would be carried away captive by their enemies, but repent and turn their hearts back to God in prayer, would be forgiven and blessed that their enemies would have compassion on them. He asked that the Lord would remember them as His people when they had repented. When Solomon finished his prayer, he blessed the congregation, with a reminder that the Lord would be with them, if they would turn their hearts to God and keep the commandments. The Lord had fulfilled all that He had promised them regarding the rest among their people, and for this they should have been grateful. God always keeps his word and promises to mankind. He asked that all the earth would come to know that the Lord was the true and only God, as they strived to keep the commandments.

62 And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord.
63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.
64 The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the Lord was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
65 And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.
66 On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.

The people then made sacrifices at the dedication of the temple. Solomon held a feast and the people were worshipping there for fourteen days. Then Solomon sent the people back to their homes, and they were full of joy and gladness because of the blessings that the Lord had given to David and all Israel. The completion of the temples today, followed by the sacred dedications, also bring much joy and gladness to the hearts of disciples of Christ.

There is great importance in having dedicatory prayers. When we want the Lord to accept our sacrifices and offerings, we need to commit them through our words to Him. When we want to serve the Lord in our personal lives, we need to dedicate our time to Him through prayer. The spirit can attend us, just as it can be in the house of the Lord, after we dedicate our bodies, hearts, minds and time to Him.

This chapter is an indication of the love that Solomon had for the Lord. He clearly desired to do the will of God and lead his people to do the same. He showed gratitude and praise for God, and recognized His hand in the lives of his predecessors as well as his own life. Solomon did not take credit for the peace of his people, but owed that to the Lord. He feared God and loved his people.

One other thing that this chapter causes me to ponder on, is the need to pray towards the temple. The children of Israel were told to physically turn towards Jerusalem and pray towards the temple. We have not been told to do this physically in our day, but we too must face ourselves towards the temple if we desire to have the Spirit as our companion. This means that we pray with the intent to keep our covenants and the commandments of God. It means that we will strive to live the gospel, with a continued prayer in our hearts. It means that we will live worthy of the temple, even when we are not in the walls of the temple. I am grateful for the temple and the figure of holiness it is in my life. It is a constant reminder of my personal desire to draw nearer to God.

The temple is truly the house of the Lord. I know that the Lord continues to command His people to build temples today. I have seen the dedication and rededication of a handful of temples and I have felt the spirit there. I know that this prayer of Solomon is much like the dedicatory prayers of the temples today. And like the people of Israel, the Lord will bless those who repent of their sins, turn to Him, worship Him, and serve in His holy house.

Ponderizing – Week 7 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is
John 13:20 (see also D&C 39:5, D&C 84:37).

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

These are the words of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to his disciples during what we call the last supper. Men would be chosen by the Lord to represent Him throughout the world. In the church that he had established in his earthly ministry, and just after his resurrection, the Lord chose apostles whom he sent throughout the land. Among them were Peter, John, and later Paul. These men bore strong witness of the Lord, to men of their day. Their missions and writings were recorded by inspiration, and we have some of them today in the Bible. If the Lord were only speaking of those who would be chosen in that time, which I don’t believe he was, we have the opportunity to follow his admonition as well. If we choose to receive them, by receiving their words, we receive Christ and His Father, who sent Him.

Likewise, I believe that the resurrected Lord appeared to men in the Americas, and he called disciples to preach among them. Their stories are found in the Book of Mormon, and when we choose to receive those words, we receive the Lord also.

The Lord’s mission did not begin with his mortal birth, but rather in the heavens before earth began. Since that time, He has chosen many men, to do His work, to lead His people, and to testify of Him. We can find some of their stories and teachings throughout the rest of our holy scriptures. We can choose to receive their words as well, and when we do so, we receive God.

Furthermore, I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth, just as was promised in ancient revelations. I believe that the Lord has chosen modern prophets and apostles, along with many others who have been called to bear witness of the Savior in our day. I believe the promise remains the same. If we receive them, their writings and their words of revelation and testimony, we receive the Lord.

How do we receive them? We start by reading and listening to the words of the scriptures and messages given today. Then, we believe in them, believe that they are indeed chosen and called of God, and we hearken to their council. To receive them, we need to experiment upon their words, test them at the things they promise, and watch for the blessings to follow. We receive them, by gaining and strengthening our personal testimonies through their examples and teachings. As we do these things, our hearts will be softened and opened to accepting the Lord and His atonement into our lives. This has been His purpose from before the creation, because when we accept the Lord, we choose to align our lives with God’s plan for us. Ultimately, we are choosing to take the path, which will lead us back to our Father in Heaven. When we receive those whom the Lord has chosen and sent to guide us, we choose to receive our Father in Heaven. This is what God wants for all of His children, even eternal life for all.

I know that this is an idea that is becoming less popular in the world today. Following the words of ancient and modern prophets, is seen as archaic and traditions of the past. However, I have a testimony that their words are true and that they were and are truly prophets and apostles of the Lord. Their mission has been and will continue to be, to bring souls to Christ. I am so grateful for their teachings and the amazing blessings that have come to my own life through listening to their words. My prayer, is that more people will choose to receive them and accept the gifts and blessings they offer to us.

Deuteronomy Chapter 19

In chapter 17 of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites of the importance of having righteous leaders. Specifically, he taught them the importance of judges who would do their duty without prejudice and according to the laws of God. It was important that they remembered to carry out judgements of God’s established laws, in a manner that was pleasing to God. Only then, would they continue to be led by the spirit of the Lord. Moses continues the teachings of the Lord, with regard to how they were to handle some of those individuals judged as guilty by the law.

1 When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
2 Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
3 Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.

After becoming established in a land free of other nations, they were to create three cities of refuge within the land. These three cities were to be established with roads and borders. They were for those who had committed manslaughter.

4 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;
5 As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
7 Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.
8 And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;
9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:
10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

Those who had a place in the cities of refuge, were they who had ignorantly or accidentally killed another, without any premeditation or the intention to murder another. An example of manslaughter is given, where two men are chopping down a tree, and the axe slips from one man’s hand and kills the other accidentally. Those convicted of manslaughter could go to a city of refuge and live without fear of the death being avenged by an angry family member or friend. This because manslaughter was not a crime worthy of death according to God. If the Lord blessed them with more land, they were to add more cities of refuge. God did not want innocent blood shed in the land of promise, which would make them unworthy of the land.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

If a person murdered in cold-blood and then escaped to the city of refuge, the leaders were to take him out of that city. All murderers were to be put to death and not shown pity when they were found guilty. If they did not follow through with this, the people would be held accountable for their choice.

14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.

The people were not to remove the landmarks left in the land from old times. I believe that the word landmarks is the marks of boundary on the land. The Israelites were not to decide for themselves how they should change the boundaries of their inheritances, but were to leave them as they were first divided in the land.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

If only one witness spoke against another person, they could not be judged for that thing. All cases were to be judged bases on the words of two or three witnesses. The Lord has been consistent in the law of witnesses throughout time. In the time of the restoration of the church, the Lord said, “and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:28) Witnesses are so important to our being able to know truth from those things that are false. Most important, is the witness we can receive from the spirit of the Lord, which is undeniable by our own spirit, and if we listen, He will teach us what is true.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

False witnesses were to be judged along with those they testified against. The judges and elders of Israel, were to look hard at the details of the case and decide if the witness was being truthful. If the witness was found to be lying, then he would be judged guilty in the matter and receive the punishment that he had hoped for the one was innocent. As a result, those who were seeking that another be falsely accused and receive punishment, would receive that punishment equally. In doing so, the leaders of Israel would show to the rest of the people, that anyone who bore false witness against another would be held accountable.

The act of intentionally murdering another person, is never right. God established the law against murder, long before the Isrealites existed. Cain was cursed and cast away from the presence of the Lord, when he committed the first murder (Genesis 4:8, 11, 14; see also Moses 5:32, 36, 39). The law is specifically stated in Genesis 9:6, when we read the law as given to Noah’s generation, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Then it was established with the Israelites, when Moses first brought them the ten commandments. In Exodus 20:13 we read, “Thou shalt not kill.” Any man who was guilty of murder was rightfully to be put to death, by the standards of the Lord. The Lord has re-established His law in our day as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 42, we read the following:

18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.

Any person who murders another of God’s children, will be held accountable by God for their sin. Whether or not they are not punished in this life for their crime, they will be judged appropriately at the judgement seat of the Lord and all will be made right by God.

Just as all kings and their rulings, and judges and their judgments, were to be just and righteous, all the punishments for those guilty, were to be just and righteous. When men are punished for accidents, or innocent men are convicted of crimes, there is little hope in the law for those who are trying to live good lives. This kind of government leads to chaos, rebellion, and falling away from those things that are good and true. It was so important for the Israelites to remember these things, so that they could remain faithful to the Lord. It is important for these things today as well. When good laws are established to maintain freedoms and allow people the ability to righteously follow their beliefs, it gives men the ability to openly follow after the Lord. When governments choose to altar these good things, for their own purposes, one things leads to another and apostasy is sure to follow. Those who are striving to live a life of righteousness, need to do all that they are able to ensure that those who are leading them are protecting the freedoms and the good laws of the land.

Joseph Smith-History (Part 5)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-History Part 4).

So far in this history, Joseph had the first vision and visits from angels including angel Moroni. Joseph was given the gold plates to translate them into what we know now as The Book of Mormon. Martin Harris, who had been his scribe for the first part of the translation, had lost pages of the translation and had been released from his duty as scribe. This record continues:

66 On the 5th day of April, 1829, Oliver Cowdery came to my house, until which time I had never seen him. He stated to me that having been teaching school in the neighborhood where my father resided, and my father being one of those who sent to the school, he went to board for a season at his house, and while there the family related to him the circumstances of my having received the plates, and accordingly he had come to make inquiries of me.
67 Two days after the arrival of Mr. Cowdery (being the 7th of April) I commenced to translate the Book of Mormon, and he began to write for me.

Joseph was once again able to translate the Book of Mormon, with the help of Oliver Cowdery. I just love the account of how Oliver came to be there, because in my study I have learned that he was fully led by the inspiration of the spirit and he came right when Joseph was in need of his help. In Doctrine and Covenants 6, we learn that Oliver had received an answer to the desires of his heart, and this answer led him to assist the prophet. I am sure that this experience of working with the prophet, to assist in translating a sacred record by the power of God, was unforgettable and life-changing. All righteous leaders need the support of faithful members in order to do the work of the Lord. This reminds me that we each have a value in the gospel and we all can have the chance to be instruments in the Lord’s hands, if we are doing what is right and follow the inspiration of the spirit.

Baptism

68 We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:
69 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
70 He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.

While translating the gold plates, Joseph and Oliver had questions about the gospel. There are many teachings in the scriptures of the ordinances that we must partake of in order to partake of Eternal Life. The prophets have taught many times of the basic principles of the gospel and Joseph and Oliver knew that they did not have these things, but should. More importantly, the Savior himself, taught these principles when he visited the people in the Americas. One of the questions they had from reading the teachings of Jesus, was related to baptism for the remission of sins, so they decided to take their question to the Lord. In response, they were visited by an angel who conferred upon them the Aaronic priesthood and the power to baptize in the name of Christ. This was the next step in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The priesthood power, which had not been on the earth since the time of the apostles, was restored to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. This priesthood power and authority to baptize people in the name of Christ, continues to be on the earth today.

71 Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.*
72 The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.

Now that they had the priesthood, Joseph and Oliver were able to baptize and ordain one another. The ordinance of baptism, through this proper priesthood authority, is the gateway for our acceptance into the presence of our Heavenly Father. We cannot enter without it. I am so grateful for my own baptism and for the blessings that have filled my life because of it.

The angel revealed that he was John the Baptist and that Peter, James, and John would bring them the Melchizedek Priesthood in due time. Joseph and Oliver did not act outside of the priesthood authority they had been given, and eventually they had the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred upon them as well. Before this happened though, they did receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the power of God.

73 Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.

Neither of these men had been able to prophesy before this experience. Joseph was able to witness and testify of the things that he had been taught and seen, but it was not until he had been baptized and was worthy to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, that he was able to prophesy of things to come. I am sure that this was an amazing experience and gave them a greater strength and courage to go on in the face of the ongoing persecution and adversity.

74 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood.
75 We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time, and this, too, by professors of religion. And their intentions of mobbing us were only counteracted by the influence of my wife’s father’s family (under Divine providence), who had become very friendly to me, and who were opposed to mobs, and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption; and therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings, as far as in them lay.

Now that they had the precious gift of the Holy Ghost, they were able to receive great understanding of the scriptures as they worked to translate them. I am touched by the softening of the hearts of the Hale family. They had previously been against Emma marrying Joseph, so much so that it seems that Joseph feared for her safety and removed her from them. However, by the hand of God, the work of translation was continued, because her family had been changed. It is another example to me, that hearts can be changed for the better, even when it seems things will never be different.

* Oliver Cowdery describes these events thus: “These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’
“To notice, in even few words, the interesting account given by Mormon and his faithful son, Moroni, of a people once beloved and favored of heaven, would supersede my present design; I shall therefore defer this to a future period, and, as I said in the introduction, pass more directly to some few incidents immediately connected with the rise of this Church, which may be entertaining to some thousands who have stepped forward, amid the frowns of bigots and the calumny of hypocrites, and embraced the Gospel of Christ.
“No men, in their sober senses, could translate and write the directions given to the Nephites from the mouth of the Savior, of the precise manner in which men should build up His Church, and especially when corruption had spread an uncertainty over all forms and systems practiced among men, without desiring a privilege of showing the willingness of the heart by being buried in the liquid grave, to answer a ‘good conscience by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’
“After writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easy to be seen, as the prophet said it would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. On reflecting further it was as easy to be seen that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel. For the question might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations, when His testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy, and His religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations, in all ages of the world when He has had a people on earth? If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given ‘Arise and be baptized.’

Oliver’s writing is very poetic and can seem a bit difficult to understand, but what I get from this is that Oliver wanted to share his testimony of his experience. He truly sat and wrote as the prophet of the Lord acted as an instrument of God and translated the gold plates with the help of the Urim and Thummim. He testifies that no person could have written the words of the Savior about his gospel and not have the desire to be baptized. He says that mankind had been in darkness, but they did not need to be any longer. He and Joseph were anxiously waiting for the commandment to be baptized.

“This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon Him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us His will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted—while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard, as in the ‘blaze of day’; yes, more—above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow-servant,’ dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! ’Twas the voice of an angel from glory, ’twas a message from the Most High! And as we heard we rejoiced, while His love enkindled upon our souls, and we were wrapped in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere; uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!

Oliver and Joseph did not have to wait long to be told to be baptized. He testifies that the Lord answers the prayers of the humble, and that they in fact had their own prayer answered. He testifies of the experience of witnessing the glory of John the Baptist and hearing his soul-piercing voice and knowing, without any doubts, that he was a messenger from God.

“But, dear brother, think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, ‘Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’
“I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind. The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry; and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that day which shall never cease.”—Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1 (October 1834), pp. 14–16.

Oliver and Joseph bowed to the glory of John the Baptist who called himself their fellow servant. It must have been amazing to realize that they were in the same service to God, as an angel from heaven. Oliver testifies that John the Baptist conferred the Priesthood of Aaron upon them. Oliver says that no trial, tribulation, deception, or wicked influence could stand in the mind, when one ray of glory from God has been received in the mind. He could not adequately describe the glorious experience that he had at that time.

I am grateful for the testimony of Oliver Cowdery. Again, the Lord has said ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses’ and this is another example of that. We could have just had the testimony of Joseph to believe, but here we have two witnesses of the same experience and now this will stand as a witness against those who say that it could not be true. I believe that the priesthood was truly restored to these great men. I believe that it remains on the earth today and that worthy men of the true gospel and church of Jesus Christ, can hold and use that priesthood. I have been greatly blessed by the priesthood in my life and I do not ever want to be without its influence. I am grateful to be married to a worthy man who honors his priesthood and brings its blessings into my home.

D&C Section 135

The prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, were arrested for the charge of treason during June of 1844. They were taken captive to Carthage Jail in Illinois. Elder John Taylor, as well as Elder Willard Richards of the Twelve Apostles were with them. John Taylor wrote the words of this section, as a witness to the awful event that occurred on June 27th, 1844.

1 To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob—painted black—of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.
2 John Taylor and Willard Richards, two of the Twelve, were the only persons in the room at the time; the former was wounded in a savage manner with four balls, but has since recovered; the latter, through the providence of God, escaped, without even a hole in his robe.

The prophet and his brother, were martyred by a mob in Illinois. I think it interesting that years earlier, the Lord would say (Doctrine and Covenants 5:21-22), “And now I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and to yield to the persuasions of men no more; And that you be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded you; and if you do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life, even if you should be slain.” I think the prophet knew that there was a good possibility that his enemies would kill him, even from the beginning of the restoration. Even knowing of this possibility, he still did all that the Lord commanded him, and sealed his testimony as is says here.

I think that this is the evidence of God’s hand in all things. Two were martyred as a testimony of the restoration of the gospel, and two were there as a witness to it. In Matthew 18:16 we read, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” We have two witnesses of each of these things, to establish that these things are true. Based on this principle, we will all be held accountable for believing these things or not. If we did not have these two witnesses, who did not even have to be there in the jail (they had not been accused of the crime but were allowed to be there), there is no way of knowing what stories would have been made up to cover up the truth. Because of these witnesses, we have the true account, that even in the face of death, the prophet turned to God.

3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

The words of this verse are so powerful to me. If there is any doubt in your mind of whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, I highly suggest studying the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon, praying about the words of this verse to know for yourself. I have had a witness of the spirit borne to my soul, that this is truth. I know that the prophet, Joseph Smith did these things for our benefit and for the salvation of mankind. Because of the Savior, we will be resurrected and we have the ability to be forgiven of our sins. Because of Joseph Smith, we have the fulness of the gospel and the priesthood has been restored, which allows us the opportunity to make necessary covenants and to do the work for all of mankind. We know the true mission and purpose of the Savior, and so much more, because of the service done by Joseph Smith. All that Joseph did for the saints (and for us), was under the direction of the Lord and in obedience to the commandments given to him. Joseph’s works are the greatest of all the prophets, and his service was pleasing to God, the Father, and the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

4 When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood.”—The same morning, after Hyrum had made ready to go—shall it be said to the slaughter? yes, for so it was—he read the following paragraph, near the close of the twelfth chapter of Ether, in the Book of Mormon, and turned down the leaf upon it:
5 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I … bid farewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force.
6 Hyrum Smith was forty-four years old in February, 1844, and Joseph Smith was thirty-eight in December, 1843; and henceforward their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory of God, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard of corruption. They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified.
7 They were innocent of any crime, as they had often been proved before, and were only confined in jail by the conspiracy of traitors and wicked men; and their innocent blood on the floor of Carthage jail is a broad seal affixed to “Mormonism” that cannot be rejected by any court on earth, and their innocent blood on the escutcheon of the State of Illinois, with the broken faith of the State as pledged by the governor, is a witness to the truth of the everlasting gospel that all the world cannot impeach; and their innocent blood on the banner of liberty, and on the magna charta of the United States, is an ambassador for the religion of Jesus Christ, that will touch the hearts of honest men among all nations; and their innocent blood, with the innocent blood of all the martyrs under the altar that John saw, will cry unto the Lord of Hosts till he avenges that blood on the earth. Amen.

Joseph Smith and Hyrum, knew that they were being set up for death, and yet they knew that they were innocent and were going to be found in favor of God. They willingly gave themselves up, knowing that they had done nothing wrong. Knowing that they were nearing the end, they said nothing to deny all that they had done and said, and standing strong in the face of death, they sealed their testimonies forever. I know that those who murdered them, will be held accountable. I also know that anyone who claims that the things they stood for are not true, after knowing the truth, will be held accountable as well. I know that Joseph Smith stands with the Lord and with God, and that he lived worthy of all the promised blessings from God. The Lord told him, “And even if they do unto you even as they have done unto me, blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory (D&C 6:30).” I am so grateful for the work and teachings of the prophet, Joseph Smith. I know that he is a prophet of God, and that he restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. I know that if I can follow his example, and be obedient in all righteous things, I will be greatly blessed.

D&C Section 77 (Part 2)

(This is a continuation of the previous post: D&C Section 77 Part 1)

Historical Background

While translating the Bible, the prophet, Joseph Smith, received this revelation regarding the book of St. John (or the book of Revelation). It is a guide to understanding parts of the revelation of John, that had been a great mystery to the saints before the prophet received this.

Four Angels Sent from God with Power to Save Life and to Destroy It

In Revelation 7:1 we read, “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”

“Q. What are we to understand by the four angels, spoken of in the 7th chapter and 1st verse of Revelation? A. We are to understand that they are four angels sent forth from God, to whom is given power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to cast down to the regions of darkness (D&C 77:8 ).” The four angels that John saw will have the power to judge the wickedness of the world, and to cause for all things to be sealed to the heavens or to be held captive by darkness. I believe that there is and always has been order to the work of God, which involves the practice of delegation. These angels have been delegated a portion of the responsibility for bringing destruction to the wicked. The power to do this comes directly from the Lord.

What Is the Significance of the Angel from the East Sealing the Servants of God?

In Revelation 7:2-3 we read, “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea (v. 2), Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads (v. 3).”

“Q. What are we to understand by the angel ascending from the east, Revelation 7th chapter and 2nd verse? A. We are to understand that the angel ascending from the east is he to whom is given the seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, he crieth unto the four angels having the everlasting gospel, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And, if you will receive it, this is Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things (D&C 77:9).” The servants of God are sealed by the everlasting covenant and will be protected when the destruction falls upon the wickedness of the world.

“Q. What time are the things spoken of in this chapter to be accomplished? A. They are to be accomplished in the sixth thousand years, or the opening of the sixth seal (D&C 77:10).” The destruction of the wickedness and the saving of those who are sealed by the everlasting covenant, will happen in the sixth thousand years of the earth’s life, before the thousand years of rest. This revelation through Joseph Smith, tells us that Elias will come to restore the sealing power that will save those who serve the Lord and are sealed by the everlasting covenant.

Who Are the 144,000?

In Revelations 7:4 we read, “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”

“Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand out of every tribe? A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn (D&C 77:11).” The ordained high priests of God, are those 144,000 who are sealed and have the power to seal the everlasting gospel and covenant to those who are faithful. These 144,000 will gather the tribes of Israel and bring them to the gospel.

What Things Has Christ “Not Put into His Power”?

In Revelations 8 we read, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour (v. 1). And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets (v. 2).”

“Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation? A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; . . . (D&C 77:12)”.

There will be a thousand years that will be the time when the world will be sanctified. All things will be redeemed by the Lord, except those things which “he hath not put into his power”. In D&C 76:41-43 we read, “That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness (v. 41); That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him (v. 42); Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him (v. 43).” At this time, all but the sons of perdition, will be redeemed.

What Is the Purpose for the Sounding of Trumpets by Seven Angels?

Revelations 8 continues, “And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound (v. 6). The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up (v. 7). And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood (v. 8 ); And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed (v. 9). And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters (v. 10); And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter (v. 11). And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise (v. 12). And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound (v. 13)!”

The rest of verse 12 in Doctrine and Covenants Section 77 reads, “. . . and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.” The seven angels with seven trumpets, will announce the coming of the Lord. During the last dispensation of the world, before the Savior comes again, these signs represented by the seven angels, will be given.

Revelation chapter 9, goes on to tell about the rest of the angels sounding their trumpets and awful things happening to those who do not repent. It also tells of things happening to those who have been sealed, but not ending in death. In D&C 77:13 we read, “Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation? A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ.” These signs are proof to us that the second coming is near.

What Is the Symbolism of the Little Book Eaten by John

In Revelation chapter 10, John’s message continues about seeing another angel. “And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth (v. 2), And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices (v. 3).” John had more he was shown that he was to write, when he was told not to write them (v. 4). The angel told him there would be no more time, once the seventh angel days were here (v. 5-7). “And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth (v. 8 ). And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey (v. 9). And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter (v. 10). And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings (v. 11).”

In D&C 77:14 we read, “Q. What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation? A. We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.” The little book was the words of God, to be shared with all people. By eating the book in his revelation, he was being ordained to his mission to bring this message “before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings”. Like the book, the message of God is sweet and we should rejoice in it, but the responsibility that comes with knowing of the word of the Lord, is that there will be judgements and they will be bitter for those who have not repented.

Are John the Revelator and the Angel Ascending from the East the Same Person?

We learned from modern-day revelation, that the angel from the East, was Elias (see D&C 77:9 above). Then here in verse 14, we read that John ate the book, or was to fulfill the mission of Elias. The mission is the same, to restore all things. Throughout the scriptures, there are many men who are given the title of Elias. This is because the restoration of all things came through many men. The prophet Moroni came and began the restoration through Joseph Smith. He was given the tools to translate, the Book of Mormon, and more. In D&C 13, John the Baptist came to restore the keys of the Aaronic priesthood. In D&C 110, Moses restored the keys of the gathering of Israel, Elias restored the gospel of Abraham, and Elijah restored the sealing powers. In D&C 128, the prophet speaks of Peter, James and John (the John who gave this revelation) restoring keys of this dispensation and the fullness of time, and of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael each with their keys of the priesthood. Elias is the title given to all those who would bring their keys to be restored in this final dispensation.

Who Are the Two Witnesses Referred to by John?

In Revelation chapter 11 we read, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth (v. 3). These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth (v. 4).” Two witnesses will prophesy with great powers of heaven, then they will be killed and after three days of the people rejoicing over their death, they will rise and be witnessed ascending to heaven.

In verse 15 of D&C 77 we read, “Q. What is to be understood by the two witnesses, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation? A. They are two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers.” Just before the Lord comes again, a temple will be built in Jerusalem again, and as there is war in the city, two prophets who have been “raised up to the Jewish nation” (up to it and not from it), will prophesy. The manual I am studying goes on further to say that Elder Bruce R. McConkie said these prophets would be members of the Quorum of the Twelve or the First Presidency, who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I know that we are in the last dispensation of time, when all things have been restored just as was prophesied by John. The gathering of Israel has been started and many great and wonderful things have happened on this earth. I believe with all of my heart that all of these prophesies will be fulfilled. I do not fully understand the things that John saw in this revelation, and in fact it has taken me several days to read and re-read this section to even understand the smallest part of it. That being said, I know theses things are true. I know that there will be more great things to come and many awful and terrible things as well. The hope I have, is that after all these things happen, the Savior will come again and bring with Him the greatest joy and peace that man has ever known.

D&C Section 17 (Part 2)

(Continued from previous post: Part 1)

Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris were given this revelation through the prophet, Joseph Smith

Testimony Given by the Power of God

“And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old (v. 2). And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God (v. 3);” The only thing that has the power to change us and truly give us a testimony, is the Holy Ghost. This is the power of God. We learn from the examples of many people in the scriptures, such as Laman and Lemuel, that having a visitation from an angel, does not give us a testimony. The testimony of the three witnesses is great, but can do nothing for anyone unless they are worthy of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. It is the testimony given to us by the Holy Ghost, that will convince us the Book of Mormon is true and good.

The Lord’s Law of Witnesses

“And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work (v. 4).” The law of witnesses is found throughout the scriptures. In 2 Cor. 13:1 we read, “. . . In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” The Lord would not expect Joseph Smith to stand alone in testifying of the the restored gospel. There is no way that he could have done that. Some people may have believed just his word, but to truly bring the work forth, there had to be more witnesses. We are blessed to have the testimony of Joseph Smith, the three witnesses and then the eight witnesses. If we have the influence of the Holy Ghost, there will be no way to deny that the Book of Mormon is true.

Joseph Smith Preserved by the Testimony of Witnesses

The prophet was extremely relieved to have the support of others who witnesses the plates. He said, “. . . I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.” (History of Joseph Smith, p. 152) I am sure that the burden of proof, weighed heavy on his mind and soul. No one should be made to experience that alone.

“Ye Shall Testify”

“And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith (v. 5).” All three of these witnesses continued to bear testimony of the witness they had received, until the days that they died. They may have had struggles in remaining in full fellowship of the church, even leaving it, but they never denied the truth of the Book of Mormon. We all have things that tempt us to step away from the path, but once our souls have been touched with a true testimony of something, it is nearly impossible to deny it.

“For My Grace Is Sufficient for You”

“And he has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true (v. 6). Wherefore, you have received the same power, and the same faith, and the same gift like unto him (v. 7); And if you do these last commandments of mine, which I have given you, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; for my grace is sufficient for you, and you shall be lifted up at the last day (v. 8 ). And I, Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it unto you, that I might bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men. Amen (v. 9).”

Oliver, Martin, and David, were promised that if they relied upon the word of the Lord, had a witness through their faith, testified of what they saw with the power of God, knowing that Joseph Smith had translated the plates by the power of God and through his faith; that they would have the grace of God to save them. It is only by His grace, that we can be saved. We must do all we can to obey the commandments that we have been given, repenting when we have made mistakes (which we all will do), and then the Lord will be able to make up the difference with His grace. No person is perfect and therefore, we all need the atonement and the saving grace that it brings, to become perfected and return to live with our Father in Heaven.

D&C Section 17 (Part 1)

Historical Background

In Ether 5:2-4 we read, “And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work (v. 2); And unto three shall they be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall know of a surety that these things are true (v. 3). And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record—and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world at the last day (v. 3).” As Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery continued to translate, they learned that there were to be three witnesses of the plates. Just after they had understood this, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris (who all felt an inspired desire) asked Joseph if they could be these witnesses. This revelation was given in response to the prophet asking the Lord if these should be the witnesses.

Obtaining God’s Promises

“BEHOLD, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea (v. 1).” All of these men had been promised earlier, that if they remained faithful they would be given the opportunity to assist in the work (see sections 5-9, and 14). Here they are give a promise that if they continue do as he has said previously, they will be witnesses to great and marvelous things.

Here is a record of how this was eventually fulfilled:

“Not many days after the above commandment was given, we four, viz., Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and myself, agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain, by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfillment of the promises given in the above revelation-that they should have a view of the plates. We accordingly made choice of a piece of woods convenient to Mr. Whitmer’s house, to which we retired, and having knelt down, we began to pray in much faith to Almighty God to bestow upon us a realization of these promises.
“According to previous arrangement, I commenced by vocal prayer to our Heavenly Father, and was followed by each of the others in succession. We did not at the first trial, however, obtain any answer or manifestation of divine favor in our behalf. We again observed the same order of prayer, each calling on and praying fervently to God in rotation, but with the same result as before.
Upon this, our second failure, Martin Harris proposed that he should withdraw himself from us, believing, as he expressed himself, that his presence was the cause of our not obtaining what we wished for. He accordingly withdrew from us, and we knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in prayer, when presently we beheld a light above us in the air, of exceeding brightness; and behold, an angel stood before us. In his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of. He turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly. He then addressed himself to David Whitmer, and said, ‘David, blessed is the Lord, and he that keeps His commandments;’ when, immediately afterwards, we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, ‘These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.'” (History of the Church, 1:54-55.)
I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him in prayer, that he also might realize the same blessings which we had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to our view, at least it was again opened to me, and I once more beheld and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparently in ecstasy of joy, ‘ ‘Tis enough; ’tis enough; mine eyes have beheld; mine eyes have beheld;’ and jumping up, he shouted,, ‘Hosanna,’ blessing God, and otherwise rejoiced exceedingly.” (History of the Church, 1:55.)

I am sure this was a great faith building experience, to have such a divine manifestation of the answer to each of their prayers and desires. I know that this type of manifestation was necessary for them to have the great testimony of the witness that they would eventually give to all people.

What Did the Three Witnesses See?

We read above that they were witnesses to the plates. In Joseph Smith-History 1:34-35 we read, “He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. (v. 34) . . . Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book (v. 35).” The witnesses saw the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, which were hidden with the plates. These were given to the Brother of Jared, when he had seen the Lord and spoken with Him (see Ether 3:23-24, 28). They were passed on by his descendants and then hidden up by Ether, to be found later by the people of Limhi (see Mosiah 8). They were passed onto Mosiah, who was able to translate with them (see Mosiah 21-22, 28). From that time they were passed down with the sacred records until they were hidden by Moroni.

In 1 Nephi 4:8-9 we read, “And when I came to him I found that it was Laban (v. 8). And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel (v. 9).” The three witnesses also saw the sword of Laban, which Nephi had taken from him. He had kept it with him all his days. “The people having loved Nephi exceedingly, he having been a great protector for them, having wielded the asword of Laban in their defence, and having labored in all his days for their welfare (Jacob 1:10)—” The sword of Laban was also passed down through generations and kept along with the records of Nephi and his family.

In 1 Nephi 16:10 we read, “And it came to pass that as my father rose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness.” They also witnessed the miraculous directors of Lehi’s family, the Liahona. Again, the Liahona had been kept sacred along with the records and passed down through the time of the Nephites.

These things that they saw were all key things to showing that the words of the Book of Mormon were true. These amazing stories of the people, had occurred and the translation was correct. These men were so blessed to see these sacred things and to stand as witnesses to the rest of us.

(Part 2 to follow.)

D&C Section 5

Historical Background

Martin Harris had lost the first portion of the translated manuscript for the Book of Mormon. He still desired to see the plates and this revelation was given to the prophet, Joseph Smith, in response to the desires of Martin Harris.

What Kind of Evidence Had Martin Harris Desired?

“BEHOLD, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me (v. 1);” Martin wanted proof from God, that the prophet had the plates. We can be religious people without faith in all aspects of the gospel. Sometimes we want physical proof of things, to do what is expected of us, but this is not how the Lord works. We need to have faith before we can have evidence through the hand of the Lord. In 2 Nephi 27:23 we read, “For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.”

What Is Meant by “This Generation Shall Have My Word through You”?

The Lord reminds Joseph of the things he was told when he was called to translate the plates (v. 2-3). “And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished (v. 4). Verily, I say unto you, that woe shall come unto the inhabitants of the earth if they will not hearken unto my words (v.5); For hereafter you shall be ordained and go forth and deliver my words unto the children of men (v. 6).” The prophet was told here, that he would be the mouth-piece for the Lord.

“Behold, if they will not believe my words, they would not believe you, my servant Joseph, if it were possible that you should show them all these things which I have committed unto you (v. 7). Oh, this aunbelieving and bstiffnecked generation—mine canger is kindled against them (v. 8 ).” The Lord says that those who could not believe the word of the prophet, would not even believe if he physically showed them what he testified of.

“Behold, verily I say unto you, I have reserved those things which I have entrusted unto you, my servant Joseph, for a wise purpose in me, and it shall be made known unto future generations (v. 9); But this generation shall have my word through you (v. 10);” Without the building of our faith, through believing on the testimony of Joseph Smith and other prophets, we cannot learn and progress. It does not take miracles to convert. As the manual points out, the Jews had all the miracles of the Savior to witness, and yet they still crucified him. We need to have the trial of our faith and the witness of the spirit, to be fully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Lord’s Use of Witnesses

“And in addition to your testimony, the testimony of three of my servants, whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things, and they shall go forth with my words that are given through you (v. 11). Yea, they shall know of a surety that these things are true, for from heaven will I declare it unto them (v. 12). I will give them power that they may behold and view these things as they are (v. 13); And to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation, in this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness—clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners (v. 14).”

In 2 Corinthians 13:1 we read, “. . . In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Very few people are given the opportunity and responsibility of witnessing things directly from the Lord. We are expected to build our faith upon the testimony of these witnesses. The Lord would call three witness to view the plates and know that they were true.

“And to None Else Will I Grant . . . This Same Testimony”

The three witnesses were the only people to be given this privilege. They were witnesses to the plates in the hands of an angel of the Lord. Later there were eight witnesses who saw the plates, but they did not view them with an angel and did not have the same experience. Their testimony should help us to build faith not only in the Book of Mormon, but also that Joseph Smith was truly called as a seer for the Lord.

A Solemn Promise and Warning

“And the testimony of three witnesses will I send forth of my word (v. 15). And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit (v. 16)—And you must wait yet a little while, for ye are not yet ordained (v. 17)—And their testimony shall also go forth unto the condemnation of this generation if they harden their hearts against them (v. 18 ); For a desolating scourge shall go forth among the inhabitants of the earth, and shall continue to be poured out from time to time, if they repent not, until the earth is empty, and the inhabitants thereof are consumed away and utterly destroyed by the brightness of my coming (v. 19). Behold, I tell you these things, even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem; and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified (v. 20).”

All those who believe in the words of the Lord, that are found in the Book of Mormon, will have the Spirit of the Lord with them. And those who do not believe, will have condemnation and destruction. These promises are dependent on whether or not we repent. We have been promised destruction for not repenting, just as so many generations of people have been before us. The Lord has always followed through on this promise and will again, if we are not obedient.

“Even If You Should Be Slain”

“And now I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and to yield to the persuasions of men no more (v. 21); And that you be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded you; and if you do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life, even if you should be slain (v. 22).” The Lord promises Joseph that if he will repent and do what is right in the sight of God, he will gain eternal life, no matter what happened in this life. The Lord knew how the life of the prophet would end. In D&C 6:30 we read, “And even if they do unto you even as they have done unto me, blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory.” The Lord was persecuted and killed by wicked men and later the prophet Joseph Smith was also persecuted and killed by wicked men. Joseph was promised eternal life, and I am sure that he has earned his reward.

Martin Harris Was Given a Conditional Promise to Become One of the Three Witnesses

“And now, again, I speak unto you, my servant Joseph, concerning the man that desires the witness (v. 23)—Behold, I say unto him, he exalts himself and does not humble himself sufficiently before me; but if he will bow down before me, and humble himself in mighty prayer and faith, in the sincerity of his heart, then will I grant unto him a view of the things which he desires to see (v. 24). And then he shall say unto the people of this generation: Behold, I have seen the things which the Lord hath shown unto Joseph Smith, Jun., and I know of a surety that they are true, for I have seen them, for they have been shown unto me by the power of God and not of man (v. 25). And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say (v. 26). But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned. And now, except he humble himself and acknowledge unto me the things that he has done which are wrong, and covenant with me that he will keep my commandments, and exercise faith in me, behold, I say unto him, he shall have no such views, for I will grant unto him no views of the things of which I have spoken (v. 28 ).”

Each covenant we make with the Lord holds great responsibility. In order to make sacred covenants, we must be worthy. Martin Harris was expected to sincerely repent and come to the Lord in humility. Once we make these sacred covenants, there are things that we must do (or not do) in order to keep these covenants. If we break the covenants we make with the Lord, he is not bound to bless us and the consequences will come to us. In his case, Martin Harris covenanted to only tell people that he had seen the plated by the power of God. If he told anything else about the experience, he would be condemned. Also, if he were to deny the truth of his witness, he would be condemned. Martin Harris was eventually able to find a way to repent and be humble enough to receive this promise and covenant with the Lord.

“And if this be the case, I command you, my servant Joseph, that you shall say unto him, that he shall do no more, nor trouble me any more concerning this matter (v. 29). And if this be the case, behold, I say unto thee Joseph, when thou hast translated a few more pages thou shalt stop for a season, even until I command thee again; then thou mayest translate again (v. 30). And except thou do this, behold, thou shalt have no more gift, and I will take away the things which I have entrusted with thee (v. 31). And now, because I foresee the lying in wait to destroy thee, yea, I foresee that if my servant Martin Harris humbleth not himself and receive a witness from my hand, that he will fall into transgression (v. 32); And there are many that lie in wait to destroy thee from off the face of the earth; and for this cause, that thy days may be prolonged, I have given unto thee these commandments (v. 33). Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee (v. 34). And if thou art faithful in keeping my commandments, thou shalt be lifted up at the last day. Amen (v. 35).”

The Lord tells Joseph Smith that he should tell Martin Harris to do only what he has been told to do and to no longer ask the Lord about it. The he goes on to tell the prophet that he should stop translating the Book of Mormon because there were people who wanted to kill him. The Lord promises that if the prophet was faithful to the commandments, he would make sure he lived long enough to finish the work that he had been asked to do. His promise was fulfilled and the prophet lived even longer and accomplished even more in the restoring of the gospel. I am so grateful that Joseph Smith was willing to repent and do what the Lord asked of him. I am glad that the witnesses were able to see what they saw and give their testimony to the world. I am so grateful for the gospel and the blessing that it is in my life.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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