Friday, April 23, 2010

The Sealing Power- Section 132

This is a continuation of my last post on the New and Everlasting Covenant as taught to Joseph Smith by the Lord in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Considering that the beginning of Section 132 was probably given early on in the history of the Church, the information contained therein is very instructional and enlightening. As I previously stated, The New and Everlasting Covenant is the process or “order” by which we enter the presence of the Father. That said, this order is dictated by the Lord himself.

It is in Section 132 that we start to become instructed more fully on the Sealing power, which was restored in the Kirtland Temple with the return of the prophet Elijah who held those keys. We get a better understanding of how important the actual sealing ordinance is by the following instruction:

Section 132:7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

8 Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

This instruction makes it very clear that anything we do or receive in this life must be given the “sealing” stamp of approval to be accepted as valid in the world to come. Believe it or not, even baptism is of no efficacy unless one progresses further and receives the sealing blessing which is preformed in the temple. It becomes apparent by this instruction that being “born in the covenant” is truly a blessing because of the sealing blessings pronounced upon the heads of the parents, benefiting the child even before they enter into future covenants. In that way, the hearts of the children are turned to their fathers in thanksgiving.

Not only is the sealing ordinance itself necessary to allow for the continuance of blessings in the next life, but also the ratifying power of being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise must be given. This Holy Spirit of Promise is received conditionally and is dependent upon the recipient’s personal commitment and worthiness. The Holy Spirit of Promise validates the blessings that have been sealed upon the individual because of their individual worthiness to actually receive them. In other words, not only is it necessary to receive the actual sealing ordinance itself, but one must also learn to feel of the surety of that blessing that comes from the Holy Spirit of Promise who acts as a comforter and witness. This happens when one fully lives up to the covenants they have made.

The Lord gives three examples to illustrate what he means by the above teaching:

Example #1: (not by authorized priesthood authority)

15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.

16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

Example #2 (by priesthood authority, but not ratified by obedience to the covenant)

18 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

Example #3 (priesthood authority, and ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise)

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.

The Lord gives clear instruction and teaching so that we will have no excuse in the Day of Judgment. The explanation given in Section 2 also comes more fully into focus by understanding the importance of the sealing power.

Section 2:1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

3 If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.

Without the sealing keys which allow all the work that each individual does here upon this earth to continue with them in the world to come, our existence, or life here, would have been simply a waste. Without the sealing keys we are damned, and progression stops.

It is really evident that when we are baptized we are proving that we are “willing to take His name upon us”. The promise made is that we will keep walking on the path to the Temple where we ultimately receive His name and become His through the sealing ordinances performed there.

It is no wonder we teach this concept to our children early.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The New and Everlasting Covenant- Section 132

The “New and Everlasting Covenant” of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way that we gain our exaltation. Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants explains this concept really beautifully. Understanding exactly what the “New and Everlasting Covenant” is is fundamental to our progression in this life and in the life to come. Contrary to popular belief it encompasses much more than the marriage covenant itself. Perhaps the marriage covenant could be viewed as a crowning ordinance required as part of the New and Everlasting Covenant.

One definition of the New and Everlasting Covenant can be found in the guide to the scriptures, as follows:

The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is new every time it is revealed anew following a period of apostasy. It is everlasting in the sense that it is God’s covenant and has been enjoyed in every gospel dispensation where people have been willing to receive it. The new and everlasting covenant was revealed again to men on earth by Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. It contains sacred ordinances administered by priesthood authority—such as baptism and temple marriage—that provide for man’s salvation, immortality, and eternal life. When people accept the gospel and promise to keep God’s commandments, God covenants to give them the blessings of his new and everlasting covenant.

Another definition is also given in Doctrine and Covenants Section 66:

2 Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old.

To speak in terms of the Old Testament, it could be defined as the Abrahamic Covenant renewed once again in this dispensation. It is the order (order being the root word for ordinances) by which we receive all that the Father hath.

To more fully understand the information given in Section 132 regarding the New and Everlasting Covenant, I believe it is important to realize the time period in which the revelation was given. The section heading explains that a written recording of the revelation happened on July 12, 1843, but that the principles taught in the revelation had been known by the prophet Joseph Smith since 1831. That means that this revelation remained in the mind and heart of Joseph Smith for about twelve years.

The written revelation was given at the request of Hyrum Smith, who intended to take it to Emma to persuade her that the direction given in it was from the Lord. This was Hyrum’s attempt to alleviate the friction that the information contained therein caused, between her and Joseph. William Clayton was called to be the scribe, and with Hyrum Smith, in the brick store in Nauvoo, listened as Joseph Smith dictated Section 132 sentence by sentence. Although Hyrum asked if the Urim and Thummim was needed Joseph replied that he could recite it by memory. Given the time period allowed for this revelation to percolate, it is no wonder Joseph knew it so completely, unaided by any means of translation, other than the spirit and his memory. He had received it and it was inscribed in both his mind and heart.

When the revelation was received and recorded, Bishop Newel K Whitney was given permission to copy it in its entirety. He used the resource of his clerk, Joseph C Kingbury, to copy the document, and after proofreading it together, made sure it was exactly like the original. This copy was the one that Brigham Young received in March of 1847, and was adopted as official revelation at a general conference in Salt Lake in August of 1852. The original copy was taken by Hyrum Smith to Emma Smith, who, when she read it, promptly threw it into the fire, and it was destroyed.

Similar to the layout of Section 130, in that it is a compilation of thoughts, Section 132 can easily be divided into at least five different areas of instruction. The first division can be seen to include verses 1 through 40. It is in these verses that the “New and Everlasting Covenant” is really defined. It must be remembered that this portion was, more than likely, received in the early years of the establishment of the Church, way before temple covenants were received or clearly understood and practiced. It could be surmised that while Joseph was involved in the translation of the Old Testament, which later became known as the JST, he formulated the following question:

Section 132: 1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

2 Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.

(Some believe that the question could have been asked as early as during the translation of the Book of Mormon, when Joseph came upon Jacob, Chapter 2. I believe that only the mention of David and Solomon alone in that chapter give a greater chance that the inquiry actually occurred during the Old Testament translation as Joseph inquired of the patriarchal fathers’ practice of multiple wives.)

This early inquiry can be likened to someone asking for information contained on page 1001 of the book when they haven’t even read page 1 yet. I believe that is why the Lord required Joseph to teach the basics first before he taught the more comprehensive doctrines contained in Section 132. These basic teachings took over twelve years to accomplish.

The Lord warned:

132: 3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

This warning is actually the first step in the progression on the path of the “New and Everlasting Covenant”. One must prepare their heart to receive and then be ready to obey. This preparation of the heart is the sacrifice of individual will to conform to that of the will of the Father. We term this preparation as one of “obedience and sacrifice” also known as the first law of Heaven.

The Lord further explained that He was about to do something for this new fledgling Church, just recently established when He stated:

132: 4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

This “damming” was simply the act of non-progression. Each step, or covenant, that one is required to enter into as they receive the New and Everlasting Covenant allows for progression to the next level of commitment. By not receiving the law, the gift or blessing attached to that law is forfeited, thus progression is halted, and one is damned.

132:5 For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.

Also stated:

Section 130: 20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

In Section 132 we also learn exactly why the New and Everlasting Covenant was given:

6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

This “New and Everlasting Covenant” is the means by which the Father is glorified. It is the way he is able to accomplish his greatest work. It is the process by which the immortality and eternal life of man is gained.

Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

More to come....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

They Shall Be Thankfully Received- Section 130

Although I rely quite heavily on the instruction I am given by those who have priesthood authority over me, I also realize that they are men, and as such have imperfections just like me. I try to follow the admonition of Paul as he wrote to the Saints in the church of the Thessalonians, with the instruction to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Personal revelation allows us, as children of Heavenly parents, to receive an answer for ourselves, concerning the truthfulness of any instruction given. In fact, it is our responsibility to individually gain a testimony of “all things” we are taught.
Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
Many people have a hard time understanding this concept. There have been many occasions where, because of the fallibility of man, many have judged The Church unjustly as an institution because of statements made by men.
One of my favorite stories to illustrate the point I am trying to make is found in History of the Church, Vol. 5, Page 323. It is an incident told by Joseph Smith regarding a sermon given by Orson Hyde, who was one of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time. It states:
At ten a. m. went to meeting. Heard Elder Orson Hyde preach, comparing the sectarian preachers to crows living on carrion, as they were more fond of lies about the Saints than the truth. Alluding to the coming of the Savior, he said, "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, &c. He will appear on a white horse as a warrior, and maybe we shall have some of the same spirit. Our God is a warrior. (John xiv, 23.) It is our privilege to have
the Father and Son dwelling in our hearts, &c."
We dined with my sister Sophronia McCleary, when I told Elder Hyde that I was going to offer some corrections to his sermon this morning. He replied, "They shall be thankfully received."
I believe this incident shows that our leaders can only teach us on a subject, with the understanding they have received up to that point, and continuing revelation allows for those teachings to be verified or corrected. I love the humility that Orson Hyde showed by his willingness to be taught. To me, his ability to receive correction illustrates he truly was a chosen servant of the Lord.
As a result of the incorrect teaching given by Elder Hyde the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, gave us the instruction now contained in Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.
Further information about the Godhead is also then expounded on:
Section 130:14 I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:
15 Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.
16 I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.
17 I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.
But more importantly than when the Savior will come is understanding:
Section 130:1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.
22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.
23 A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.
I believe that these important truths were revealed as a result of further instruction given to Orson Hyde, who at the time did not have this full understanding, and was teaching what he knew on the subject up to this point. Thankfully we have become the recipient of these great truths too, through the power of continuing revelation.
There have been many incidences in our Church history where our leaders have given instruction according to what they had received as truth up to a certain point. Personal revelation has allowed for further instruction to be given and some of those teachings have been corrected in the same way that Joseph corrected Orson. For me, this is the beauty of a living Church, one that grows and progresses just like the individuals that belong to it; consequently I embrace our history and look steadfastly toward the future of receiving further light and knowledge.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Consecrated Oil of Anointing

Although I am not invited to attend the Priesthood session of General Conference, I make sure the first talks I view on-line after Conference is over are those I missed. Hence, this week I took some time to study the talk given by Dallin H. Oaks called, Healing the Sick.
In his talk, Elder Oaks spoke about three different modes, or ways, a person could use the powers of healing in their lives. These are:
1) Medical Science
2) Prayers of Faith
3) Priesthood Blessings
He stated, “The use of medical science is not at odds with our prayers of faith and our reliance on priesthood blessings.” I believe that this statement could also be applied more broadly to be viewed with the understanding that science and religion are not at odds either, regardless of what some may think. He continued, “Latter-day Saints believe in applying the best available scientific knowledge and techniques. We use nutrition, exercise, and other practices to preserve health, and we enlist the help of healing practitioners, such as physicians and surgeons, to restore health.”
Specifically referring to prayers of faith, Elder Oaks reinforced the fact that we know that “uttered alone or in our homes or places of worship” prayers of faith can be effective to heal the sick. We have witnessed this even among people of faith in other churches. Faith is the power by which all miracles happen.
Lastly Elder Oaks discussed the use of priesthood authority to bless the sick, breaking it down into five different parts:
1) The Anointing
2) Sealing the Anointing
3) Faith
4) Words of Blessing
5) Will of the Lord
Elder Oaks gave inspired instruction in all these areas. If you have not studied his words I suggest you check them out here.
I was specifically intrigued with the instruction he gave on the anointing. The use of oil in administration and blessing seems to have been a practice from earliest times. Jacob poured oil on the stone he had used for a pillow when he had spiritual manifestations. Oil was used in the anointing of kings. Oil was used as well for the healing of wounds, and in preparation for burial. Latter Day Saints use oil today to anoint and bless in the same manner. The kind of oil that is used for these administrations is “Consecrated Oil”, which is Olive Oil that has been set apart and blessed in the following way:

Consecration of Oil

One or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders must consecrate olive oil before it is used to anoint the sick or afflicted. No other oil may be used. To do this, a priesthood holder:
· 1. Holds an open container of olive oil.
· 2. Addresses Heavenly Father.
· 3. States that he is acting by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
· 4. Consecrates the oil (not the container) and sets it apart for anointing and blessing the sick and afflicted.
· 5. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
President Spencer W. Kimball explained, “The administration proper is an ordinance of two parts, the anointing and the sealing. An elder pours a small quantity of oil on the head of the one to be blessed, near the crown of the head if convenient, never on the other parts of the body, and in the name of the Lord and by authority of the priesthood, he anoints the person for the restoration of health. The sealing is performed by two or more elders, one of whom, as mouth, seals the anointing and gives an appropriate blessing, also in the name of Jesus Christ and by authority of the priesthood.”
Studying some of the attributes or properties of oil has given me some insights that I would love to share. If you think about it, when oil is mixed with water it rises to the top. I think of that as a “transcendent” quality. When applied to the crown of the head it helps to draw our thoughts upward, away from our earthly thoughts, allowing us to focus our minds heavenward. In this manner the oil becomes a tool for increasing our faith in Jesus Christ.
Another interesting attribute of oil is that it creates a connection between two things that need to interact. For example, if one uses oil in cooking, the flame becomes connected to the meat through the properties of the oil. Another example would be the connector, or lubricant qualities oil has in the engine of a car. Here the oil acts to facilitate smooth interaction between different parts of the engine, allowing it to function properly. I like to imagine my body as the meat and the flame as the source for a specific “change”, consequently the oil becomes the connector for that process to occur.
In Old Testament times the kings and priests were anointed with oil elevating them above the rest of the people, this was a transcendent process. Conversely they were also set apart to be the connection between God and man. Jesus Christ who is the Messiah, which means anointed one, literally was anointed as the transcended one who would act as the connection between the Father and His children. Both of these characteristics are represented by the use of oil.
Another characteristic of oil is that of a restorative nature. For example, if a piece of wood becomes dry and dull, seemingly lifeless, the application of oil allows the natural wood to shine through again.
The Lord instructed Moses, when setting up the tabernacle to do the following:
Exodus 40:9 And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.
We likewise have fleshy tabernacles that have been anointed to function properly or in other words have been made holy. When we are “out of sorts” in any way, either mentally or physically, we, in essence, need to be made holy, or whole again through the process of becoming hallowed vessels. This process can involve anointing with oil for a restoration of health. Moses’ tabernacle had to be anointed and sanctified, or set apart as holy, before it could function as the vessel where offerings in righteousness were made. Our bodies, when anointed to do so, become useful in the same manner as the tabernacle did, as a place to facilitate offerings in righteousness. I believe the anointing done in a healing blessing is one of a restorative function, allowing us to use our tabernacles for the purpose they were created.
There have been many other observations made by LDS leaders that have helped me to understand the importance of Olive Oil, as it applies to the process of anointing, that point to our Savior Jesus Christ. The oil, being made from Olives, in and of itself, is enough to remind us of the one who suffered at Gethsemane meaning the “Olive Press”. I bet if we thought about it enough the Spirit would reveal many other aspects of oil that would enlighten and instruct....these are simply a few of the thoughts I was given.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Insights of Passover

Thanks to my darling son, I have been listening to some really cool “Podcasts” lately from some of our Jewish brothers. The insights I have gained from hearing their commentary, or point of view, on the Old Testament have been very enlightening.

The most recent one I listened to was by Ari Goldwag. His topic was a comparison of Passover with that of Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. I loved the insights he shared.

Passover is a sacred memorial celebration reminding us of the power by which Israel was saved. I have written about this topic before, and find the symbolism very beautiful. Passover is celebrated in the first month of the religious Hebrew calendar which is known as Nissan, beginning on the 15th day and ending on the 22nd day. This year, 2010, the Passover was celebrated on March 30 through April 6. For those of us who are members of the LDS Church, this time period holds great significance too. This year we were privileged to not only celebrate Easter during that time, but we had a chance to receive direction from our modern day prophets through our General Conference.

The first and last day of the seven day Passover celebration are considered the most holy days. As a whole, the Passover Feast celebrated on the first day of Passover, known as a Seder, is a reminder of how the Lord directed Moses in freeing the Children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. The instructions for the feast are found in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, wherein is found specific instructions for the sacrifice of the Pascal lamb. Goldwag discussed some of the other traditional teachings about these dates which I found quite fascinating too. It is believed by some Jewish scholars that the first day of Passover is the day that Sarah was told she would receive the gift of a child. It is also believed that one year later, it was the actual date of the birth of Isaac, who was also offered as a sacrifice by Abraham. Incidentally, the month of Nissan is thought to be the birthday month for all three great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (I guess since it is my birthday month I find myself in great company! lol) The LDS understanding of the birth of Jesus Christ being April 6th, places him in company with those who were a type and shadow for Him. Isn’t it appropriate that the organization of The Church also transpired on April 6th too?

Another interesting traditional teaching is that the first day of Passover commemorates the day that Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, creating the need for an Atonement of some sort so that he could be restored to his former place with the Father. On the first day of Passover the Jews are told “not to eat” anything with leaven in it, likewise, Adam was told “not to eat” of the fruit on that day too. I believe the significance of remembering the fall is to acknowledge the need for a Savior, or Redeemer, to supply the demands of the law of justice. Both of these significant doctrinal teachings, the fall, by eating the Matzo or unleavened bread, and the Atonement, by partaking of the sacrifice of the lamb, are represented by what occurs on the first day of Passover.

Goldwag also explained that the last day of Passover, which is another holy day, is significant because that is the day that Moses parted the Red Sea, allowing the Children of Israel to pass through the waters into a new land. Although I have always felt this was representative of the ordinance of Baptism and the gift of rebirth, I have a feeling it also represents the ordinance of Resurrection and the new birth that provides too. I see the parting of the Red Sea in context with the veil of the Temple being rent, which occurred during that same physical time frame.

I have learned so many interesting things from studying the way the Jews worship. I believe that the spirit will testify of truth as it is presented from any source. I know that they have truths to be shared.

“The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of 'Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” ( Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:499)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Brigham Young Family Man

I love the Prophet Brigham Young. The Lord loved him too. Although he had his own unique style of leadership, I believe he learned many lessons from Joseph Smith with regard to directing the affairs of The Church. In Section 126 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord expressed his pleasure in the missionary offering Brother Brigham had made, and instructed him to remain in Nauvoo to care for his family.

Section 126:1 Dear and well-beloved brother, Brigham Young, verily thus saith the Lord unto you: My servant Brigham, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me.

2 I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name.

3 I therefore command you to send my word abroad, and take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever. Amen.

I don't think that family was the only reason Brigham Young was allowed to stay in Nauvoo. I believe that the Lord allowed this faithful man to remain near Joseph Smith during the final years of Joseph's ministry, to be trained and instructed by the prophet personally. Besides his close proximity to his family, this instruction was Brigham Young's reward for his righteous offering. This preparation was needed for the leadership position Brigham Young currently held and the one he would hold in the future. It is interesting to note that the Lord specified that Brigham “send” the word abroad, indicating his leadership position then as President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and intimating the future, as he would fill the role someday as President of The Church.

The Lord, in this revelation, also gave instruction for Brigham to “take especial care of his family from this time, henceforth and forever.” Although Brigham Young is noted for his extensive posterity and his prominence as a father and husband, he also filled the role as a substitute “father” for The Church. Just as it was for Joseph Smith, The Church became family for Brigham Young as he nurtured, instructed, protected, and loved it.

Another family that Brigham Young would be required to provide for would be the Prophet Joseph Smith's own family. I believe that the trust the Lord gave him, and Heber C. Kimball, as they were allowed to take care of Joseph Smith's own family in his absence, speaks volumes. For the majority, these two gentlemen took on the responsibility of Joseph’s wives after his martyrdom. They both raised up posterity to Joseph through his Patriarchal line, allowing for the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant to be in effect for Joseph Smith through the sealing ordinances he had received. Although this trust caused much friction between Brigham and Emma, ultimately I believe Brigham had only Joseph's best interest at heart.

The Church, and the family, were priorities to Brigham Young, and he sacrificed much to preserve them both. After hearing the most recent General Conference Addresses of April 2010, and feeling of the emphasis that was given to both of these organizations, I believe Brigham Young’s example is timeless. It is wonderful to know that his “acceptable offering” of service to the Lord was rewarded with eternal bonds of family, “no longer requiring him to leave” them “henceforth and forever”. Family is the great reward for righteousness.