Endure to the end
David Whitmer does not endure. Born Jan 7 1805, died Jan 25 1888. Excommunicated April 1838, he never returned to the church. When Moroni showed the 3 witnesses the plates, he turned directly to David Whitmer and said, “David, blessed is he that endure to the end.” (Roberts, CR Oct 1926, p. 126)
John Whitmer- preach the gospel. John was one of the 8 witnesses- born 27 August 1802, death 11 July 1878. He bought cheap land in Far West after the Saints were given the extermination order in 1838. He died with over 600 acres of prime farm land, livestock, farm machinery, and a two story home – wealthy by even modern standards. He never denied his testimony.
Peter Whitmer- Peter lives from 1809 to 1836, he dies just shy of his 27th birthday. He died in the faith in Missouri.
Both sections are identical- both men are in similar situations –John is 26 and Peter is 19 at the time. This tells us something about the Doctrine and Covenants- if you are in a similar situation of those in the section you are reading, the words of the Lord to the person in the section apply to you. If you are in their circumstance, then you may heed the words the Lord applies to their situation to yours.
D&C 17 – facing the fight alone or with friends
The Three Witnesses fulfilled an important law established by the Lord. Elder Bruce R. McConkie pointed out that “whenever the Lord has established a dispensation by revealing his gospel and by conferring priesthood and keys upon men, he has acted in accordance with the law of witnesses which he himself ordained. This law is: ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.’ ( 2 Cor. 13:1 ; Deut. 17:6 ; 19:15 ; Matt. 18:15–16 ; John 8:12–29 .)
“Never does one man stand alone in establishing a new dispensation of revealed truth, or in carrying the burden of such a message and warning to the world. In every dispensation, from Adam to the present, two or more witnesses have always joined their testimonies, thus leaving their hearers without excuse in the day of judgment should the testimony be rejected.” ( Mormon Doctrine, p. 436.)
The witnesses will add validity to Joseph’s testimony and preserve him
Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet’s mother, gave the following account describing Joseph’s feelings after he returned home from the manifestation to the Three Witnesses: “When they returned to the house it was between three and four o’clock p.m. Mrs. Whitmer, Mr. Smith and myself, were sitting in a bedroom at the time. On coming in, Joseph threw himself down beside me, and exclaimed, ‘Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am: the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people, and 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.)
The power of not having to stand alone
The Israelites had struggled for years against their enemies on the plain due to the technology discrepancy. Their enemies had chariots, and while Israel was successful in the hills, they were having difficulty with the chariots- see verse 3.
Deborah comes to Barak and says, “let’s go defeat these Canaanites!” and Barak says in verse 8, “If you go with me, then I will go!” and she said, “surely I will go with thee… for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” (verse 9)
How would Barak feel about taking on 900 chariots? Talk about something scary. Is Barak asked to do a difficult thing?
Barak had courage because of a friend with faith in Jesus Christ. Young women can be Deborahs in the lives of our young men, to encourage them to be faithful and serve missions.
This is a marvelous example of the power of a righteous woman in all of scripture. Because you are with them your very presence inspires young men with the courage and ability to obey the commandments and face great challenges and difficulties. Your power and influence can be used to encourage a young man to fill his mission and do it honorably.
What are the 900 chariots that we do not want to face alone? The chariots change as we go through life. For me right now the chariots are meeting the needs of my family and raising teenagers. One young lady said that for her the chariots were “hot guys!” So the chariots change as we move through mortality, but one thing remains the same: we all need a Deborah in our life. Oftentimes we need to be a Deborah for those in need.
What was Josephs challenge before the witnesses were called? Have you ever faced something alone? With friends? What was the difference in your life?
I had several students share experiences where they had a friend to lean on in tough situations. One young lady shared the experience of killing her first deer and how her father walked her through the process of preparing the meat. She really needed her father by her side during that experience.
Elder Richard G. Scott’s experience
As a teenager, Richard was determined to earn his own money for college, and he showed a remarkable spirit of adventure in going about it. One summer he worked on an oyster boat off the coast of Long Island. Another summer he cut down trees in Utah for the forest service; he also repaired railroad cars.
During a later summer, his application to work for the Utah park service was denied because all the jobs were taken. He tucked away the rejection letter without telling anyone about it and left for Utah. By the time he had made the trip across the United States, he had only three cents left in his pocket.
“Didn’t you receive our letter?” asked the man when he showed up.
“Yes,” Richard replied, “but I would like to work anyway. Is there a position as desk clerk?” The man laughed incredulously. Lowering his expectations, Richard asked, “How about bellboy?” He got hardly more than a laugh. Swallowing hard, Richard pulled out all the stops: “All right,” he said, “I’ll wash dishes!”
“Forget it,” the man said. “We don’t have any openings.”
Fingering the three pennies in his pocket, Richard was desperate. “I’ll wash dishes for two weeks,” he said, “and if you don’t like my work, you don’t have to pay me.” At least that way he’d have a place to stay and eat, he figured. The man relented.
Richard washed dishes—but he also went into the kitchen to see if he could help. By summer’s end, he was the number two cook.
These experiences did more than pad his college savings account; they also helped him grow spiritually. During spare minutes he read and pondered the Book of Mormon and experienced a powerful spiritual awakening.
Back home, he attended George Washington University, studying mechanical engineering and playing clarinet and saxophone in a jazz band. As he neared graduation, all of his career plans seemed to be on schedule. But then “the Lord placed a bombshell in my little world: Jeanene Watkins.” A vivacious young woman, Jeanene was the daughter of Utah’s Senator Arthur V. Watkins.
Their budding relationship presented a problem for Richard’s carefully laid career plans. One night Jeanene said to him, “When I marry, it will be in the temple to a returned missionary.” He had not thought much about a mission, but with that motivation, he prayed harder than ever before and ended up talking to the bishop about it. Soon after graduation, he left for a mission to Uruguay. Jeanene graduated the following June in sociology and left the next day for a mission to the northwestern states. Two weeks after he returned, they were married in the Manti Temple. (January Ensign 1989, Elder Richard G. Scott: The real power comes from the Lord)
The Last testimony of Martin Harris
The last testimony of Martin Harris was given to Elder William Harrison Homer, who was with him at the time of his death. Elder Homer recorded:
“The next day, July 10, 1875, marked the end. It was in the evening. It was milking time, and Martin Harris, Jr., and his wife, Nancy Homer Harris, had gone out to milk and to do the evening’s chores. In the house with the stricken man were left my mother, Eliza Williamson Homer, and myself, who had had so interesting a day with Martin Harris at Kirtland. I stood by the bedside holding the patient’s right hand and my mother at the foot of the bed, Martin Harris had been unconscious for a number of days. When we first entered the room the old gentleman appeared to be sleeping. He soon woke up and asked for a drink of water. I put my arm under the old gentleman, raised him, and my mother held the glass to his lips. He drank freely, then he looked up at me and recognized me. He said, ‘I know you. You are my friend.’ He said, ‘Yes, I did see the plates on which the Book of Mormon was written; I did see the angel; I did hear the voice of God; and I do know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, holding the keys of the Holy Priesthood.’ This was the end. Martin Harris, divinely-chosen witness of the work of God, relaxed, gave up my hand. He lay back on his pillow and just as the sun went down behind the Clarkston mountains, the soul of Martin Harris passed on. . . .
(Signed) William Harrison Homer.
“Signed in the presence of Mrs. W. H. Homer, Joseph Homer, Leah Widtsoe, John A. Widtsoe.” (In New Witness for Christ, 1:253–54.)