Verses 1-4 – A warning to protect the prophet
Verses 5-13 – You will one day have a feast, it will be the wedding feast for the bride and the bridegroom called the marriage supper of the Lamb. See also Revelation 19:1-9. This feast is contrasted by John with the Supper of the Great God, where the wicked are destroyed in the battle mentioned by Ezekiel in chapter 39 and mentioned also in Doctrine and Covenants 29:17-21.
Before the Lord Jesus descends openly and publicly in the clouds of glory, attended by all the hosts of heaven; before the great and dreadful day of the Lord sends terror and destruction from one end of the earth to the other; before he stands on Mount Zion, or sets his feet on Olivet, or utters his voice from an American Zion or a Jewish Jerusalem; before all flesh shall see him together; before any of his appearances, which taken together comprise the second coming of the Son of God—before all these, there is to be a secret appearance to selected members of his Church. He will come in private to his prophet and to the apostles then living. Those who have held keys and powers and authorities in all ages from Adam to the present will also be present. And further, all the faithful members of the Church then living and all the faithful saints of all the ages past will be present. It will be the greatest congregation of faithful saints ever assembled on planet earth. It will be a sacrament meeting. It will be a day of judgment for the faithful of all the ages. And it will take place in Daviess County, Missouri, at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman. (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, 578.)
Perhaps this meeting will take place to empower us to go forth boldly as wickedness in the earth increases prior to his second coming. Imagine the strength we will have to go into dangerous places and circumstances after having personally met the Savior. One thing is certain: John saw this event and mentioned that “a great multitude…” was gathered and told to “be glad and rejoice…” and that they were “called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-9). I thought it important to emphasize to the youth that those in the flow of things rarely view their circumstances as extraordinary. I doubt the Founding Fathers saw themselves as heroes – just like these people, the youth of today were spoken of by ancient prophets, John the Revelator being among them.
Verses 14-18 – put on the whole armor. This illustrates the idea that it only takes one weakness to be destroyed. Oliver Cowdery showed us this in section 23.
Section 26 & 28
Section 26 is short and to the point – nothing is done in the church without common consent. First, the Lord’s house is a house of order. There needs to be order in the kingdom for it to function properly. Second, this is a great protection to the church as we are so easily deceived. Cross reference this section with D&C 20:65, 28:13, 42:11 which all teach the same principle or idea. There are no secret callings in the church where individuals are called and placed in a position of leadership without the consent of the entire church. There must be order.
President Packer once stated: “This matter of sustaining the officers is a great protection to the Church. The Lord commanded “that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been [duly] ordained by the heads of the church.” (D&C 42:11) In this way members of the Church in every organization all over the world know who the true messengers are.” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Touch of the Master’s Hand, April 2001 Conference)
What seems to be the problem being addressed? Both section 26 and 28 deal with our tendency to be deceived. It is pretty easy to be fooled when you think about it.
The youth are not going to be overly concerned about order in Church government, but they will really identify with any illustration that approaches situations that they see in their lives.
Have the youth identify times when they have been deceived. We had some superficial discussion regarding times when they have been deceived, to help set the table to teach the principle.
I talked about high school in 1988 – Milli Vanilli was such a popular band, all the kids loved their stuff – they sold 30 million singles and 14 million albums, yet they never sang on their record. Amazing! Everyone bought their records not knowing that they were fake. This was a fun story to tell the kids because they never heard of Milli Vanilli. This, in and of itself, is a great lesson – if something is not true, it eventually will fizzle out, just like Milli Vanilli.
Section 28 – Hiram Page has a “seerstone” with which he is receiving revelation.
Read verses 1-2, then 11-13. The main principle at work is how revelation works and the order of things in the church.
Illustration #1 – A young man home from his mission “receives a revelation” that he is to marry a certain girl. The next day, he informs her of his experience. Bad form! If it was a true revelation, he would know to trust the Lord and keep his mouth shut, waiting patiently on the Lord for His will to be accomplished. Certainly if this was from Him, then the young man could use some restraint and trust Him.
Illustration #2- Lorenzo Snow writes the couplet “As man now is, God once was; as God is now man may be.” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 1.) He tells Brigham Young of this and he tells Lorenzo to hold it tight and not walk out ahead of the Brethren. Turns out later Joseph Smith teaches the King Follett discourse which teaches this doctrine. This is an example of this principle, to wait until the individual with the keys has given direction.
Illustration #3 – You have a dream that you are to receive a calling in the church. This happens from time to time in the church, but we are to wait until we are called to act in the office for which we are appointed. This is much like the second illustration.
Illustration #4 – Today in class I had a young lady share that she was the subject of the first illustration. A young man (still in high school) told her that he had a revelation directing him to tell her that she is supposed to marry him. I asked her why this was the wrong approach. The first thing she said was that she “was kinda creeped out!” Later she said that she came to the conclusion that the prophet has already spoken to young men on this point – the revelation has already been given that young men in high school do not need to be steady dating. That teaches the idea that if the Lord has already spoken on an issue that He will not send a revelation that contradicts what He has already stated.
What are some spiritual deceptions of our time?
Nephi identifies several deceptions in 2 Nephi 28, and Mormon laments our tendency to be deceived in Helaman 12:1-8.
I found exacting application in Helaman 13:27-28 where Samuel tells us that we will pay money to someone who tells us to “walk after the pride of your eyes…” and then we will “give unto him of your substance… because he speaketh flattering words unto you…” I will never forget the times I have been pitched by MLM folks by the prospect of getting rich if I only will “part with my substance” in the hopes of being a millionaire. How many “investment” schemes have happened in Utah alone in the past 10 years? These sections are so relevant today if for only this reason. Most of the students in my classes were aware of people who have been duped by investment schemes.
What happened to Hiram Page?
In Far West, Hiram lost faith in the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith and was excommunicated. He left the community and moved to Ray County, near Excelsior Springs. In 1848 he wrote a letter to William McLellin explaining the reason for his withdrawal from the Church: “Joseph had tried to place himself above the revealed word [by] … presumptuously and prematurely attempting to gather the Saints to the revealed Zion,” which Hiram considered “so abominable that the Lord could not suffer him to hold the keys any longer.”
His testimony of the Book of Mormon remained strong: As to the book of Mormon, it would be doing injustice to myself, and to the work of God in the last days, to say that I could know a thing to be true in 1830, and know the same thing to be false in 1847.… [To] say that a man of Joseph’s ability, who at that time did not know how to pronounce the word Nephi, could write a book of six hundred pages, as correct as the book of Mormon, without supernatural power … yea, it would be treating the God of heaven with contempt to deny these testimonies, with too many others to mention here.
Hiram resided near Excelsior Springs the remainder of his life. The 1850 census lists him as having no real wealth, but continuing to labor as a farmer.9 He died on 12 August 1852 on his farm.
On 2 August 1913 the First Presidency of the Church issued a statement remembering the deception of Hiram Page: From the days of Hiram Page … at different periods there have been manifestations from delusive spirits to members of the Church.… When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions, or an extraordinary gift of inspiration conveys something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible it may appear. (Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 209 – 210.)
How to correct others 101
Another principle to discuss in section 28 is how to handle situations where people are making life difficult. Hiram was hurting the work by his “revelations” with the seerstone. The advice the Lord gives Joseph still applies in our lives today.
D&C 28:11 – talk to the person alone
Cross reference this with Matthew 18:15-17
We are not to broadcast other people’s weaknesses, but to handle things so that we do the least amount of damage and the greatest amount of good that we can possibly do.
I ask the students if ever they overheard someone ripping on them or a friend and then heard the person say, “I’m just being honest!”
I am keenly aware of my many faults and shortcomings. Yet, based on years of experience with Heavenly Father, I know that He will not come to me and say, “I’m going to have to be honest with you. You are more trouble to maintain than you are worth.” Although the statement is true and He would be honest to say it, He would never utter the words.
Most of us half expect Heavenly Father to be brutally honest with us, but He is not interested in that kind of honesty. His truth is contextualized with redemptiveness. He is interested in the kind of honesty that looks beyond our human folly to our earnestness and striving to be better people. He practices what He preaches as He sees us with “pure knowledge,” the heavenly view!
Joseph Smith learned to know well the mind of God. He observed that, “While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men.” (TPJS, p. 218)
Honesty is a principle God would have us apply to ourselves as we remember to return the borrowed book and deliver the promised help. Honesty must not be a premise for hurting each other. To call that honesty is the ultimate dishonesty. It is to call unkindness noble.
A thought on correcting others – when doing so, ask yourself this question, “Am I correcting this individual because what they are doing is bugging me, or am I correcting them because their behavior is detrimental to their growth as a son or daughter of God?”
The answer to this question tells us if we should say something. Having this conversation in class and illustrating it has great merits. If the class responds, a wonderful conversation can take place.