Doctrine and Covenants 29
1 Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I AM, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins;
2 Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer.
3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that at this time your sins are forgiven you, therefore ye receive these things; but remember to sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you.
4 Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.
5 Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.
6 And, as it is written—Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.
7 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;
Second Coming verses 8-30
8 Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.
9 For the hour is nigh and the day soon at hand when the earth is ripe; and all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the earth;
10 For the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass;
11 For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.
12 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, and it hath gone forth in a firm decree, by the will of the Father, that mine apostles, the Twelve which were with me in my ministry at Jerusalem, shall stand at my right hand at the day of my coming in a pillar of fire, being clothed with robes of righteousness, with crowns upon their heads, in glory even as I am, to judge the whole house of Israel, even as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, and none else.
13 For a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth—yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one.
14 But, behold, I say unto you that before this great day shall come the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and there shall be greater signs in heaven above and in the earth beneath;
15 And there shall be weeping and wailing among the hosts of men;
16 And there shall be a great hailstorm sent forth to destroy the crops of the earth.
17 And it shall come to pass, because of the wickedness of the world, that I will take vengeance upon the wicked, for they will not repent; for the cup of mine indignation is full; for behold, my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not.
18 Wherefore, I the Lord God will send forth flies upon the face of the earth, which shall take hold of the inhabitants thereof, and shall eat their flesh, and shall cause maggots to come in upon them;
19 And their tongues shall be stayed that they shall not utter against me; and their flesh shall fall from off their bones, and their eyes from their sockets;
20 And it shall come to pass that the beasts of the forest and the fowls of the air shall devour them up.
21 And the great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire, according as it is spoken by the mouth of Ezekiel the prophet, who spoke of these things, which have not come to pass but surely must, as I live, for abominations shall not reign.
22 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;
23 And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.
24 For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea;
25 And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand.
26 But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth—yea, even all.
27 And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father;
28 Wherefore I will say unto them—Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
29 And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power.
30 But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit.
All things are spiritual verses 31-35
31 For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal—
32 First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work—
33 Speaking unto you that you may naturally understand; but unto myself my works have no end, neither beginning; but it is given unto you that ye may understand, because ye have asked it of me and are agreed.
34 Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.
35 Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.
Agency must be understood verses 36-50
36 And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;
37 And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels;
38 And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell.
39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—
40 Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.
41 Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.
42 But, behold, I say unto you that I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son.
43 And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation—that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe;
44 And they that believe not unto eternal damnation; for they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not;
45 For they love darkness rather than light, and their deeds are evil, and they receive their wages of whom they list to obey.
46 But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten;
47 Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me;
48 For it is given unto them even as I will, according to mine own pleasure, that great things may be required at the hand of their fathers.
49 And, again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent?
50 And he that hath no understanding, it remaineth in me to do according as it is written. And now I declare no more unto you at this time. Amen.
Some thoughts on D&C 29
1. Our attitude matters
This section addresses our tendency to be sad/gloomy when thinking about the future. Verse 5 tells us to be glad. There is a great lesson on how to handle trials/worries illustrated in the Book of Mormon:
1 Nephi 16-17 Desirous to hear – Nephi & Laman as foils
All good literature contains what we call foils. A foil is a fencing sword, when you fight with swords the swords clang and strike one another. Oftentimes in the Book of Mormon characters come and touch each other’s lives as they oppose one another. There are many ways we can examine these characters in the Book of Mormon and see how we compare to them.
We can look at these characters and see ourselves in their lives. Which of these forces we give ourselves most to, will oftentimes determine the outcome of our lives, just as it did for Nephi and Laman. Am I acting in such a way that I seem more like Nephi, or am I behaving more like Laman?
We can compare these boys in a number of ways- the key word for Laman and Lemuel is murmur. We can compare the two brothers in their desires for the things of God.
1 Nephi 2:16 – Nephi had great desires to know of the mysteries of God
1 Nephi 11 – Nephi had great desires to see the things his father saw
1 Nephi 15:8-9 –”Have ye inquired of the Lord? And they said, we have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.”
Laman and Lemuel were indifferent to knowing the things of God.
What do they believe about happiness?
1 Nephi 17:21 – we might have enjoyed our possessions – yea we might have been happy. Laman and Lemuel had their happiness rooted in their material possessions. Their possessions possessed them, and so their hearts grew cold towards God and their father and Nephi.
In Nephi’s mind, happiness was the fruit of the Tree of Life. This is what he focused on.
What was their attitude towards trial?
1 Nephi 16:34-35 – Ishmael dies… we usually add past trials and project future trials so that in one moment in time we are carrying a whole lifetime of trial in one moment. We are not meant to carry that kind of load. Now they forecast the worst case scenario for their future – when we do this, our natural desire is to quit.
So often we see this in marriage – folks who struggle see their current situation or challenge and look to the past when they had problems and then forecast gloom in their future. By forecasting the worst parade of horribles for their future, they have a natural desire to give up and quit. This is a natural human tendency. In other words, they desire to go back to Jerusalem.
When I take past, present, and future trials and lay all of these on my shoulders, it is so natural to want to quit. See 1 Nephi 16:36 – this book illustrates human nature very well.
Sometimes this happens to missionaries, college students, married couples – in all cases we have a desire to give up. The ultimate tragic example of quitting is suicide.
Notice Nephi’s attitude towards trials – 1 Nephi 17:2-3 – Nephi sees the hand of the Lord in the situation. “And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled, he will provide means…” his focus is on all of the positive things that God has given him, looking only at the present trial- Nephi is able to move forward in his life.
2 Nephi 4- Nephi is sad because he knows that the family is going to be split.
2 Nephi 5:1-3 Their anger did increase against Nephi in that they sought to take away Nephi’s life. Laman is doing a very human thing – he is justifying his behavior by transferring his anger and blaming Nephi. As he does this, he increases his anger.
2 Nephi 4:27-29 – here Nephi acknowledges his anger, but he doesn’t justify it… he wants to overcome his anger – “give place no more for the enemy of my soul.” How wonderful it would be if we would take ownership of our emotions as does Nephi, rather than justify our anger and transferring blame as does Laman.
There are so many great illustrations of this principle in our lives. There are a myriad of examples from Church history where individuals blame others for their own shortcomings. Whenever we justify our anger and transfer blame we inhibit our spiritual growth.
2 Nephi 4:32 He pleads to God for help in controlling his negative emotions. Nephi owns his anger and pleads that God will help him “walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!”
May we carry our trials for we surely will have them. May we carry our trials in the present, only looking for the positive. The past is over, and the future can be dealt with as it comes. May we not transfer our blame to other people. May we accept it and control our angers and our emotions. If we do this we will reap the rewards of Nephi, and not the tragedy and awfulness that Laman and Lemuel partake of. When it comes to the future, we should take it head on with a spirit of cheerfulness, not sadness and depression.
2. All things are spiritual
D&C 29:33-34 We tend to view commandments as purely temporal, when in truth all commandments are spiritual…
How to teach this: show how certain commandments, ie., tithing, word of wisdom, etc. are actually spiritual in nature. I think this is a great quote (below) on the dietary law as it relates to our spiritual state before the Lord:
Purification and Consecration
The Mosaic system consisted of a host of ritualistic reminders to Israel that they were a nation set apart, a nation consecrated to God and his service – and that as such they needed to be pure. Only that which was clean could enter into his presence. This was the purpose of their dietary laws, which delineated at great length between those animals which they were permitted to eat, designated as “clean,” and those forbidden to them, designated as “unclean.”
The Hebrew word for clean used in the dietary law reached far beyond that of physical cleanliness. Synonyms include pure, unadulterated, uncontaminated, innocent, and holy. A Jewish writer explaining these dietary laws observed:
A hog could be raised in an incubator on antibiotics, bathed daily, slaughtered in a hospital operating room, and its carcass sterilized by ultra-violet rays, without rendering kosher the pork chops that it yields. “Unclean” in Leviticus is a ceremonial word. That is why the Torah says of camels and rabbits, “They are unclean for you, limiting the definition and the discipline to Israel. Chickens and goats, which we can eat, are scarcely cleaner by nature than eagles and lions, but the latter are in the class of the unclean. (Wouk, Herman. This Is My God. New York: Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1959.pp. 100-101; italics added.)
Like the Word of Wisdom, the ancient dietary law was first spiritual and only secondarily a health law. This principle has been overlooked in far too many discourses on the Word of Wisdom. Its primary purpose is to keep modern Israel clean – that is, pure, unadulterated, uncontaminated, innocent, and holy – in order that they might have the Holy Ghost as their constant companion. The health benefits are secondary. Of what particular value is it to live to a great age avoiding cancer if we are unworthy to associate with the Spirit of the Lord?
The Mosaic dietary code can only properly be understood when viewed as a symbol of a people consecrated or dedicated to the Lord. Every meal was a reminder to Israel of who they were and what they had covenanted to be. It has been suggested that strength comes from living such a law, vision from understanding it. (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Gospel Symbolism [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1999], 91-92.)
I love this application of the concept – so many students view commandments for what they do for us in the here and now. That is to be expected, for that is the world that they live in. Sometimes it is good to let the students see the spiritual application of the laws we are asked to follow. By looking at this life through our spiritual eyes first and our temporal eyes second gives us a different perspective on life.
3. The Second Coming: a balanced approach
Sometimes teachers can do a disservice when we sensationalize the Second Coming. All this talk of flies and maggots and skin falling off bones (see verses 18-19) is part of the destruction which Ezekiel says will take place (see Ezekiel 39), but we can miss the purpose for all of this destruction if we do not ask the question: why? Why all this destruction?
Why do we need to cleanse the earth? We live in a telestial world, and before the Savior comes, all things must live a terrestrial law or they must go. So if the choice is between changing or being destroyed, what would the Lord prefer? He would prefer that we change. He wants all to come unto him. (see Moroni 10:30, 2 Nephi 26:27-28)
To see how the Lord will deal with the world before He comes again, we only need to examine how He dealt with Pharaoh when Pharaoh was instructed to let the Israelites go. This is an illustration of the Lord requesting that the Egyptians change. To send this message the Lord used a series of object lessons to get the point across.
The plagues as they appear in the Bible
- Exodus 7:14-25 – Water turned to blood killing all fish and other water life.
- Exodus 8:1-15 – frogs
- Exodus 8:16-19 – lice or gnats
- Exodus 8:20-30 – flies
These first four plagues illustrate a truth about God. He does not want to do us harm, but rather will do what he can to help us to choose to change. The Lord did not want to do harm to Pharaoh or the Egyptians. He loved them. These plagues were just enough to show them that Moses was the Lord’s prophet and that the Lord was in control. From this point on, the Lord will turn up the heat to get his message across. At any point, Pharaoh can submit and the plagues would have ended. The only reason there are ten of these plagues is because that is where Pharoah gave in. Who knows how many more there would have been if he would have persisted?
- Exodus 9:1-7 – disease affecting the livestock
- Exodus 9:8-12 – horrible boils affect the Egyptians
- Exodus 9:13-35 – hail and thunder affecting the Egyptians
Note how the Lord sent the warning through his prophet so that all who would hear could have their animals saved from the impending hail: “Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field.” (Exodus 9:19-21)
- Exodus 10:1-20 – locusts
- Exodus 10:21-29 – darkness
- Exodus 11, 12 – death of the first-born of all humans and animals who do not have the blood of the lamb marked on their doorposts.
The first three plagues seemed to affect “all the land of Egypt, (see Exodus 7:21, 8:2, 8:16) which seems to indicate that the Lord sends his reminder to all – even the Saints, that we have a need to change.
The final two plagues are very frightening indeed. With the loss of light (plague #9) we see the need to have Christ in our life, as He is the source of light. In fact, there is no other light without Christ. This is something demonstrated in the Book of Mormon when the darkness strikes the Nephites at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could afeel the bvapor of darkness; And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all; And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land. And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and ahowling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them. (3 Nephi 8:20-23)
To show that there is no light without the Savior, He explains why the destruction in America took place and then makes this statement, “I am the alight and the life of the world. I am bAlpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (3 Nephi 9:18)
The final plague is where Pharaoh relents and lets the Israelites go. CS Lewis once said, “The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.” (Surprised by Joy: The Shape of my Early Life, chapter 14)
It is so important that the youth identify with this principle so that they understand the workings of the Lord in their life. To stubbornly refuse to change seems to be the first principle of hell. Once again to quote from Lewis, “The one principle of hell is – I am my own” (Surprised by Joy, chapter 14)
4. A bag with holes
If we can learn that all things are first spiritual, and then temporal, we will have more power in our lives.
Haggai shows us this in a manner that makes D&C 29:31-35 more clear.
Haggai exhorts the people to build the temple.
1 In athe second year of Darius the king, in the sixth bmonth, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto cZerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your acieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; aConsider your ways. Ye have asown much, and bring in little; ye beat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that cearneth wages earneth dwages to put it into a bag with eholes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; aConsider your bways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the ahouse; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. (Haggai 1:1-8)
The principle is clear: oftentimes we are running around trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in the bottom, much like someone saving money in a bag with holes. I ask the youth if they ever just feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to do their homework and all that they are to do? The tendency in mortality is to set aside things of eternal significance and focus on the temporal. Doing this usually just gives us the feeling that we are spinning our wheels, not accomplishing what we need to accomplish. What the Lord is trying to tell us is that if we put Him first, we will see with His view and the things that don’t matter will fall out of our lives and we will sew up the hole in the bag.
Ask the youth what their most difficult class in school is- then ask what they do to succeed in that class. What if you put a similar effort into seminary that you put into your math class? What would happen?
I once had a priesthood leader who lamented that the elders in his ward did not put their strength into their priesthood assignments, and that if they put a similar effort into their employment, they would be without a job. What if we considered our ways and put God first in our lives? What if we just increased our efforts?
In conclusion, we are reminded that our attitude matters – we need to square our shoulders to the load we are to carry. All things are spiritual to the Lord, when we don’t understand how the Lord is dealing with us, we need to step back and look at how this experience affects our spirit. A healthy approach to understanding the Second Coming is essential for the youth as they face the challenges of their day. As we do His work we will no longer be saving our efforts in a bag filled with holes.