April 6th – A Significant Day
182 years ago today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized in a small hamlet in upstate New York. It was a small meeting attended by only a handful of people. But it was a pivotal moment in the restoration of Christ’s Church and his kingdom upon the earth. A lot has happened since then. We’ve gone from a handful of church members to 14,441,346 church members, with 281,312 convert baptisms last year alone. The Church is growing, and it is doing so at an amazing rate.
Last night I was talking to a friend, and in talking about different aspects of the gospel, I shared my belief that we as Latter-day Saints often miss out on the bigger picture of things. Yes, there’s church, and activities, and service projects, and so much more, but what is the point of it all? I told her one of my favorite parts of all scripture is Doctrine and Covenants Section 84. Section 84 is perhaps best known for containing the Oath and Covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The verses about taking lightly The Book of Mormon are also often quoted, as is verse 88 which is a personal favorite and was shared multiple times in General Conference this past weekend. However, my favorite verses of Section 84 come earlier in the section, and are often overlooked for their importance.
In verse 2 the Lord tells us that His church was “established in the last days for the restoration of his people” and “for the gathering of His saints upon Mount Zion”. We’re then told briefly about the New Jerusalem and given a chronology of the the dispensation of the Melchizedek Priesthood since Adam. It’s essentially Moses’s priesthood line of authority for us all to see right there in black and white. In verses 19-21 the Lord then starts to go into greater detail about the higher Priesthood and the sacred blessings that come with it. But then in verse 22 he says
For without this (the Melchizedek Priesthood) no man can see the face of God, even the Father and live.”
Then comes the part that I absolutely love.
Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also.”
D&C Section 84:23-25
Moses, as the holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood and priesthood leader of the Children of Israel, “plainly taught” them and “sought to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God.”
He “sought to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God.”
This was his duty as a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, to prepare those under his stewardship to meet God the Father face to face.
And ol’ Moses wasn’t wanting to wait around for this happen. He literally wanted to march them up that mountain (their temple) one by one, and give them the ordinances (their temple ordinances) necessary so that they could see God right then and there. Moses had seen Him, and he wanted everyone else to join in the fun also!
Moving on though…
The Oath and Covenant comes a few verses later, in which we are promised by the Savior that “all that [the] Father hath” shall be given unto us if we are faithful in our priesthood obligations (verse 38). And then the Lord speaks of that very Oath and Covenant saying
And the Father teacheth [us all] of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.
So the Priesthood was given not just for our individual sakes, but for the sake of the entire world. Moses had learned God’s ultimate plan for us long before his days of wandering in the desert .
For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
And Moses knew that eternal life could only come through the ordinances. His duty was exactly the same millenia ago as is our’s today. As Melchizedek Priesthood holders we are to gather everyone in under our stewardships, starting with our own families, and then working our way out to our assigned Home Teaching Families, and then onward to anyone else we might have stewardship over, until ultimately we have led each and every person to the ordinances which are essential for them to see the face of God.
That is God’s plan. That’s why He personally came with His son to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. He wants us back. He loves us all so very, very much. He is our father, and He wants to give us all that He really has. He wants to give us eternal life.
The Priesthood was restored with the Church so as to enable us to get back to our Heavenly Father, and I’ll tell ya brothers and sisters, I really can’t wait to go back. Sure, I can wait if I have to. After all, this mortal probation is pretty great. It’s giving me some time to get ready, to get sanctified enough to handle it all. But I’m a Moses-Kind-Of-Guy; I want to do it now! I want to march right up the mountain and see my God. And I don’t want to just hike up by myself, but I want to take my family, my friends, and every single person I know with me. I want everyone there, and I want everyone else to feel the joy I feel when we all get there together.
I am thankful for such loving and merciful God, and I am thankful to know that He is literally my Heavenly Father.
I am grateful for His great love and sacrifice for sending His son to die for my sins, and not just for my sins, but for your’s and everyone else’s too.
I know that when a few ragtag folks met 182 years ago today in a cabin in New York to organize the Church they were ushering in what the ancient Apostle Paul told the Ephesians would be “the dispensation of the fulness of times”, when the Lord could gather all things together, both in heaven and on earth. And oh how thankful I am to be a part of it.
April 6th is a significant day indeed. And I hope to see each and every one of you on the top of that mountain one day. Let’s make sure we all get there together…
That’s my hopes and prayers.
– Stan Way