You know, it’s funny how things pop up that are answers to questions you have. In this case, what I ought to study next. Originally, I planned to study the entire book of Jacob. Not a bad choice and my favorite book in the entire Book of Mormon. However, my companion suggested I read section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants because it was really good. I dismissed the suggestion having already decided to read Jacob. Yet, as I read Our Heritage and Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, it seemed whenever section 76 was mentioned, it especially stood out. I feel that there is something in there I need to know. As a reader, you get a front seat to what I find.
Preface to D&C 76
As a preface, I will copy in the preface to this section. I don’t have any Bible Dictionary references so this is the best I have.
“A vision given to Joseph Smith the prophet and Sidney Rigdon [only vision recorded in D&C where two people had a vision at the same time], at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832. Prefacing his record of this vision the prophet wrote: ‘Upon my return from Amherst Conference, I resumed the translation of the scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term ‘Heaven’ as intended for the Saints; eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one. Accordingly, while translating St. John’s Gospel, myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision.’ It was after the prophet had translated John 5:29 that this vision was given.”
Before I begin section 76, let’s read John 5:29. It’s quite short so I’ll copy it in here for convenience.
“And shall come forth they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
Cross reference D&C 29:26. It says that Michael will sound forth his trumpet and all shall awake and be resurrected.
Ok, now let’s jump into it.
Nothing Can Stay God’s Hand in Aiding You
I love verse 1. Maybe it’s because I was feeling rather down yesterday. The Lord is God! And there is no Savior besides him! What comfort that brings! Cross reference Isaiah 1:2. Starts out the same way as this verse.
Great is his wisdom and marvelous are his way (verse 2). Yes! I’m so glad this is true! That he knows us and takes care of us. I am reminded of the talk by President Utchdorf where he says that compared to God, we are nothing, yet we are everything to God. How beautiful.
His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand (verse 3). Wow! This is what I needed to hear today. I’m nearly moved to tears. Shucks man, I’m toast. The dam has broken. I’m so grateful he is in charge. That he knows us and that there is no one who can stay his hand in helping and caring for us. His purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. The purpose of this life is to be happy. How grateful I am that He lives!
From eternity He is the same (verse 4). He is unchanging and helps us as he has done for thousands of years. He has much experience. He is the great physician. He has descended below all so that he may know how to succor his people. I know that this is true with all my heart. I’m so grateful for it!
How God Blesses Those That Love Him
My goodness. Day 2 on D&C 76 and I’m already crying in gratitude and love for God. Verses 5-10. Golly man. I want to copy them in here because I love them that much.
“5. For thus saith the Lord — I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.”
The part that struck me was the latter end of the verse, about served the Lord in righteousness and truth to the end. That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s what I want to do. It brings me great comfort to know that God delights in honoring his servants. Not only that, but He is merciful and gracious unto those who fear him. As long as you are doing the best you can to serve him, he is going to bless you and make weak things become strong. It seems like a paradox that in the process of being meek, humble, God fearing, and service oriented — all things you normally wouldn’t think to make a man a king — allow you to gain all the father has. Why is that? I think the answer is that God is in control. Just like verses, 1-4 said. If you let God be God and act under his direction by becoming like a child, He can make more of your life than you can. Like verse 5 says, God is merciful and gracious…and delights to honor those who serve him.
“6. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.”
Heavenly Father is saying, “It’ll be ok in the end. Keep serving me and trusting and you will earn your reward and glory.” These are the types of people who are going to earn all that the father has.
“7. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.”
This scripture means a lot to me. In verse 5, God talks about what kind of people he likes. In verses 6-10, he gives blessings and promises if you are this kind of person. Verse 7 talks about the mysteries of the kingdom being revealed. I take that to not only be knowledge of scriptures or things to come but how the kingdom works as well. The more righteous you become, the more the Lord can use you. He is going to put you within positions where you will be able to work the most good. Whether that is Bishop or Stake President or Young Men President or Primary President I don’t know. Through your positions and according to your faithfulness, the Lord will reveal to you how his kingdom works.
For a few weeks in my prayers, I asked Heavenly Father to grant me visions of Lehi’s dream, the future, and other visions received by past prophets. My answer was, “Wait. All in due course.” This scripture reaffirms my prayer. He will reveal all the mysteries, from Adam onward to all faithful servants. And that’s a promise.
I also really like the phrase, “good pleasure of my will.” I like it because God’s will does make you happy. And knowing it and doing it not only makes you happy but you can rest assured that it is what God wants you to do at this time in your life.
“8. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.”
This expands and clarifies what God will reveal to you. How wondrous and joyful!
“9. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding shall reach to Heaven, and before them, the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.”
I really like this because wisdom is important to me. I want to be wise in all things. And knowing that through serving God and obeying him to my best ability, I can be wise, that brings me comfort. The last part of this verse reminds me of the prophets of the Book of Mormon. How their understanding reached to Heaven and their words confounded the wise. They were made great in speaking to their fellow men. All through their service, faith, and trust in God. I want to be a good enough servant to qualify for those blessings.
“10. For by my spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will I make known unto them the secrets of my will — yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the hearts of men.”
By my spirit will I enlighten them. I feel God has already done that and continues to do that for me. We are counseled to obtain the spirit so we can learn. That’s what Elder Bednar wrote in his book on learning. There is no point in learning without the spirit because it’s a lot harder. Cross reference a paper I read called, “Using Faith as a Principle of Power.” It talks about how using faith and the spirit can allow you to learn, memorize, or master anything in a lot shorter time than it would a normal human being. I believe that’s true.
Cross reference “The Infinite Atonement“. God is waiting and wanting you to become a God like him. He wants you to take full advantage of the Atonement. When we do that, we exercise faith and have the spirit God enlightens us more. Hence fulfilling God’s desires or us returning to him and becoming more like him. In the process of all that, we learn a ton!
Seek the Spirit in All Things
I have seen this verse in action while I’ve been studying the scriptures. I try and remember to ask for the spirit. I have noticed when I don’t start with a prayer, I am a lot more distracted and my thoughts are a lot more scattered. When I pray before I start, my thoughts are a lot more focused and I am more in tune with thoughts and impressions that come while writing things out. Not to mention I can understand what is going on better in the scriptures. There is no downside of doing anything with the spirit.
All these connections are coming to me. I was reminded of my study habits in college. I always said a prayer before I started my homework. I think that is what allowed me to finish my homework quickly and smartly. Seeing what prayer has done for me now when I have been studying, makes me realize that the prayers I said before homework in school are what caused my success! When I sat down to do my homework, I was focused and didn’t stop till I was done. If I needed to take a break, it was done “in the spirit.” I was always able to come back and focus again on my homework. And here I was giving myself credit all these months when really it was the Lord granting me his spirit so I could accomplish the tasks required of me.
I am also reminded of Nephi when he went to fetch the sword of Laban. He was led by the spirit not knowing beforehand what to do or where to go. The importance of having the spirit to enlighten you is evident.
The second half of the verse says that God will make known his will. Things which have neither been seen, heard, or thought by man.
Obtaining God’s Will For Us
What is God’s will? Well, I believe it is his will that every one of his children returns to him. I think this overarching will could be revealed to us, the scriptures say as much. In what shape or form, I cannot say. But I take it that knowing the will of God for all his children you would have to be a prophet. Unless you were wanting to know God’s will for you and your family because he wants you guys to return back as well. This is where personal inspiration and revelation come in handy. I think knowing God’s will for you and your family is very important. How else are you supposed to know what to do? I think it is important to note that not only is God going to tell you things no man has seen, heard, or thought but there is a difference between what man thinks and what God thinks. The things seen, heard, and thought of by God are not the same as what man hears, sees, and thinks. God’s ways are not our ways. In light of this, it may seem to our limited view of things, that God is having us do things illogically. Like choosing less qualified men or women to church positions than others that could perform those duties better. Or having young boys walk hundreds of miles back to their hometown and retrieve plates of brass. Again, God’s ways are not our ways. We have to have the courage and faith to acknowledge that God always has our best interests in mind and that he will never lead us astray. He is in charge of the universe and he is qualified to run everything. We have to seek his will, align ours with his, and then do everything in our power to get it done. That’s when he’ll bless us and make more of our life than we can.
You Cannot Imagine the Things God Has Prepared For You
Cross reference Isaiah 64:4 and 1st Corinthians 2:9. Both of these are really cool scriptures. They are saying that man hasn’t seen, heard, or known anything that God hasn’t wanted them to know. That must mean God controls the availability of information in the world. That makes sense. Because the more righteous you are, the smarter you become. The more unrighteous you are, the dumber and more savage you become. See the Nephites and Lamanites in the Book of Mormon as two prime examples. That’s such a cool thought! God thinks, “Ok, time to send them to space,” and someone is inspired by God and figures it out. If it weren’t that way, and all the knowledge ever was available all the time, since the beginning of time, we would be far more advanced I think. But God has been in the works since the beginning and gives unto men according to their personal righteousness and whether or not the Earth is ready for such information. The fact that we have made leaps and bounds technologically speaking in the past 100 yeas more than in any other time in history tells me that something big is coming. Consider that we’ve barely hit the 100th year anniversary since the invention of the airplane! Look what we have done since then. Sent people to space and back! We’ve designed sophisticated computers. If there is a reason for all this outpouring of knowledge it must be the last days. We need to know all this before the end. Not only things of a temporal nature, but also of a spiritual nature. That is why the Lord is hastening the work. He lowered the missionary age. He is letting missionaries use Facebook to engage in missionary work.
Cross reference Wilford Woodruff’s vision of the spirit world when he met Joseph Smith. Joseph told him, “Every gospel dispensation has had adequate time to complete the work needed in their time, except this one!” We don’t have a lot of time to finish the work unless we go super fast. I guess that’s why the best were saved for last. Everything is speeding up. Both good and bad things because we are running out of time. If you slip up and fall for too long, you’ll be swept away by the current of wickedness and be out of the game. The best, brightest and strongest are needed at the end so that we even have a chance at completing the task at hand.