Despite its propaganda, Babylon is neither a safe nor a nice place or condition. Those who are foolish enough to reside in Babylon are prone to dangers and adversities without the benefit of armor.
This article was adapted from my new book, (The Three Pillars of Zion. Click here to receive a free sample.)
This is a six-part series on the new and everlasting covenant, the first pillar of Zion:
(1) The Most Glorious Doctrine Ever Revealed
(2) The Covenant Reveals A Loving Relationship
(3) Power in the Covenant
(4) Safety in the Covenant
(5) Progressing in the Covenant
(6) Abiding in the Covenant
Despite its propaganda, Babylon is neither a safe nor a nice place or condition. Those who are foolish enough to reside in Babylon are prone to dangers and adversities without the benefit of armor. The Apostle John calls Babylon a “hold” and a “cage,” that is, a prison. (1) Only those Zion people who abide in the new and everlasting covenant can obtain safety from Babylon.
In Babylon, idolatrous people worship other gods, so when trouble strikes, they are left alone to suffer and face overwhelming challenges. The harsh philosophy of Babylon is one that is godless, self-serving, competitive, and lonesome—anti-Christ. (2) People in Babylon fare “according to the management of the creature,” prosper according to their genius, and conquer according to their strength. They assume no accountability to God; therefore they feel that they can do whatever they please without consequence.
In Babylon, they succeed or fail alone. They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof (the power of hope in Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, the holy priesthood, and gifts of the Spirit), and they label the humble followers of Christ as frenzied captives bound by false traditions (ironically, it is the inhabitants of Babylon that are the “frenzied captives”!). (3)
When the people of Babylon are faced with trouble, they receive neither aid from Babylon nor respite from her unmerciful and unrelenting attacks. Amazingly, many people insist on living in Babylon and embracing that lifestyle, all the while considering themselves safe.
Safety only in the New and Everlasting Covenant
A scan of the scriptures proves otherwise—in every case! Safety is found only in the Covenant. Does that mean a person of the Covenant will not suffer? Of course not. Suffering is part of the testing process for every mortal being. But by abiding in the Covenant, we understand that our afflictions are consecrated for our gain. (4) That is, they are sanctified and therefore changed in purpose. No longer are they merely an adversity; rather, they are counted as a sacrifice—and sacrifice, we are taught, “brings forth the blessings of heaven.” (5) Isaiah said, “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers.” (6) The Bible footnote for the word “teachers” suggests the Savior. Adversity draws the Savior close.
Therefore, when Zion people suffer, they are ultimately safe in the Covenant. Their affliction will not damage them; it will serve to exalt them: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose [his Covenant].” (7) Whereas a non-covenant person suffers for the purpose of leading him to Christ, a covenant person suffers to lead him closer to Christ or sometimes for “Christ’s sake.” (8)
Among other things, this means that Jesus (because we are bound to him in the Covenant) will stand beside us, suffer with us, and help us to overcome. In the Covenant, Zion people are never left alone. Thus, it is in the Covenant that our afflictions are consecrated for our eternal welfare. Nephi put it this way:
But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul. (9)
Safety in the Covenant through Temple Service
In a significant way, safety in the Covenant is linked directly to our active and faithful participation in temple service. It is in the temple that we receive the blessings of the Covenant in their fulness.
Heavenly Father will “establish the people that shall worship” in the temple. If we “honorably hold a name and standing in this thy house,”—that is, if we hold and actively and honorably use a temple recommend—we will be blessed now and “to all generations and for eternity.”
Great blessings of safety follow:
That no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself; that no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house; and if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them; and if they shall smite this people thou wilt smite them; thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all their enemies. (10)
Speaking of the security derived from the law of consecration, as a significant part of the new and everlasting covenant, the Lord said,
Now, this commandment [Covenant] I give unto my servants for their benefit while they remain, for a manifestation of my blessings upon their heads, and for a reward of their diligence and for their security; for food and for raiment; for an inheritance; for houses and for lands. (11)
Clearly, both collectively and individually, we find safety in the Covenant.
Safety in the Covenant through Consecration
Consider that the work and the glory of God are to raise us to immortality at the highest level, called eternal life. (12) To that end the Father provides us the Atonement of his Son. The new and everlasting covenant emerges from the Atonement and makes us partners with Jesus in all things, both the easy and the difficult. By means of the Covenant, we are yoked with the Savior to inseparably face every eventuality.
In this relationship, we pledge to each other all that we have and are, and therefore we are entitled to draw upon the resources of the stronger partner for any eventuality. In every way, we are one in the Covenant; neither are we divided nor are we alone. Now, because of our covenantal relationship, life’s adversities are consecrated to the Lord for the welfare of our souls.
Consecration is an inclusive law that requires that we consecrate everything to the Lord, which by definition would include our difficulties. Think of it this way: When you marry would you exclude your problems from the vows you make to your spouse? Marriage partners bring everything they have and are to the relationship, and they work through things and make decisions together. Their joint consecration makes them one, and therefore there is no division of resources. They pool everything so that they might face life together. A marriage that does not tolerate the partners’ individual problems is not strong and is at risk of failure. But a marriage in which the partners are equally yoked, in which the resources are unselfishly and totally pooled, will survive any storm.
So it is with the Lord and us. In the Covenant, we bring all that we have to the relationship, including our problems, and we use the sum of our resources to face life together with the Lord.
That is exactly what the Lord wants. It is by facing difficulties together that strong relationships are forged. It is by facing opposition that we discover how deeply loyalties run. As we walk hard roads together, we discover things about each other that we could not learn otherwise. We come to trust and love each other. We find that together we are stronger than when we are apart. We learn to rely on the relationship, and we never want to step away from it. By experience, we discover that in the covenantal relationship, we are absolutely safe.
Adversity, therefore, becomes an important solidifying agent for that relationship. By means of adversity, the agreement made at the outset of the Covenant by the baptismal ordinance becomes an unbreakable weld. This could be said of the marriage relationship. The yes spoken as a vow to form a marriage is only as good as the yes spoken as a vow every day thereafter. A marriage would be of little worth if one spouse were to leave the other or to let him or her down.
Just so, the Covenant would be of no worth if God were to abandon us and allow us to face trouble alone. President George Q. Cannon said:
No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. He is an unchangeable being; the same yesterday, the same today, and He will be the same throughout the eternal ages to come. We have found that God. We have made Him our friend, by obeying His Gospel; and He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them, if we only trust in our God and keep His commandments. (13)
The Great Discovery
One of the monumental discoveries of our taking and abiding in the Covenant is this: God will take care of us. The Lord’s intention is to exalt us in the Covenant, not to destroy us; he uses adversarial situations to build faith rather than to confuse us. He is an omniscient God of consistency, power, mercy, and love. Therefore, in the Covenant with him we are absolutely safe.
One of the greatest demonstrations of the safety of the Covenant is that of the ancient Israelites.
This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, [so that] they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. (14)
The Lord never forsook them, although they were often weak and rebellious. He was with them both day and night. He constantly instructed them. He provided manna and water to sustain them. For four decades of wandering, they lacked nothing! Amazingly, neither their clothing nor their shoes wore out. Perhaps to teach his obstinate children an invaluable lesson, the Lord showed them unmistakably that he could keep them safe in the Covenant.
At the end of Jesus’ life, just before he entered Gethsemane, he reminded his apostles of their early missions when he had purposely placed them in a condition of lack to teach them of their safety in the Covenant. He accomplished this lesson by sending them out with neither purse nor scrip. Now, looking back, he asked them: “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.”(15) As much as the apostles needed firsthand experience with the Covenant’s safety, so do we. When we lack, we can go to the Lord, and because we are one with him in the Covenant, he will take care of us. We are safe.
Examples of Safety in the Covenant
After the Lord clothed Adam and Eve in skins representing the Atonement,(16) he sent them into the lone and dreary world, where they were kept safe in the Covenant.
Lehi abandoned everything to make an extraordinary journey through the harsh wilderness, and he was kept safe in the Covenant. Does safety mean being free from afflictions and adversity? Of course not. Rather, safety in the Covenant suggests that the Lord never leaves us alone. Like the bridegroom who would never leave his suffering wife’s side, the Bridegroom, who is our Savior, never leaves us in times of trial. By covenant, he stands beside us, upholds us, cares for us, and loves us through to our journey’s or trial’s end. That is true safety that is inherent in the Covenant.
The Brother of Jared found safety in the Covenant. After an arduous journey to the seashore, he committed his people into the safekeeping of God and launched eight vessels toward an unknown destination. For 344 days, they were driven forth by a furious wind upon the water. They were tossed and crushed by mountainous waves, buried in the depths of the sea, and cast about by great and terrible tempests—and yet they were safe in the Covenant they had made.
“There was no water that could hurt them.” The Lord was ever with them:
When they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters. . . . No monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually.
They had made the Covenant and they were safe in it. “And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.” (17)
Abraham lay bound upon the altar, but he was safe in the Covenant. The Lord delivered him. His wife was taken from him twice, but she was safe in the Covenant. Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, but he and his son were safe in the Covenant.
Even martyrs such as Abinadi and the women and children of Ammonihah were ultimately safe “in the arms of Jesus.”(18) Ironically, their safety was defined by martyrdom, which launched them into eternal life. Of course, martyrdom is a manifestation of the sacrifice of all things, which Joseph Smith said was necessary to obtain eternal life.(19) Nevertheless, while they made their sacrifice, they were kept safe in the Covenant. And as we make our sacrifice, the Covenant will keep us safe, too.
Understanding the importance of keeping the Covenant at all costs, Helaman urged the Ammonites to stand firm in their resolve, even when the country was about to be overrun. “But I would not suffer them that they should break this covenant which they had made, supposing that God would strengthen us, insomuch that we should not suffer more because of the fulfilling the oath which they had taken.” (20)
Clearly, the best course of action is to keep the Covenant. Mortality is a place of testing and a time to make our sacrifices. But while we are doing so, we gain greater strength and do “not suffer more because of the fulfilling of the oath which [we have] taken.”
Lazarus was dead for four days, but he was safe in the Covenant. On that occasion, the Savior focused the attention of Lazarus’s sister, Martha, on Jesus’ true identity, saying, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (21) It is a question that each of us must answer: Do we believe—really believe—in this Jesus with whom we have made the Covenant? Will we believe, even with the stark reality of death staring at us, that we are yet safe?
The people of Alma the Elder people escaped their Babylon, made the Covenant with the Lord, and continued to abide in it at every hazard, even when they were in captivity. “And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.”(22) Alma’s people had no misgivings; their faith in the Lord and his Covenant were verified. They were, and always had been, safe in the Covenant.
An incident in Jesus’ ministry demonstrates safety in the Covenant. The exhausted Lord set out in a boat by night with his disciples.
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (23)
The Lord’s question feels like a rebuke. He might have said, “We have entered the Covenant together, haven’t we? That means that I am with you—always! Why, then, are you afraid? Where is your faith? Don’t you know yet who I am and what to expect of me? We are in this together.
You are safe in the Covenant!”
Finally, consider the stripling warriors. These were young men who had taken the Covenant and who were suddenly thrust into a new and dangerous environment that required enormous faith. “They never had fought, yet they did not fear death.” How had they achieved this level of courage? Helaman described their bravery as the greatest he had ever seen among the Nephites. They had learned it at their mothers’ knees. Evidently the concept of safety in the Covenant had been drilled into them so well that they “did not doubt [that] God would deliver them.”
When Helaman asked them, “What say ye, my sons, will ye go against [the Lamanites] to battle?” they answered, “Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth.” They knew who the Lord was, and their faith was in the power and safety of the Covenant: “And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” Helaman reported the result: “To my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength.” (24) They drew upon the power of God, which was available to them in the Covenant, and they were safe.
For Zion people, the lesson of safety is of ultimate importance. Only faith that the Lord is near and that he will never leave us can provide sufficient confidence for us to leave Babylon behind, as have other people of great faith, and throw ourselves wholly upon the tender mercies of the Lord. Only faith in the Lord and his promises can help us break from telestial law and embrace celestial law, which makes little sense in a telestial world. But if we will have the courage to sever ourselves from Babylon and allow the Covenant to make of us Zion people, we will make the discovery of a lifetime: We are absolutely safe in the Covenant—safer than we have ever been or felt before.
This is the fourth of six articles on the new and everlasting covenant. These articles were adapted from my new book, The Three Pillars of Zion. Click here to receive a free sample.
1. Revelation 18:2.
2. Alma 30:12.
3. Alma 30:12–17.
4. 2 Nephi 2:2.
5. “Praise to the Man,” Hymns, no. 27.
6. Isaiah 30:20.
7. Romans 8:28.
8. Alma 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:10.
9. 2 Nephi 32:9; emphasis added.
10. D&C 109:24–28.
11. D&C 70:15–16.
12. Moses 1:39.
13. Cannon, Collected Discourses, 2:185; emphasis added.
14. Nehemiah 9:18–21; emphasis added.
15. Luke 22:35.
16. McConkie and Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration, 223.
17. Ether 6:5–11.
18. Mosiah 13:9; Alma 14:11; Mormon 5:11.
19. Smith, Lectures on Faith, 6:7.
20. Alma 56:8.
21. John 11:25–26; emphasis added.
22. Mosiah 24:13.
23. Mark 4:37–40.
24. Alma 56:44–47, 56.