Less than two years after the Church had been organized, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders laid out ambitious plans to compile God’s latter-day revelations into one volume and print 10,000 copies—double the first print run of the Book of Mormon. On November 1, 1831, a special conference of the Church was held at Hiram, Ohio where the subject of preparing these revelations for publication was discussed. The Preface to the Doctrine and Covenants (section 1) was received at this time as well as this revelation. What we now know as section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants was meant to be the appendix to the Book of Commandments, like an exclamation point at the end of the Lord’s published revelations.
The two sections together encompass the contents of the book in a condensed form. An appendix is something which the writer thinks should be added to amplify that which is in the book, to emphasize it, to make it stronger, or to explain the contents a little more completely.
All scripture forms a great interwoven, interdependent latticework of gospel concepts. It seems that the Lord’s purpose in writing the scriptures was not to collect the concepts by topic but to scatter them throughout the sacred writings, here a little and there a little. Only diligent searching and studying of the scriptures so arranged can bring a fulness of understanding. The more one immerses oneself in the scriptures, the more familiar he becomes with language and concepts that trigger a host of associations.
Section 133 contains an unusual number of such key concepts that presuppose a knowledge of other scriptures. The section is written in a kind of literary shorthand. If one is not familiar with such scriptural concepts as the Lord coming to his temple (see Doctrine and Covenants 133:2), fleeing Babylon (see vss. 4‑7, 14), the parable of the ten virgins (see vs. 10), the story of Lot’s wife (see vs. 15), the Lamb standing on Mount Zion (see vs. 18), or the time when Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives (see vs. 20), one will be missing significant insights into what the Lord says in this section. Therefore, we will try to focus on the background of these literary references.
As we discuss these concepts, please remember 3 things:
- The righteous need not fear. Don’t sensationalize things. Emphasize that the righteous are praying for the Second Coming to happen.
- We should always learn about the Second Coming FROM THE SCRIPTURES. Not from books about the Second Coming.
- The focus is on preparation, not so much on the signs. This section is a great illustration of this principle. The need to prepare is emphasized before the signs are discussed. This is just the opposite of the order in Matthew 24, where he starts with the signs and ends with the preparation.
The Lord has seen fit not to announce to the world the date of his coming in glory. The deliberate suspense that is generated by anticipation and uncertainty in the hearts of the saints serves an important function in the Lord’s training of his people. While we wait, not knowing the day of his coming, we prepare. If we knew, some might find occasion to procrastinate their repentance. But keeping the uncertainty of the future in focus enables us to prepare continually—not only individually, but collectively as a church as well.
Both section 1, the Lord’s preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, and section 133, the original appendix to the book, begin with the same plea from the Lord: “Hearken, O ye people of my church” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:1; 133:1). What does it mean to hearken? It carries the plea to not only listen, but to obey. The Lord gives invitations in hopes that we will hearken to them and prepare ourselves for what is coming.
While terrifying things have been foretold for the people of the earth prior to Jesus’s return, the Lord has not left his faithful saints without warning. Those events that are called “signs of the times” are given precisely for the purpose of warning, preparing, and letting those who would observe them know what is coming. They are the Lord’s merciful efforts to announce to his saints that his coming approaches and that the day of accountability is near.
They are warnings to the people of the world that God is in control, and that they must repent or be destroyed. But these warnings develop in such a way that only those who observe with faith, listen to the voices of the Lord’s servants, have the Spirit, and know the scriptures will recognize what they are (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:57). Those who do not will find other explanations for the Lord’s signs, or in many cases, will be completely oblivious to them.
Paul taught that the day of the Lord would come to the world “as a thief in the night”—that is, unexpectedly (1 Thessalonians 5:2,4-6, Doctrine and Covenants 106:4-5). While those who disbelieve or disobey will be overtaken by the Lord’s coming, those who are in tune with the signs of the times will be ready and will not be taken by surprise. The saints have an obligation to recognize those signs—and will do so if they prepare (Doctrine and Covenants 68:11).
The verb tense used in 133:2 indicates that the Lord’s appearance was still in the future as of November 1831. The appearance promised has more than one fulfillment. This prediction has in part been fulfilled by the Lord’s appearance to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, but this prophecy has a broader meaning. The Lord shall come, without a doubt, to his temple, where he will sit as “a refiner and purifier of silver,” purging the house of Israel and ministering to his people. This appearing will be separate and distinct from the great coming in the clouds of heaven, when he will appear with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30) “with a curse to judgment (v. 2) upon all the nations that forget God.”
The phrase “the nations that forget God,” is haunting. If there was one phrase to describe what is happening in America today, this would be it. We are a nation that is forgetting God. You can’t forget him if you never knew him, and this nation has known him. The more you forget God, the more “ungodly” you become. This ungodliness necessitates that the Lord “make bare his holy arm” (v. 3). The arm is a symbol of strength and power Symbolically, the Lord rolling up his sleeves and making bare his arm signifies that he is revealing his strength and power before the eyes of the world. “All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God.” All people shall see the victory or deliverance which the Almighty shall bring about in favor of his people.
How to Prepare
If God is going to judge the ungodly, then we need to prepare ourselves to become godly.
Verse 4 and 5 provides some great verbs which illustrate how to do this.
“Sanctify yourselves.” Sanctify means “to set apart as holy” or to “purify.” How do we sanctify ourselves? There are many ways to do this, but one of the best ways is by going to the temple. The scriptures are clear about that.
“Gather ye together.” In 3 Nephi, when the Nephites are preparing to withstand the Gadianton robbers, what do they do? They gather everybody and everything into one body because there is strength in numbers. We do this gathering through our wards and stakes, as well as in our homes. We can all minister to each other and meet each other’s needs. We can lift up the hands that hang down. We can strengthen each other.
“Go ye out from Babylon.” Elder David R. Stone’s address, “Zion in the Midst of Babylon,” explains: “There is no particular city today which personifies Babylon. Babylon was, in the time of ancient Israel, a city which had become sensual, decadent, and corrupt.” Spiritual Babylon is a symbol of spiritual and physical enslavement – not a particular place or people, but a particular way of looking at life. If you are materialistically oriented and primarily seeking the things of the world, flee Babylon! If we are not mindful, the world can draw us away from the things that are most important. Hugh Nibley, in Approaching Zion, said that the struggle we have trying to become a Zion people while at the same time being attracted and tempted by the things of the world is like trying to have one foot in Zion and one foot in Babylon. Also, Neal Maxwell wrote: “Even if we decide to leave Babylon, some of us endeavor to keep a second residence there, or we commute on weekends.” (Maxwell, Quote Book, 25)
“Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” is an Old Testament allusion. Who bore the vessels of the Lord? This has reference to the temple vessels that the priests would handle in the temple compound—the cups and the bowls and all the things associated with the Mosaic law. If you don’t get out of Babylon, you can’t honor your priesthood, because they are opposed to one another. So, get out of Babylon so you can be clean and worthy to bear the priesthood. Isaiah uses another phrase that conveys this same idea, “arise” and “shake off the dust,” the dust of the world, of Babylon.
Another thing we can do to prepare is to “call your solemn assemblies” (v. 6). One type of solemn assembly is where we sustain a prophet and agree to honor and support him. Every time we meet in the temple for ordinances it could be called a solemn assembly.
“Speak often of the Lord one to another.” (v. 6) Malachi 3:16 reads, “they that feared the Lord spake often one to another.” How often do you speak about the gospel? Speak often. Another place to see the idea of “speak often” is in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. The Jews took the commandment to put the scriptures upon their hands and between their eyes literally. They made phylacteries, small boxes containing scriptures that were tied to their foreheads and hands. But the Lord uses these images to symbolize putting the scriptures right before us. “Write it on your posts” meant that scriptures were in a prominent place by the door of every home. A mezuzah containing scriptures was touched each time the home was entered or left. We are encouraged create an atmosphere in our homes where the “scriptures are before our eyes continually” through artwork or other reminders to facilitate learning and talking about the things of God.
Another way of preparing is to “call upon the name of the Lord” (v. 6). If you look at v. 40 God will tell you what you’re supposed to say when you call upon him—to plead for the coming of the Lord. We will discuss this more later in this article.
How else do we prepare for the Second Coming? We send the elders “unto the nations,” to “foreign lands.” (v. 8) We enlarge the borders of Zion and we strengthen the stakes. (v. 9) “We cry unto all nations to awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom.” This allusion refers to the parable of the ten virgins (see Matthew 25:1‑13).
James E. Talmage describes it this way:
The story itself is based on oriental marriage customs. It was common in those lands, particularly in connection with marriage festivities among the wealthy classes, for the bridegroom to go to the home of the bride, accompanied by his friends in processional array, and later to conduct the bride to her new home with a larger body of attendants composed of groomsmen, bridesmaids, relatives and friends. As the bridal party progressed, to the accompaniment of gladsome music, it was increased by little groups who had gathered in waiting at convenient places along the route, and particularly near the end of the course where organized companies came forth to meet the advancing procession. Wedding ceremonies were scheduled for the evening and night hours; and the necessary use of torches and lamps gave brilliancy and added beauty to the scene.” (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 577)
It was a wonderful parade of lights. Often with such wedding processions as mentioned above, the appearance of the bridegroom came after a long wait. Bridesmaids carried a small lamp and a supply of oil that they might be prepared to help light the way when the wedding party appeared. It was something each person wanted to prepare for and certainly did not want to miss. This is similar to our desire to prepare for “the great day of the Lord.”
The next thing we do to prepare is given in verse 11—we are told to “watch, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.” Watching involves being alert, aware, and ready. I also like Elder McConkie’s comment on I Thessalonians 5:4-6, noting that the “children of light” are those who can read the signs of the times, those who treasure up the Lord’s word so they won’t be deceived. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 665) Joseph Smith Matthew (the JST of Matthew 24) expands on what it really means to “watch” in verses 46 and 49 —”to give meat in due season” to the hungry. This could refer to providing both spiritual and physical food to those in need.
We are reminded again to “flee unto Zion,” and not only do we flee to Zion, but we flee to the houses of refuge which are the temples. (v. 12-13)
In verse 14, we are told for the third time to flee from spiritual Babylon. Of all the things the Lord has told us to do to prepare, what has he emphasized? Get out of Babylon. Gather to Zion. What would you be doing now if you were really fleeing Babylon? Verse 15 refers to another Old Testament allusion. It is a reference to Lot’s wife looking back towards Sodom, and being turned into a “pillar of salt.” (See Genesis 19:15‑26.) Some have conjectured that she returned to Sodom and was destroyed. Luke 17:31‑32 reads, “and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife.” In context, this reference is clear. Once a person forsakes the world, he cannot turn back, or he too may get caught in the destruction that awaits Babylon. As the dog returns to the vomit, and the sow to wallowing in the mire. The Lord says, “Once you leave the world, LEAVE THE WORLD.” Don’t long for the so-called good old days of sin, or as someone once said, “Throw away your rearview mirrors.”
What’s the next thing we do to prepare? Repent. (v. 16) He gives us an image in verse 17, that of an angel “crying through the midst of heaven, saying: Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” Immediately we think of the angel in Revelation 14:6, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” The Lord sent us the angel Moroni to help us repent. “Make his paths straight” is the cry of John the Baptist, and this concept is also in Isaiah. (Isaiah 40:3) Section 133 is stating that repentance is what makes the way of the Lord straight.
What do I want the Lord to do for me when he comes? I want to be forgiven. I want to be cleansed. Revelation 21:4 says that when the Savior comes, he will “wipe away all tears” from our eyes. Because of these great promises, we want the Lord to come as fast as he can. That is why we want to make the way smooth, so he won’t have anything slow him down. The road is filled with valleys and hills, and he wants to come to us, but he asks us to level things out. Repentance is largely a matter of attitude. If we make excuses for our sin, we have thrown a hill up. When we rationalize, we dig valleys and make mountains. So how do we prepare for him to come quickly? We get rid of the roadblocks. I like to make verses 16 and 17 very personal. I repent, so he can come and wipe away my tears and cleanse me and make me fit for my Father in Heaven.
Verse 18 speaks about the 144,000 who shall stand with the Lamb upon Mount Zion “with the Father’s name written on their foreheads.” (See also Revelation 7:4) Numbers are very significant in the Book of Revelation and scholars have proposed many interpretations of the significance of numbers. One explanation of this number is that the number three symbolizes God or the Godhead, and the number four symbolizes the four points of the compass, of the earth. Three times four, twelve, symbolizes the Priesthood or the power of God on earth. In the scriptures, when a concept is to be emphasized, the number would be squared (12 x 12) or multiplied by 1,000 or both. So what we have here is a fulness of the Priesthood. How do I get the Father’s name written on my forehead? In the temple. (See Doctrine and Covenants 109:26)
Elder Charles W. Penrose described Christ’s appearance on the Mount of Olives (133:19-20):
At the crisis of their fate, when the hostile troops of several nations are ravaging the city and all the horrors of war are overwhelming the people of Jerusalem, Christ will set his feet upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave and part asunder at his touch. Attended by a host from heaven, he will overthrow and destroy the combined armies of the Gentiles, and appear to the worshipping Jews as the mighty Deliverer and Conqueror so long expected by their race; and while love, gratitude, awe, and admiration swell their bosoms, the Deliverer will show them the tokens of his crucifixion and disclose himself as Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had reviled and whom their fathers put to death. (“The Second Advent,” Millennial Star, 10 Sept. 1859, 582–83.)
More Old Testament Allusions
So much of section 133 comes from Isaiah. Verses 46-48 give us a tiny section of a prayer that he offered. “Who is this that cometh … with dyed garments… I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth the winefat (winepress)?” (Isaiah 63:1-2) In ancient times, in some parts of the world, people used to squeeze the juice out of the grapes by placing the grapes in a wine-vat and then stomping on them. Naturally, the clothes of those people who trod in the wine‑vat were soon stained with the grape juice and became the same color. When the Savior appears in the last days, his garments will be red “like him that treadeth in the wine‑vat.” (133:46, 48) The major feature of this person is that his garments are stained red. This refers to Christ’s atonement: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44.)
The phrase ”mighty to save” in verse 47 has significant Hebrew overtones. The English word “save” does not convey the full meaning of the Hebrew word yehoshi’a, which should be translated “cause to save.” That is, Christ’s atonement can “cause” salvation from sin. In fact Christ’s given name, Yeshua, means “salvation.”
Christ responds, “I have trodden the winepress.” (Isaiah 63:3) The imagery of the winepress is most interesting. In Hebrew geth means “press” and semane means “liquids,” an oil or wine press. It was in the “garden of the winepress,” Gethsemane, that the Atonement took place. In the Garden, Christ himself was “pressed” under the weight of the sins of mankind until blood came from every pore. When Christ says, ”I have trodden the winepress alone,” and “there was none with me” it signifies that he was the only one capable of performing the Atonement, and he had to do it alone.
When he comes to judge the wicked at the Second Coming, however, his clothes will be “red” for a different reason. As verse 51 of section 133 notes, the red stains are from the blood of the wicked in the “day of vengeance.” When he says, ”I will stain all my raiment,” it signifies that his judgment will be thorough.
Isaiah’s description of the Lord’s wrath in the wine-vat has carried over into other forms of literature. Julia Ward Howe borrowed the metaphor of the winepress in the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with the lyrics, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” John Steinbeck uses the same metaphor in his novel The Grapes of Wrath.
In Isaiah 63:7, he mentions the “loving kindnessES” of the Lord which he has “bestowed upon the house of Israel according to his mercy.” Doctrine and Covenants 133:52-53 speaks of the loving kindness of the Lord and how he was afflicted in all their afflictions. He redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old,” very similar to what Isaiah has just said. The idea of to bear, and to carry, and to redeem is seen in another place in Isaiah. (Isaiah 46:1-8) Here, we see the image of a big stone idol being carried in a cart. The gods of the world are heavy, and “a burden to the weary beast.” Isaiah is asking, “Who do you want to worship, a god you have to carry, or one who will carry you?”
Many of you are familiar with the poem called “Footprints in the Sand,” where a man has a dream where he is walking on the beach of his life, and notices that there are two sets of footprints as he walks, his and the Savior’s. He notices that during the darkest times in his life, there is only one set of footprints in the sand, and he wonders why the Savior has abandoned him. This is when the Lord reveals that it is at those times that the Savior carried him. What’s wrong with the story according to Isaiah? There never WERE two sets of footprints. He ALWAYS carried you.
Isaiah says it this way, “Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: and even to your old age I am here; and even to hoar [gray] hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”(Isaiah 46:3-4). In Isaiah’s version, there is always only one set of footprints. He carries us from the womb to old age. God is with us always, forever and ever.
Isaiah says, “You have a choice. You can carry the gods of the world, and they’ll stoop you and bow you and crush you down OR you can be carried by the Lord from birth to old age.” We get all that in this one verse 53. It’s a very beautiful description of the Savior, when the allusion to Isaiah is considered.
Second Coming Allusions
Verses 23 and 24 of section 133 refer to “islands becoming one land.” The coming together of the land masses of the earth is also symbolic of the coming together of the people. The coming together of the earth is also symbolic of the coming together of all nations. It expresses the idea that all mankind will be brought together into one family. The next few verses (25-27) describe how “the Savior shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh.” The inhabitants of the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord and their prophets shall hear his voice.” They shall “smite the rocks” and “a highway shall be cast up in the midst of the deep.” And why is the highway necessary? Jeremiah 14:15-16 explains that the children of Israel will be brought from the lands of the north, and it will be such a great miracle that no one will remember the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt anymore. This is a reference to the great work of the gathering of Israel, which President Nelson has talked so much about. “The gathering of Israel is the most important thing taking place on the earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty.” (March 26, 2021)
Here, we again get further references to the Old Testament. Who struck rock once before? Who made a highway in the great deep? (133:29) Who brought pools of water forth in the barren desert? These are all references to things Moses did when he delivered the children of Israel from Egypt and brought them to the promised land. We are being presented with the idea that the Second Coming will be like a deliverance from captivity and from oppression. The allusions to Moses are being brought in here because the story of Moses was the greatest story of deliverance in holy writ. There are two great deliverers in a sense — Moses and the Savior. That is the message of Old and New Testaments. All these Old Testament images are being alluded to in order to give hope. You will be delivered.
Earlier, we discuss the idea that another way of preparing is to “call upon the name of the Lord” (v. 6). If you look at verse 40 in section 133, God tells us what we are supposed to say when we call upon him. “O that thou wouldst come down…” He tells you what the purpose of that prayer is to be—to plead for the coming of the Lord.
Isaiah’s version of the prayer starts in Isaiah 63:15 and continues into the next chapter. The idea is that because of all that God has done for us, how he has carried us, and bestowed upon us his love, you and I can offer this prayer—a prayer for the Second Coming to happen soon. One reason for the prayer is given in Isaiah 64:4. The words of this verse are similar to verse 45 in section 133. Why do we want the Lord to come? Because “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard what he has prepared for those who wait for him.” We overestimate the joys and pleasures of the world, and we underestimate the joys and the pleasures of eternity. We want him to come because we have no idea of what he has in store for those that love him.
A couple of other quick thoughts as we make our way to the end of this long section. Do you remember Joseph’s dream in Genesis? What was happening in that dream with regard to his brothers? It foretold that one day they would bow down to him. They did not react positively to this prediction, and came to resent him so much that they sought to get rid of him.
The fulfillment of that dream is discussed in section 133:25, 30-32. As the Savior comes to reign in glory, the tribes of Israel will bring forth their rich treasures and give them to the children of Ephraim, and before them they shall fall down and be crowned by them. The tribes of Israel all bow down before Ephraim and Joseph. The dream had a literal fulfillment in Egypt, but there is a much deeper fulfillment than that.
“Richer blessings” are laid upon Ephraim because he gets to bestow the blessing on others. (133:33-34) So the bowing down is not just a bowing down in Egypt because the brothers think Joseph is the chief man. It is not a negative bowing down, it’s a positive bowing down to receive Priesthood blessings. This is the final fulfillment of Joseph’s dream.
We have already discussed the verses that follow as they constitute the prayer that will be given by the servants of God pleading for the Lord to come. (133:36-55)
Verse 56 speaks of the song of the Lamb that will be sung when the graves of the saints are opened. We talked about this song in section 84. It’s a love song. The saints will sing that song of love and praise to the Lamb. We even get the words to the song in section 84:99-102.
A good place to get a sense of this song of praise is to go to Alma 36 when Alma is in pain and he cries out in deep humble prayer repentance, “O Lord have mercy on my soul . . .” It is a prayer just as wonderful as Isaiah’s. He says, “When my mind caught hold…” I love that idea of caught hold. You get this sense that he is desperate. He says, “O that I could be banished and become extinct both body and soul.” But he reaches up. That’s hope. He catches hold. There is hope in that desperation. So he reaches up. What a great description of hope. Note the word that Alma uses. Nobody else uses this words but Alma and the sons of Mosiah. They say, “I was snatched.” When you snatch something, what do you do? You grab it quickly because it’s almost too late, right? He reaches up with hope, and what does the Lord do? He just snatches him. The Lord grabs him out of hell, because that’s where Alma is, and he pulls him up. How high does he pull him? Into his very presence. What does Alma say? “I saw God surrounded by numberless concourses of angels.” What are they doing? Singing and praising God. And he says, “And my soul did long to be there.” Why did he long to be there? So he could sing the song, sing the praises. I love the phrase “sing the song forever and ever.” It is not only a song in praise of the Savior, but a song to the Father in honor of the Savior for that great gift. And now we get the answer to the big question. Why did God do all of this? What was his motive?
The answer is found in verse 57. Why has God performed the whole restoration, sent all the angels, all the trumpet sounds, and everything we have been learning about? All of it was so that “men might be made partakers of the glories which were to be revealed to them.” All these things were done so that mankind wouldn’t miss the glory God wants to give them. That is why he has restored his everlasting covenant. To prepare the weak so they will be able to confound the wise. Who are the weak things of the earth who are going to ‘thresh’ the nations of the earth? (133:58-59) The missionaries. What kind of a threshing is it? It is separating the wheat from the tares. This was done anciently on threshing floors, as we see in the book of Ruth. Missionaries will go forth declaring the word of the Lord, and all that repent and sanctify themselves before the Lord shall be given eternal life. (133:60-62)
Those that do not give heed to this message will be cut off, and in the words of Malachi, they will be left as stubble, “that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” (133:63-64) What does it mean to be left without root nor branch? In the family tree, roots are my ancestors, and branches are my posterity. Does this verse imply that we will be left alone, single and separate? Section 132 says, as much. If we do not take part in the new and everlasting covenant, we will remain single and separate.
The next verses are a requoting of Isaiah 50, a tender and beautiful chapter. (133:67-70) Jacob also included it in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 7. If we get a part of a reference, don’t we think of the whole thing? Verse 2 says that when the Lord came, the house was empty. Where were they? Out partying with the world? The Lord asks if his hand is shortened, that he cannot redeem. What’s a shortened hand? It appears to be one which is pulled back. But the Lord says no, his hand it is still stretched out to you. It will still redeem you.
In Isaiah 50:4, we are given an image of the student, the scholar, who gets up very early in the morning to study. When did the Savior study? “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
How early is a great while before the break of day? Three o’ clock in the morning? That’s the image. Who’s teaching Jesus out there in that solitary place? His Father.
The next verses say, “The Lord God opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.” What was the word that the Lord told him when “he turned his ear to hear?” (Isaiah 50:5-6) “Father, if this cup might pass from me. Let it pass.” What was the answer? “It is not possible. There is no other way.” So was he rebellious? No, “he gave his back to the smiters and his cheek to them that plucked off the hair.”
Isaiah 50:7 reads, “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” We can interpret this as Jesus saying, “I will obey. The Lord will help me. Therefore I set my face like a flint, I know that I will not be ashamed.” The Lord is “near that justifieth me. . . and “ the Lord God will help me.”And because the Savior did what he did for me, I can do what he asks me to do for him, and he will help me every step of the way. (2 Nephi 7:8-9)
Now go back to Isaiah 50 or 2 Nephi 7 and look at the last phrase in verse 11. It is the same as 133:70, and is best understood in the context of the preceding verse. 2 Nephi 7:10 asks a rhetorical question. “Is there anybody here who obeys the Lord and obeys his prophets that is walking in darkness?” The answer is obvious—none, they all walk in light. Then, he addresses those who don’t want to walk in the Lord’s light. “Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled.” (2 Nephi 7:11) What is your own light like? Sparks. The Lord is being sarcastic. He says, “Go ahead, walk in your own light, in the sparks that you have kindled.” But “you shall lie down in sorrow.” You can walk in MY LIGHT or you can walk in yours. His light is described as being so bright it would melt mountains.(133:71)
When you link verse 71 with verse 70, what is the source of the light you could have walked in but you didn’t? “Ye believed not my servants, and when they were sent unto you ye received them not.” You could have received light from his apostles and servants the prophets. But then you chose to walk in your own light, sparks. How long does a spark last? Just a second, and once it goes out you are in darkness. “Therefore, . . . ye were delivered over unto darkness.” (133:72) In fact, when light is repeatedly rejected, darkness becomes total, and “there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” (133:73)
The people could have had the glory of Christ promised in section 133 verse 49. “So great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places.” What could lead men to choose to walk by the light of “sparks,” when they could have walked by a light brighter than the sun?
As we have tried to unpack the biblical allusions and scriptural concepts in Section 133 such as the Lord coming to his temple, fleeing Babylon, the parable of the ten virgins, the story of Lot’s wife, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and the significance of Jesus appearing in red apparel when he comes in glory, I hope our understanding of these richly interwoven scriptures has increased. As the signs of Christ’s coming appear, I hope that we will focus on our own preparation, rather than the signs. We have discussed many ways to do this—sanctifying ourselves, leaving the world, “watching” by giving meat to the hungry, proclaiming the gospel, and repenting, removing any obstacles that would prevent the Lord from coming quickly. It is my hope that we will always remember the reason that God has performed the whole restoration and sent angels and sounded trumpets. I hope that we will recognize and remember that it is all so that we wouldn’t miss the glory that God wants to give us. That is why he has restored his everlasting covenant. What an amazing demonstration of his love for his children! “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard what God hath prepared for those who wait for him” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:45).