The Book of Mormon is indeed a special witness for our times. It is the story of a people who centered their lives on the prophecies of the coming of a Messiah, who is Jesus Christ the Lord. We are no different in our day. We know that He is coming. Many prophecies of His Coming have been given in our day. Section 133 gives us much to think about to prepare for His inevitable and glorious arrival. Let’s explore this together.
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The Book of Mormon is indeed a special witness for our times. It is the story of a people who centered their lives on the prophecies of the coming of a Messiah, who is Jesus Christ the Lord. They put their hopes in His Coming and in His Atoning Sacrifice that would be wrought. They anxiously awaited His Coming. They prepared a place for Him to come. They waited for six hundred years for His arrival. And then He came as promised! We are no different in our day. We know that He is coming. Many prophecies of His Coming have been given in our day. A place has been prepared for Him to come. And He will come! Section 133 gives us much to think about to prepare for His inevitable and glorious arrival. Let’s explore this together.
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast. This is Scot and Maurine Proctor and we are delighted to be with you again. Today’s lesson will center on Section 133 with some commentary on Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants. As many of you know, Scot and I have been blessed to spend a great deal of time in the Middle East, not only leading tours, but doing research and photo-documentation of the Holiest sites in the Savior’s life and in other places significant to the scriptures. We go every year to Egypt and the Holy Land—to the lands of the Prophets of old. And Scot has gathered some of his best images to illustrate this year’s Come Follow Me Wall Calendar on the Old Testament. We have also included in this calendar not only the national holidays but the Jewish Holy Days, so they will become more a part of our Old Testament thinking this coming year. These beautiful calendars are only available from Meridian Magazine and you can find them while supplies last at latterdaysaintmag.com/2022 that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/2022.
And for a limited time, by the way, we are offering Flat Rate Shipping for any number you order anywhere in the USA.
Now, as you begin reading Section 133 you’ll notice that it is out of place chronologically. Do you remember that special conference held back in November 1831 at the home of John and Elsa Johnson in Hiram, Ohio? Remember that’s when the decision was made to print the first edition of the revelations Joseph had received up until that time?
That’s right and there were 65 revelations through the Prophet Joseph to that date and on November 1, the preface to the Book of Commandments was given—which we know as section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Two days later, on November 3rd, the appendix to the Book of Commandments was given. Now, we have been blessed to write a lot of books and as authors we are always looking for a great preface to the book we are finishing and getting ready to send to press. How would it be to have the Lord Jesus Christ dictate not only the preface, but the appendix to a book? In the case of the revelations of the Prophet Joseph, that is exactly what happened. And we need to pay close attention to the messages of the appendix—Section 133.
We live in an amazing part of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. We are seeing the work accelerate as never before. During President Hinckley’s 12 years as the Prophet, he announced 76 temples. In the first 40 months of President Russell M. Nelson’s administration, he has announced 83 temples. Yes, the work is greatly accelerating. Some of our friends in the Church office building lovingly refer to President Nelson as “Hussle M. Nelson,” because he is really hurrying the work along. He has said,
“Today, the Lord’s work in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is moving forward at an accelerated pace. The Church will have an unprecedented, unparalleled future. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, … the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9; see also Doctrine and Covenants 76:10).
“Remember that the fulness of Christ’s ministry lies in the future. The prophecies of His Second Coming have yet to be fulfilled. We are just building up to the climax of this last dispensation—when the Savior’s Second Coming becomes a reality.” (Nelson, Russell M., The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming, Ensign, April 2020)
Imagine that! We’ve talked about The Second Coming all of our lives and now our prophet says we are just building up to this great event. And just as it did for the people of the Book of Mormon, His Coming will become a reality for us in our day and age. Section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants tells us much about how we prepare for His Coming—and we have heard recently from prophets and apostles also on how we prepare. There is much left to be done before the Savior can return again and we must all do our part.
Again, President Nelson said these two things; first:
“A necessary prelude to that Second Coming is the long-awaited gathering of scattered Israel (see 1 Nephi 15:18; see also the title page of the Book of Mormon). This doctrine of the gathering is one of the important teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…
“We not only teach this doctrine, but we participate in it. We do so as we help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil. As part of the planned destiny of the earth and its inhabitants, our kindred dead are to be redeemed (see Doctrine and Covenants 128:15). Mercifully, the invitation to “come unto Christ” (Jacob 1:7; Moroni 10:32; Doctrine and Covenants 20:59) can also be extended to those who died without a knowledge of the gospel (see Doctrine and Covenants 137:6-8).”
And secondly, he taught:
“When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history work. We are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.” (Nelson, Russell M., Let God Prevail, General Conference, emphasis added)
This leads us to the first part of Section 133, again—the appendix of the Doctrine and Covenants:
1 Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God, and hear the word of the Lord concerning you
Do you notice how much that sounds like the beginning of Section 1, the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants? Here’s Section 1:
1 Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together.
2 For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, (Doctrine and Covenants 1:1-2)
Then in verses 4 and 5 of Section 133 we get some specific instructions:
4 Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry.
5 Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.
We are to prepare. We are to sanctify ourselves. We are to gather together. We are to come out of Babylon and we are to be clean.
If it isn’t enough to say this once, the Lord gives this same warning three more times in this section! Verse 7: “Go ye out of Babylon…” Verse 14: “Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon.” Verse 15: “…and he that goeth, let him not look back lest sudden destruction shall come upon him.”
And why are we to leave Babylon behind? Why are we to leave and not look back? Because we are preparing to meet the Bridegroom—we are literally preparing to meet Jesus Christ at His Second Coming!
That’s a lot right there. Let’s talk about this most important topic of coming out of Babylon.
This can be as subtle as fleeing triviality and distraction and instant gratification.
Babylon teaches us to look everywhere for fulfillment and peace and happiness except the Lord.
Babylon is shiny, colorful, insistent and has all the trappings of a good time, but then fails to deliver. When we are caught in Babylon, we find ourselves increasingly unhappy, guilt ridden, and disconnected from ourselves and each other.
When we flee Babylon, we are fleeing that trivial that would take up our time which is so valuable here on earth with something that matters not at all. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, we have to beware not to get “caught up in the thick of thin things.” And Babylon is thin.
Looking for what is missing in our lives we go after instant gratification, we want things that are easy and don’t demand any work from us. We cannot figure out why we are unhappy but we do all the things that make us unhappy.
Babylon is a place where self is worshiped. We spend our time thinking about ourselves, wondering whether we are important enough, wondering what people think of us, protecting ourselves and our inflated self-image; and that, my friends, is a job that never ends. It takes up all of our mind space and mind share until we can’t see anything clearly.
In Babylon we waste away our lives trying to have a significant image or self, looking at the wrong things instead of eternal verities and thinking there is less and less time for God in the midst of this management of self.
God is attacked in many ways in Babylon. At the extreme, God and anything spiritual or religious can be considered the enemy; oppressive; the blockade to progress; the stumbling block that stands in the way of personal fulfillment; even the number one enemy to progress.
God can be viewed as an insensitive, demanding Being who is always looking over our shoulder and always putting pressure on us to perform a certain way. In Babylon we don’t want to hear anything that is at all different from our own desires and inclinations.
In Babylon if God is not the enemy, he is negligible or irrelevant; a nice fancy or a fantasy but not real. If he is acknowledged, Satan works very hard to paint The Lord as a God of ill will and guilty feelings.
And Babylon is a place of materialism in two senses: The first is that we think material gratification will fill that hole inside of us, that the richest are the happiest and most important. We yearn for wealth and wealth offers status. Wealth offers comfort. Because spiritual realities have been neglected and forgotten, all that is left is a tawdry material well-being that proves not to be enough. Therefore, Babylon is hungry, grasping, groping against a wall like the sightless.
Secondly, Babylon cannot see beyond material things. Only counting on the things that can be measured or experience with our senses, it abandons wisdom and things that cannot be seen.
And getting into the rapids of the River of Babylon can carry us swiftly away from who we really are as royal sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and King. Amnesia and spiritual distancing are some of Satan’s great tools. Beginning to look like and act like and be like people of the world is a real thing. We can get to the point where we don’t even recognize ourselves.
Maurine, this reminds me of something from my past. It’s something quite small that I did many years ago to come out of Babylon.
Just before my junior year of high school, my dad took a one-year Sabbatical leave to Ankara, Turkey. We had lived there before but now we had the opportunity to go back again. So, Dad and Mom and I moved there and they paid tuition for me to attend the American military school there at Balgat American Air Base in Ankara. I went to George C. Marshall American Regional High School. I arrived a few days into the start of school and on that very first day, the football coach, Armin Klatt, found me, the new kid before school was out, and said he would like to see me suit up for football practice that very day, right after school.
Okay, so I’m the new guy in the school. I’m non-military. I’m not an ambassador’s son or a dignitary, just a kid from Rolla, Missouri. I really wanted to fit in and be accepted. But, in that first football practice, I noticed that every time someone was slammed to the ground or tackled hard or the quarterback was sacked, well, a string of swear words came out of various people’s mouths. I was not used to this—even in football in Missouri we were not to use any foul language.
Well, in that very first practice and scrimmage, I was hit right at the endzone and slammed hard to the ground and what came out of my mouth was, “Garbage.” Many of the players said, “Garbage? Garbage?” and they laughed and laughed. I laughed too.
Not too many practices had gone by, with my consistent use of my natural emphatic word GARBAGE, that others started noticing it and taking it into their vocabulary. I remember one of my good friends, Mike Forney, got hit hard on an end run in practice and he swore loudly, and then he said, “I mean, GARBAGE.” It wasn’t long before this new word spread throughout the school. I remember even my physics teacher, who was known to use quite a bit of bad language said emphatically one day, “Well, that’s a bunch of, of…garbage!”
Homecoming was coming and the Ankara Trojans were to play the Izmir Sultans. The pep squad was making all kinds of cheers and large banners. I remember that one of the longest banners said, “The Sultans are garbage.”
Now, you might say this is such a silly thing and that wouldn’t work today. I have to say, I never tried to work anything. I just was myself and I was not going to cave to the language of Babylon. Cursing and swearing was not going to become a part of my life in any way shape or form, even in that brief time with all these friends in Ankara. Years later, at an Ankara Reunion, when people met me and saw me, many mentioned my “word that swept through the school: Garbage!”
Actually, Scot, that was a big deal and it’s small acts like that that help us to “come out of Babylon” and to become clean from the world.
Remember, our reason to come out of Babylon is to prepare to meet the Savior.
President Nelson has taught: “The time is coming when those who do not obey the Lord will be separated from those who do (see Doctrine and Covenants 86:1-7). Our safest insurance is to continue to be worthy of admission to His holy house. The greatest gift you could give to the Lord is to keep yourself unspotted from the world, worthy to attend His holy house. His gift to you will be the peace and security of knowing that you are worthy to meet Him, whenever that time comes.” (Nelson, Russell M., The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming, Ensign, April 2020)
Let’s stop and really think about the reality of what we’re talking about here: We all celebrate the First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ each Christmas season. We all know the stories surrounding His miraculous birth. We know of the annunciation and the betrothment of Joseph and Mary. We know of the marvelous signs of the new star that appeared and the holy couple making their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. These things are all a part of our culture—our spiritual heritage. We delight in them. We gather our families around them. We celebrate them and rejoice in them every year.
Now consider His Second Coming. There will come a day when we will celebrate, commemorate and rejoice in all the events surrounding His Second Coming. There will be a day and night and day—again—wherein there is no darkness—and it is at that day when living waters will flow from the Temple in Jerusalem and heal the Dead Sea. (See Zechariah 14:6-8) Will we celebrate this event some day?
And the Lost Tribes will be awakened in the north and their prophets will not stay themselves any longer. “And they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep…And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water [I love that part].” (See Doctrine and Covenants 133:26-29) Will we all marvel and wonder at these events some day?
And Scot, just from our studies this week in Section 133, look at this: “[Jesus] shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land; And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:23-24) That is almost beyond comprehension! Are we talking here about continental drift theory reversing? Are all the lands going to move back together to the times previous to Peleg in the Old Testament? Will we celebrate all these events some day?
“And the gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people.” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:37) And what does the fulfillment of this prophecy actually mean? Scot, you and I go to places all the time that have never heard of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or don’t even know about Jesus Christ. What will constitute the fulfillment of this prophecy? Does it mean that we will send young elders and sisters who will be tracting every street and every village and every city of every nation on the earth? Or will it just be when the Internet is fully connected to every nation and land and then every people will have the opportunity to find the message online? These are questions worth exploring.
And here’s something wonderful we learn from this week’s reading. Listen carefully:
46 And it shall be said: Who is this that cometh down from God in heaven with dyed garments; yea, from the regions which are not known, clothed in his glorious apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?
47 And he shall say: I am he who spake in righteousness, mighty to save.
48 And the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat.
49 And 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.
Are these things we shall also celebrate or commemorate some day? The day the sun withdrew His light? Or when the moon withheld her light? Or, will we say, Remember that incredible night when we all saw the stars hurled from their places?
Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is immense. It will eclipse all the news of the day—no exceptions. He will then become King of kings and Lord of Lords. Will we celebrate this coronation someday?
We know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are fully aware and completely up to speed on each and every person on the earth. They know them each one by name. They know their pre-mortal history. They know each person’s dispositions and strengths and tendencies. They know their ancestors and their yet-to-be-born posterity—all their roots and branches. Not one person will be left out of having the opportunity to know their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the Savior of all—whether they be living or dead. This is the glorious thing about the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will have so much to celebrate at His Second Coming. And we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of all that will take place. No wonder President Nelson recently said:
“Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again.” (Nelson, Russell M., Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives, General Conference, April 2018)
One of the great miracles of the Lord’s ministry is found in verse 50 where He says: “I have trodden the wine-press alone…and none were with me.” (D&C 133:50) Do you realize how significant that statement is? In ancient times the process of pressing grapes was done by foot. A basin or vat was cut into solid limestone. Grapes were carried in baskets by workers and then dumped out onto the floor of this large stone basin. Many men would go in with their bare feet to do this together. It took multiple feet to do this because as you would step on grapes, some would slip out from your feet but another man’s foot would capture and crush the escaping grapes. All working together made this process much easier. It was nearly impossible for one man to do this alone—it took the feet of many to do this work—and that’s one of the miracles of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—he trod the winepress alone.
But there is more to this: In early Christian typology and artist’s depictions, Christ Himself becomes the grapes of the press and the pressing and crushing and pressure to make the sweet wine was pressing upon Him—in the Garden of Gethsemane, which means olive press or place of the olive or grape press) and on the Cross. The earliest depictions we have extent show a mechanical press upon the Savior, who is alone in the vat of grapes and he is bowed down under the pressure of that wine press. Over time, that mechanical beam of the grape press became Jesus carrying the heavy cross and he was still in the wine press alone. He alone carried the weight of our sins. He alone trod the winepress of our sorrows, our guilt, our mortal weaknesses. He alone can truly be called Man of sorrows. He alone was wounded for our transgressions. He alone was bruised for our iniquities. And with His stripes, we are healed. (See Isaiah 53:3-5)
We are forever grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who was willing to do all these things alone and to receive us with open arms.
When we all come to know these things, it is no wonder that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. (See Mosiah 27:31 for example)
Back to the Second Coming. Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught: “[It] is supremely important to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ…The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is uniquely empowered and commissioned to accomplish the necessary preparations for the Lord’s Second Coming; indeed, it was restored for that purpose.” (Christofferson, D. Todd, Preparing for the Lord’s Return, General Conference, April 2019)
President Nelson tells us some things that will yet take place through the Church:
“[Jesus Christ] will govern from two world capitals: one in old Jerusalem (see Zechariah 14) and the other in the New Jerusalem “built upon the American continent” (Articles of Faith 1:10). From these centers He will direct the affairs of His Church and kingdom. Another temple will yet be built in Jerusalem. From that temple He shall reign forever as Lord of Lords. Water will issue from under the temple. Waters of the Dead Sea will be healed. (See Ezekiel 47:1-8.)
“In that day He will bear new titles and be surrounded by special Saints. He will be known as “Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that [will be] with him [will be those who] are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14) to their trust here in mortality. Then He “shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
“The earth will be returned to its paradisiacal state and be made new. There will be a new heaven and a new earth (see Revelation 21:1; Ether 13:9; Doctrine and Covenants 29:23-24).
“It is our charge—it is our privilege—to help prepare the world for that day.” (Nelson, Russell M., The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming, Ensign, April 2020, emphasis added)
What an immense charge and privilege that is! These things are so important to ponder and pray about.
President Woodruff taught:
“Before Christ comes a people have got to be prepared by being sanctified before the Lord. Temples have got to be built; Zion has got to be built up; there must be a place of safety for the people of God while his judgments are abroad in the earth, for the judgments of God will visit the earth, there is no mistake about that; the revelations are full of promises to this effect, and as the Lord has declared it, he will not fail in keeping his word.
I think we do not realize the magnitude of this work. It is a hard matter for us to comprehend the responsibility that we are under to God, to the heavens, to the dead, as well as the living of our fellow men.”
Now, let’s turn briefly to Section 134. This section, also out of chronological order, was critically important to the early Latter-day Saints and will become even more critical to us today: “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general.” This canonized section of the Doctrine and Covenants is unique in that it was authored by Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon and later was seen and accepted by the Prophet Joseph.
Spencer McBride writes:
“On August 17, 1835, in the midst of the Saints’ attempts to petition the government for help, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon presented a document titled “Declaration of Government and Law” to Church members in Kirtland, Ohio. The declaration—now Doctrine and Covenants 134—sought to address all of the Saints’ concerns. By stating that “governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man” and that God would hold individuals “accountable for their acts” as government officials, the declaration described civil governments as secular institutions whose actions had spiritual consequences….
“Church members accepted the declaration and included it in the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Unlike other sections of that book in which God revealed His will to the Saints, this section consisted of the Saints explaining their perspective and beliefs to the general public. It was most likely authored by Oliver Cowdery, as he had written on many of the topics it addressed in recent newspaper editorials.”
McBride continues: “Especially after 1838, when the Saints were driven out of Missouri by the governor’s executive order, Joseph and other Church leaders invoked the declaration’s principles as they fought for Church members’ citizenship rights. For example, in 1840 while Joseph was in the eastern United States petitioning the federal government for redress after the confiscation of Church members’ property in Missouri, he wrote a letter to the editor of a Pennsylvania newspaper in which he answered claims made by some of the Church’s detractors in that area. In composing the letter, however, Joseph simply copied the text of the declaration on government, substituting ‘I believe’ in every instance where the declaration contained the phrase ‘we believe.’” End of quote. (Revelations in Context, Spencer W. McBride, D&C 134, Of Governments and Laws.)
These 12 statements are worthy of our careful studying and pondering during this week’s study time at home. Verse 1, for example, reads:
1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
Remember, the Declaration of Independence had only been in place for 59 years and the Constitution had only been in place 48 years.
Look at verse 7 of Section 134. This is very personal to the Saints’ situation at that time in relation to their treatment and losses in Missouri:
7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
The Prophet Joseph and the Saints at that time were dealing with real issues, with real losses, with real challenges—and it took every effort to seek redress and compensation and protection and in nearly every case, none of those things were granted. This written document became a baseline, a foundation, a document to present to leaders and government officials on the stand of the Latter-day Saints in regard to the laws of the land. I think these verses will become more and more important to us today as the institutions of the world become less and less like the Kingdom of God on the earth.
That’s all for today. Thank you so much for joining us. We love being with you. Next week’s lesson will cover Sections 135 and 136 of the Doctrine and Covenants, entitled: He “Has Sealed His Mission and His Works with His Own Blood.” As always, we are grateful to Paul Cardall for the music that accompanies this podcast and for Michaela Proctor Hutchins, our daughter, who produces it. Have a wonderful week and see you next time.