What if we once again applied chiasmus thinking to Doctrine and Covenants 133 as I have done before with DC 29, 88, and 93? The chapter division provides a well-thought-out subject overview that provides the chiasm pairs and reveals the central and beginning messages of the Lord.
The restoration takes up the central message position with the revelation that messengers will be going forth with an essential rescuing message during the coming crises coincident with the winding up scene when all nations will yield to the Kingdom of God.
The first and last matching pairs set the basis for this central message. The saints are commanded to prepare themselves is matched with the instruction then to go forth with the rescue message for the rest of the world. Because this was the same theme as DC 1 (the preface) that started the Doctrine and Covenants it would be easy to sleep through the additional insight that this appendix reveals. In section one this warning was given as an explanation for the restoration’s necessity in this modern world:
14…they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant
16 They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world… DC 1
These bold-faced phrases above seem like routine warnings to the wicked, of banishment, with the cause linked to their rejection of ordinances and the covenant. Section 133, the appendix quotes Malachi 4 explaining what is meant by “cut off” in DC 1:14:
…all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. Malachi 4:1; DC 133:64
Malachi seems to be using root and branch symbols borrowed from Isaiah with the same context of the final burning of the earth at the second coming of Christ. This then is more serious than being excluded from some group the wicked don’t value anyway. Note what happens to the roots and branches of the wicked:
24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 5
The end of Malachi chapter 4 is the well-known reference quoted in all standard works concerning the need to link the fathers and children to each other. Therefore the likely reference to roots is to one’s ancestors while the branches represent posterity. So, in Isaiah, wickedness causes the roots or ancestor-connection to rot while the branches or children blow away as dust in the wind. The curse of wickedness then, is to remain unsealed without either ancestors (roots) or posterity (branches) which state, if universal would result in the earth being wasted. The implications for the need of functional inter-generational covenant families is obvious. And if our parenting or missionary work hangs on the thin thread of social interactions, then the substance of the restoration message and warning will remain a watered down gruel absent of any saving nutrition. The Lord made it clear in DC 1
17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
In the Zenos Allegory taught by Jacob we again see this image of roots and branches. The interpretation in the church education Book of Mormon student manual places these images as; roots = gospel covenant, and branches = groups of people, fruit = lives or works of men. I have seen other interpretations that seem to work as well but each seems to contain some inconsistencies. For example, in Jacob 5:13, 18, 19, 20, 23, 27, 29, 53, 54, etc. the fruit is “laid up unto myself” or something similar. The whole focus of the allegory by repetition seems to revolve around the need to produce fruit unto God. The good works of men hardly seem that central to God’s purpose and desire. Perhaps a different reading of Jacob’s succeeding chapter would bring this into consistency with Isaiah, Malachi, and the Doctrine and Covenants.
4 And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Jacob 6
What if the roots, branches, and fruit were people like in the writings of the ancients.
So, the Olive Tree depends, for nourishment, upon the roots; and upon the branches to yield fruit. The master used digging and dunging to influence the roots, and then pruning and grafting to influence the branches. If digging and dunging influence the ancestors, then that must be FH and temple work. Pruning and grafting must deal with posterity; teaching and loving, especially during trials.
It could be said that I was grafted into the Woodland family (my grandparents and uncles) when, as a young teenager, I was sent to the farm to work for two different summers. The roots or ancestor relationship of that earlier generation nourished my branches and remains a positive influence in my life. Teaching and loving received then, prepared me to nourish my own children. But the fruit that counted so significantly in the allegory, could then represent the seeds of the next generation.
I am overwhelmed with the implications of this paradigm! To say it in the words of Grandmother Woodland, “It is not enough to teach your children (branches); you must teach your children to teach their children (fruits). Moroni summed it up when he first came to joseph smith saying:
37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
39 He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. JSH
In turning to our fathers so as to plant their promises in our hearts, the roots, in some measure represent the covenants made to our fathers, clear back to the Abrahamic covenant. In calling us to go forth and encourage our neighbors to seek their ancestors we put them in a position to receive from those ancestors those influences that could assist them to understand the restoration in preparation for the coming “great and dreadful day of the Lord.” We can be instruments in assuring that it is a great day.
Joseph Smith proclaimed,
“We cannot be perfect without the fathers. We must have revelation from them… TPJS p338
“How will God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send the prophet Elijah to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children and children to their fathers.” TPJS 334
Elder Widstoe turned a key that could make this applicable for our neighbors: “Whoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in return in all the affairs of life. Help comes to us from the other side as we give help to those who have passed beyond the veil.” Elder John A. Widstoe 10/34 Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine