D&C 58:2-4; 59:1-4 Whether You Live or Die
As the first Saints begin arriving in Missouri—the place of gathering to Zion—the Lord makes tremendous promises to those who obey Him:
- “He that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven” (58:2).
- “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes … those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation” (58:3; see also 1 Corinthians 2:9).
- “For after much tribulation come the blessings … ye shall be crowned with much glory” (58:4).
- “Blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory” (59:1).
- “Those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors … and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father” (59:2).
- “Blessed are they … who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth … and they shall also be crowned with blessings from above” (59:3-4).
The Lord emphasizes at least three points: 1) It doesn’t matter if you live or die, as long as you are obedient and diligent. 2) Tribulation is part of our mortal experience, and it can lead to great blessings. 3) We cannot begin to imagine the eternal glory the Lord has in store for the faithful.
D&C 58:8-12 “A Supper of the House of the Lord”
The Lord compares the spreading of His gospel to a sumptuous, abundant marriage supper which He offers to all nations. To whom is the feast/gospel first offered? Then who follows? How does the second group respond? (For further insights, read the similar parable found in Matthew 22:1-14.)
The Lord continues to give instructions for those who are gathering, including guidance for Bishop Edward Partridge as he directs things. But the Lord makes clear that He will not tell them everything to do, and that “they shall counsel between themselves and me” (verse 25). We must think things through. Discuss things with others. Pray about it. Move forward.
Read verses 26-33 carefully, looking for principles that will guide us through life. (The word meet means “proper;” slothful means “lazy;” and anxiously engaged does not mean “frantic.”). Consider:
- Why is it not proper that we be commanded in all things?
- How would you describe a member of the Church who is anxiously engaged in a good cause?
- Compare verses 32-33 to John 7:17.
In the April 1965 general conference, Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve taught: “Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.”
D&C 58:42-43 Repentance
In these verses the Lord declared a stunning promise and blessing for all who repent. Speaking of our repented sins, He says, “I, the Lord, will remember them no more” (verse 42). It is beyond our comprehension that the Lord will do this, but it appears clear that when we are judged, He will not hold us accountable for—and likely not even mention—our sins of which we have truly repented (see also Ezekiel 18:21-22; 33:15-16). And, He tells us two of the essential requirements of repentance: Confess our sins and forsake them (verse 43).
D&C 59:4-17 Commandments and Blessings for Obedience
In verse 4 the Lord promises “blessings from above” for those who are obedient, including more commandments. Commandments are indeed blessings in our lives, for they provide us the opportunity to grow and gain greater happiness.
In verses 5-17 the Lord outlines a number of commandments for those who are gathering to Missouri and entering into the law of consecration. Of course, these commandments and promised blessings apply to us today. The Lord specifically commands us to love and serve Him with all our heart, might, mind, and strength (verse 5); love our neighbors as ourselves; do not steal, commit adultery, kill, “nor do anything like unto it” (verse 6); thank the Lord in all things (verse 7; see also verses, 15, 21; note that “all” things could include our trials and troubles); and offer to Him our broken hearts and contrite spirits (verse 8).
Then the Lord goes into greater detail regarding the Sabbath day. He commands that on the Lord’s day, we are to:
- go to “the house of prayer” and partake of the sacrament (verse 9)
- rest from our labors and “pay devotions” to God (worship and serve; verse 10)
- confess sins (as appropriate; verse 12)
- fast and pray (verses 13-14; note that in these verses, “fasting” is made equivalent to “joy” and “rejoicing”)
- be thankful and cheerful in our hearts and countenances (verse 15)
Also, the Lord offers the following promised blessings for those who obey His laws related to the Sabbath:
- we will be more fully “unspotted from the world” (verse 9)
- we may receive a fulness of joy (verses 13-14)
- the fulness of the earth will be ours (verses 16-17)
Consider your own Sabbath behavior. What do you “offer up” to the Lord? Does your church attendance and worship help keep you avoid worldliness? Do Sundays fill you with thankfulness and cheerfulness?
D&C 59:16-21 “The Fulness of the Earth Is Yours”
Here the Lord states in plain, simple, brief terms what our understanding and approach should be in regard to issues of nature, ecology, and the environment. Lessons we can glean from these verses include:
- The beasts, fowls, and all other members of the animal world; along with herbs, fruits, vegetables, trees, and so forth, are all created by God “for the benefit and the use of man” (verses 16-18).
- These things are not only for necessities, such as food, clothing, houses, and so forth, but also to enhance quality of life, “to please the eye and to gladden the heart … for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul” (verses 17-19).
- Nonetheless, we are commanded to be wise, righteous stewards over all these things, for they are only “to be used with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion” (verse 20).
Verse 20 prompts some significant questions to ponder:
- How do you feel you are doing in regard to using all things created by God “with judgment”?
- What does it mean to use the Lord’s creations, but “not to excess”?
- How can we avoid abusing the Lord’s creations “by extortion”? (“extortion” means “the practice of obtaining something through force, bribery, or threats”).
D&C 59:23 Where Are My Blessings?
Throughout the scriptures, Our Heavenly Father and Savior promise us many blessings, and indeed, we all experience an abundance of blessings during mortality. However, we must not anticipate receiving all promised blessings during this life. For example, there are many who faithfully pay a full tithing, yet they experience loss of employment or other financial reversals. Rather than ask “why did not the windows of heaven” open for me, they simply trust in God. Also, there are those who are true to the principles in the Word of Wisdom, yet they suffer from illness, injury, disease, and death. Clearly, the ultimate blessings of obedience are not dispensed during our brief period of mortal life. This verse instructs us to learn that the rewards of the righteous are “peace in this world” and “eternal life in the world to come.” Nothing else is guaranteed here on earth. This is part of living by faith.