Sunday, August 17, 2008

Flooding the earth with righteousness

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. (Moses 7:62)
This scripture is in the Joseph Smith lesson manual as part of the lesson “Establishing the Cause of Zion” and as I was reading, I started focusing on that phrase “righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood”. I felt there was some lesson I could learn by examining the process of flooding that would teach me how Heavenly Father would fulfill this.

I grew up in the Midwest and I know a little something about what causes flooding.

First, there has to be excess rain, more than the ground can hold. In the same way, I think Heavenly Father starts by raining doctrine and correct principles down from heaven to the prophet and apostles and they pass it on to us. Also, insights by the Holy Ghost pour in to us from reading the scriptures, from our lessons, and from pondering carefully and so on.

Second, the runoff from the rain fills the rivers and the low places. In the same way, testimony resulting from all our faithful works fills and overflows from our hearts. All that we know and do and say about the gospel overflows into all parts of our lives and greatly affects the people around us, especially those who are feeling the lowest. No wonder sharing our testimonies can cause our tears to overflow.

Third, for a flood to continue to build, the rain and the runoff must all increase in intensity over time and not decrease. In the same way, the more we do good things, the more blessings and knowledge we qualify ourselves for, which increases our capacity to do good, and trying to fill that capacity increases our good works, which qualifies us for more blessings and knowledge and testimony, and it can become a positive feedback loop.

Something I am reminded of right now is President Ezra Taft Benson’s challenge to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that one way this can be done is by incorporating it more in our day-to-day conversations, irrespective of who we are speaking to. If we do this, even people who don’t read the Book of Mormon and those who are not of our faith will begin to know something of what is in it.

When I was a teen, I used to listen to my church friends quote their favorite parts from the movie “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail” and I learned a lot of what was in the movie from that and it made me eager to see the movie. If we could harness our enthusiasm for the Book of Mormon as we do our enthusiasm for those quotable movies and share quotations from the Book of Mormon as they fit into the conversation, we can help flood the earth with the messages from the Book of Mormon.

All of this is to culminate in the redemption of Zion. When the Saints forced out of Independence, Missouri and unable to lay the foundation of Zion, it appears that Joseph Smith naturally inquired when Zion would finally be redeemed. The manual says Joseph wrote:
I know that Zion, in the due time of the Lord, will be redeemed; but how many will be the days of her purification, tribulation, and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes; and when I inquire concerning this subject, the voice of the Lord is: Be still, and know that I am God! All those who suffer for my name shall reign with me, and he that layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again….May God grant that notwithstanding [our] great afflictions and sufferings, there may not anything separate us from [the] love of Christ [see Romans 8:35-39]. (p186)
When I read this it at first appeared to me that the Lord was putting off Joseph’s question, but then I thought of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis in the Book of Mormon who preferred to die rather than kill anyone even in self-defense. I thought of how that determination to die rather than sin made such a difference in their ability to deal with Korihor the anti-Christ. After enduring faithfully such a physical trial as the danger of dying for their religion, anything else was a cinch to deal with! They could give a large portion of their substance to maintain the armies of the Nephites and they could give inheritances to dispossessed Zoramites without a second thought.

So it seemed to me that the Lord was giving Joseph Smith a sign of when Zion would be redeemed—it would happen when Zion becomes willing to suffer for Christ’s name and willing to lay down life and anything else. Certainly people who have and will do this can overcome all other obstacles that stand in the way of building Zion.

(Image credit - "Climate",