Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Probing the counsel to “Stand in holy places”

Sunday school lesson 36 has an attention activity showing some repeated counsel about standing in holy places from different parts of the D&C.  You may have just gone through this lesson, but I want to look at these scriptures to see if they can tell us more about how to stand in holy places, since that’s kind of abstract counsel.  Yes, we usually take it to mean attending the temple, but is that all?

31 And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
32 But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die. (D&C 45:31-32, emphasis added)

The context of this verse tells of overflowing scourges and desolating sickness, and outside the range of those verses is desolations, murder, and massacre.  Among this, we are to stand in holy places.  Holy places seem to be places of refuge that help us withstand the difficulties spoken of.

In desolating sickness, we can stand in holy places with healing priesthood power, good sanitation practices, healthy diet, prayer for the sick, service to help one another, and faith in God that He has all power.  Is going to the temple the best thing if you are in close contact with communicable disease?  (Sanitation and hand-washing, people!)

In natural disasters, we can stand in holy places with our emergency preparedness, organizing together, watchcare and service to others, and keeping up the devotional practices that give us strength like prayer, scripture study, FHE, and church.  And going to the temple. 

Among violence, we can stand in holy places by not seeking revenge, avoiding anger, forgiving, praying for comfort and protection and courage, showing love, as well as continuing devotional practices.  And going to the temple.

Note that in contrast to the disciples who stand immovably in holy places, the wicked will lift up their voices, curse God, and die.  What does that really look like?  I suspect it is a ton of complaining, venting anger, bitterness, outrage.  It will probably involve many people looking at the widespread suffering and asking, “How could God let this happen?” and getting angry at God for not preventing it.  But because they were not willing to keep the commandments that would mitigate their suffering, they can only suffer and eventually die in their sins.  Very sad.

The contrast shows that the wicked place blame on God and yet don’t do the things He asks that would make it better for themselves or others, while the righteous trust God and at the same time keep the commandments and their obedience makes things better for themselves and others around them.

The next “stand in holy places” scripture comes at the end of the section that prophesied the Civil War and more troubles to come afterward:

6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;
7 That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.
8 Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen. (D&C 87:6-8, emphasis added)

Bloodshed, famine, plague, earthquake, storm, and a consumption (a consuming event) that will eventually make an end of all nations.  It also mentions the cry of the Saints and the blood of the Saints coming up into the ears of the Lord.

So not only does this tell us that standing in holy places will help us survive disasters, but while society and governments collapse, the organization of the church will help us maintain order among our own, through our obedience and diligence as we “be not moved.” 

Since it seems there are Saints who will be wronged and even killed unjustly, standing in holy places will mean staying with the principles of faith, forgiveness, prayer, and leaving justice in the hands of God.  And going to the temple.  We’ll also need courage and faith in the final judgment that God will right our wrongs.

20 And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saints—
21 Until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion.
22 Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;
23 And prepare for the revelation which is to come, when the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together. (D&C 101:20-23, emphasis added)

The context of this instance of “stand in holy places” talks about the gathering of the Saints in Zion and in stakes and preparing for the time when all flesh will see Jesus.  It seems to me that gathering with the Saints is one part of standing in holy places because we encourage each other and our service to each other helps us practice discipleship.

So it seems to me that more than being in a particular place, “standing in holy places” means to act in doctrine in a way appropriate to the emergency or need.  It’s falling back on gospel principles to get through the hard thing, the trial, the affliction, the whatever.  Going to the temple and going to church is only a few of the many good ways we can respond, although it could be argued that if you prepare yourself for the temple, that encompasses keeping a whole raft of commandments.

I think “stand in holy places” is yet another way of saying “keep the commandments” that build your house with an unshakeable foundation in the Savior.


Rozy Lass said...

We are so close to the end. I noticed in Gen. Conf. that much was said about the basics (prayer, scriptures, FHE, temple) and the need for the Atonement. We are preparing for the returned of Christ. The world is going to get worse before it gets better; standing in holy places, understanding how the Spirit guides us, and following the living prophets will be our only safety. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Michaela Stephens said...

I noticed that too. We really need the basics; I like to think that they keep our spiritual batteries charged.