Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thinking about D&C 27: Revelation on the sacrament

Historical background on D&C 27 from History of the Church 1:106:
Early in the month of August Newel Knight and his wife paid us a visit at my place in Harmony, Pennsylvania; and as neither his wife nor mine had been as yet confirmed, it was proposed that we should confirm them, and partake together of the Sacrament, before he and his wife should leave us. In order to prepare for this I set out to procure some wine for the occasion, but had gone only a short distance when I was met by a heavenly messenger, and received the following revelation, the first four paragraphs of which were written at this time, and the remainder in the September following:
1 Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful.
2 For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins.
3 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine neither strong drink of your enemies;
4 Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made new among you; yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth. (D&C 27:14)

This is so interesting to me that Joseph Smith was told that it didn’t matter what was used for the sacrament as long as it was done with an eye single to the glory of God in remembering Christ’s sacrifice.   It’s a good thing this was given by angelic to Joseph Smith, otherwise the church would have changed the ordinances and would be in danger of the same penalty as Cain, who tried to offer a sacrifice with the fruits of the ground instead of the firstlings of the flock.

I remember sitting in a seminary class when the teacher asked the students if they’d ever had unusual things used in place of bread and water. One person said watermelon and root beer had been used. 

While I’m sure part of the priesthood responsibility is to ensure that proper ingredients for the sacrament are provided, it is nice to know that we are not kept from partaking of the sacrament in the event of an unavoidable scarcity.

5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;
6 And also with Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days;
7 And also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias;
8 Which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto the first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron;
9 And also Elijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse;
10 And also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, your fathers, by whom the promises remain;
11 And also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days;
12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;
13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;
14 And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world. (D&C 27:5-14)

Next we are told there will be a great culminating sacramental feast to be given when Christ comes, when a great number of prophets and Saints will partake of the sacrament together. This fits very well with the account in 3 Nephi when Christ instituted the sacrament among the Nephites and had it distributed to the multitude on two separate occasions.

Can we read of the prospect of taking the sacrament with Christ, Moroni, Elias, John the Baptist, Elijah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Adam, Peter, James, and John, and all those the Father has saved from the world without feeling this sacrament will be a grand and solemn experience?

I think by telling us this, the Lord elevates the sacrament’s importance by showing us it is something the ancient prophets would not hesitate to participate in. Perhaps we take for granted the ordinances and priesthood rites we have and think the old ways of the Old Testament would be more solemn and significant and awake our awe better.  But if the ancient prophets will appreciate the sacrament for what it is, then we must strive to do the same.

And isn't that event something to look forward to and work toward? Wouldn't it be a tragedy if we were unable to attend and partake because we felt unworthy?

15 Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.
16 Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you;
17 Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;
18 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. Amen. (D&C 27:15-18)

These verses seem to review the admonition from Thessalonians to take upon us the armor of God, as all the parts of the armor are listed. 

Why put this here?

I believe it is to show us that taking the sacrament worthily allows us to put on the armor of God. All the parts of the armor are spiritual blessings I can trace back to taking the sacrament. It describes how the Spirit can help us if it can always be with us as we keep our part of the covenant.

I know when I take the sacrament, I feel more spiritually prepared to live the gospel, I feel ready to exert my faith, I feel shielded from the temptations that so easily beset me before.

In what ways do you feel the armor of God in your life from taking the sacramant?