Monday, December 26, 2016

Unexpected applications in verses about the Lord’s coming in D&C 133

I was reading in D&C 133, and I ran into some verses that made me think as I looked at them closer.

D&C 133 was given to help answer the Twelve apostles’ request for instructions about missionary work, and it has a lot of amazing promises about changes to the earth and geographical movements of water and land masses and prophets in the north countries and so on. 

Then there’s this bit:

40 Calling upon the name of the Lord day and night, saying: O that thou wouldst rend the heavens, that thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.
41 And it shall be answered upon their heads; for the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil.
42 O Lord, thou shalt come down to make thy name known to thine adversaries, and all nations shall tremble at thy presence—
43 When thou doest terrible things, things they look not for;
44 Yea, when thou comest down, and the mountains flow down at thy presence, thou shalt meet him who rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, who remembereth thee in thy ways. (D&C 133:40-44)

The first thing this makes me think of is the Second Coming. It probably does that for you too.  But if it is, then what are we to make of this apparent command to pray day and night for the Lord to rend the heavens and come down and melt the mountains? And why does it say these constant prayers will be answered? It makes it seem like the answer comes immediately, yet here we still wait for a future Second Coming.

I realized the key here is to remember this section is about missionary work. Missionaries are constantly praying for the presence of the Holy Ghost, praying that people will feel the Spirit of God and humble themselves to want to learn more.  Doesn’t the Lord answer these prayers? I think this corresponds quite well to the promise that the Lord will rend the heavens that seemed closed before and melt mountains (stony proud hearts) in His presence.

To elaborate on this imagery, v41 compares the Lord’s presence to a melting fire and a fire that makes water boil. Because we understand state changes of water with the application of heat, we can understand what is being said. Just like fire can change ice to water and make water boil, the Lord can and does light a fire in people and bring about dramatic changes in our lives and the lives of converts.

Verse 42 says the Lord will come down to make His name known to His adversaries. In terms of missionary work, this means that even people who have fought against God will be given a chance to feel the Spirit and accept the gospel. It will be explained to them what it is they are feeling, which will make the Lord’s name known to them. And all nations will tremble at the Lord’s presence, so everyone will get a chance to feel the Spirit. To some, it will be a terrible and unexpected thing that they never were looking for, but to others it will be exactly what they always wanted.

I don’t think we can’t also say these verses tell us about the Second Coming, but it has very practical things to say about missionary work that help us today. They tell us we should always  be praying that the Spirit will be felt and recognized when we talk to people about the gospel, and we are promised the Lord will answer these prayers.