Saturday, November 18, 2017

Power to deliver, to light or darkness

67 When I called again there was none of you to answer; yet my arm was not shortened at all that I could not redeem, neither my power to deliver.
68 Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea. I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink, and die for thirst.
69 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering.
70 And this shall ye have of my hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow. (D&C 133:67-70)

In this section the Lord is warning what His answer will be to those who do not repent—that they will suffer the consequences of their rebellion.

The part that tells of the natural phenomena that happens at the Lord’s rebuke I used to interpret through the lens of the story of Exodus and the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, as though it is a promise of all the ways the Lord can manipulate nature to bring the salvation of His people. (He parted the Red Sea, parted the Jordan river, plagued the Egyptians with darkness, along with other afflictions) I interpreted it this way because a lot of it is a quotation (or a reworking of a quote) from Isaiah 50:2-3, and so many times Isaiah makes reference to the events of the Exodus to teach.

But I’ve realized there is yet another interpretation for it that is a warning. It is a warning to the Saints about the awful consequences of losing the Spirit if they sin and have to be excommunicated. The natural phenomena are used figuratively to represent the major negative spiritual changes that will happen—your sea can be dried up. Your river can become desert. Spiritual life can die. The bright sunny sky will turn very dark for you. Happiness turns to misery. At His rebuke, all of this will happen because of His great power.

That’s pretty dire, and from time to time we are reminded of accounts of a few early church members who were pretty high up in church leadership who left the church and they had this kind of experience.

So, I think when the Lord says He has power to deliver, it is a two-sided thing. He has power to deliver us from sin, but if we don’t repent, He has power to deliver us over to darkness.

None of us want that.

I’m grateful to know of the Lord’s great mercy and long-suffering and patience to us all and how many times and all the ways He invites us to come unto Him. I love verse 67 that says even though so many times we don’t answer the Lord’s call, the Lord still has power to redeem and deliver. Whether or not we believe in Christ, He still has power to save, so why not choose to believe?  We have to keep turning to Him.