Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kingship in the Scriptures: A Pattern

As I read in Ether today, I had the urge to write, and as I did so I found that my current study, my reading with the kids last night, recent Sunday School lessons, and things I'd been pondering in the back of my mind all came together in my mind as a type for things that are going on now in the world and in the church. I love when I can feel that inspiration come and see how various principles fit into that picture of the great whole that is truth. Here is my journal entry from today:

The issue of kingship seems to me a good example of how revelation works among the Lord's people and to His leaders. The pattern:

  1. An issue arises over rulership (e.g. The Israelites want a king like everyone else, the Nephites and the Jaredites ask for a king)
  2. The Lord says "That will lead to captivity! Bad idea!"  (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18; 2 Nephi 5:18; Ether 6:22-23)
  3. The people say, "But we want one anyway!" (se 1 Samuel 8:19-20; 2 Nephi 5:18; Ether 6:22, 24)
  4. After this advice is ignored, the Lord ceases to push the point. (se 1 Samuel 8:7-9, 22; Jacob 1:9; Ether 6:30)
  5. Thereafter, the issue of kingship isn't brought back up until the leader, the prophet, and the people are all ready to take up the issue again and willing to change, and they go seeking and asking. (see Mosiah 28-29)
Questions for thought:
  • With this pattern in mind, are the prophets that come between steps 4 and 5 somehow false or mistaken if they don't bring up the issue of kingship?
  • Are those prophets false or mistaken if they even support or endorse the king and kingship?
In answering those questions, keep this in mind: For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in all wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doeth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true. (Alma 29:8)

I am not sure if I spoil the value of asking the questions by answering them myself, but here is my view on the subject: No, I don't think that not teaching or even supporting the king or endorsing kingship makes them false. If a prophet follows the Lord's revelation for their own time and place, giving that portion that is commanded Him, he is not false if he does not see what is not meant for the people at that time. The Lord wants to give all that He has, but can only do so line upon line, according to the willingness and ability of the people to receive it.

We are blessed to live in the latter days, in the days when the promise is being fulfilled that all things will be revealed. Those things are coming, line upon line. Looking at this pattern, then, how could I personally speed along the process of greater revelation coming? This pattern tells me that the precondition for revelation isn't necessarily only that the prophet ask. The people, too, must be prepared and willing to receive, and the time must be right. So my role is to be part of that preparing process. How do I do that? Here are a couple of suggestions:
  • Search the scriptures. Treasure up gospel truths. Enjoy the words of eternal life in this life, and hope for immortal glory in the life to come. Read, ponder, and pray about all that the prophets have written. Such is the course which the Lord invites men to pursue where his holy word is concerned. And it was into this path of progress and enlightenment that young Joseph was led by that providential hand which knows the end from the beginning and rules in love and mercy over all his children. -Bruce R. McConkie, "Once or Twice in a Thousand Years" 
  • With reference to the perfecting of the Saints, the Savior has asked us to become perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. (See Matt. 5:48.) In modern revelation we are told that we “are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” (D&C 67:13.)  To accomplish the second objective, the perfecting of the Saints, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides opportunities for all members to become involved in many different kinds of activities that develop them mentally, morally, physically, and spiritually in the perfection process.  -Franklin D. Richards, "Perfecting the Saints," 
Here are the novel and unique things that come to mind: Studying the scriptures and revelations to prepare ourselves. Sharing and teaching to help others progress. Going to the temple and understanding what has already been revealed. Fulfilling our callings. Home and visiting teaching. Reaching out in service to others. Loving. Hoping. Giving.

Unsurprisingly, these are the exact things that prophets have told us repeatedly that we should do. These are the things that help to bring about Zion, to purify our hearts and prepare us to receive all that the Lord would give. I think because of their simplicity, because we've heard them a thousand times, we think that they aren't earth-shattering, and in doing so we look beyond the mark. The miracles that the Lord brings about on a daily basis are earth-shattering for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, and by small and simple things, great things are coming to pass in these last days.

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