"House" has two meanings in scripture. One is the familiar usage, a dwelling place. The other means "a family," or those that dwell together in a house. In fact, the words for "build" and "house" in Hebrew, bana and bayit, are derived from the words for "son" and "daughter", ben and bat. The temple, the House of God, combines both of these meanings: it is, literally, a building wherein God can come and dwell. It is also the place where we rejoin the Family of God: where, after having fallen with Adam, we become sons and daughters of Christ. This is one of the reasons Christ is called "the Eternal Father."
In Isaiah 53:10-12, Isaiah prophesies about the coming of the Messiah and his atonement: "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
Christ also taught Adam "That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory."
The imagery in both cases is femenine. Christ is giving birth to the saved: "He shall see the travail of his soul," "He hath poured out his soul unto death," "He shall see his seed." After Christ gave up his spirit, they pierced his side and blood and water poured out. He is, in a symbolic sense, not only our Father, but our Mother.
Motherhood, therefore, is a type and shadow of the Savior's sacrifice. Women are temples through which spirits pass to inherit mortal life. Birth is, in a sense, an ordinance over which women preside. Paul taught that women will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith.
Mothers are missionaries to their children. They have by far the greatest influence over the faith of a child out of all those with whom that child will ever interact. The hymn "As Sisters in Zion" states that "to women the errand of angels is giv'n." Mormon taught that angels "are subject unto [God], to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him." So we see that women are to call men unto repentance, and to prepare children by declaring the word of God unto them so that they can bear testimony of Him.
After God had taught Adam about the blood and the water and the Spirit, Adam accepted the covenant and was baptized: "And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven saying Thou art baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and of the Son, from henceforth and forever."
He was also ordained: "And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity. Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen." Alma talks about Adam and the other members of that order in chapter 13 of his record: "And again my bretheren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when God gave these commandments to his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priest were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption." They were set apart to be examples of what to expect when Christ would come. In D&C 86:11, Christ spoke to those who would receive the priesthood in the latter days: "Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel. The Lord hath said it. Amen."
Order is a rich word. Order can mean a brotherhood, like the Franciscan Order among the Catholics, or the Order of the Arrow in Boy Scouts, or the Freemasons. Order can mean a pattern. Pattern comes from the Latin patron, or father. Another word for pattern is template, evoking temple. Order can mean command: orders are given to keep things in order, to prevent chaos, to organize. Organic matter is living matter. Also related to order are the words ordain and ordinance. In military terms, ordinance is ammunition, the power by which one enforces one's orders. In the gospel, an ordinance is words and actions that, when performed by the proper authority, bring about a new spiritual (and oftentimes physical) reality.
The association of "order" with the military is not accidental. Christ is the the Lord of Hosts, or literally, the Lord of Armies. The Hebrew word for armies is sabaoth, and Christ is called the Lord of Sabaoth several times in the D&C. Sabaoth is the plural form of the word saba, to dip, or dye. In Greek, to dip or dye is baptizo. The armies of the Lord of Hosts have dipped their garments in the blood of Christ and thus purified them through baptism.
The garment is that which covers our nakedness and will help us abide the day of the Lord's coming. Speaking of the wicked and the righteous at the bar of God, Nephi says, "Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt and our uncleanliness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even the robe of righteousness... Wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels, and they shall go away into everlasting fire prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone." But the righteous also inherit fire. Joseph F. Smith saw heaven in a vision recorded in D&C 137. He says, "I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire; also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son." The difference is that the righteous have been clothed and are clean, whereas the wicked are filthy or naked.
Armies also need armor. In Ephesians 6 we find the armor of God, including feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Peace is Christ's doctrine. Peace will come by way of the word of God, like a two-edged sword. In 2 Ne 3:12, we see that the Book of Mormon and the Bible "shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, unto the bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord."
One of the covenants is found in Isa 54:11-13, "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children." Again, in Isa 48: "O that thou hadst hearkened unto my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea. Thy seed had also been as the sea sand, and thy offspring like the gravel thereof." Family and peace are the greatest blessings of the Lord.
Lehi often quoted Isaiah as he tried to make Laman and Lemuel part of his eternal family. When they first stopped after fleeing Jerusalem, he referred to the gospel of peace when he exhorted Laman to "be like unto this river, continually flowing into the fountain of all righteousness." He named the valley for Lemuel, and pleaded with him to be "firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord." Normally we think of the mountains as firm, but it only takes a mustard seed worth of faith to move one, and according to Isaiah 40, "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low."
Later, just before his death, Lehi said "O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound... Awake! and arise from the dust." He was referring to Isaiah 52, where it says "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion."
The Lord revealed what these verses mean in D&C 113:7-10: "[Isaiah] had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, to which she, Zion, has a right by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost... We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles." In other words, Lehi was exhorting Laman and Lemuel to return to the Lord from whence they had fallen and put on the authority of the priesthood, to which Laman, as firstborn, had a right by lineage. If they did, God would speak to them, dispite their complaints that he did not (1 Ne. 15:8-11). If they did not, Nephi would receive the priesthood in their stead and they would be cursed.
The priests of Noah asked Abinadi what later verses of Isaiah 52 meant: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" Abinadi responded by quoting Isaiah 53, that Christ should "make his soul an offering for sin," and that "he shall see his seed." He went on, "And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed? Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord-I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed? Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed. And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth! And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!"
The seed of Christ, the children of Christ, are his armies, the priesthood, those whose feet are shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, those who publish peace by wielding the sword, the word of God. Ezekiel had a vision of the cleansing of Israel, a type of things to come in the latter days. "And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary."
With one of the two edges of the sword, we "cut a deal" with God. If we refuse the covenant, then we are cut off from his presence. The word for "mark" in Hebrew is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, tav. In the Phoenician alphabet, from which the Hebrew alphabet is derived, 'tav' has the same shape as our 't': a cross. Christ is the mark. Those that wept for the sins of Israel were marked with a cross on their foreheads; they received the image of Christ in their countenances. In Revelation 3:12, Christ says, "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name."
Those that did not have the mark were cut off. Jacob lamented the wickedness of the Jews in chapter 4 of his record: "But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came from looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall." The Jews looked past Christ, the mark, for their redemption, and fell.
The sword was pointed at everyone. "Spare not," God commanded. In D&C 33, God again commanded "Spare not." "Hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, whose word is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow, soul and spirit; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. For verily, verily, I say unto you that ye are called to lift up your voices as with the sound of a trump, to declare my gospel unto a crooked and perverse generation... Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness. Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you." In D&C 60, he revealed what would happen if we do not open our mouths: "But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine danger is kindled against them. And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have." Thus the two-edged sword is connected to Nephi and the parable of the talents.
Nephi described the sword of Laban like this: "And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel." Laban had been busy rebelling, and was ripe unto destruction. He had rejected the covenant, and so, after much deliberation, he "did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and smote off his head with his own sword." Nephi then received his garments, his armor, his sword, his treasury, and his servant. All that Laban had was given to another. Later, Nephi commented on Isaiah's prophecy that the wicked would be destroyed in these words: "And the blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood." Nephi knew how to liken the scriptures unto himself.
When I first began to see these connections on my mission, I wrote this hymn:
The Book of Mormon is the sword And sickle; 'tis God's holy word. Let's reap the earth before the Lord! There is no room for doubt. As wheat we'll then be gathered up; The tares will drink the bitter cup; And at the marriage feast we'll sup To never go more out. To be the sons of God we must Humble ourselves unto the dust, Be baptized, let the Holy Ghost Quicken the inner man, And publish peace from that day on, Till hate and sin and fear are gone, And Zion and her Lord are one As children of the Lamb. The earth was bathed in Noah's day, A flood to wash the filth away, Until the sun's bright glowing ray Brought forth the earth again. The Book of Mormon, like the sea, Must flood the earth that all may be Sealed up and found on bended knee When comes the Son of Man.Another Hebrew word for army is chayil, related to the word for virtue used to describe the woman in Proverbs 31: "The price of a virtuous woman is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her. Strength and honour are her clothing. Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." In the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple, in preparation for Elijah's coming with the sealing power, Joseph spoke about brides and armies: "That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth; That when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord; That our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings." Do we praise our wives? Can they expect such respect at our hands as Christ will bestow on his bride, the church? Do we exalt them?
The Order of the Son of God is a brotherhood of eternal friendship. In D&C 88:133 we find the oath associated with the covenant of the priesthood: "Art thou a brother or bretheren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen." We covenant to obey God's commandments, his orders, and pattern our lives after out Patron, our Father and Brother Jesus Christ. We are ordained with an ordinance in a manner that by seeing our example the people will know what Christ must be like.
John reports that Christ said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," and "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." In D&C 84:77, he said "My friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power." We also read that God the Father's name in Adamic is "Man of Holiness" and that Christ is "the Son of Man." These titles highlight the fact that God is an exalted man, and that those that become sons and daughters of God will grow to become Eternal Fathers and Mothers in their own right. They also shed light on the meeting of Christ and Moses on Mount Sinai as recorded in Exodus 33:11: "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a Man speaketh unto his friend." Christ was the Man, and Moses His friend.
How do friends treat one another? In D&C 121 Joseph Smith taught, "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile--Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death."
Christ's army is composed, at the fundamental level, of husbands and wives. Families begin as a couple; they will travel eternity as a couple. Our children must find spouses of their own if they are to enter into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. If Christ calls the church his friend; if as the bride, we are "one flesh" with Christ, his body; then our true marriages must be stronger than these symbols. Our spousal relationships are of inestimable importance. Our husbands and wives must be our best friends to inherit celestial glory. If they are not, then the promise of the Lord is that through his Spirit, if both are willing, we can be purified, reconciled with one another, and become one.
I testify that these things are true in the name of Jesus Christ; Amen.