This week, I will finish seven months of study of the passage of scripture titled "Doctrine and Covenants 38." Such a dry, utilitarian title obscures the incredible beauty of this revelation.
If the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants attributed to Joseph Smith, first prophet of the Restoration, were indeed merely creations of his own mind, we would see them evolving in complexity over time, as the youth became a mature man. We forget sometimes just how young Joseph Smith was as leader of the Church.
But Section 38 was revealed when the Church was not even a year old, and the Prophet himself was only 25 years old. It is a fully mature,expansive passage that reveals not his mind but that of the omniscient, eternal God who revealed it to him:
"Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made ...
... Let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me ...
... Let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness ..."
I see these particular verses as highlighting the grand themes of the revelation: The introduction, declaring the majesty, power and imminence of God; the principles of the Zion society that He was preparing to restore to the earth -- a people of equity, purity and compassion preparing for the return of the Messiah; and the call to share the word.
Verses 31 and 39 have been footnoted to 2 Peter 3:14 and Haggai 2:8, respectively. Most apppropriate. Following the footnotes last night, I was powerfully impacted by the reality that our Eternal God works upon the same Plan that He has always had, "never varying from that which he hath said," and that all of these verses,though vastly separated in time and place, fit together beautifully, being ultimately from the same Mind, to declare the same principles of Zion, Paradise on Earth, whether amongst the ancient covenant Children of Israel, the earliest Christians or the saints of the Restoration.
God is in charge, all things are His, Zion will see the Desire of Nations, Messiah's rule of equity for all, with the glorious temple of God at its center, served by a people prepared in heart.
And I picture the Prophet Joseph on that frosty January day of 1831, gathered with the saints at Fayette, N.Y., with but a wood fire to warm the room; I hear the scrape of boots on the rough floor and the rustle of ladies' skirts. Then the light of heaven shines upon Joseph and he begins to speak the words of revelation and all the congregation is hushed as the very Laws of Zion are set forth again in supernal beauty.