I had totally forgotten that D&C 113 existed! I found it again today and wondered what I’d find now, after all the years Joe and I have worked on the Abrahamic Covenant and all the ways Nephi has helped us see that covenant in Isaiah. Would it be in D&C 113 too? Or were they focused on other aspects of Isaiah so it didn’t come up?
Well! I learned a lot today! Here are some of those thoughts:
4 Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power
This might not sound like much, but look at that description: both a descendant of Jesse (that is, of David’s family, right? Which means, of Judah) and of Ephraim (or Joseph, it says). That means that the split (and rivalry) between Judah and Joseph is overcome in one person at some point! If I understand Genesis 49 right, Jacob splits the covenant into two parts when he blesses his sons. Where as Abraham had once chosen son (Isaac) and Isaac had one chosen son (Jacob), Jacob blesses two with greater blessings than the rest: Judah will reign, and Joseph will be prosperous and multiply exceedingly. Of the two, I think Joseph’s is closer to the Abrahamic covenant, so I’d tended to assume that basically Joseph was the chosen son as far as priesthood, chosen seed, and so on went. But reading this description from D&C 113 made me realize that perhaps it really was split in some way, and in some future person those two houses of Jacob will be reunited! And on this person “there is laid much power.” It doesn’t say it was Joseph Smith, so I think we’re talking about someone else, likely in the future, and likely someone who will gather Zion? (Because so much else in D&C 113 talks about Zion? And because someone who gathers might be a king (Judah) and have priesthood rights (Joseph)? Or can I really assign to Joseph those rights of the Melchizedek priesthood? That’s messy business I guess. Anyway, on to other verses:
5 What is the root of Jesse spoken of in the 10th verse of the 11th chapter? 6 Behold, thus saith the Lord, it is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.
Whoa! And here we go again with priesthood. This descendant has a birthright, and to him, “rightly belongs the priesthood.” So, apparently, for the rest of us, we’re using it by authorization for now, by adoption? By virtue of the statement in Abraham 2 that all who embrace the gospel are “counted” as Abraham’s seed, and so by that promise can hold the priesthood? So many questions! But look at elsewhere in the D&C that talk about legal rights, or rightly belongs. There’s D&C 68 and D&C 107 that talk about literal descendants of Aaron holding the priesthood and right to being a Bishop, but there’s talk of Melchizedek priesthood too. See this from D&C 107:
40 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made. 41 This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:
So while here we have a revelation talking to a group of Latter-day Saints on how to organize themselves as Melchizedek priesthood members, this same revelation is telling them that they don’t actually have a “right” to the priesthood. They are being called within it, and being told how to use it and to organize within it, but they aren’t actually the people for whom it was intended. Those people are hidden for now but they do exist. I have wondered where else to learn about that and I didn’t realize that D&C 113 was a place to go! So here’s that part again:
D&C 113:6 a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom
So here we go! Someday there will be that person who has a right to the priesthood! And that person will be a combination of Jesse (Judah) and Ephraim (Joseph)! How incredible! How many times those two are used to represent two parts of Israel! Two nations! (Northern and Southern Kingdoms.) Two books of scripture! (The Bible and the Book of Mormon!) How amazing that the person to whom the priesthood belongs is a unification of those two parts! Perhaps that is symbolic of the moment at which Israel can really be gathered again into one! And when Zion can really be built! How amazing, and I had no idea! :)
The next part I want to share is a little complicated as far as who the verses are talking about, but there’s more about lineage and priesthood so I want to share it!
8 to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.
Now Zion is personified, but that’s still awesome! Zion has a right to priesthood by lineage? I don’t know but that’s cool. And also “return” to that power “which she had lost.” Part of the restoration or gathering of Israel is to gather them together so that the group itself, not just one person can have the priesthood power they have lost – that they once had, as a group, but in a scattered state they have lost. I wonder if that is a fair reading of this?
The last verse is similar: “The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.” And “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.”