We had a study group focused on D&C 84 and I never did write up our insights on my blog, so I’m catching up this morning.
First, we really zoomed in on the distinction between “obtaining” in verse 33 and “receive” starting in verse 35. We really felt like this distinction was crucial to the structure of the section. It seems to be setting up to separate groups of people. There are those who obtain these two priesthoods (an active seeking out, perhaps? and does this refer to temple covenants, or not? ie, does this include women as well? also, does this imply all the knowledge and covenants of the two priesthoods that are obtained in the temple?) and there are those who receive the priesthood, which seems to mean (from verses 36-38) those who receive those with the priesthood, or those who have obtained the priesthood. This is similar to Alma 12-13 and else where: God calls some who then work to share the gospel with everyone. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprising pattern at this point, but none of us (as I remember) had really noticed that D&C 84 was explaining a relationship between 2 groups of people.
So, as we read it, there are two ways to receive all that the Father hath: either obtain the priesthood itself and magnify its calling (or your calling, depending on how you read the grammar there), or, receive a servant, which means receiving Christ, which means receiving the Father, which means receiving the kingdom.
Second, we spent a long time discussing the enigmatic verse 39 (or at least it is perpetually enigmatic to me): “And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.” I always wonder 1, why is this “according to” something else? 2, why “which belongeth” to the priesthood? and finally 3, what “oath and covenant” are we talking about? (and also, what is the “this” we are describing?)
We talked about that at great length, wondering in part if it is supposed to be a bit veiled. Perhaps it is something only God himself can really teach you about (see verse 48). So here we are learning of things that follow from that covenant, but aren’t that covenant itself? Or, perhaps we return to the question of whether or not verse 33 is talking about the temple. If so, then perhaps it’s a bit veiled because it’s referring to things inside the temple. Or perhaps it’s as plain as can be that this is the oath and covenant of the priesthood, and her we are learning how to be saints in response to God’s promises of all He hath. All possible interpretations!
But, what we stumbled on that really struck us hard is that this verse comes after all the discussion of those who receive the priesthood. If our interpretation works that those who receive are of a different group that those who obtain (or, at least originally are so), then this verse 39- how surprising! – comes to those who have received servants! But then again, perhaps the reason it says “according to” and “belongeth” is to say that there is an oath and covenant for those who obtain, but, God has provided a way for those who receive to also participate in that oath and covenant. But how surprising! The verse on the oath and covenant is talking about those who receive servants and therefore receive heaven!
Verse 40-42 is where I get confused. Are we talking about those who receive servants again? Are we jumping back to those who obtain priesthood but calling it receive here? That would seem odd. So it seems that here we are saying that all those who receive the priesthood (servants, who take them to Christ, who takes them to the Father, who gives them His kingdom) also receive this covenant, which cannot be broken. So, what exactly is this covenant again? Still not sure. And at first, I don’t like this interpretation because it sounds like anyone who receives servants is immediately given the heavy responsibility of understanding and following the covenant or else they are damned!
But if I take a breath and re-read what I’ve already written, perhaps the safer? interpretation is to say that those who follow all the path here, who receive servants yes but who receive all the way to the Father and what He gives them, then those people are given the same covenant as those who obtained the priesthood originally, and therefore are a part of this oath and covenant, and therefore become elect (calling & election?) and are responsible to never break that covenant. That seems to me to be a fair situation and a fair reading of the verses.
Verse 42 may be talking about those in the room who do not come to the priesthood, meaning, don’t want to be called. Or, it may refer to those whom they are about to go teach throughout the world who won’t receive them as priests bearing the gospel and its ordinances. If that is the case, the “wo” pronounced here might also link up with verse 50, where God describes those who don’t come to Him because they are in the bondage of sin.
(It seems that “calling and election made sure” might be a good reading of verse 39. At this point I feel like it’s the best idea I have anyway. 🙂 So everything else we talk about with priesthood is “according to” that promise… every ordinance or preaching is in light of that possibility for every person on earth. This would make sense of all the discussion of Moses seeking diligently to have his people behold the face of God, etc.)
Verses 46-48 might also be describing another way to come to the point of receiving the covenant of the priesthood? Every person born has the Spirit working on them which brings them to the Father who teaches them Himself about the priesthood? Do we have three ways to obtain this oath and covenant: 1) obtaining (perhaps seeking out, like Abraham?) the two priesthoods (verse 33), 2) receiving servants (verse 36 on), and 3) receiving the Spirit (verse 46 on). Thoughts?
That three-fold pattern reminds me of how God sets up things in the beginning, as laid out in the Book of Moses. My children are getting squirmy and ready for breakfast so I’ll finish adding references later. There are three ways that God calls on man to repent: 1) Adam seeks out further light and knowledge, 2) God sends Adam and his sons out to preach the gospel, and 3) God calls on man by the Holy Ghost (see Moses 5:14-15).
Anyway, I am grateful for the fantastic study group we had, and for every study group discussion, and for the very existence of the study group! Loved getting to know so many kind and good people, and for a chance to ask my questions about scripture. Yay!
Just to clarify what I was thinking about near the end of my post yesterday, I think I see in D&C 84 that there are several ways that God is trying to bring us into a covenant with Him and give us all He has. (Isn’t that amazing, that He wants to and keeps trying to do that?) In the Book of Moses, which admittedly is my favorite account of Adam & Eve, I also see God working in several ways to teach the Gospel and bring people back into His presence. Here are some examples of verses that seem to me to lay out different ways He’s working with people:
Moses 5:4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
Moses 5:12 And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. (And also, from Moses 6: 22 &23: And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed. And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men.)
Moses 5:14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent;
In summary: Moses 5:58 & 59:
And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.
Such is what I see going on right now, anyway. 🙂 Why is all of that important? I don’t know… maybe I don’t know yet, or maybe I won’t ever know. 🙂 But I enjoy it, and I’m okay to wait and see if it may help in the future.