I’m working on a comment for Dews From Heaven and I need a place to stick my draft. 🙂 Here it is so far:
I’ve been trying to think about “mysteries” and the “therefore” and “thereof” in verses 19-21. I think I’m inclined to read these verses a little bit differently, so let me know what you think and where I might be missing something.
What is being referred to by the words “in the ordinances thereof” in verse 20? The options seem to be: 1) the ordinances of the mysteries, 2) the ordinances of the gospel, or 3) the ordinances of the greater priesthood. I think Candice your reading favors the first of these options. I hadn’t seen that option until I read your post! I see how that follows an older meaning of the word “mystery” as a sacred right. Previously, I had been inclined towards the third option, but since verse 21 separates “ordinances” and “priesthood,” I think I want to rule that one out. So I think either option 1 or option 2 could work here. In addition, the two could be mixed: the ordinances are the ordinances of the gospel, which are the mysteries that teach us about God.
If we were to read “in the ordinances thereof” as “ordinances of the gospel,” what ordinances would be included? Verse 19 talks about the greater priesthood administering “the gospel,” while verse 27 talks about the lesser priesthood and “the preparatory gospel.” I assume we could read baptism as an ordinance of the preparatory gospel; what ordinances would be included as ordinances of “the gospel”? At the least, I assume we would include the giving of the gift of the Holy Ghost and the temple ordinances, all of which require the Melchizedek Priesthood as we understand it today.
For a minute, I’m going to think about “mysteries of the kingdom” as separate from the ordinances to see what options there might be. I find the next words helpful: “even the key of the knowledge of God.” The mysteries <i>are</i> simply that which gives knowledge of God? Or, is this a specification: of all the mysteries, the specific one given through this key is the knowledge of God?
I find it interesting that later, it says that Moses’s people could not “endure [God’s] presence,” and therefore God “swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness.” Could we read these phrases as they could not endure the “knowledge of God,” and therefore could not enter “the kingdom”? Is the knowledge of God an necessary entry into the kingdom, or a necessary first step to receiving the mysteries of the kingdom?
How could these ordinances be read in tandem with the other responsibility mentioned in verse 19, to “hold” the key of the mysteries of the kingdom?