Jacob 1:7 — LeGrand Baker — enter into his rest
7 Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness.
Last week I received the following note from Richard Dilworth (Dil) Rust: “Here is a copy of what I’ve sent to Beck Locey (who will see it a week from now). I thought you might want an advance copy; indeed, you may want to send in an elaboration (or correction) to join my post.”
I would not have presumed to respond to Dil’s comment without that invitation. The subject Dil is addressing is, so far as I am aware, the most sacred subject which people are given the right to talk about. I suppose that is the reason this subject and other sacred ideas, are so frequently encoded in the scriptures. That way people can trivialize the code words without trivializing the ideas. For example, I am never offended when I hear the phrase “come unto Christ” used with reverence in any church meeting. On the other hand, I think I have never heard that phrase used in a church meeting (except sometimes general conference) where the speaker has used that phrase to mean the same thing that it means in the scriptures.
When I saw the list of scriptures that Dil recommended we read, I went ‘WOW!’
Psalm 95 is an invitation to enter the presence of God. If this hymn were sung during the New Year’s festival (as I presume it was), then it is likely that the time and place where it was sung was at the conclusion of the great procession when the people and the king came into the temple. This psalm was probably sung just before the veil of the temple was opened, so the people could look into the Holy of Holies and see the golden throne of God.
Hebrews 3:7 — 4:11, is Paul’s explanation of what it means to “rest.” He compares each of his hearers to those who were invited to go with Moses to Sinai to be in the presence of God, and says, “let us labour therefore to enter into that rest.” But why is being in the presence of God called “rest.” Paul explains: God performed all of his labors of the creation in six days, then, on the seventh day, God no longer performed his own labors. So it is with us. Paul says, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” (4:10-11)
Alma 12 & 13 are Alma’s explanation of the legitimacy of kingship and priesthood. In the ancient Near East, evidence of that legitimacy had to be based on two things: 1) one’s receiving a call at the Council in Heaven, and 2) one’s fulfilling the assignment he received in that call.
Here Alma uses the word “rest” in both senses: In connection with being in the presence of God to receive one’s initial call, and also as evidence of its fulfillment. (This is a fun story: Zeezrom and his friends are planning a political coup. Alma tells Zeezrom he can’t do that, and cites the priesthood principles of kingship as evidence. Zeezrom understands and repents.)
There is another word which ties each of those scriptures together also. It is “provocation.”
Jacob said, “… that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. (Jacob 1:7)” In these scriptures, Jacob, Alma, and Paul are all paraphrasing the 95th Psalm which says, “Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.” (V. 8-9) Thus, to “provoke the Lord” is to refuse to enter into his presence.
As in ancient Israel, one symbolically enters the Lord’s presence in the temple. (See Moroni 10:29-31) But one can also enter his presence. (See the next verses, Moroni 10:32-34)
To “come unto Christ” is not an act of one’s own will, but an act of faith. Faith is not believing hard, it is keeping covenants. One cannot “grunt believe” and therefore force one’s way into the presence of God, but must come by invitation. No amount of fasting, prayer, or self deprivation can bribe God into letting one in. The principle explained by Mormon is relevant here. Angels show “themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. (Moroni 7:30)” The “firm mind” is as important a quality as the “strong faith.” The keys by which one may enter, as Moroni and Mormon each explain, are faith, hope and charity.
The Saviour explained all that in the 14th chapter of John. As a part of that explanation he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
“Way” is a code word. If one were to use that word to describe the 95th psalm, it is the steps one takes in the temple to get to the veil.
“Way” means something else as well. More than anyone else, Jim Cannon has taught me this:
The most important thing one does in the temple, is the very last thing one does there: that is, he leaves the building. He does not stay. The temple is not a monastery. One goes in, only to come out again. As Moses came down from the mountain, as the brother of Jared came down from the mountain, as Jesus, Peter, James and John came down from the mountain, we must all come out of the temple and be in this world what we were instructed to be while we were symbolically on the mountain.
The “way” one may “come unto Christ” and “enter into his rest” is to “walk” in the “paths of righteousness” after one has come out of the temple. The way one does that, as Mormon said, may be judged by one’s “peaceable walk with the children of men.” (Moroni 7:3-4)
Two other scriptures which Dil mentioned are:
3 Ne 27 is the Saviour’s explanation of how one must come into his presence.
13-17: “This is the gospel .. that I came into the world to do the willof my Father, because my Father sent me.
18-19: “This is the word: … no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood.
20: This is the commandment: … that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.”
Moroni 7 is Mormon’s instructions to those who “have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.” (V.3)In the end, as Mormon points out, it all boils down to charity. The instructions are about faith, hope, and charity, and the purpose of the instruction is “that we may be purified even as he is pure” (v. 48)
Mormon’s ideas are not original with him. The Saviour explained the same thing.
19 And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled
20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven
23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee-
24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.” (3 Nephi 12:19-24)
The more closely one looks, the more one realizes the “principles” of the gospel are not plural at all, but singular: The covenants one made at the Council, the covenants one remakes here, the life one lives here, the covenants one keeps here, the charity one feels here, the fulfillment of the Saviour’s promises to those who keep their covenants in charity. They are the same thing. We think of them lineally because we live in a world of time. But the principles are not lineal, they are a composite of one, just as their purpose is one: “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Ephesians 1:4).”