D&C 10:64-70 — LeGrand Baker — ‘as a hen gathereth her chickens’
I frequently regret that I will never live long enough to even begin to understand the scriptures. That is not my way of inviting you to my upcoming funeral, it is only an acknowledgment of how much I don’t know. The acknowledgment comes easy, because when I read the scriptures I discover so much that I have not known before. Case in point:
Somewhere early on in my life, I got the notion that the doctrines of the gospel were “developed” in the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. That notion is justified by the fact that Joseph didn’t tell everything he knew all at once, so the Saints got the ideas precept upon precept. The problem with that notion is that it is also projected onto the Prophet Joseph. The implication being that he also did not know, but was taught little by little. I have come to not believe that. Oh, I will admit that he probably learned some things when he received D&C 76 and others – revelations were instructions, after all. But I have come to firmly believe that he knew what he needed to know to deliver the King Follett discourse (except for his references to Hebrew words) long before the church was even organized in 1830. The reason I believe that is partly because of the reference to ideas of temple which are found in the very early sections of the D&C. These revelations suggest one of two things: either the Lord was using beautiful words which Joseph would someday understand, or else the Lord was saying things which Joseph actually understood at the time. And if Joseph understood them, then I suppose that Joseph must have understood everything.
D&C 3 is a revelation which the Prophet received when Moroni took the plates from him. D&C 10 is the revelation which the Prophet received when Moroni returned the plates – that is, before Oliver Cowdery came, and before Joseph had translated the Book of Mormon as we now have it.
Near the conclusion of section 10, the Lord explains to the Prophet, “If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them. (v. 53)” Then, at the end of the revelation, he tells how he will do that. And he explains by referring to the Ancient Israelite temple, and by using key words and phrases which are in the Book of Mormon – which Joseph has not yet read. The words of sect 10 are addressed to Joseph in such a way that it is apparent that the Lord expects Joseph will understand what he is saying. If Joseph did understand, and if my understanding of what Joseph understood is correct, then this remarkable revelation is evidence that Joseph had a full understanding of the rites and ceremonies of the ancient Israelite temple before he even began to translate our Book of Mormon.
That seems reasonable to me – actually it seems necessary — that there is so much of the ancient temple in the Book of Mormon that I cannot imagine Joseph translating it correctly if he did not already have a complete mastery of that sacred subject which pervades the entire text of his work.
Lets read the last few verses of section together.
64 Therefore, I will unfold unto them [not “to you” but “to them” – it appears here, that the Lord assumed Joseph already knew what he was talking about, ant that those who will accept the gospel will find out later.] this great mystery;
If “mystery” is used here as in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon, it means the same as the Hebrew word SOD – that is, the secret decisions of the Council in Heaven. (See earlier comments for a discussion of SOD).] Those mysteries – Council decisions, and the playing out of those decisions in the creation, fall, atonement, and exaltation of the Lord’s children – are the essence of what the ancient temple ceremony was all about.
65 For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
As I have mentioned before, the best way this makes sense to me is if it is a reference to the final scenes of the New Year Festival where the king, having been anointed both king and adopted son of God, may now legitimately sit on the great throne at the back of the Holy of Holies. Above that throne were spread the wings of two great cherubim. My notion is that it to this throne of sacral kingship that the Saviour would have brought the people. Joseph Smith did not say exactly that same thing, but he came very close. He said,
“The doctrine of baptism for the dead is clearly shown in the New Testament; and if the doctrine is not good, then throw the New Testament away; but if it is the word of God, then let the doctrine be acknowledged; and it was the reason why Jesus said unto the Jews, “How oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”—that they might attend to the ordinances of baptism for the dead as well as other ordinances of the priesthood, and receive revelations from heaven, and be perfected in the things of the kingdom of God—but they would not. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1843–44, p.310)”
v. 65 (cont.) if they will not harden their hearts;
Alma used that phrase the same way when he warned, “my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord…” (Alma 12:36)
66 Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely. (Words that come from the last few chapters of Revelation, which describe the people who live in the celestial city.)
67 Behold, this is my doctrine–whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me,
In the Book of Mormon, as far as I can tell, when the Saviour uses that phrase “come unto me,” it is either an invitation to approach the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies and symbolically come to where the Lord is, or else, as in the case of the Brother of Jared, it has a more literal meaning.
67 (cont.) the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
It is possible he is referring to the church which Joseph will organize in 1830, or it is possible he is talking about the eternal church mentioned in sec 88. Either way, the ultimate objective is the same.
70 And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Amen.
That verse is too big for me to comment on.
Joseph’s comment about the meaning of the imagery of the hen gathering her chicks under her wings was made about 15 years after he received the revelation which is sect 10. So we may either choose to believe that it took that long for Joseph to figure out what it meant, or we may believe that when the Lord mentioned it to him in 1828, Joseph understood what the Lord was talking about. If one chooses to believe the latter (which I do) then one may also believe that the Book of Mormon was translated, and the revelations in the D&C given within the full context of that understanding.