Sunday School Lesson 21

May 21, 2005 | no comments
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Doctrine and Covenants 29:9-29; 34:5-12; 45:16-75; 88:86-89; 101:22-34; 133

This lesson focuses on the Second Coming. Why is it important for us to know about that event? If we come to Christ now, making and keeping our covenants, living as he would have us live, then we will be accepted. If we are who we ought to be, then the result will be the same for us, no matter when the Second Coming happens, so it seems that the Second Coming is not very relevant to our lives. However, the Lord has seen fit to reveal a great deal about it, so it must be important. How?

Section 29

Verses 9-11: John the Baptist also preached that the kingdom was coming soon (Matthew 3:2). Jesus preached the same message (Matthew 4:17 and parallels), and he told the Apostles to preach the same message (Matthew 10:17). After Christ’s mission, Paul preached the same thing to the early Christians (2 Thessalonians 2:2), as did Peter (1 Peter 4:7). And Revelation tells us that the end is near (Revelation 1:3; 22:10). How are we to understand the message, “the end is near,” when that message has been the same for 2,000 years? Or has the message changed in some way?

Verse 12: What is the import of the fact that the Twelve who were with Jesus will judge the house of Israel?

Verses 13-20: What is the point of these verses?

Verse 21: Is this the culmination of verses 13-20, or does it name an additional thing that will happen?

Verses 22-25: What does it mean to refer to men, beasts, fowls, and fishes as the fulness of the earth, as does verse 24? What does it mean that all these things shall become new? Over the course of my life, I have lost and grown a lot of hairs. Were all of them to be restored to me, I could probably not hold my head up because of the weight, so we cannot take “not one hair [. . .] shall be lost” literally. What is it meant to tell us? What is a mote? Except in this verse, every other use of the word in scripture has the same theme as Matthew 7:4-5, where it seems to be a metaphor for some small moral defect. Is that relevant to understanding this verse?

Verses 26-27: What are these verses about? What does it mean to say that Christ is “ashamed to own [someone] before the Father”? What meaning does the word “own” have here?

Verses 28-29: Speaking of those who he is ashamed to own, the Lord says, “never at any time have I declared that from mine own mouth that they should return.” To where has he not said they can return? Does he mean “I have decreed that they cannot return”? If he does, why does he use this unusual way of saying that?

Section 34:5-12

What do these verses add to what we learned from section 29?

Section 45

Verse 16: To whom were these verses addressed? What does that tell us about how we should understand them?

Verse 17: Historically many religions have taught that being in a body is bondage, that we are freer when we do not have one. Why might they believe that? How would you explain to someone with that belief why it is bondage to be without a body?

Verses 18-24: compare verses 18-21 and verses 22-23. What things will pass away in the first set of verses? When? What things won’t pass away “until all shall be fulfilled”? When is the time that all will be fulfilled? To what does “that day” refer in verse 24?

Verses 25-27: What time period does this describe?

Verses 28-29: Does verse 28 tell us that people don’t perceive the light because they turn their hearts from the Lord, or does it make two points, that people don’t perceive the light and that they turn their hearts?

Verses 34-35: The disciples are troubled to hear about the diseases, earthquakes, and wars that will precede the Lord’s return, and he tells them those are signs that will assure his disciples that the promises made to them will be fulfilled (verse 35). To what promises is he referring here? How do know what to make of the signs mentioned? In other words, how are they a comfort to us? “Desolating sickness” (verse 31) is perhaps less common now than it used to be. It certainly isn’t more common; we have nothing today like the Black Plague of the Middle Ages. Geologists tell us that there hasn’t been any increase in the number of earthquakes (verse 33). And, like epidemic disease, war (verse 33) probably occurs less often today than it used to, but it almost certainly doesn’t occur any more often. That means that the frequency of these things isn’t what will reassure us, but if not that, then how are we to be reassured by such events?

Cf. D&C 88:88-89

Verses 36-39: Does this parable answer the question that I raised about the previous two verses? How?

Verses 43-44: Where is “this place”? What is the Lord telling us when he says “they shall look for me”? Why would it be that “he who watches not for me shall be cut off”? Why are we required not only to live up to the covenants we make, but also to look for the coming of the Lord?

Verse 46: Who are those who have “slept in peace”? Explain this comparison: “as you now behold me and know that I am, even so shall ye come unto me and your souls shall live.” What does it mean for a person’s redemption to be perfected? What meaning of the word “perfect” is at work in that idea?

Verses 47-50: When will these events occur? Who are “they that have watched for iniquity” (verse 50)? Does that contrast with those who have looked for the Lord (verse 44)? If so, does that contrast help explain who those who have looked for his coming are?

Verses 52-53: Does the Lord ascribe his death to the Jews in these verses? Can you explain your answer? The New Testament makes it clear that it was, for the most part, a some within a particular sect of Judaism at the time and some (not all) Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus and who conspired with the Romans to have him executed. Why, then, does the Lord say “they persecuted their king,” as if all the Jews of his day took part? Are all responsible in some way for the acts of some?

Verses 56-59: When will this happen? Can you explain how you came to that answer? Explain the events prophesied in these verses in your own words. Why are they important to us?

Verse 63: Of what “wars in your own lands” was this a prophecy. How was that prophecy and its fulfillment one of the signs of the Second Coming?

Verse 64: Where were the “western countries” of the United States when this revelation was given?

Verses 65-70: Where will this New Jerusalem be? When will these events occur. What are these events of spiritual interest to us?

Verses 72-73: What are the things that the Lord doesn’t want them to allow people do know? They know about such things as plagues, wars, earthquakes, and strange meteorological events. The Lord says that he want doesn’t want the world to know “these things” so that the world won’t know the works of the Saints. What works is he referring to? Why shouldn’t the world know about those works until after the Saints have done them?

Section 101

Verses 22-24: What are the holy places referred to in verse 22? The last half of verse 23 and all of verse 24 tell about an event to occur in the future. What is that event? Why does the first half of 23 describe that event as a revelation? What will be revealed? Does that usage of the word suggest anything about our usual use of it?

Verse 25: What does “all things shall become new” mean? Why do all things have to become new in order for the Lord’s knowledge and glory to dwell on the earth? Why, would his knowledge be unable to dwell on the earth as it now is? Don’t we have the knowledge? If not, what does “my knowledge” refer to?

Verses 26-31: If whatever a person asks for will be given him or her in the millennium (verse 27), why isn’t it given to us now? What reason would there be for sometimes withholding now, but not then? Do verses 30 -31 apply only to those born during the millennium?

Verses 32-34: Does “thing of the earth, by which it was made” mean how the earth was made, or by whom it was made, or something else? How would you decide between these possibilities? If it means how it was made, what does that suggest about how we should understand Genesis 1 and the comparable parts of Moses and Abraham? Does it say anything about how we should understand evolutionary science? To what might the Lord be referring when he speaks of precious things above the earth, beneath it, and it? Does “things that are above” refer to something other than “heaven”? Is there a difference between things “that are in the earth” and “things that are beneath”?

Section 133

Verses 1-4: What is the difference between “hearken” and “listen”? Why the several descriptions of the Lord in verse 2? How are they important to the theme of this section? Why these descriptions rather than some others? What is the difference between “the nations that forget God” and “the ungodly among you”?

Verse 5: Do the two sentences of this verse say the same thing or different things?

Verse 6: What does the commandment to call our solemn assemblies mean to us? Is the Lord referring to the same meetings that we now call “solemn assemblies” or is he using the term differently? Why are we commanded to “speak often one to another”? What does it mean for every person to call on the name of the Lord?

Verse 9: Obviously verses 7-8 are about missionary work. In verse 9, the Lord gives a reason for that work: so that the borders of his people can be enlarged, so that the stakes can be strengthened, and so that Zion can go forth into its neighboring regions. Do these each mean the same thing? It makes sense to say that the enlargement of Zion would result from missionary work, but how is it the reason for missionary work?

Verse 10: Why is does the Lord use the image of the Bridegroom here? What does that image teach us?

Verse 15: Since every stake is Zion, today we understand leaving Babylon and fleeing to Zion very differently than those who first heard this revelation understood it. For them it meant gathering to Missouri and, later, to the Rocky Mountains; for us it means becoming a member of a stake where you live. Those who understood this verse when it meant that converts should gather in Missouri or the Rockies could easily make sense of this verse: they shouldn’t make that long trip without being prepared to do so. Does the verse still have meaning today? If so, what does it mean not to go to Zion in haste? What does it mean not to look back? Is this an implicit comparison to Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26). If so, how does that story help us understand the Lord’s point here?

Verses 16-33: When do these events happen, at the beginning or the end of the millennium?

Verse 34: Why/how are the things described in verses 16-33 the blessings of the tribes of Israel?

Verse 35: What does “after their pain” mean in this context?

Verse 36: Does this verse refer to Moroni? If it does, in what sense did he commit the gospel (as defined in the scriptures) to humanity?

Verse 38: Do we ever preach “fear God and give glory to him”? When?

Verse 40: Do we pray for the Second Coming? Does this verse say that we should? Why would we pray for it?

Verse 47: When people ask “Who is this?” why is it important that part of the answer is “he who spake in righteousness”? To whom might this be an implicit comparison?

Verse 48-51: What is the significance of the Lord’s robes being red? Why would he choose treading the wine-vat as a symbol of his atoning sacrifice?

Verse 52: Why does the Lord speak of “the year of my redeemed”? To what might he be referring by using the word “year”? What is the Lord’s loving kindness that the redeemed remember?

Verses 53-55: Is “In all their afflictions he was afflicted” literal or metaphorical? What does “the angel of his presence” mean? Does it refer to a particular angel, or is it a way of referring to the Lord? If the latter, what is its significance? Why does the Lord pity us? How did he bear and carry those of old? Verse 54 speaks of Enoch “and they who were with him,” but it and verse 55 speak of other prophets and “they who were before him.” Why the change in preposition?

Verse 56: What does it mean to “sing the song of the Lamb”?

Verses 57-59: Why is the gospel, the good news of the Atonement and of its implications for us, called “his everlasting covenant”? In what way is it a covenant? What does it mean to us that missionary work is described as “reasoning in plainness and simplicity”? What might the word “reasoning” mean here? What does it mean for reasoning to be plain and simple? How does missionary work prepare the weak for the Second Coming? To whom does “the weak” refer? The phrase, “the Lord’s errand” appears in scripture only twice, here and in D&C 64:29, where Newell K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert are told that, as agents of the Church, they are on the Lord’s errand. What does the phrase mean here? Is there any connection between this use and that in section 64? The verb “thrash” has two possible meanings, “to separate grain from its husk by beating” and “to defeat thoroughly.” Which meaning is intended here? What makes you think so?

Verses 60-63: What does it mean to say that the commandments “were commanded to be kept from the world in the day that they were given”? Why might some commandments have been given only to be withheld until the Restoration? What might those have been?

Verses 64-74: In verse 66, the Lord says that when I came to his own no one received him. When did he come to his own? Why does he use hyperbole, saying no one received him, when some did? Why is there no one who can deliver those who have not obeyed (verse 71)? Is it because the Lord won’t allow anyone to deliver them or because it is impossible for them to be delivered? If the latter, why? What does “they sealed up the testimony” (verse 72) mean? Vere 73 tells us that the persons described in these verses will go to outer darkness? Does that mean that he has been talking about the Sons of Perdition? Verse 64 identified the people to whom he is referring as those “that do wickedly.” That seems to describe more than the Sons of Perdition, so how do you explain verse 73?

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