Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 63: Rebelliousness and Signs—The Lord is in Control

Isaac Morley

We all feel rebellious sometimes. And in section 63, the Lord addresses those feelings.

Behind this revelation is a number of Church members, exemplified by Isaac Morley and Ezra Booth, who turn out to be contrasting examples of these rebellious tendencies. Booth’s disgruntled actions following his missionary travel to Missouri along with Morley led him out of the Church. In contrast, Morley’s feelings became gruntled, and he stayed with the Church through troubles in Missouri, Illinois and the emigration to Utah.

The revelation found in section 63 both chastises those who rebel, and suggests that those who have faith will see signs when it is the will of God. It also points out that both the spiritual and temporal affairs of the world are in the Lord’s control.

 

The Lord’s Anger at the Rebellious

Our understanding of the Lord today makes the idea of His vengeance against anyone a little harder to accept than what the Saints in the 1830s could accept. But the early Church members saw the Lord’s vengeance in the lives of their opponents and sometimes in their own lives. At least W. W. Phelps saw as much, as might be seen in the following poem:

The Vengence of God

by W. W. Phelps (1841)
The Vengence of God like a whirlwind is coming,

To chasten the world by continual strokes;
His chariot wheels on the mountains are humming,

His anger is kindled, his jealousy smokes.

CHORUS:

Yet as truth waxes louder, the Gentiles grow prouder,

Their times are fulfilling, alas! sure enough;
Shout Fathers & Mothers & Sisters & Brothers,

The chariot of Israel, and horseman thereof.

 

When violence & bloodshed had made the earth streaked,

Jehovah just swept them away with his flood;
But now in his anger he’ll burn up the wicked,

The Sun shall be darkened, the Moon turn’d to blood.

CHORUS—Yet as truth waxes louder, &c.

 

With what dreadful splendor, the Lord will abase men,

And vex them with judgments, by day and by night:
For he will raise up like as in Mt. Perazim,

And bring forth his treasures of hail for the fight.

CHORUS—Yet as truth waxes louder, &c.

 

The nations are drinking the wine cup of fury,

To rush on the battle against almighty God,
And soon the destroyer will go in a hurry,

To scatter distruction at home & abroad.

CHORUS—Yet as truth waxes louder, &c.

 

Oh Babylon, great Babylon prepare for the slaughter,

Thy recompence doubles in every crime;
Thine awful hereafter like forests around water,

Exhibit its shade on the current of time.

CHORUS—Yet as truth waxes louder, &c.

 

The image once seen by old Nebuchadnezzar,

Was Babylon to fall by the stone with surprise;
The words and the hand, on the wall to Balshazzar,

May read to the mother, and harlots likewise,

CHORUS—Yet as truth waxes louder, &c.

 

Oh Babylon though Lady, of Kingdoms surrender,

For God shall bring justice, and judgement to thee;
Thy cities,and grandeur, thy glory and splendor,

Shall sink like a millstone cast into the sea.

CHORUS—Yet as truth waxes louder, &c.

 

The signs and the strange work, the promise of ages,

Like day light at morning, begins to appear;
They trouble the great man, and baffle the Sages,

The fig trees are leaving, the Summer is near.

CHORUS—Yet as truth waxes louder, &c.

 

Kirtland, Ohio, May, 1841.

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Signs and Faith

Section 63 suggests that the rebellious have faith, and that they will see signs by faith, if it is the will of the Lord. Of course, not only the rebellious can have faith, or see signs. In 1950 Alice Morrey Bailey found faith and signs in the actions of those who awaited the coming of the Lord in the new world.

Bailey is mostly remembered as a sculptor. Born in 1903, Bailey studied at the University of Utah under Mormon sculptors James Harwood, Mabel Frazer, and A.B. Wright starting in 1924, and she worked with Torleif Knaphus on The Handcart Company monument now on Temple Square. When her husband was injured in a mining accident in 1941, she became the sole breadwinner of the family and nursed her husband until his death in 1972. She wrote numerous short stories, plays, and poems and her book of poems titled Rain Shadows (1995) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She passed away in 1997.

 

Who Watched in Faith

by Alice Morrey Bailey (1950)
The Prophets’ cryptic speech, and only faith
Were theirs to span the vast and wordless sea
Back to their father’s land, the time-dimmed wraith
Of Jordan and the blue of Galilee.
And hidden from the far Jerusalem
Were those whose lives were doomed at sunset’s dark.
While Joseph traced the road to Bethlehem,
They watched in faith the day’s descending arc.
And only signs to mark the Savior’s birth
Were promised testaments of their belief,
Yet angel songs above Judean earth
Were not more sweet with joy than their relief
When glory shone through night, and, blazing high,
A new star hung in Zarahemla’s sky.
                                             [H.T. Ardis @ Keepapitchinin]

 

The Lord is in Control

As section 63 makes clear, in the end Church members can trust that the Lord is in control of both the spiritual and temporal affairs of the world. Zion’s poetess, Eliza R. Snow, saw this in the movement of the pioneers across the plains to Utah. She saw the hand of the Lord in their movement and their protection:

 

For the Pioneers

by Eliza R. Snow (1851)
Hail, ye mighty, noble chieftains!

Hail, ye faithful pioneers!
Pow’rs unseen your footsteps guided,

‘Twas Jehovah led you here!
CHORUS.
Zion’s banner-—Freedom’s ensign,

Broad and gloriously unfurl’d,
Waves amid the Rocky Mountains,

Heav’nly beacon to the world.

 

From our birthplace, home and country,

Lo! a people brave and free,
Driv’n by men—-by Gods directed

Here, in search of liberty.

 

In the hiding place of Israel—-

In the chambers of the west—-
Crown’d with nature’s rich abundance,

In the vallies we are blest.

 

Justice here directs the sceptre—-

Truth, and love, and friendship meet;
Smiling peace her downy carpet

Proffers to the stranger’s feet.

 

Here let virtue be respected—-

Industry and useful toil:
Youth and innocence protected,

Like the plants of heav’nly soil.

 

Brigham Young, the Lord’s anointed,

Lov’d of heav’n, and fear’d of hell;
Like Elijah’s on Elislia,

Joseph’s mantle on him fell.

 

Mighty men compose his councils—-

Inspiration makes them wise;
None can circumscribe the measures

Zion’s counsellors devise.

 

Here the hosts of Israel gather—-

Abram’s seed from ev’ry land;
Thro’ the Priesthood’s light preparing

With the Lord of Hosts to stand.

 

God will come to bless his people–

Jesus Christ and Joseph too;
Come to introduce a scenery

Great and glorious, grand and new.

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