Monday, December 23, 2013

"He can plan for his brethren"

December 23, 2013 is the 208th anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

In Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, chapter 47 is titled: "'Praise to the Man': Latter-day Prophets Bear Witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith." Chapter 47 contains these words of Ezra Taft Benson:

"To get a vision of the magnitude of the Prophet's earthly mission we must view it in the light of eternity. He was among 'the noble and great ones' whom Abraham described as follows:

"'Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; and God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.' (Abraham 3:22–23.)

"So it was with Joseph Smith. He too was there. He too sat in council with the noble and great ones. Occupying a prominent place of honor and distinction he unquestionably helped in the planning and execution of the great work of the Lord to 'bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,' the salvation of all our Father's children [Moses 1:39]. His mission had had, and was to have, impact on all who had come to earth; all who then dwelt on earth and the millions yet unborn....

"The Prophet Joseph Smith was not only 'one of the noble and great ones,' but he gave and continues to give attention to important matters here on the earth even today from the realms above. For in the eyes of the Lord ... it is all one great eternal program in which the Prophet Joseph plays an important role—all through the eternal priesthood and authority of God." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 544.)

The footnote for the above passage cites a 1967 speech in which Ezra Taft Benson continued with an interesting story about the Prophet Joseph's post-mortal involvement in the earthly kingdom of God.

"Yes, the glorious work of salvation and exaltation goes on over there with the knowledge and, at least to some extent, the direction of the work here on this side of the veil. And in this direction the Prophet Joseph Smith, head of the greatest and last gospel dispensation, occupies a sacred place.

"Let me give you one convincing item of evidence. There are others.

"You will recall that President Heber J. Grant was chosen to be an apostle October 13, 1882, at twenty-six years of age. Referring to this calling, he said that from October 1882 until February 1883, he was in a most unhappy frame of mind. He felt that he was unworthy to be an apostle and should resign. This troubled him greatly.

"While on the Navajo reservation in Arizona during a visit to one of the stakes, he was riding horseback alone, pondering on this situation, when he seemed to hear a discussion going on in a council in heaven about the vacancies that existed in the quorum prior to his calling. In this council the Savior, the Prophet Joseph Smith, his father, Jedediah M. Grant, and others were present. They discussed whom they wanted chosen and decided that the way to remedy this situation was to send a special revelation to the President of the Church. 'It was made known to me,' said President Grant, 'that the Prophet Joseph Smith and my father asked that I be called to that position.... It was also made clear to me that from that day on it depended upon me and me alone whether I made a success or failure of my life.' That settled forever the question that troubled him." (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, 31-32.)

The chorus to Hymn no. 27, "Praise to the man," contains the phrase, "Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren." It is not a meaningless phrase.

Happy Birthday, Joseph Smith, mighty Prophet of the Restoration!

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