2021 Study Summary 6: That You May Come Off Conqueror
Doctrine and Covenants 10–11
“That You May Come Off Conqueror”
Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, likely around April 1829, though portions may have been received as early as the summer of 1828. Herein the Lord informs Joseph of alterations made by wicked men in the 116 manuscript pages from the translation of the book of Lehi, in the Book of Mormon. These manuscript pages had been lost from the possession of Martin Harris, to whom the sheets had been temporarily entrusted. (See the heading to section 3.) The evil design was to await the expected retranslation of the matter covered by the stolen pages and then to discredit the translator by showing discrepancies created by the alterations. That this wicked purpose had been conceived by the evil one and was known to the Lord even while Mormon, the ancient Nephite historian, was making his abridgment of the accumulated plates, is shown in the Book of Mormon (see Words of Mormon 1:3–7). 1–26, Satan stirs up wicked men to oppose the Lord’s work; 27–33, He seeks to destroy the souls of men; 34–52, The gospel is to go to the Lamanites and all nations through the Book of Mormon; 53–63, The Lord will establish His Church and His gospel among men; 64–70, He will gather the repentant into His Church and will save the obedient.
Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to his brother Hyrum Smith, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, May 1829. This revelation was received through the Urim and Thummim in answer to Joseph’s supplication and inquiry. Joseph Smith’s history suggests that this revelation was received after the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. 1–6, Laborers in the vineyard will gain salvation; 7–14, Seek wisdom, cry repentance, trust in the Spirit; 15–22, Keep the commandments, and study the Lord’s word; 23–27, Deny not the spirit of revelation and of prophecy; 28–30, Those who receive Christ become the sons of God.
What are the additional meanings of the word “spirit?”
The concept of the “Holy Ghost” is unclear for Jews, yet the Hebrew term “Ruach Elohim” means the Spirit of God. The Hebrew word for breath and wind is closely related to spirit. There are several Biblical verses using these words. One of my favorites is in the vision of dry bones. “So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:7-14)
How does “spirit” affect our future?
“Ruah ha-Kodesh [holy spirit] is often used as a synonym for prophecy. However, according to some rabbis, unlike prophecy, there are some types of ruah ha-kodesh which also can be attained by doing good deeds.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) The expression of the “Holy Spirit” has been used to describe various righteous Jewish teachers and sages. “. . . Luria already had a reputation as a man of striking personality who possessed the holy spirit. “. . . Nahman was the great-grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, and his mother was said to ‘possess the holy spirit.’ “. . . Phinehas is known to have traveled to redeem captives, and on one journey a river in flood parted for him, so as not to delay his mission. He constructed the famous ‘ladder of saintliness’ in which Caution (against evil) leads through Eagerness (for good), Cleanliness, Purity, Asceticism, Holiness, Humility, Fear of God, Attainment of the Holy Spirit (divine inspiration), ultimately to the Resurrection of the Dead.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How do “sticks” and “bones” bring even more meaning?
Ezekiel spoke of breath and of wind bringing life into a dead skeleton. As the sticks (ETZemot) of the body are clothed again with flesh and come alive again, so shall the stick (ETZ) of Judah, the dead skeleton of a once true and living religion, come together with the stick of Joseph. This symbolizes the true religion, and with the “breath” of the Lord (His spirit) a resurrection and a new life begins.
How does “flesh” distinguish us from God?
“Flesh is the term used in the Bible to distinguish mortal man from God. The Hebrew word for flesh, basar, is contrasted with the Divine Spirit, ru’ah, with which man is temporarily endowed. Thus: ‘My spirit shall not abide in man forever, for that he is also flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years’ (Genesis 6:3). The Talmud and Midrash refer to man as basar va-dam (‘flesh and blood’) to indicate his mortality as against the eternity of God.
How may I receive the gift of the spirit?
The key to recognizing the Messiah and the true meaning of his life and those who testified of Him is the SPIRIT. As mentioned, the word for spirit in Hebrew is Ruach Elohim, the breath–the wind of God. Moses knew that gift well and desired that everyone would have it. “And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29) There are some people who do not have that gift yet, and those who do must exercise patience and love because eventually more will get that gift and be very happy. The gift of belief comes from God. The point to consider is that the Lord’s gift of spirit reveals and teaches truth. In the New Testament, the day that Jesus gave His apostles the promised comforter as the gift of the spirit was the Jewish Pentecost. This occurred on the Mount of Olives fifty days after the Passover when Jesus completed the great atonement. In the Biblical calendar, fifty days after Passover is Shavuot, a day to commemorate receiving the “Law of Moses at Mount Sinai,” the Jewish Pentecost.
What is the echo of confirmation and the “Gift of the Holy Ghost”?
“In many modern synagogues, the ceremony of confirmation takes place on Shavuot. This is a group ceremony in which the boys and girls of the community who have reached the age of maturity (usually when they are 15 or 16 years old), take a sort of symbolic oath of allegiance to the Torah and Judaism. The custom began with the Reform Movement’s efforts to deepen the significance of bar mitzvah and to emphasize the relationship between Shavuot and the study of Torah.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) For Latter-day Saints, the procedure of confirmation includes giving the gift of the Holy Ghost. One of its blessings is that of helping us understand the scriptures. “. . . the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26) “In this last great gift through one of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost, is to be found the way to the certain knowledge, after one’s study of the scriptures . . .” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye In Holy Places, Pg.317)
What does the process of step-by-step look like?
Sometimes the exact right answer does not come when we expect it. A parable about a rock wall that I learned years ago included the imagery of a farmer dragging and lifting the stones from his field as he cleared the land for planting. He laid the stones a row around his property. Later, a stone worker arrived to turn the loose stones into a rock wall. With his skill, the worker managed to find the stones that fit, each one supporting itself and the others above, under or around it. At one point the worker reached a place where no stone seemed to fit. He simply left a hole and continued constructing the terrace wall. At the end he had some left-over stones. Remembering the gap, the stone worker returned with the extra left-over stones. They fit perfectly! “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12) “. . . the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept . . . line upon line; here a little, and there a little . . . Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:14-16.) “In biblical times, Jerusalem was surrounded by thick, green forests of almond, olive and pine trees. But in the course of numerous wars and settlements, much of this lush greenery was destroyed and the soil left to dry out in the summer sun and wash away in the heavy winter rains. From earliest times, farmers have therefore been forced to terrace the ground and build stone fences along the slopes to hold back the soil. This stone terracing is still in evidence all along the Jerusalem landscape.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) The imagery of stone is used often in the scriptures. One of the reasons is that the Lord is the “Rock of Salvation.” Our testimony of Him comes with repeated experiences from the “still small voice.” Even the strongest stone wall is made from many smaller ones.