On April 6, 1830, the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized, and in essense the first General Conference convened.The Lord Jesus Christ spoke through His Prophet Joseph Smith to the congregation, and commanded the members of the church to listen and give heed to all the words of the prophet, in patience and faith. A powerful promise was given to all who would do this;
“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” – D&C 21:6.
Today, members of the church apply the same instruction to follow the counsel of President Thomas S. Monson, 16th President of the church – who holds the same position of authority and trust as the Prophet Joseph Smith did in 1830. The commandment and promises given to the early church members apply equally to us.
As we prepare to listen to the Lord speak through our prophet during the next General Conference of the Church, April 3rd – 4th, I have been pondering the above passage of scripture, and the powerful promises.
1. Gates of Hell shall not prevail
2. Powers of Darkness shall disperse
3. Heavens to shake for your good, and His name’s glory
To my mind, the first two are pretty straight forward. It’s that third promise I’ve been wondering over and over about. What is ‘heaven shaking‘ exactly? and, what ‘good‘ things do you suppose could come from it?
I’ve been searching, and so far I haven’t found a definitive answer.
However, a story from the life of Lorenzo Snow, 5th president of the restored Church, offers some good insight. It stands as an example of a direct blessing that came to the Latter-day Saints for following the prophet’s council. In those days the Church was suffering great financial trouble and had little money to pay its debts. Then more trouble came. A great drought afflicted many of the Saints. President Snow went to the Lord and prayed for relief. One day while speaking in the St. George Tabernacle in Utah, the Holy Ghost inspired him to promise the Saints that they would receive rain if they would pay a full tithe. He quoted Malachi:
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
The people obeyed their prophet, and the heaven’s literally opened and ‘shook for good’, as rain fell on the parched ground many days, saving the crops.
Obviously, not all blessings we receive from obeying the prophet will manifest themselves in such a dramatic physical way. But the promise is in effect nonetheless.
President Harold B. Lee, 11th prophet of the church made the following important statement on this subject:
“The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. . .
Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, ‘as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.’ (D&C 21:4–5.)
There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.’ (D&C 21:6.)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 152; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 126).
What do you think the promise “cause the heavens to shake for your good” means? Can you think of another example? Have you seen a manifestation of this promise in your own life?