Lesson 18 focuses on the temple, and in terms of chronology, the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. Much has been written of the great sacrifice required of the Kirtland saints in building the Temple, and of the amazing spiritual manifestations that accompanied its completion and dedication. Sections 109 and 110 of the Doctrine & Covenants are inspired and inspiring, representing some of the true pinnacles of the restoration.
But for me, at least this time through the D&C, section 95 has really caught my interest. The section begins with the Lord chastening the saints for their failure to construct the Temple as he had directed in Section 88. In fact, the Lord tells the Saints that their procrastination is a grievous sin. To put in perspective, Section 88 preceded Section 95 by little more than months. Not a long time, in the eternal scheme of things.
But the Lord grew impatient with and chastened the Saints. They lacked diligence and urgency building the His house. Contentions occurred among Church leaders. Members of the Church were disobedient and failed to keep the commandments. In a beautiful and poetic verse, the Lord tells Joseph that some of those ordained to build the Kingdom of God had “sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day.” D&C 95:6.
What an image. Here they were, members of God’s restored church. They had new scripture and a prophet receiving revelation from Heaven. The members of the Church could have been enjoying a noon-day sun unknown to the world for hundreds of years. And yet they, surrounded by light, were walking in darkness because of their lack of focus, their disobedience, their selfishness and laziness.
It is easy to see how it happened. They were poor. It was winter and spring in Ohio - - not the ideal time to start a major construction project. They were trying to build Zion almost three states away in Missouri. The resources available to the Church and the Saints during this period were stretched to the breaking point. Building a Temple - - especially the Temple Joseph envisioned - - must have seemed overwhelming. Who can blame them for losing focus? Who would not have been tempted to wait for more favorable circumstances to start such a task?
But God chastened them because he loved them. Their grievous sin was choosing to stay in the darkness when he wanted them in His light. How often do we commit that same sin? In what ways to we choose to walk in our own darkness instead into the noon-day sun? Section 95 has given me a new insight into disobedience, sin and forgiveness. Whom the Lord loves he chastens because his joy is seeing us walk not in darkness, but in light.