These Stones Don’t Lie
By Chris Layton
In the book of Matthew, Christ is teaching His disciples about the parable of the Marriage supper and like so many of his teachings, he begins to describe for them, in a parable, the kingdom of heaven. He does this so that only those with eyes who can see would begin to catch the vision. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, who made a marriage for his son” (Matt 22:2). He then goes on to teach that a great wedding feast was about to be made ready and that there were to be many guests comprised of those who were his closest friends and he says to his servants “call them to the wedding” but they would not come. Why would those who were the closest friends and family not come to the wedding when all they had to do is show up? The food is prepared and the invitations have all gone out. Why then did they refuse their king? Surely they knew the consequences for failing to obey their Lord. Who would be so bold as to refuse his call? Pagan king Ahasuerus’ wife Vashti quickly found out the consequence for her failure to answer the call of her king and suffered banishment. She had gone through the same year long purification process that all the other women of the kingdom had to go through. She had to be taught the proper way to conduct herself. She had to show herself approved above all other women and was chosen and made queen. After all this she did not learn this most important lesson of obedience to the Lord’s call.. How much more then must we being of the noble birthright be ready to hearken to the call of our king?
As we ascend higher in our eternal progression, we must be increasingly vigilant and always prayerful lest we enter into temptation. Is it possible to lose our position of favor to our God even after we have arrived? The example from the book of Esther seems to indicate that it is. Ezekiel also indicates that it is possible to fall at such an exalted station: “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the high mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the mist of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Eze 28: 14-15).
We learn from the scriptures that during Christ’s ministry, those who were supposed to be of the right lineage being in the right place at the right time, sitting in all the right seats of judgment and power were corrupted. They became the greatest persecutors of the pure in heart. These were they of whom Christ said: “ But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”(Matt 23:13)
John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing in the river Jordan when the Pharisees and the Saducees arrived on the scene. John seeing them says “O, generation of vipers! Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” John, just as Christ also affirmed, was well aware that they were of the children of Abraham when John said “And think not to say within yourselves, We are the children of Abraham; for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matthew 4:36).
It’s familiarity, the pride in their power and position and the high esteem they held among men that becomes the source of their own undoing. Somehow being so close to the king and feeling somewhat important themselves because of their close association with Him the family disregards his call, even perhaps looking upon Him with disdain. Look at the example of David’s wife Michal who when she saw her husband leaping and dancing before the Lord despises him said: “How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovering himself!” (2 Sam 6:20) to which David reminded her that God chose David over her father Saul and if she thought that was shameful she hadn’t seen anything yet but as far as those wives of my servants, they’re going to honor me before you ever do! And as it says in the scriptures Michal never had children from David.
So what does this have to do with the stones that John the Baptist was talking about when he said “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham”? It is this; God places those who He is trying to save closest to Him in order to bless them. Remember when Christ told His Disciples to “Love your enemies”? Bless those that curse you and do good to those who despitefully use and abuse you? He also said that our enemies would be those of your own household. He wasn’t talking particularly about the heathen nations that don’t even know God as being our enemies. What He was talking about was those closest to us, our own family “Well” we might ask, “Why would I want to keep those who use and abuse me closer?” Think about your own state and how often God has forgiven you. In a way, this becomes a means to cleanse the inner vessel as you come closer to the Lord. Joseph Smith once said that the nearer one comes to God, the more compassion they have towards perishing souls. This inner conflict, or in other words, this purging or “chastisement” if you will, then becomes the fire that burns off all the dross and the excess. It’s why Christ said “blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from among them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward shall be great in heaven; for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” (Luke 9:22-23)
We might think this sort of treatment is hardly something to rejoice over but rather quite miserable. This has a tremendously powerful cleansing effect being placed in the will of God if you are willing to submit to whatever the Father sees fit to purify you. This final cleansing brings all the things about you to the forefront with all of and it challenges you and it puts you right on par with no less than the Savior himself. The truth then that finally sets us free, might just be finding out in the heat of our greatest trial who we truly are. Our prophet James has said many times “What you do when you don’t have to, determines what you will become when you can no longer help it”
Christ taught “But I say unto you, Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven… For if ye love only them which love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? (Matt 5:46-48)
It’s a challenge to love those that we don’t see eye to eye with but you cannot gain the greatest victory over self on your own or with only those who agree with you all the time which tends to become a more self serving type of flattery. What we need is something to shake us out of the sleep of death even as annoying as that might seem at the moment. Most people want to live a life without all the differences of opinion saying to themselves “Life would be so much easier without such and such and so and so” but is life only about finding our comfort zone or place where we can “vacate”? Where is the growth and progression and reward in that?
As Nephi testifies “For the kingdom of the Devil must shake (agitated, disturbed), and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up (warned by the watchmen on the tower) unto repentance, or the Devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger and perish; For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good; and others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say, All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth (look at all my wealth! All my camels and dromedaries! Surely the Lord has blessed me!) all is well; and thus the Devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away…” (2 Ne 28:19-22)
If you fall in line with the world and the world loves you, if any man loves the world as John said, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
It is through these unlikely characters, these “stones” that God seems to gain the greatest glory because they have flaws, are well aquainted with sin and error but they have divine grace upon them. They know they are sinners and have no qualms about admitting it but they also have the deep desire for repentance and a heart ready to hearken to the call of the Lord. To them, the truth is not quite so elusive and it’s what makes them so rough, so abrasive, at times, so sharp and while at other times, so crushingly blunt. For this sort of rabble, (or rubble as others might see them) these sorts of trouble makers, triumph for them seems to man to be impossible and perhaps nigh to some sort of cosmic joke. They never having been “raised as calves in the stall” such as the modern day Pharisees would contend or so it may seem. “Oh how could such a flawed pitiful insignificant soul become something of great worth to God to administer in the law of Eternal lives?” one might be tempted to think. Christ taught that even the harlots and the publicans would enter into Heaven justified before the chief priests and elders of the people for the very reason that they were made humble and submissive. (Matt 21:21,31)
Peter who was known as “Cephas” or “the stone”, in the book of John, asked why this man was made blind, was it because of his parents or was it because of his sins? To this the Lord replied that it was neither his sins nor was it his parents sins that caused him to be blind. Rather it was so that the glory of God could be shown through him. His greatest triumph was when he was placed before the Pharisees who questioned him how he was healed and he said to them:
“I have told you already, and ye did not believe; wherefore would you believe if I should tell you again? And would you be his disciples?..Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth..If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.” (John 9: 27,30-33)
Christ said that he had done many miracles and wonders to which all were amazed but he also said that we would do even greater things. What greater thing can we do than to bring souls to Christ? To heal the afflicted soul? The only way we can do that is if we triumph over our own weaknesses, our flaws but in order to be able to do that we need that opposition and not necessarily in a negative way, but perhaps coming from a different viewpoint to again bring up the dross, our own unclean elements or our sins so that they can be removed from us, not our brother or our neighbor upon whom we might be tempted to hang all the blame for our own wounds and hurts. This is the reason for the coming together or the “gathering” of the body of Christ or in other words, the church.
“And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;” (D&C 29:7)
“And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true; for behold it was a just man which did keep the record; for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man which could do a miracle in the name of Jesus, save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity” (3 Ne 3:1)
When John said that God could raise up “of these stones” children unto Abraham, he was referring to those characters who were at his baptism who weren’t of the Pharisees or of the elders of the people or of the Sadducees but rather the pure blood of Christ who have been hidden away among the nations. These would be the ones who would have the seemingly greatest odds against them, having been born in the poorer parts of the vineyard. These are the ones who were last. These are the lowly and the least in the kingdom of God.
It is through those who were made humble, the very least in the Kingdom, that God will show forth His power. It’s why Christ said to the rich young man that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven and riches do not always refer to “money” but it can also refer to “power” or “status” which becomes a source of pride. That is the problem with the “Follow the brethren” mindset. Christ said the way is “narrow” that leads to God and “few be there that enter therein”. It’s the masses or the “majority” or the “popular” that the Devil leads “carefully” to hell.
It is those that recognize their sins and repent of them that make the greatest triumph and give God all the glory. This is when we are purified as the sons of Levi and made white and God writes his name on us. Like Lehi’s liahona we are literally written upon by the finger of God and what he writes upon us are His divine instructions.
“Him that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Rev 3:5)
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,…” (Rev 3:12)