“The Lord Expects His Saints to Follow the Commandments,” Ensign, May 1977, 4
My beloved brethren and sisters, this is a happy day to address you concerning the work of the Lord, and its progress and development.
Many things have happened in the interval since last October conference, in the six months that have passed.
We have returned from a long, glorious trip into the faraway places to visit and address our beloved people in the far south. We have traveled approximately 23,000 miles. We have gone from volcanoes of Chile in the far south, to the heights of the Andes Mountains, all along to the plains, to the forests.
In our many contacts, we have visited and borne testimony to approximately 150,000 of our members in area conferences. We have found them growing, developing, happy people, and we are sure that our Heavenly Father is pleased with what we saw in the people, in their activities, attitudes, their faith, and their testimony.
Early this year when drouth conditions seemed to be developing in the West, the cold and hardships in the East, with varying weather situations all over the world, we felt to ask the members of the Church to join in fasting and prayer, asking the Lord for moisture where it was so vital and for a cessation of the difficult conditions elsewhere.
Perhaps we may have been unworthy in asking for these greatest blessings, but we do not wish to frantically approach the matter but merely call it to the attention of our Lord and then spend our energy to put our lives in harmony.
One prophet said:
“When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
“Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.” (1 Kgs. 8:35–36.)
The Lord uses the weather sometimes to discipline his people for the violation of his laws. He said to the children of Israel:
“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
“Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
“And your threshing shall reach into the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
“And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: … neither shall the sword go through your land.” (Lev. 26:3–6.)
With the great worry and suffering in the East and threats of drouth here in the West and elsewhere, we asked the people to join in a solemn prayer circle for moisture where needed. Quite immediately our prayers were answered, and we were grateful beyond expression. We are still in need and hope that the Lord may see fit to answer our continued prayers in this matter.
From all around the world we have received letters indicating a general response to the suggestion. From Brisbane, Australia, comes this:
“We received your cable inviting the Saints in Brisbane to join you and the world in a day of fasting and prayer. We share your love and concern for all of our Heavenly Father’s children. …”
Perhaps the day has come when we should take stock of ourselves and see if we are worthy to ask or if we have been breaking the commandments, making ourselves unworthy of receiving the blessings.
The Lord gave strict commandments: “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:30.)
Innumerous times we have quoted this, asking our people not to profane the Sabbath; and yet we see numerous cars lined up at merchandise stores on the Sabbath day, and places of amusement crowded, and we wonder.
Numerous times have we quoted:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
“But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Ex. 20:8–11.)
But today numerous of the people of this land spend the Sabbath working, devoting the day to the beaches, to entertainment, to shows, to their weekly purchases. The Lord makes definite promises. He says:
“Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Lev. 26:4.)
God does what he promises, and many of us continue to defile the Sabbath day. He then continues:
“And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.” (Lev. 26:5.)
These promises are dependable. The Lord says further:
“And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
“I am the Lord your God … and I have broken the bands of your yoke.” (Lev. 26:12–13.)
The Lord reverses now and warns:
“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
“And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but … break my covenant:
“I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
“And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. …
“And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
“And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” (Lev. 26:14–17, 19–20.)
The Lord goes further and says:
“I will … destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.” (Lev. 26:22.)
Can you think how the highways could be made desolate? When fuel and power are limited, when there is none to use, when men will walk instead of ride?
Have you ever thought, my good folks, that the matter of peace is in the hands of the Lord who says:
“And I will bring a sword upon you. …” (Lev. 26:25).
Would that be difficult? Do you read the papers? Are you acquainted with the hatreds in the world? What guarantee have you for permanent peace?
“… and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.” (Lev. 26:25.)
Are there enemies who could and would afflict us? Have you thought of that?
“And I will make your cities waste,” he says, “and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation. …
“Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
“As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest [when it could] in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.” (Lev. 26:31, 34–35.)
Those are difficult and very serious situations, but they are possible.
And the Lord concludes:
“These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.” (Lev. 26:46.)
This applies to you and me.
Would this be a good time to deeply concern ourselves with these matters? Is this a time when we should return to our homes, our families, our children? Is this the time we should remember our tithes and our offerings, a time when we should desist from our abortions, our divorces, our Sabbath breaking, our eagerness to make the holy day a holiday?
Is this a time to repent of our sins, our immoralities, our doctrines of devils?
Is this a time for all of us to make holy our marriages, live in joy and happiness, rear our families in righteousness?
Certainly many of us know better than we do. Is this a time to terminate adultery and homosexual and lesbian activities, and return to faith and worthiness? Is this a time to end our heedless pornographies?
Is this the time to set our face firmly against unholy and profane things, and whoredoms, irregularities, and related matters?
Is the time to enter new life? As the clear-thinking apostle Paul said:
“Mortify therefore your members … fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
“For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” (Col. 3:5–6.)
Would this be a good time to eliminate “the works of the flesh … ; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like,” remembering that “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”? (Gal. 5:19–21.)
The Lord asks, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46.)
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21; italics added.)
The temple work for the Church is going forward. We are proud of the service rendered, attendance at the temple; but is not total service required? It was brought out in our meeting the other day that to go to the temple is not sufficient; we must get many, many names of people so that we can carry on the work for them.
We now have sixteen temples, with four others under contemplation. But have you thought of the other work that can be done nearby and far away? One does not need to live in the temple district very close to carry on this work. Great quantities of genealogical data and family records can be produced and made available for the work which can be done later when temples are available. Perhaps this is preeminent.
So we urge all our multitudes of people to write their personal records and biographies and their genealogies and all be prepared for the days when the temples are made available and can be used by all. This is a program long followed by members of this Church, but today there are numerous friends—Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and others—who are filling our genealogical rooms with their preparation of their family lines.
We are told that microfilming in Rhodesia is being permitted. Cameras are also filming in South Africa and in many other nations throughout the world.
Next week we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the St. George Temple, the first in the West.
The Roots phenomenon has had an amazing impact on the people of this country, and more and more people are concerned with the genealogical program. Numerous genealogical libraries throughout the Church in the world are serving and making records available for patrons as the momentum of children’s hearts turning to their fathers builds up, as suggested by Malachi. The news media, national and international, are all making inquiries. Film crews are working. Millions of Americans have been reached by these articles, and this helps explain to them the theological basis for our emphasis on the family.
This is a firm and positive and important element of our religious teaching.
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.” (Mal. 3:1.)
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4:5–6.)
That’s an ominous, portentous thing.
With a century of intensive work in genealogy and records, there has been a great accumulation of records of life, birth, death; and today there are millions of people in eternity, many of them who have lived on the earth at a time when records were not kept, and the work was not done, and temples were not erected, and prophets did not exist.
“And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, all the words which the Lord hath said will we do.
“And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” (Ex. 24:3, 7.)
May I mention again our program on home gardens. From all over the globe come notes from members who participate in the production projects. Here is a picture of several little boys and their father with a wheelbarrow full of cabbages, tomatoes, beans, melons, and all kinds of produce.
There was Sonja’s garden in the heart of São Paulo, a great metropolis. Others say: “This a way of making lasting relationships of friends and neighbors.”
“Our gardens are a matter of discussion in private, in socials at home. It has brought our families together,” they say.
One home teacher reports: “Of the five families whom I visit, all have home gardens, and it makes me very proud. I find them anxious now to plant for another year.”
Brothers and sisters, this is the work of the Lord. We deal with many things which are thought to be not so spiritual; but all things are spiritual with the Lord, and he expects us to listen, and to obey, and to follow the commandments. And I beg of you—all of us—that we live the commandments of the Lord which are brought forth in these conferences from time to time by the various Brethren. And I bear testimony to the divinity of it all, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.