Lesson 46

 

A Stone Cut Out

 

 

6 April 1830

1880

1930

1980

1995

2000

Members of the Church

6

133,628

670,017

4,639,822

9,340,898

Over 11,000,000

Languages with published editions of the Book of Mormon

1

10

16

44

88
(39 full and 49 partial translations)

100
(61 full and 39 partial translations)

Stakes

0

23

104

1,218

2,150

2,581

Missions

0

10

30

188

307

334

Temples in operation

0

1

7

19

 

 

End 2005

Total membership 12,207,000

Stakes 2,652

Missions 338

72 plus 32

 

Nebuchadnezzar represented the king of kings, a world power, representing the head of gold.

Another kingdom would arise and take over world dominion.

The interpretation included the domination of other kingdoms. Cyrus the great, with his Medes and Persians, would be replaced by the Greek or Macedonian kingdom under Philip and Alexander; and that world power would be replaced by the Roman Empire; and Rome would be replaced by a group of nations of Europe represented by the toes of the image.

 

 

You may want to list the following prophecies on the chalkboard. Daniel prophesied that the Church would:

a.  Be “cut out without hands” (Daniel 2:34).

b.  Become “a great mountain, and [fill] the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).

c.  “Never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44).

d.  “Not be left [given] to other people” (Daniel 2:44).

e.  “Consume all [other] kingdoms” (Daniel 2:44).

f.  “Stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

•     What did it mean that the stone would be “cut out without hands”? (See Daniel 2:34. It would not be man-made.) How is the restored Church of Jesus Christ like a stone cut out without hands?

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said: “Our Lord and Savior stands at the head of this church and directs it through his servants. This is the Lord’s church; it is not a church of men” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 5).

With the history of the world delineated in brief, now came the real revelation. Daniel said:

“And in the days of these kings [that is, the group of European nations] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

And it was in the days of these kings that power would not be given to men, but the God of heaven would set up a kingdom — the kingdom of God upon the earth, which should never be destroyed nor left to other people.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored in 1830 after numerous revelations from the divine source; and this is the kingdom, set up by the God of heaven, that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would fill the whole earth. [5]

An Image in the Likeness of the World

The kingdom of the living Christ is the stone that will fill the earth. The great image represents the kingdoms, powers, and institutions of this world — all that we call “Babylon” — that compete with the Lord’s kingdom. This idol is “the image in the likeness of the world” that is worshiped by so many:

They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith. [6]

The Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the answer to the great “calamity” that has fallen on us, which is the obsession with worldly success that plagues us. Too many of us have consecrated ourselves to building up the wrong kingdom in the “image of our own gods.”

With regard to this devotion of many to this “image in the likeness of the world,” President Kimball said:

I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. Do we have more of these good things than our faith can stand? Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life.

Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God — to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, “Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.” [Morm. 8:39.] [7]

We must not forget that the Lord will ultimately destroy this world system of Babylon, and we may be destroyed with it if we are worshipers of our own self-image as Nebuchadnezzar was. On the other hand, if we follow the Savior, we will do his work — dedicating ourselves and our resources to the saving work of missions and the temple and service to the hungry, the needy, and the afflicted. We will be building up His kingdom, which shall never be destroyed. The Lord said to Joseph Smith:

The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth. [8]

386I worked in a movie theater when I went to high school. I can still remember clearly one movie that came to town. Some of you have probably seen this now on video. It was called The Moon Is Blue with William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. I can still remember that movie because it made headlines before it got to the little theater where I worked. This was the raciest movie that had yet been put out by Hollywood, according to some. There were two lines that got it that kind of ranking. The first was when William Holden was sitting on the couch with Audrey Hepburn and he leaned over and was kind of nuzzling her ear. All of a sudden, she pulled back—she was kind of an innocent young thing—and she said, “Are you trying to seduce me?” I can still remember, as an usher in that theater, hearing an audible gasp from the audience.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other shocking line? She said, “I think I’m pregnant.” That was the first time the word pregnant had been used openly in a movie.

 

386That is why I say I think it was the idyllic fifties. As someone once said, “We’ve come a long way, baby,” since then.

386 – 387 Just for curiosity I went back and did a little checking. In 1957 the Church had a membership of 1.5 million. It had been just ten years prior to that when we crossed the one million mark for the first time. There were 251 stakes in 1957. Since then we have added more than 2,000 new stakes. There were 2,500 missionaries set apart in 1957. At the time of this book’s release, there are 30,000 missionaries set apart each year worldwide, and currently there are about 60,000missionaries serving worldwide. I can also remember that we were electrified when the fourth temple in a three-year period was announced in the Church News. We had seen the Swiss, the Los Angeles, the New Zealand, and finally the London temples announced. The headlines then talked about the “new era” of temple building. Now, in April 1999 President Hinckley announced plans for the Church’s one hundredth temple, the Nauvoo Temple. More have been announced since then.

Some ten years ago I was privileged to be in a Church Educational System meeting where Elder Richard G. Scott spoke. It was a thrilling experience. He said not once but three different times, speaking of areas such as Russia, China, and India: “We are no longer talking about if the doors will open. We are not even any longer talking about when the doors to those countries will open. They are open now. The only question is how do we enter?” Just look at what has happened in the last ten years since Elder Scott spoke. The Berlin Wall has fallen, governments of the Eastern Bloc countries have been reorganized, and missionaries have entered the former Soviet Union. And we are seeing doors open to the Church in such places as India, Vietnam, and China.

388I do not know specifically what the next thirty years are going to bring, but we know in broad terms what the future holds. From the scriptures I can tell you some of the things the young students you are teaching can look for in the future. They can look for Adam-ondi-Ahman and Armageddon (see Dan. 7:9-10, 21-22; D&C 116; Rev. 16:16). They can look for the time when the Dead Sea becomes a living sea (see Ezek. 47:1-12). They will see worldwide war and, some time in the future, millennial peace (see D&C 87:1-2; 101:26). The scriptures promise that our children will see Babylon seeming to reign supreme, and someday they will also see Babylon supplanted (see D&C 1:35; Rev. 18). The world has seen and will see the ten tribes return (see D&C 133:26-32). We shall someday see the Zion of Enoch come down from heaven and fall upon the necks of the Zion of Joseph and Brigham and Spencer and Ezra (see D&C 84:100). We will see a temple in Jerusalem and a temple in Jackson County (see D&C 124:36; 84:3). I am not saying these things will happen in the next thirty years, but we know that they are things that are coming, things that we are to prepare for, things we are to prepare our students for.

388One of the things your students have to look forward to was described by Lorenzo Snow. Every time I read this, I long to live to see those times. Speaking to a group of temple workers, President Lorenzo Snow said, “Many of you will be living in Jackson county and there you will be assisting in building the Temple; and if you will not have seen the Lord Jesus at that time you may expect Him very soon, to see Him, to eat and drink with Him, to shake hands with Him and to invite Him to your houses as He was invited when He was here before.” 1 Can you imagine that, sisters, to someday have your husband come home and say that the Savior will be coming to dinner? Remember the poem that asked what we would do if Jesus came to our house. Would we run around putting the unacceptable magazines under the table? Dust where it has not been dusted? Pull out the Bible? Well, according to President Snow, having Jesus visit in the home may be a very real possibility for some of the young people we will be teaching either now or in the future.

388In the book of Daniel is the scripture from which I take my title for this chapter. In Dan. 2, we read that Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and none of his wise men could interpret it. He sentenced them to death. Daniel stepped forward and under inspiration gave him the interpretation. I would like to read four verses starting in verse 34.

388 – 389 Daniel said, “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.” And then in verse 35 he said, “And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” And then as he gives the interpretation, in verse 44, it continues: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” Finally in verse 45, he again points out that the stone is cut out “without hands.”

389As we look at those scriptures, there are five elements that the Lord seems to stress: That the stone is cut out. That it is done so without hands—that is, it is not a mere human endeavor. That it eventually fills the earth. That it will break and consume all other kingdoms as it rolls forth. That it will stand forever.

Choices

This is from the Rochester Advertiser and Telegraph, 31 August 1829: “The Book of Mormon has been placed in our hands. [This was written 31 August 1829. It is an interesting claim since the Book of Mormon was not published until March of 1830.] A viler imposition was never practiced. It is an evidence of fraud, blasphemy, and credulity, shocking both to christians and moralists. The author and proprietor is Joseph Smith, Jr., a fellow who by some hocus pocus acquired such influence over a wealthy farmer . . . that he later mortgaged his farm for $3,000 . . . for [the] printing and binding of 5000 copies.”

394This one is from a paper called The Gem, dated 15 May 1830. This is a great example to build your confidence in the unerring accuracy of mass media: “An ignoramus near Palmyra, Wayne County, ‘found’ some ‘Gold Plates’ as he is pleased to call them.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. . . The book comes before the public under the general title of the ‘Book of Mormon’ arranged under different hands, something as follows, the Book of Mormon—containing the books of Nephi, Nimski, Pukei, and Buckeye—and contains some four or five hundred pages.”

 

What an interesting contrast of choices. Two journalists, supposed objective reporters, who choose to react to the Book of Mormon in one way, and a young girl who made a very different choice. This is the same girl—if we wish to talk about the influence of choices on young people, this is a great example—who with her family was driven from Independence when it was winter time. The Mormons got to the Missouri River and ferried across. The mobs were behind them and the threat to their lives was very real. Some of the families had no money to pay to cross the river. This put them in a very precarious position. I would like to read again from the life and testimony of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner about what then happened:

395″While we were camped on the banks of the Missouri River waiting to be ferried over, they found there was not money enough to take all over. One or two families must be left behind, and the fear was that if left, they would be killed. So, some of the brethren by the name of Higbee thought they would try and catch some fish, perhaps the ferryman would take them, they put out their lines in the evening; it rained all night and most of the next day, when they took in their lines they found two or three small fish, and a catfish that weighed 14 pounds. On opening it, what was their astonishment to find three bright silver half dollars, just the amount needed to pay for taking their team over the river. This was considered a miracle, and caused great rejoicing among us.” 5

Catherine Spencer