The Word of Wisdom and the Mountain of the Lord’s House
Reprinted from Thought for Food, Word of Wisdom Selections; compiled by Merva Bird and Karen Powell.
Several years ago my brother and I ventured into the vast desert wastes of the Chocolate Mountains, east of the Imperial Valley in California. Although we took every precaution to keep our landmarks straight, we became lost. Realizing our danger we scanned the desert with deep concern. A mountain peak, like Isaiah’s mountain of the Lord’s house (Isaiah 2:2), rose above all the other peaks. We set out to climb this mountain. As we reached the summit, the clear desert air gave distance to our vision. To the north and west on the distant horizon, the snow-capped peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains were shining in the light of the descending sun. Our concern and our doubts departed. We saw in what direction our salvation lay.
Months after this experience, while sitting in a reunion prayer service, I was lifted up until I reached the peak of another mountain, the spiritual peak of that prayer service. There in the clear atmosphere of those spiritual heights I saw in what direction my salvation lay, for I saw another great mountain—the mountain of the Lord’s House which Isaiah said would be established in the tops of the mountains and be exalted above the hills in the latter days.
As I looked I saw the city of the Lamb of God. The towers of her righteousness were gleaming in the sunlight of eternal truth. The pearly gates of her purity were sparkling in the light of the Son of God. I perceived that no man could scale all the heights that shut us away from that city if he were not willing to observe the Word of Wisdom and purify himself before His God. No man could climb these mountains who was not willing to keep the Financial Law. There were other spiritual heights to scale before the church could reach the Zionic city.
I perceived that for every law this people will observe to keep, for every height that they ascend, there shall come releases of Divine Power. Upon the highest height, Jesus Christ and the ministering angels of His presence are waiting to endow this people with such power as few have ever experienced. Then, it seemed my soul was set on fire even as I perceived that it lay within the power of this people to arise in the strength of their manhood and their womanhood and to move forward, keeping commandment upon commandment, ascending height upon height, making improvement upon improvement, rising mountain peak above mountain peak, even until they shall come to the tips of the mountains and unto the gates of that city “which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.”
Long after this vivid experience, I wondered about the first height being the Word of Wisdom. Like the average Latter Day Saint, I interpreted it more or less according to my own likes and dislikes; but the word given to me while I was on the mountain height lingered on: “No man can scale all the heights that shut us away from that city who is not willing to observe the Word of Wisdom and purify himself before His God.”
I determined, allegorically speaking, to walk all the way around this mountain. Perhaps like an earthly mountain that can sometimes be climbed from one side but not from another, I might see it differently from another angle.
I set out. A new side of the mountain became visible. I drew close. Written on the cliffs were these words, “I have warned you and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation” (D&C 86:1). “Warned and forewarned” —better be careful, I thought; this warning came from the Lord himself. “Word of Wisdom” —there flashed through my mind the words of Daniel concerning the last days, “and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.” “By revelation.” Yes, given by revelation. Why, that is the rock upon which Christ told Peter he would build his Church. No chance to get around this. I will move on.
Another angle of the mountain became visible. Written plainly on the cliff, I read these words, “Not by commandment or constraint.” In soliloquy, I mused “This word of wisdom is not a commandment but just kindly counsel and has no particular bearing upon the fundamentals.” I started to climb the mountain. Then I saw a sign—warning— “Blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel …” (2 Nephi 12:37). “Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings which I give unto you, ye become transgressors …” (D&C 81:1d).
Turning to retreat, I noticed another sign listing reasons why modern Israel was cast out of Missouri, “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received …” (D&C 83:8a). “In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me” (D&C 98:3c). “But verily I say unto you, that I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour, unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them. … And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet; and the earth is given unto the Saints, to possess it forever and ever” (D&C 100:2). “Behold, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with many who are in the church at Kirtland, for they do not forsake their sins … and all their detestable things, and observe the words of wisdom and eternal life which I have given them” (D&C 95:4).
Pointed and plain language, this. There flashed through my mind a picture of the wreckage of the Church in 1844 and then the words on the sign, “And by hearkening to observe all the words.” Yes, by doing this the Church of the future will prevail until the earth is given unto the Saints to possess it forever.
I moved on. A new angle became visible, “Word of Wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God.” Very high on the cliff I read “… no man can come unto me, except he doeth the will of my Father who hath sent me” (John 6:65). I knew that in the tops of those spiritual mountains dwells “the most high”—no man can come unto Him—no man can climb those mountains “except he doeth the will.”
I continued to read, “… and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days; and the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion …” (D&C 64:7).
Next, I read, “Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people … and thus, if ye shall say unto this temple, It shall be rent in twain, it shall be done. And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done” (Helaman 3:118,121-122).
In awe I wondered what this man had done that God should grant him such power. Then I saw the answer, “Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; … and thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but have sought my will, and to keep my commandments” (Helaman 3:115-116).
I moved on. This time the heights were alive with all manner of animals and fowl and in bold relief, “All these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.” Drawing close, I read—warning— “To be used only in times of winter, cold, famine, or excess of hunger.” I liked a good steak. It wasn’t winter, but it was a little cold, and besides I had an “excess of hunger.” I started to climb the mountain. Then another sign—warning “… woe be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need” (D&C 49:3). Did I have any need to shed the blood of these creatures when there is a corner grocery in nearly every block well stocked with meat substitutes? I wondered. Then I noticed another sign, “And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:7). If the lion is going to have to change his diet to climb this mountain, can I get by without doing the same? Then I read further, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain …” (Isaiah 11:9). A vivid picture of a slaughterhouse I once had visited flashed before my mind. I could not get by here without hurting or destroying some of these creatures. Turning to go, I saw another sign—menu for both man or beast who would dwell in the mountain of the Lord’s house:
“And I, God, said unto man, Behold, I have given you every herb, bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth; and every tree in the which shall be the fruit of a tree, yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein I grant life, there shall be given every clean herb for meat; and it was so, even as I spake” (Genesis 1:31-32).
Continuing my journey around the mountain I saw a cross planted near the base. Wondering what it could mean, I drew close. On it were written these words, “If any man will come after me, [climb this mountain] let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments” (Matthew 16:25-26). … If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live unto Christ. … So then they that are after the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:13, 8).
“They that are after the flesh cannot please God.” Then I remembered D&C 86:2: “And it is pleasing unto me” —Dare I try to climb upwards toward the presence of the “Most High” if I fail to try to please Him on this question of the Word of Wisdom? Then high on the cliff I saw written these words, “And he that sent me is with me, the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29).
Journeying on, I saw a great cliff and written on it, “And again, hot drinks are not for the body or the belly.” It is a simple matter if my coffee or tea is too hot, to add sugar and cream to cool it. This is one place I can surely get by. I started to climb.
Suddenly there loomed up on my path a great boulder and written on it these words, “Hearken, ye elders of my church,” (That surely means me. I am an elder of his Church.) I read on, “Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power.” “Purge ye out the iniquity which is among you; sanctify yourselves before me …” (D&C 43:4, 3). There was a flash of light, followed by a great surge of the Spirit. Then and there I saw something I had never thought of before. Sanctify yourselves, yes, cleanse yourselves, purify yourselves. Then I remembered the words of Peter, “For the Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
Yes, holy means pure, unadulterated. These are the kind of men God endowed in the past. Can a man be clean and pure and his temple undefiled if it contains the poisons of nicotine, caffeine, or theine?
“Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed.” As I stepped back and looked upwards toward the heights I remembered the maxim of the ages. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Could I or dare I attempt to climb those heights drawing nearer to my God with each succeeding step, without purging myself from all uncleanliness? Verily I say unto you, ye are clean but not all; and there is none else with whom I am well pleased … (D&C 38:3).
I had circled the mountain. I was back to my starting point. As I stood musing over my experience the words of the promise came to me, “And all Saints who remember to keep and do these sayings … shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures …” (D&C 86:3c).
There was only one thing left for me to do—try keeping the Word of Wisdom. The results were quickly noticeable. The Spirit came oftener and lingered longer. In my study the Scriptures unfolded as they had never done before. Then one day as I was worshiping in a congregation of the Saints, I was once again lifted to the mountain top. I saw a highway extending downwards into the great valley of the world. The valley was covered with fogs of selfishness and darkened with the clouds of materialism. I perceived that this highway, even the church which has been set up in these latter days, was the only way that men could climb up out of this valley of that which they are to go up into the mountain of that which they might be.
But there were great boulders on the highway and some sections were not paved. Also there were mud-holes. Then these words came with a rush of the Spirit.
“Let now this people roll away the boulders of their transgressions from the highway to my kingdom—and I will cause this my gospel to roll forth even until the day shall come that it shall fill the whole earth—Let now this people pave my highway with righteousness and I will pave the way that Zion may be built and that she may spread herself and become very glorious—yea, and I will pave the way for the fulfillment of every promise made unto this people.”