Nothing Shall Be Withheld
Elder Merrill J. Bateman
Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional
May 22, 2007
In a dank, dark dungeon during one of Joseph Smith’s bleakest hours, the Prophet pleaded with the Lord to make Himself known and to remember His suffering saints. Listen to Joseph’s pleadings: “O God, where art thou? . . . How long shall thy hand be stayed, . . . behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people? . . . Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, . . . O Lord God Almighty, . . . stretch forth thy hand; . . . Remember thy suffering saints.” (D&C 121:1-6.)
In response to Joseph’s prayer came one of the most remarkable revelations of this dispensation, the 121st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. First, Joseph was told that his adversity and afflictions would be “but a small moment” (D&C 121:7). He was assured that those who wreaked vengeance on the saints would receive their just dues.
All Knowledge to be Revealed
And then the Lord told Joseph that great knowledge was about to be revealed to the earth through the power of the Holy Ghost. The scripture states: “God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit . . . that has not been revealed since the world was until now” (D&C 121:26). The Lord went on to say that it would be “A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, . . . All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed . . . And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, . . . and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 121:28-31).
The Lord makes clear that in the last days, the dispensation of the fulness of times, all things will be revealed. (See D&C 101:23-34.) All knowledge includes the laws that govern the earth as well as those which are spiritual in nature. The Apostle Paul prophesied 1800 years earlier “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times” the Lord will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).
One might interpret “all things in Christ” to refer only to spiritual laws, but it is more since the great Jehovah made “all things” (John 1:3). The Apostle Peter also spoke of a period of “refreshing” coincident with a “restitution of all things” which would precede the Second Coming of the Lord (Acts 3:19, 21). It is true that we understand these apostolic prophecies to refer to the Restoration of the gospel in the last days. But the Lord’s statement to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail indicates that more than spiritual truths will be revealed. He states that knowledge pertaining not only to the heavens, but also to the seas, the earth, thrones, dominions, etc. will be made known.
On an earlier occasion, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph that “all things . . . are spiritual” (D&C 29:34). All laws and knowledge have a spiritual purpose. For this reason the Lord has instructed us to become educated in temporal as well as spiritual things.
Doctrine and Covenants section 88 states that we should “be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things . . . that are expedient for [us] to understand;
“Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things . . . at home, things . . . abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations.” (D&C 88:78-79.)
From this section one understands that secular knowledge is also important to us and the Lord tells us why: “That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you . . . to magnify [your] calling” (D&C 88:80).
Church educational institutions have a dual purpose: to provide both a temporal and a spiritual education. Temporally, BYU-Idaho prepares you to provide for yourself and your family. It prepares you to make a contribution to the communities in which you live. Spiritually, it educates you in the laws of the Kingdom so that you can contribute to the establishment of the Church. Ultimately, of course, the purpose of this educational opportunity is to bring you to Christ.
The Pattern for Revealing Spiritual Truths
As Latter-day Saints, we understand the pattern by which a new dispensation is initiated and spiritual truths are revealed. It begins with the Lord calling a prophet, angels are then sent to instruct him (see Moroni 7:29-32). Others are called to assist. The priesthood is transmitted to them with its keys and powers. Through the priesthood, the Gift of the Holy Ghost is given as a personal guide and to establish the Church. A book is often provided which contains the fulness of the gospel and serves as a witness of the Lord and His work (see Exodus 24:12, Ezekiel 2:9-10, 1 Nephi 1:11). The calling of Joseph Smith was not the first to follow this pattern. The callings of Moses, Ezekiel, Lehi, and, undoubtedly other prophets followed these steps. Even John the Revelator’s commission to write the history of the earth and its dispensations included an appearance from the Lord, an angel to guide him, and a book (see Revelations 1, 5:1-2).
The Source of Temporal Knowledge
Now, what about temporal knowledge? How is it revealed and to whom? It is clear that secular inventions and innovations generally do not come through prophets. Their mission is special as they focus on spiritual things. However, secular knowledge has the same source as does spiritual truths. God is omniscient and the source of all truth. The Savior said, “I am the way, the truth, and the light” (John 14:6). The Light of Christ is given to every man and woman and anyone who responds to the Light may be a conduit for secular knowledge. I enjoy Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s description of God’s omniscience:
God, who knows the beginning from the end, knows, therefore, all that is in between. . . .
Below the scripture that declares that God knows “all things” there is no footnote reading “except that God is a little weak in geophysics”! We do not worship a God who simply forecasts a generally greater frequency of earthquakes in the last days before the second coming of His Son; He knows precisely when and where all these will occur. God has even prophesied that the Mount of Olives will cleave in twain at a precise latter-day time as Israel is besieged. (Zechariah 14:4.)
There are no qualifiers, only flat and absolute assertions of the omniscience of God.1
The Burst of Secular Knowledge Coincident with The Restoration
It is apparent that secular knowledge has flowered since the time of Joseph Smith, that the Lord has been flooding the earth with temporal knowledge as well as spiritual. Let me illustrate the explosion of temporal knowledge with two statements, the first from Stephen E. Ambrose’s book, Undaunted Courage, and the second William J. Bernstein’s The Birth of Plenty. Speaking of the early 1800s, Ambrose wrote:
A critical fact in the world of 1801 was that nothing moved faster than the speed of a horse. No human being, no manufactured item, no bushel of wheat, no side of beef, no letter, no information, no idea, order or instruction of any kind moved faster. Nothing had moved faster, and, as far as Jefferson’s contemporaries were able to tell, nothing ever would.2
The horse had been the mainstay of land transportation since the dawn of history. As far as anyone knew in the early 1800s, it would remain that way. It took Thomas Jefferson ten days to travel from Monticello to Philadelphia. In less than 50 years, with the advent of the steam locomotive, the trip was cut to one day. The invention of the telegraph in 1837 brought instantaneous communication across the globe that abruptly altered the political, social and economic affairs of nations. And these inventions were just the beginning.3
In describing the dramatic changes that occurred in the first half of the 19th century, William Bernstein writes:
When we look at the [facts], it becomes crystal clear that something happened … in the early nineteenth century. Before then, the rate of improvement in the lot of mankind was small and stuttering, and after, substantial and steady … Until approximately 1820, per capita world economic growth – the single best way of measuring human material progress – registered near zero … Then, not long after 1820, prosperity began flowing in an ever-increasing torrent; with each successive generation, the life of the son became observably more comfortable, informed, and predictable than that of the father.4
The pattern of world economic wellbeing described by Bernstein is illustrated in a graph developed by a Scottish economist, Angus Maddison. Maddison graduated from Cambridge University in 1948 and, for the next 30 years, served as an economist for one of the world’s largest international aid organizations. During this time he became fascinated with the problems of the developing world and the differences in wealth between rich and poor nations. In 1978 he accepted a professorship at a Dutch university and for the next 20 years developed a model of world economic growth for the last 2000 years. The results were both stunning and unexpected.
As the graph illustrates, the economic wellbeing of the average individual, measured as real per capita output or income, “did not change at all during the first millennium after the birth of Christ. Over the next 800 years, between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1800, things did not get much better.”5 There were few innovations and the improvement prior to 1800 was marginal.
The real progress begins in 1820 when the graph suddenly turns upward and begins a long steady climb to unprecedented heights. Maddison indicates that the exact timing of the turn is somewhat arbitrary. American data suggests that it may have been a few years before 1820 while British data suggests a date as late as 1830. Regardless, it is clear that sometime during the first half of the nineteenth century, world economic growth took off and continued upward despite wars, famines, and social strife.6
Bernstein describes Maddison’s findings with the following words: “Beginning around 1820, the pace of economic advance picked up noticeably, making the world a better place to live in. What happened? An explosion in technological innovation the likes of which had never before been seen.”7
The Foundations for The Explosion of Secular Knowledge in The 1800s
What caused the sudden change in economic wellbeing? It was an explosion in technological innovation unlike anything the world had seen. It was an explosion of ideas and knowledge in an environment that allowed the innovations to take hold. During the period of the enlightenment, and even before, the Lord prepared the earth not only for the return of the gospel, but the reception and dispersion of secular knowledge that had never before been revealed (see D&C 121:26, 28-29). Four environmental foundations necessary for the use of the technological innovations were put in place during the centuries prior to 1820. They included laws that secured property rights, safe havens for scientific rationalism, efficient capital markets, and the bases for improved transportation and communications.8
Prior to the 1700s there were very few technological discoveries. The major innovations were the three-crop rotational system, the horseshoe and horse collar, the water mill, the windmill, the four-wheeled cart and the printing press. The first economically viable steam engine came into existence in the late 1700s. The steam engine was important because it provided the foundation for the nineteenth century to escape from the limitations of animal muscle, wind, and water. It provided the power that led to modern manufacturing and the steamship and railroad. The barriers to the use of electricity for communication were finally overcome in the early part of the nineteenth century. Thus the foundations were laid for the explosion of knowledge that began with the openings of the heavens in 1820.
The Explosion of Secular Knowledge—Post 1820
One could make a long list of the scientific discoveries that followed 1820. These discoveries brought more change in the lives of people between 1825 and 1875 than at any other time in history. Railroads and steamships brought swift and reliable travel for the first time. Roads were macadamized which tied nations and continents together. Factories were mechanized into highly productive units. The telegraph brought instantaneous global communications. The instantaneous flow of information eliminated great inefficiencies in world markets and increased productivity. Cars, telephones, airplanes and computers followed. Advances in medicine improved health and extended life. Eventually, rockets became a reliable means of extraterrestrial transportation for human beings and satellites.
For a few moments, I will examine some of the key innovations of the last 50 years and their implications for the spread of the gospel. In doing so, I appreciate being able to use some materials developed by Brother Gerrit Gong of BYU and Clint Melander at Church headquarters.
The first innovation is the satellite. The Russians launched the first satellite into orbit on Friday, October 4, 1957, the first day of October general conference that year. The United States followed in 1958. To date, eight countries have independently launched satellites into orbit on indigenously developed launch vehicles. In addition to Russia and the U.S., other countries include France, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, India and Israel.
The Church began using satellites for communications 25 years ago. Today, the Church leases transponders on six satellites that provide downlinks to more than 2,900 stakes, districts and missions around the globe. The satellite coverage allows 87 percent of Church membership to receive a signal. It will not be long before the other 13 percent are also within range. Satellites have allowed the Church to develop a global communications network that is extraordinarily important for a worldwide Church. This allows members to receive general conference and Church leaders to communicate with other leaders across the globe.
Last week, Elder Scott and I held a videoconference with the Area Presidency in West Africa regarding missionary work, the strengthening of stakes and temple worship. This coming Sunday, President Monson, Elder Holland, Sister Lant and I will be part of a satellite stake conference broadcast for all of the stakes in Samoa and Tahiti. Satellites have become an important medium for communicating with the members of the Church.
The Internet is a network of networks created from computers and cables that stretches across the globe. It delivers packets of information anywhere in the world, generally well under a second. It began in 1969 when communications were established between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute. In 1990, CSNET came into being which linked universities in North America and then Europe. In 1995, popular interest exploded as the U.S. Government transferred control of the Internet to independent organizations.
In 1991, British computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, created the World Wide Web and posted the first Web site on August 6. 1991. The World Wide Web consists of the documents, sounds, videos and collections of data that ride on the Internet. Access to the Internet is highest in Japan at approximately 90 percent. North America is second at 70 percent. Penetration in Australia and Oceania is 54 percent and Europe follows with 39 percent. Asian penetration is eleven percent. The dominant language, of course, is global English.
The vast majority of searches regarding the Church are under the term “Mormon” rather than under the official Church name (about 23 million hits per day). The majority of the hits are sympathetic in nature i.e., most hits represent a positive interest in the Church. Still, there is a significant interest and number of hits directed to negative or even antagonistic information.
The Internet is a missionary tool. Many individuals use the net to find out information on the Church. Often, after the first meeting with the missionaries, investigators will go to the Internet to learn more. The Internet is also a key source of communications not only for the general populace but also for the Church. E-mail is a key method of communicating with leaders across the earth. The Internet is also a source for receiving general conference and other broadcasts.
In today’s world, one cannot talk about innovation without mentioning the iPod. Some call the iPod the first consumer icon of the 21st century. When you see a young person with earbud headphones, chances are they are listening to one. The iPod and other MP3 players are handheld digital storage devices that come in different sizes and are generally used for music. The smallest, the iPod Shuffle, holds 120 songs. Video iPods with 60 GB of memory can hold up to three general conferences.
Ipods are becoming more and more useful. They are used not only for listening to music, but educational materials may be stored on them. They can be used to study a foreign language or listen to general conference. Brothers and sisters, do not waste time with long periods of listening to the world’s music. Rather, use the devices in productive ways to increase your understanding of the world and the Lord’s work.
The next chart illustrates the pervasiveness of electronic equipment. According to a recent Business Week magazine article, “human beings produced more transistors than they did grains of rice” in 2005.9 Those transistors powered 2 billion cell phones, 1.5 billion televisions, 820 million personal computers, 190 million Game Boys, 70 million iPods, 50 million PDAs and 3.2 million BlackBerrys.
Given Geoffrey Moore’s law that the power of semiconductor chips will double roughly every 18 to 24 months, electronic devices will become even smaller, less expensive and more capable. Access to information will become more personal, available anytime, and anywhere.
Not only are electronic devices proliferating, but there is also a convergence. Last year, mobile phone manufacturers shipped 850 million phones to global customers. The current cost for a regular unit is about $30. The industry goal is to reduce that cost to $20 in the near future.
The first mobile phone produced by Motorola, nicknamed “The Brick” weighed 2 pounds and cost $3,995. It was nothing more than a wireless phone. The new Apple iPhone weighs 4.8 ounces and offers voice, multimedia, and Internet on a touch screen. It will cost between $400 and $600 depending on storage capacity.
Moore’s law fuels the technology convergence that is taking place. As the picture illustrates, devices conveying video, voice, data, and multi-media are converging to a personal, portable, affordable handheld device that almost everyone, everywhere will own or be able to access.
Can you think of Church uses for such a device? It will be useful for missionary work, family history searches, communications, education, and many other needs. I also know that Satan—who has already found many uses for the various devices—will continue to tempt people with material that he places on the new ones.
Now, may we return to the beginning. In a dank, dark dungeon called Liberty Jail, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that He would unleash “knowledge by [the] holy spirit . . . that has not been revealed since the world was even until now” (D&C 121:25).
Moreover, the knowledge would not only pertain to the spiritual realm but also include knowledge pertaining to the earth (see D&C 121:25, 29-31). From the time of Christ until 1820, Angus Maddison’s data supports the notion that the heavens were almost sealed during the dark ages. Finally, a small stream of light began to emerge between 1500 and 1800. And then Maddison says something happened. The switch was turned on and a flood of knowledge pierced men’s minds beginning about 1820.
Brothers and sisters, you are living the miracle, the promise made by the Lord to His prophet 170 years ago. It is interesting that the world is just beginning to understand what has happened, but still does not perceive the Source. The technological inventions and discoveries of the last 170 years are a clear witness that our Father in Heaven and His Son deliver on Their promises. They control the universe. They know the pace and the extent of the discoveries needed for the gospel to reach every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
I testify to you that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that President Gordon B. Hinckley has all of the priesthood keys necessary to save and exalt you and me. I testify that the Savior performed the Atonement so that our shortcomings will not limit us if we exercise faith in Him, repent, and partake of the ordinances and covenants associated with His work. Finally, the Lord is the Source of all truth including the marvelous scientific discoveries and inventions that have improved mankind’s lot during the last 200 years. May our testimonies of Him deepen and may we enjoy the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1 Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 7; emphasis in original.
2 Stephen E. Ambrose, Undaunted Courage, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), 52.
3 William J. Bernstein, The Birth of Plenty, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004), 2.
4 Ibid. 3-4.
5 Ibid. 18-19.
6 Ibid. 19.
7 Ibid. 15.
8 Ibid. Chapters 2-5.
9 Business Week, June, 2006, 27.
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