I’d like to talk about what it means to hold fast to the Iron Rod. In Lehi’s vision and Nephi’s explanation we learn about those who would hold fast to the rod. 1 Nephi 8: 30, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree. These multitudes are different from the clinging multitudes described earlier.
I don’t know how big multitudes are, but it seems more than just a few people. However, at any given time, as Nephi learned in 1 Nephi 14:12 the numbers of the church of the Lamb are few. And though they are spread over all the face of the earth, their dominions are small. So it may be that during any given year the members of the church of the lamb are few, but multitudes are still holding fast to the rod, multitudes will press their way forward, and whether in this life or the next multitudes will partake of the fruit of the tree of life. So, members of the church of the lamb are few, but multitudes are pressing forward.
The multitudes caught hold of the rod of iron: Nephi tells us that the Rod of Iron is the word of God. And we believe the bible to be the word of God and we believe the book Mormon to be the word of God. But also, The Apostle John described Jesus Christ as the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Therefore, one of the names of Jesus Christ is “The Word.”
Elder Bednar suggests that holding fast to the word of God entails (1) remembering, honoring, and strengthening the personal conviction we have with the Savior and His Father through the covenants and ordinances of the restored Gospel and (2) prayerfully earnestly and consistently using the Holy Scriptures and the teaching of living prophets and apostles as sure sources of revealed truth. As we are bound and “hold fast” to the Lord we are transformed by living His doctrine.
The iron rod leads the multitudes to the fountain of living waters, to the tree of life, both of which are representations of the love of God. And when the multitudes arrive what do they do? They fall down at the tree and partake of the fruit. That is, they worship at the feet of the Messiah, Christ, and partake of his atonement. Everything is Christ. The Rod is Christ, the Tree is Christ, Christ is the living waters (John 4:10, 14). The analogy tells us to find Christ and continually hold fast to Christ. We can do this through obtaining and keeping our covenants.
How to fold fast?
We are a covenant people. As we continually hold fast to the rod by keeping our covenants, we will be strengthened to resist the temptations and perils of the world.
Continually holding fast to the rod means that we strive to keep all of God’s commandments, to have daily personal and family prayer, and to study the scriptures daily.
We exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, change our hearts, and then follow Him down into the waters of baptism and receive the confirming gift of the Holy Ghost, which serves as a guide and comforter. And then, as Nephi taught, we “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ” until the very end of our lives. (Elder Hamilton, Oct. 2013)
Entering into sacred covenants and worthily receiving priesthood ordinances yoke us with and bind us to the Lord Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. As we are steadfast in coming unto Christ and are yoked with Him, we receive the cleansing, healing, and strengthening blessings of His infinite and eternal Atonement.
Living covenant commitments creates a connection with the Lord that is deeply personal and spiritually powerful. As we honor the conditions of sacred covenants and ordinances, we gradually and incrementally are drawn closer to Him and experience the impact of His divinity and living reality in our lives. Jesus then becomes much more than the central character in scripture stories; His example and teachings influence our every desire, thought, and action. (Elder Bednar, Oct. 2022)
Following the advice of Bishop Greathouse, I would like to challenge us all to strengthen our covenants with Christ in 2 places and in so doing help the multitudes pressing forward: in the home and the HOUSE. In the home (through personal and family scripture and come follow me study and by ministering to those we serve in their homes) and the HOUSE (by getting to the house of the LORD to minister to those ancestors who have fallen at the feet of the savior and want so badly to partake of the fruit of his precious atonement yet need our help in making covenants with Him).
President Richardson taught that when we strengthen our covenants with Christ at the sacrament table, we take upon ourselves the name of “Thy Son”. While the Son of God was given the name Jesus, he was given the title Christ, from the Greek Christos means anointed one, which was translated from the Hebrew word for Messiah. Think of taking on yourselves not the name of Jesus, but the title of Christ or anointed one when you partake of the sacrament. Who among us has been anointed, meaning having oil placed symbolically on our heads? While Jesus is indeed the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, THE Messiah of Messiahs, we can all bear his name and his title by doing His work. And brothers and sisters, we are needed, for the numbers of the Church of the Lamb are few, but the multitudes keep pressing forward. We must Gather these multitudes, and minister to them.
When we act the way Christ would act, our charity compels us to serve one another. Our focus turns outward, from ourselves to our family, then to those whom we have been assigned to minister. The covenant we make to take upon ourselves the name of Christ moves us to action to visit the sick and afflicted, to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, to go and see His flock. This can start with a text but should move us to action to visit at the doorstep, to sit on the couches, to be there in the good times so that when the bad times come there isn’t any question about who can be trusted to minister. Let us be true disciples of Christ and minister in the home. And in doing so our own conversion will deepen.
Holding fast to Christ through making and keeping covenant will also move us to the HOUSE, specifically the HOUSE of the LORD.
Gathering our ancestors by acting as proxies for them on Mount Zion in the temple is another way to take upon ourselves the name and title of Christ. By increasing our temple attendance, from whatever it is now (never to weekly), we help to gather the multitudes. We all are like a vector in math, we have a direction, and we have a magnitude. I remain convinced that the Lord is far less concerned with our magnitude than our direction. But let us strive to bind our ancestors through covenants to Jesus Christ and in doing so our conversion will deepen.
So, if indeed there are multitudes pressing forward, holding fast to the Rod, but the numbers of the Church of the Lamb are few, we have work to do. Being God’s covenant people isn’t about securing your spot in Heaven. When God made the covenant with Abraham he told him, through your seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed. Now Sister Wilker will go bless nations, and we too should follow her example and bless the nations around us.
I pray that we might all hold fast, sharing the joy of the fruit of the Tree of Life by ministering in our neighbors’ homes and in the House of the Lord. in the name of Jesus Christ amen.