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Ancient Testaments: Work that Moses performed continues today

The Master misses no detail in the flow of history. He sees the causes in the tributaries and the effects in the rivers. His eye is upon every sorrow or loss in the salty oceans of outcome.

But he is far more than historian. With untiring love, surpassing wisdom and strong hand he will override the manmade errors, sweep away the terrors and wipe away the tears. The ocean will be healed.

All this he will do — and even now is doing — with long patience. His hand sometimes moves too slowly for our restless eyes. Skeptics come and go while his purposes take generations to unfold.

At a time of apparent setback in Joseph Smith's labors, the Lord said, "The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught."

Works, designs, purposes. The "works" of the Master are not impulsive. They are guided by plans — his own plans, his "designs." Those designs, in turn, are not just interesting mental adventures. They grow out of great objectives — his own objectives, his "purposes."

To really understand the works of his strong hands, we would need to understand the designs of his godly mind. And to grasp the designs that dictate his works, we would have to comprehend the purposes of his fatherly heart.

In a burst of light that came through Moses, those divine purposes were summarized as "the immortality and eternal life of man." At first glance, that seems simple enough. But God's "wonderfully and fearfully made" offspring are enormous and complex. The immortalizing and glorifying of man cannot be achieved by small designs or easy works.

Shining like a diamond amid his purposes is family. Families eternal and perfected, of course. But also, each family tied to other families in a harmonious, celestial chain.

To hint at how slowly and carefully this family purpose is fulfilled, the Lord once said, "I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive-tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay."

Trees will do that. Even the rare species capable of living for centuries can decline in a few years if deprived of light, or if subjected to damage, pests or disease.

The decaying tree was the family called Israel — not only the immediate family that gathered around Jacob before his passing, but the extended family that is still growing by millions and billions today.

Israel was the family with an international job, the calling to bless all families in all nations.

When that redemptive, mission-laden family was only a few centuries old, still dwelling in Northern Egypt, its long tenure on earth just beginning, it began to fail. The saving influence of Joseph and his father, Jacob, was already forgotten by Egypt and her Pharaohs. But far worse, the mission was being forgotten. The faith of Joseph and Jacob was being lost by the people of Israel themselves.

Decaying trees can sometimes be saved. If not too late in the stages of decay, if the right "arborist" — some wise and patient tree surgeon — comes to the rescue, and if certain measures are carefully and precisely taken, a dying tree can have a new chance at life.

So it was that Moses was called in those days to rescue the old tree, to reverse centuries of neglect and damage. That labor continues. It will succeed, for "the works, the designs and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated."

(References: D&C 3:1; 110:11; Revelation 21:14; Moses 1:39; Psalm 139:14; Jacob 5:3)

Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to Holy Land and Mormon history sites.