“Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men” (D&C 4:1).
Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants was a revelation given through Joseph Smith to his father in February of 1829. When we look at the events that unfold immediately after this revelation, we get a sense of the magnificence of this “marvelous work” the Lord prophesied would come forth. On May 15, 1829, John the Baptist confers the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Later that month, Peter, James, and John confer the Melchizedek Priesthood on these two men near the Susquehanna River. In June of 1829, the translation of the Book of Mormon is completed and the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses are shown the gold plates. On March 26, 1830 the first printed copies of the Book of Mormon are available. On April 6, 1830 the Church is organized in Fayette Township, New York. In the following months and years, the first missionaries are called to preach to the Lamanites, the site for the city of Zion is revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Presidency of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are organized, the Doctrine and Covenants are published, temples are built, overseas missions are served, temple ordinances are revealed and instituted, and the “marvelous work”—in its broad sense—skyrockets.
Truly, when the Lord proclaimed, “the field is white already to harvest,” that was not just beautiful prose. The world, the saints, and the Lord were primed, and the work unfolded so quickly and surely. Of course, the persecution was great, but nevertheless, the work never ceased to unfold, no matter the obstacles.
In a more narrow sense, when the Lord mentions “a marvelous work,” it refers to the Book of Mormon. In a little over a year after this revelation, the Book of Mormon—the account of the Lord’s people in the Americas, and another testament of the divinity of Jesus Christ—is published. It is the book that ushers in the restoration of the gospel, and brings it to God’s children in its fullness. I can only imagine the excitement stirring in the heavens when these records were finally to be released to the world. As I read Section 4, I feel an attitude of optimism and all-encompassing love, and I can’t help but think that God is on the ‘edge of his seat’ as he gives this revelation to Joseph Smith and his father.
I have an immense love of the Book of Mormon and the doctrines contained within. As I’ve read the account of Jesus’ ministry in the Americas, and the principles taught by God’s Book of Mormon prophets, and applied what I’ve learned to my life, I have changed. It is a wonderful gospel. And how blessed we are in this dispensation to have it in it’s entirety. May the “marvelous work” continue to go forth.