Welcome to the second installment of my Word of Wisdom experiment. You can read Part 1 here, where I shared thoughts about the physical body, which are foundational to an understanding of the Word of Wisdom as well as the origins for this experiment.
On to Part 2 …
The Word of Wisdom was a revelation from God, given to Joseph Smith in 1833 after he made an inquiry of the Lord regarding the use of tobacco by many of the Church’s Elders. The Church had been officially organized for three years at that point, and in the absence of a temple, the first School of the Prophets was held in a small room in the home of Bishop Newel K. Whitney. Brigham Young recorded a scene which frequently presented itself during those instructional meetings:
“The brethren came to that place from hundreds of miles to attend school … When they assembled together … the first thing they did was to light their pipes, and while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom … As soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the Prophet [Smith] entered the room to give the school instruction he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean the floor [of tobacco spit], made the Prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the Elders in using tobacco” (Journal of Discourses, 12:158).
In response to his inquiry, the Lord gave Joseph Smith the verses of scripture we now call the Word of Wisdom.
As I set out to outline my lesson and craft my experiment, I knew my first step was to understand deeply and completely the entirety of the principle. I began with a prayer that my mind and heart would be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, that I would understand exactly what the Lord intended for me to do, and that I would be able to see clearly the wisdom in the law. I then dissected each verse.
In the paragraphs that follow I will share my study notes. Of particular importance to me were the definitions of important key words in each verse. A dictionary is as essential to my gospel study as my scriptures. I find that in understanding completely every definition for a word and the root from which the word comes, my comprehension of the Lord’s language increases ten-fold. It really is amazing (and completely exciting!) to study the scriptures this way. I invite you to study along in chapter 89 of the Doctrine & Covenants.
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