“Be Ye Clean That Bear the Vessels of the Lord”

Doctrine and Covenants 38:42

42 And go ye out from among the wicked. Save yourselves. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. Even so. Amen.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

“Let me tell you what that phrase ‘bear the vessels of the Lord’ means. Anciently it had at least two meanings, both related to the work of the priesthood.

“The first refers to the recovery and return to Jerusalem of various temple implements that had been carried into Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. In physically handling the return of these items, the Lord reminded those early brethren of the sanctity of anything related to the temple. Therefore as they carried back to their homeland these various bowls, basins, cups, and other vessels, they themselves were to be as clean as the ceremonial instruments they bore [see 2 Kings 25:14–15; Ezra 1:5–11].

“The second meaning is related to the first. Similar bowls and implements were used for ritual purification in the home. The Apostle Paul, writing to his young friend Timothy, said of these, ‘In a great house there are . . . vessels of gold and . . . silver, . . . of wood and of earth’—these means of washing and cleansing common in the time of the Savior. But Paul goes on to say, ‘If a man . . . purge himself [of unworthiness], he shall be a vessel . . . sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.’ Therefore, Paul says, ‘Flee . . . youthful lusts: . . . follow righteousness, . . . call on the Lord out of a pure heart [2 Timothy 2:20–22; emphasis added].

“In both of these biblical accounts the message is that as priesthood bearers not only are we to handle sacred vessels and emblems of God’s power—think of preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament, for example—but we are also to be a sanctified instrument as well. Partly because of what we are to do but more importantly because of what we are to be, the prophets and apostles tell us to ‘flee . . . youthful lusts’ and ‘call on the Lord out of a pure heart.’ They tell us to be clean.”

(“Sanctify Yourselves,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 39.)