All gospel blessings, especially those related to entering the presence of the Lord, flow from priesthood ordinances.
The power of godliness lies in the right that the priesthood gives us to righteously perform binding ordinances. Thus, being a priesthood holder does not give us a greater privilege in obtaining these promised blessings. The power of the priesthood is in the ordinances, not in the offices. It is in the fulfillment of the promised blessings held forth by those ordinances that the mysteries of the kingdom are revealed, even the key of the knowledge of God.
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. (D&C 84:19-24)
You noticed that the desire of Moses’ heart was to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God. Not only was this his desire, but he plainly taught it to them, and sought diligently to bring them into God’s presence. This was more than a fatherly desire for his flock to experience the same wonderful things he had. This is the gospel! This is the greatest possible outcome of the gospel in any dispensation, that we may enter into the presence of God, and there partake of the incomparable blessings described in the last verse as entering into God’s rest and partaking of the fullness of His glory. Moses understood the majestic power of what God was offering his people, and he labored diligently to lead them into full reception of the promises.
But, they could not endure His presence. It is interesting that their rebellion is described in this way. The children of Israel seem to have understood what they were rejecting, otherwise God’s ire would have been unjustified. They apparently did not want the responsibility and the obligations of entering God’s presence. They wanted Moses to interface with God, and to let them dwell in the semi-darkness of wickedness and indulgence. Even with a plain understanding of the glorious blessings being offered, they rejected not just Moses’ offer, but God’s invitation. For this reason God’s wrath was, and apparently still is upon them. (D&C 84:24)
In our day, we have likewise been offered these blessings in plainness. There can be no misunderstanding that we have the fullness of the gospel, the greater priesthood, and the temple-taught invitation to come into the presence of God.
Let us not siphon the virtue from this glorious promise by assuming that this divine audience with deity is the inevitable day when we shall all kneel before Him to be judged, or some automatic event at death. There is no worthiness requirement to attend the judgment, and no known criteria we must fulfill prior to death to have every blessed experience as we leave mortality.
Moses sought to bring his people — his very much mortal and living people — into the presence of God.
Such is the nature of the keys the ordinances offer us. Such is the invitation before us.
— John Pontius, “The Triumph of Zion”