Saturday, February 13, 2010

ZION: The Doctrine and Covenants (Section 6 to Section 38)

ZION:  The Doctrine and Covenants (Section 6 to Section 38)

The revelations compiled in The Doctrine and Covenants disclose yet another facet of the prophetic mantle of Joseph Smith. Unlike the work he did revising the Old Testament and translating The Book of Mormon, these revelations are contemporary with our dispensation and were given almost always as the answer to Joseph's inquiries regarding specific doctrinal questions. In The Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord speaks almost exclusively in the first person.

Stunningly, Zion emerges as an important theme in The Doctrine and Covenants very early in Joseph's ministry, appearing for the first time in a revelation dated April 1829, at Harmony, Pennsylvania. (See D&C 6).  Note how often in these formative years the counsel of the Lord is, “Seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.” Joseph's mind was prepared by his study of The Book of Mormon plates and his revision of the Old Testament for the increased light and knowledge he would receive as the doctrine of Zion was gradually revealed to him. As with all prophets, his knowledge did not usually come suddenly in an instant, but was the outgrowth of his seeking further light and knowledge day by day, precept upon precept, line upon line. So it was with Joseph, and so it is with each of us. Joseph said it best:

We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, til he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients arrives at a point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment. He must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. . . (See TPJS, 51).

D&C 6:5-7

Soon after Oliver Cowdery began serving as Joseph's scribe while he was translating The Book of Mormon, he asked Joseph to inquire of the Lord what he should do. The Lord announces his pleasure with those who inquire and seek to know his will, and promises here and in many other places throughout the scriptures that those who ask shall receive. (See JST Matthew 7:12-17; JST Luke 11:5-14. This doctrine has strong implications for us today. Christ did not tell his disciples to ask the leaders of the Church for direction. He told them, "Ask of God." The circumstance that brought about this counsel was the concern of the disciples that their leaders would respond that they didn't need to ask God because the law was sufficient for their salvation. The "hedging up of the way of life" continues at an accelerated pace today in the Church, but our salvation from the Fall is still in Christ today, not in the law of Moses).  It seems such a simple thing -- "Ask of God" -- but how many of us are really seeking to know and to do God's will in our lives? How many of us are like the runaway horse with the bit clenched tightly between our teeth, God perched precariously in the saddle of our self-willed determination to succeed in this world, and completely oblivious to the barbed-wire fence lying directly across our path?

In this formative revelation Oliver asked the question, "Lord, what would thou have me do?" In the Lord's answer to Joseph we have the first reference in a modern revelation to the word Zion. I suspect were any of us to ask the same question the Lord might give us this answer:

Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion;
Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.  (Lest you be tempted to think the Lord might be giving you a get rich quick formula in this verse, read on. The riches of eternity are something entirely different than material riches. Given all that Jehovah [the Lord Jesus Christ] had to teach ancient Israel about idolatry, it is worthy of note that this dispensation opens with the same warning.

D&C 11:4-7

Within a month after Oliver had commenced his work as scribe for the Prophet, Hyrum Smith arrived in Harmony, Pennsylvania. He likewise sought to know how he could assist his younger brother. As he had done with Oliver's request, he inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim on behalf of Hyrum. His answer is our answer:

Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.
Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.
Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.

Note: The Lord uses the word "whosoever" in verse 4, indicating that anyone with sufficient faith to seek the Lord will find him. Had Joseph been interested, as some of his enemies have suggested, in controlling and manipulating the lives of his peers, he certainly slipped up in this revelation. He encouraged them right from the opening of this dispensation to go directly to God with their questions, telling them they did not need to come to him for their answers.

D&C 12:3-9

Joseph Knight, Sr., while living in Colesville, New York, heard of the Prophet's translation work in Harmony. He made the journey to Harmony, and made the same inquiry as Oliver and Hyrum had made. Joseph Smith loved this faithful servant. Joseph Knight was one of the first to step forward and aid the Prophet with money, food, and writing materials.

Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.
Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.
Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.
Behold, I speak unto you, and also to all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work;
And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.
Behold, I am the light and the life of the world, that speak these words, therefore give heed with your might, and then you are called. Amen.

D&C 14:4-11

The Prophet received this revelation soon after his arrival in Fayette, New York. Because of increasing persecution in Harmony, Joseph and Oliver had written the Whitmers asking for their assistance in completing the translation of the plates. David Whitmer traveled 135 miles to Harmony to assist with the move, then asked the Prophet what he could do in addition. It was David Whitmer who offered these insights about Joseph Smith and the work of translation:

He was a religious and straight forward man. He had to be, for he was illiterate and he could do nothing himself. He had to trust in God. He could not translate unless he was humble and possessed the right feelings toward everyone. To illustrate so you can see: One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma his wife had done. Oliver and I went up stairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour came back to the house, and asked Emma's forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were, and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful. (David Whitmer, The Saints' Herald, (Plano, Illinois), 1 March 1882, as cited by Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Provo, Utah: The Seventy's Mission Bookstore, 1981), 24, hereafter cited as "RPJS."

This was the counsel Joseph offered David Whitmer in the revelation he received:

Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.
Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep my commandments in all things.
And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall ask the Father in my name, in faith believing, you shall receive the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance, that you may stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see, and also that you may declare repentance unto this generation.
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness;
Wherefore, I must bring forth the fulness of my gospel from the Gentiles unto the house of Israel.
And behold, thou art David, and thou art called to assist; which thing if ye do, and are faithful, ye shall be blessed both spiritually and temporally, and great shall be your reward. Amen.

D&C 21

This section might well be called "God's Testimony of Joseph Smith," for in this revelation we have a declaration of his calling as a prophet. The revelation came during the organization meeting of the new "Church of Christ," held Tuesday April 6, 1830, at the home of Peter Whitmer, Sr. Eight years later, of course, the official name was given by revelation "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (See D&C 115:3).

One wonders about the reference in verse 8 to Joseph "weeping for Zion," especially since his understanding of Zion was still in its formative stages, but if nothing else it demonstrates the intensity of his desire to understand his role in establishing the cause of Zion. We sometimes naively imagine that God poured out revelation upon the Prophet like pouring water from a bucket onto his head, but such was rarely the case. He received only as he sought it then prayed until his tears wet his pillow at night. (As it was for Joseph, so it is for each of us. The Lord has promised: "If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things -- that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal." [D&C 42:61]).

Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,
Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.
Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.
Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.
For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard.
Yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen, and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer; for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins, and the manifestations of my blessings upon his works.
For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart.
Wherefore it behooveth me that he should be ordained by you, Oliver Cowdery mine apostle;
This being an ordinance unto you, that you are an elder under his hand, he being the first unto you, that you might be an elder unto this church of Christ, bearing my name
And the first preacher of this church unto the church, and before the world, yea, before the Gentiles; yea, and thus saith the Lord God, lo, lo! to the Jews also. Amen.

D&C 24:1-9

At the date of this revelation there were three tiny branches of the new Church struggling for survival -- one at Fayette, one at Manchester, and one at Colesville. The membership was comprised primarily of three families -- the Whitmers, the Smiths, and the Knights residing in their respective towns. Joseph had concluded the first conference in Fayette since the organization of the infant church and returned to Harmony, then had gone to Colesville, where he was arrested then acquitted for "disorderly" preaching. (See DHC 1:89 96).  Persecution was increasing as Joseph returned to his little farm in Harmony where this revelation was received in July 1830. Joseph needed the assurance and comfort of these words, despite learning that he would have many more afflictions and that he would not prosper in his temporal labors. (See verses 8 and 9). The Lord instructs him concerning his prophetic role:

Behold, thou wast called and chosen to write The Book of Mormon, and to my ministry; and I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions, and have counseled thee, that thou hast been delivered from all thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan and from darkness!
Nevertheless, thou art not excusable in thy transgressions; nevertheless, go thy way and sin no more.
Magnify thine office; and after thou hast sowed thy fields and secured them, go speedily unto the church which is in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester, and they shall support thee; and I will bless them both spiritually and temporally;
But if they receive thee not, I will send upon them a cursing instead of a blessing.
And thou shalt continue in calling upon God in my name, and writing the things which shall be given thee by the Comforter, and expounding all scriptures unto the church.
And it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak and write [this is the pattern God has established for the proclaiming of his gospel in every dispensation. See the following: Exodus 4:12 16; Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 12:11-12; Helaman 5:18 19; D&C 28:4; 84:85; 100:5-8; 124:17; Moses 6:8, 32], and they shall hear it, or I will send unto them a cursing instead of a blessing.
For thou shalt devote all thy service in Zion; and in this thou shalt have strength.
Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.
And in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling. Attend to thy calling and thou shalt have wherewith to magnify thine office, and to expound all scriptures, and continue in laying on of the hands and confirming the churches.

D&C 25:1-5

There is something beyond the power of words that must describe the patience and faith of Emma Smith. Much has been said of her, she is often maliciously and mercilessly maligned for what some perceive as her lack of faith, but there could be few women as noble and spiritually attuned to Joseph as was Emma. That she struggled and wrestled with plural marriage is a well-documented certainty, but her devotion to Joseph never wavered.

There is evidence that Emma’s tenth baby was stillborn in 1842. She was pregnant with David Hyrum, her eleventh, when Joseph went to Carthage, never to return. Through the years of their marriage, death had been a frequent visitor to the Prophet and Emma. She buried six of their ten children before they reached adulthood. Only those who have buried infant children of their own can know that exquisite pain. Emma's father died in 1839, Joseph's father died in 1840, Emma's mother died in 1842. Their sisters-in-law, Jerusha Barden and Mary Bailey, the wives of Joseph's brothers, Hyrum and Samuel, had also died. Brother, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and cousins, had all predeceased Joseph. If you are one who has been influenced by Emma’s detractors, consider how the Prophet felt about her. In the midst of some of their worst tribulations later in August of 1842, Joseph would record:

. . . my beloved Emma . . . my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart. Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and the sufferings, and the joys and consolations, from time to time, which had strewed our path and crowned our board. Oh what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, even in the seventh trouble – undaunted, firm, and unwavering – unchangeable, affectionate Emma! (HC 5:107).

Emma and Joseph also adopted the Murdock twins when her own child died at birth. One of those twins died in Hiram, Ohio, the night of the tar and feathering incident at the John Johnson farm. Until she and Joseph built the Nauvoo House, she never lived in her own home. Then, after suffering all that Joseph alluded to, she was called upon to bury her beloved Joseph.

In the historical preface to this revelation Emma had just been humiliated and harassed by the non-Mormons living in Fayette and Colesville, and had returned with Joseph to Harmony. Though she drove the buggy to Cumorah when Joseph first received the plates, and was Joseph's first scribe as he translated, she died never having seen the gold plates. Emma stated that she moved the plates many times while they were covered as she did her housework, even riffling the gold pages in her fingers under the table cloth, but she never actually saw the plates. She is cautioned here not to murmur because of the things she has not seen. (See verse 4).

Oh, that we could come to fully appreciate this grand "First Lady" of the Restoration! Hers was a difficult, almost impossible stewardship. Who among us in twenty-first century Mormonism would not have murmured and complained when confronted with her tests? Despite it all she was the first and foremost love of the Prophet’s life. Listen to the word of the Lord through Joseph to her:

Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.
A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion. [Joseph and Emma were married January 18, 1827, she was baptized in June, 1830, and confirmed two months later in August. She and Joseph were sealed May 28, 1843, and this promise was fulfilled September 28, 1843, when she received "the anointings of the fullness of the priesthood" with Joseph. (Source: Andrew F. Ehat, unpublished Master's Thesis, entitled "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances, And The 1844 Mormon Succession Question," copyright December, 1982, 264, 271)].
Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.
Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.
And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.

D&C 28:8-9

The Lord's first reference in this dispensation to the location of the New Jerusalem comes in this revelation. Joseph and Emma were finally forced to leave her father's home in Harmony, because the persecution had become so intense. Arriving in Fayette, Joseph was confronted with his first challenge to his authority as the Prophet.

Hiram Page had a "seer stone" through which he claimed the Lord had revealed much to him concerning the establishment of Zion. According to Newell Knight:

[Page] had managed to get up some discussions of feeling among the brethren by giving revelations concerning the government of the Church and other matters, which he claimed to have received through the medium of a stone he possessed. . . Even Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmer family had given heed to them. . . Joseph was perplexed and scarcely knew how to meet this new exigency. That night I occupied the same room that he did and the greater part of the night was spent in prayer and supplication. After much labor with these brethren they were convinced of their error, and confessed the same, renouncing [Page's] revelations as not being of God. (Newell Knight Journal, Church Archives, as cited by Lyndon W. Cook, RPJS, 39).

Once again we get a glimpse of the Prophet's dependency upon the Lord for direction, and the intensity of his supplications for guidance. In confronting and having to deal with evil spirits the only safety each of us has is to do as Joseph did. The Lord denounces Page's revelations, and reaffirms the Prophet's calling as the only one authorized to receive revelation for the Church. He calls Oliver Cowdery to go on a mission to the Lamanites to begin the fulfillment of the promises to them that they would receive the gospel at the hands of the Gentiles. (See 1 Nephi 21:13-17, 22-23; compare JST Isaiah 49:13-16, 22-23; 2 Nephi 10:5-19; 3 Nephi 16:13-20; compare Isaiah 52:8-10; 3 Nephi 21). And then he gives the first indication we have in modern scripture of the location of Zion "on the borders by the Lamanites."

And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment.
And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.

D&C 30:11

Specific instructions are given here to David, Peter Jr., and John Whitmer at Fayette, New York, in September 1830. Originally this section was published in The Book of Commandments as three chapters, but Joseph combined them into one for the 1835 edition of The Doctrine and Covenants. (See chapter heading D&C 30). Peter Whitmer, Jr., is called to accompany Oliver Cowdery on his mission to the Lamanites [see verses 5 and 6].

The following verse pertains to John Whitmer:

And your whole labor shall be in Zion, with all your soul, from henceforth; yea, you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do [the promise to those who do not fear man is sure and steadfast -- ". . .the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am. . ." (see D&C 67:10)], for I am with you. Amen.

D&C 35:24-27

It is now December 1830, the Church is still in its infancy, and Sidney Rigdon has recently been baptized as a result of the missionary labors of Parley P. Pratt, who had known Sidney from the days of his affiliation with the Cambellites. Sidney examined The Book of Mormon for two weeks, joined the Church in Mentor, Ohio, then set out with Edward Partridge for Fayette to meet the Prophet. Upon their arrival during the first week of December, Joseph received this revelation.

It is interesting to note that Sidney was skilled in all the areas of education lacking in Joseph. For years he was faithful and loyal to Joseph, even suffering serious injuries in company with the Prophet during the persecution at the Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio, but in the end he opposed Joseph, seeking to wrest control of the Church from Brigham and the Twelve following the martyrdom.

Sidney came to the aid of the Prophet at a fortuitous time, inasmuch as Joseph had commenced his inspired revision of the Bible. Sidney is instructed to "write for him" [see verse 20], and served as Joseph's scribe in the compilation of the manuscripts that would later comprise the JST. Had Sidney remained faithful, the promises the Lord holds out to him here would certainly have come to pass:

Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye are bound; and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good, and Satan shall tremble and Zion shall rejoice upon the hills and flourish;
And Israel shall be saved in mine own due time; and by the keys which I have given shall they be led, and no more be confounded at all.
Lift up your hearts and be glad, your redemption draweth nigh.
Fear not, little flock, the kingdom is yours until I come. Behold, I come quickly. Even so. Amen.

D&C 38:1-12

The third conference of the Church had convened January 2, 1831, at Fayette, New York, in the Whitmer farmhouse. The saints learned in a previous revelation that the headquarters of the Church should be moved to Ohio. (See D&C 37).  Seeking to know what the Lord would have them do to comply with the revelation to leave their homes in Fayette and Colesville, they asked Joseph to inquire of the Lord. Section 38, given at the conference, was the answer to their petition. In these verses we can begin to understand the sacrifice that would be required of these early saints in the years ahead.

These verses introduce a revelation that gives great insight into the purposes that the Lord had in store for the gradual migration of the main body of the Church, culminating in their settlements in the land of Zion. The Lord pleads with the saints in this revelation to forsake their worldly possessions, and holds forth greater promises of eternal inheritances. It is clear from the writings of those present that not all the saints were willing to sell their farms and move to Ohio. (See RPJS, 56).  Some among the saints claimed Joseph invented these words to suit his own purposes:

Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;
The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;
I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.
I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.
But behold, the residue of the wicked have I kept in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day, which shall come at the end of the earth;
And even so will I cause the wicked to be kept, that will not hear my voice but harden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo, is their doom.
But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me;
But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am; for the veil of darkness shall soon be rent, and he that is not purified shall not abide the day.
Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome.
Verily I say unto you, ye are clean, but not all; and there is none else with whom I am well pleased;
For all flesh is corrupted before me; and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth, among the children of men, in the presence of all the hosts of heaven --
Which causeth silence to reign, and all eternity is pained, and the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned; and, behold, the enemy is combined.

The power of this revelation must have been burned into the soul of Orson Pratt, who some fifty years later in a discourse given August 1, 1880, bore the following powerful witness. He could not possibly be misunderstood if words mean anything – the city of the New Jerusalem would be built in Jackson County, Missouri, and Orson Pratt for one was still looking forward to that fulfillment fifty years later:

Hear what the Lord, our God, had to say, through the Prophet Joseph, concerning you, on the 2nd day of January, 1831. I was present when the Lord gave this revelation [Section 38 of the Doctrine and Covenants], in the midst of a conference, to his servant Joseph. I will repeat the words: "And I will hold forth and deign to give unto you" (speaking to the Latter-day Saints assembled in conference, and to all that should become Saints) "greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh. And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance. And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away." The same promise you see; very different from the promise of men; you will possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away. He did not reveal to us the central portion of our land of promise on that conference day, but told us it should be revealed at a future time [see Section 84:1-5 for the exact location of the temple]. Hence, in that same year he appointed his servant Joseph and some twenty or thirty of the elders to go from Kirtland. Ohio, westward through the State of Ohio, State of Indiana, State of Illinois, State of Missouri, to the western boundaries thereof. There he pointed out by revelation – which you will find recorded in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants – the central portion of our inheritance, where the great temple should be built upon which a cloud of glory should rest, and told us that that was the land of promise, in time and in eternity, the same as the promise made to the ancient Saints of God. We are not in possession of it at the present time. It cannot, however, be said concerning us, as it was said by Stephen concerning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He said he gave those old ancient men not so much as to set their foot on. But it happens we paid for some of that land, and we got our deeds at the Land Office, and we claim this at the hands of our God, and ask him, if we do not get it right now, this year, or ten years' hence, we will ask our Father to give us that land after the resurrection, at any rate. But will we inhabit any of it in time? Oh, yes. We will build a great city in Missouri. We will also build a great temple unto the Lord our God, in that city, and the temple block and place where it is to stand is already known. It was laid out in the year 1831, and the corner stone laid, and we will build a temple there, and build it after the pattern that the Lord gave to his servant Joseph, the Prophet, and also according to the pattern that he shall hereafter show, if the pattern is not already given in full. I will tell you another thing that will happen in our promised land, after that temple is built: there will a cloud of glory rest upon that temple by day, the same as the cloud rested upon the tabernacle of Moses, that was carried in the wilderness. Not only that, but also a flaming fire will rest upon the temple by night, covering the whole temple; and if you go inside of the temple, the glory of God will be seen there as it was anciently; for the Lord will not only be a glory and a defense on the outside of that wonderful building, but he will also be a glory and a power in the inside thereof, and it shall come to pass that every man and every woman who is pure in heart, who shall go inside of that temple, will see the Lord. Now, how great a blessing it will be to see the Lord of Hosts as we see one another in the flesh. That will take place, but not till after the temple is built. Moreover, you will not only be favored with this great privilege, but Isaiah tells us that "the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night." When you hold your meeting in the day time, you shall be sheltered by a cloud, and when you hold your meetings in the night time, instead of lighting up your lamps with common oil, or with gas, or anything of this kind, you will have no need of any artificial light, for the Lord God will be the light thereof, and his glory will be there, and you will see it and you will hear his voice. Have you not read in this book called the Bible, about the Lord suddenly coming to his temple? Read the 3rd chapter of Malachi: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple.
* * *
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." That same fire will rest upon the abodes of those that come into that temple, and they will be filled with fire and the Holy Ghost. They will be purged of all iniquity, and every ordinance that will be administered in that temple will be administered by holy hands, and you will understand and know the meaning thereof. The Lord will reveal these things in their day; he will reveal everything that is needful, so that the knowledge of God may rest upon you, and that there may be no darkness with you. Amen. (See JD, 21:331).

Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration, was not merely emitting vapid, ethereal and eschatological "gas" when he described the future vision of Zion in the last days.  He enunciated a sweeping vision that included kings and priests, dominions and kingdoms, temples and cities, indeed it was the vast inheritance of not just a few acres of ground -- the vision of Zion was nothing short of the transformation of the whole earth to be the perpetual inheritance of the worthy saints for eternity.  "Audacious" doesn't even begin to describe it! 

We cannot leave Section 38 without mentioning some significant verses later in the revelation relating directly to the establishment of Zion.  This is an early hint from the Lord that this earth will someday be crowned with celestial glory as an eternal habitation for the heirs of that highest kingdom.  (See D&C 130:9).

And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it.
And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh [remember, "cursed is the ground for thy sake," when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden -- see Genesis 3:17];
And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts.
And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away.  (D&C 38:17-20).

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