Sunday, February 14, 2010

ZION: The Doctrine and Covenants (Section 39 to Section 64)

The Doctrine and Covenants (Section 39 to Section 64)

D&C 39:12-13

James Covell (spelling of his name is based on family records, though it is spelled "Covill" in the revelation), a Baptist minister for over forty years, promised Joseph Smith he would obey any commandment the Lord gave him. This revelation is the only one we have that was given at the request of a non-member of the Church. When the revelation came, Covell rejected it and returned to his ministry. (Section 40 explains that notwithstanding the promises the Lord made to him, Covell succumbed to the fear of persecution and the cares of the world).

We have an example of modern day Nicodemus in James Covell. Like Nicodemus (see John 3:3), he "saw" the kingdom of God, told Joseph he would obey the Lord's counsel, then cast out the seed of the word after it was sown:

Behold, verily I say unto you, that the heart of my servant James Covill was right before me, for he covenanted with me that he would obey my word.
And he received the word with gladness, but straightway Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and the cares of the world caused him to reject the word.
Wherefore he broke my covenant, and it remaineth with me to do with him as seemeth me good. Amen. (See D&C 40).

There are many who "see" kingdom of God, and Nicodemus and James Covell are typical of them. They hear the words of eternal life, and receive the witness of the truth. But Joseph Smith taught it is one thing to "see" the kingdom of God, and another thing to "enter:"

It is one thing to see the kingdom of God, and another thing to enter into it. We must have a change of heart to see the kingdom of God, and subscribe the articles of adoption to enter therein. (See TPJS, 328).

James Covell was able to see the kingdom when it came unto him, but he refused to subscribe to the ordinances for the same reasons Nicodemus presumably rejected the kingdom.

These verses are the promises Covell rejected:

And it shall come to pass that power shall rest upon thee; thou shalt have great faith, and I will be with thee and go before thy face.
Thou art called to labor in my vineyard, and to build up my church, and to bring forth Zion, that it may rejoice upon the hills and flourish.

D&C 45:62-75

It is now March 1831, and the Prophet has begun working on the New Testament portion of the JST. He reads and ponders the 24th Chapter of Matthew, and the Lord gives this revelation to aid his understanding as he makes his revisions. As we saw in the Old Testament section of this compilation, he received much information that had been expunged from the manuscripts comprising the King James Version of the Bible.

In this revelation the Lord makes reference to even more understanding that will come when Joseph translates Matthew 24. (See verses 60 and 61).  So vital is this restoration of subject matter concerning the Second Coming that it is accorded a place in The Pearl of Great Price, and renamed "Joseph Smith-Matthew," formerly known as "Joseph Smith 1" in older editions. The last several verses of this revelation, quoted here, give specific instruction pertaining to Zion, and Joseph writes a prophecy concerning the New Jerusalem.

For verily I say unto you, that great things await you;
Ye hear of wars in foreign lands; but, behold, I say unto you, they are nigh, even at your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands.
Wherefore I, the Lord, have said, gather ye out from eastern lands, assemble ye yourselves together ye elders of my church; go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me.
And with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you.
And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;
And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.
And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.
And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.
And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.
And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.
And now I say unto you, keep these things from going abroad unto the world until it is expedient in me, that ye may accomplish this work in the eyes of the people, and in the eyes of your enemies, that they may not know your works until ye have accomplished the thing which I have commanded you;
That when they shall know it, that they may consider these things.
For when the Lord shall appear he shall be terrible unto them, that fear may seize upon them, and they shall stand afar off and tremble.
And all nations shall be afraid because of the terror of the Lord, and the power of his might. Even so. Amen.

D&C 49:23-25

In order to assist the elders in their labors among the Shakers near Kirtland, Ohio, this revelation was given in March 1831. Leman Copley, the man to whom the revelation was directed, was a convert to the Church assigned with Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt to preach to his former congregation. Sidney read this revelation to the congregation, challenging them to baptism. Few responded to his invitation, and Leman Copley himself eventually rejected his earlier commitment to the restored gospel in favor of his Shaker convictions.

These verses, referring to events that precede the Second Coming, are like so many of the signs that will be given they are as yet unfulfilled:

Wherefore, be not deceived, but continue in steadfastness, looking forth for the heavens to be shaken, and the earth to tremble and to reel to and fro as a drunken man, and for the valleys to be exalted, and for the mountains to be made low, and for the rough places to become smooth -- and all this when the angel shall sound his trumpet.
But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.
Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.

The main body of the saints was living in Kirtland when this revelation was given. This was given before Zion’s Camp, the expulsion from Missouri, and the subsequent exodus from Nauvoo. Recalling the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith years later after the migration to Utah, President Wilford Woodruff testified that Joseph’s prophecy about Zion flourishing and rejoicing in the mountains had been fulfilled at least in part during his lifetime:

On Sunday night the Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland, and who had gathered together to go off in Zion's camp. . .

When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. When they got through the Prophet said, “Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap. You don't comprehend it.” I was rather surprised. He said, “It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America -- it will fill the world.” Among other things he said, “It will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains, and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites, who will receive the Gospel and their endowments and the blessings of God. This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High. They will raise up a posterity there, and the Latter-day Saints who dwell in these mountains will stand in the flesh until the coming of the Son of Man. The Son of Man will come to them while in the Rocky Mountains.”
I name these things because I want to bear testimony before God, angels and men that mine eyes behold the day, and have beheld for the last fifty years of my life, the fulfillment of that prophecy. (CR, April 1898, 57).

Such was the testimony of Wilford Woodruff as he related the Prophet Joseph’s vision of the future of the Church. That vision, however, was not confined to simply the Rocky Mountains. It was the part about filling that world that so fired the collective imagination of his closest associates, if only because that possibility seemed so audacious at the time! Another who was present in that meeting in the schoolhouse in Kirtland was John Taylor. He was obviously captivated by the boldness of the Prophet’s statements. He reflected Joseph’s optimistic vision of the future of the kingdom in these words, spoken on April 6, 1863, in the Bowery on Temple Square:

We believe that God is going to revolutionize the earth, to purge it from iniquity of every kind and to introduce righteousness of every kind, until the great millennium is fully introduced. We believe, moreover, that God, having commenced his Work, will continue to reveal and make manifest his will to his Priesthood, to his Church and kingdom on the earth, and that among this people there will be an embodiment of virtue, of truth, of holiness, of integrity, of fidelity, of wisdom and of the knowledge of God. We believe that there will be a temporal kingdom of God organized that will be under the direction and auspices of the Lord of Hosts, and that in all our affairs, whether they relate to things temporal or things spiritual, as we have been in the habit of calling them, we shall be under the direction of the Lord, as the Scriptures say, "It shall come to pass that all the people shall be taught of the Lord." This is part and parcel of our creed. We believe that we shall rear splendid edifices, magnificent temples and beautiful cities that shall become the pride, praise and glory of the whole earth. We believe that this people will excel in literature, in science and the arts and in manufactures. In fact, there will be a concentration of wisdom, not only of the combined wisdom of the world as it now exists, but men will be inspired in regard to all these matters in a manner and to an extent that they never have been before, and we shall have eventually, when the Lord's purposes are carried out, the most magnificent buildings, the most pleasant and beautiful gardens, the richest and most costly clothing, and be the most healthy and the most intellectual people that will reside upon the earth. This is part and parcel of our faith; in fact, Zion will become the praise of the whole earth; and as the Queen of Sheba said anciently, touching the glory of Solomon, the half of it had not been told her, so it will be in regard to Israel in their dwelling places. In fact, if there is anything great, noble, dignified, exalted, anything pure, or holy, or virtuous, or lovely, anything that is calculated to exalt or ennoble the human mind, to dignify and elevate the people, it will be found among the people of the Saints of the Most High God. This is only a faint outline of some of our views in relation to these things, and hence we talk of returning to Jackson county to build the most magnificent temple that ever was formed on the earth and the most splendid city that was ever erected; yea, cities, if you please. The architectural designs of those splendid edifices, cities, walls, gardens, bowers, streets, &c., will be under the direction of the Lord, who will control and manage all these matters; and the people, from the President down, will all be under the guidance and direction of the Lord in all the pursuits of human life, until eventually they will be enabled to erect cities that will be fit to be caught up — that when Zion descends from above, Zion will also ascend from beneath, and be prepared to associate with those from above. The people will be so perfected and purified, ennobled, exalted, and dignified in their feelings and so truly humble and most worthy, virtuous and intelligent that they will be fit, when caught up, to associate with that Zion that shall come down from God out of heaven. This is the idea, in brief, that we have entertained in relation to many of these things. If we could keep our eyes upon this a little while, and then look back to where we came from, examine our present position and see the depravity, ignorance and corruption that exists where we have come from and that yet exists among us, it is evident that some great revolution, some mighty change has got to transpire to revolutionize our minds, our feelings and judgment, our pursuits and action, and, in fact, to control and influence us throughout, before anything of this kind can take place, and hence it is when the light of heaven come to reflect upon the human mind, when we can see ourselves as God sees us and comprehend ourselves as he comprehends us, and understand our position as he understands it, we should have different views of ourselves than we have when unenlightened by the Spirit. No wonder that Joseph Smith should say that he felt himself shut up in a nutshell, there was no power of expansion, it was difficult for him to reveal and communicate the things of God, because there was no place to receive them. What he had to communicate was so much more comprehensive, enlightened and dignified than that which the people generally knew and comprehended, it was difficult for him to speak; he felt fettered and bound to speak, in every move he made, and so it is to the present time. Yet this being a fact and these being part of the things we expect to accomplish, there must be a beginning somewhere; and if the chips do fly once in a while when the hewer begins to hew, and if we do squirm once in a while it is not strange, because it is so difficult for the people to comprehend the things which are for their benefit. We have been brought up so ignorantly and our ideas and views are so contracted it is scarcely possible to receive the things of God as they exist in his bosom.
It is easy for us to talk about heaven, and about going to Jackson county, and about building up the kingdom of God, &c.; it is easy to sing about it and pray about it, but it is another thing to do it; and hence the difficulty the servants of God labor under all the day long is in consequence of the ignorance, weakness and infirmities of those they have to do with, and yet we are more enlightened in regard to these things than any other people and have made more progress; yet how far we come short. What does it necessarily resolve itself into? We are Saints of the Most High, and we actually, all of us, believe in those doctrines embraced in our creed. I question whether I could find a dozen here but what believes in these things I have spoken of. Who does it affect? The kingdom of God has to be built up, and a revolution must necessarily take place, not only here but throughout the world. We expect we are going to accomplish the things of which I have spoken, for they are a part and parcel of our religious faith. (JD, 10:149).

At this writing in 2010, isn't it interesting that some Americans are actively participating in a political phenomenon that has been dubbed "The Tea Party Revolution?"  Only time will tell if it is a precursor to the ultimate fulfillment President Taylor foresaw, but can his choice of words -- "a revolution must necessarily take place" -- be merely coincidental?  Of course, it is a theological, not a political revolution, John Taylor envisioned.

D&C 57:1-5, 14

The Prophet himself gives the best introduction to these verses. It will be remembered that in Section 28 the Lord states that the location of the city of Zion "is not yet revealed," but that it "shall be revealed hereafter." Section 57 is the fulfillment of that promise.

These are the Prophet's words:

I received, by a heavenly vision, a commandment in June [1831] following, to take my journey to the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and there designate the very spot which was to be the central place for the commencement of the gathering together of those who embrace the fullness of the everlasting Gospel. Accordingly I undertook the journey, with certain ones of my brethren, and after a long and tedious journey, suffering many privations and hardships, arrived in Jackson County, Missouri, and after viewing the country, seeking diligently at the hand of God, He manifested Himself unto us, and designated, to me and others, the very spot upon which he designed to commence the work of the gathering, and the upbuilding of an "holy city," which should be called Zion -- Zion because it is a place of righteousness, and all who build thereon are to worship the true and living God, and all believe one doctrine, even the doctrine of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (TPJS, 79-80).

Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.
Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.
Wherefore, it is wisdom that the land should be purchased by the saints, and also every tract lying westward, even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile;
And also every tract bordering by the prairies, inasmuch as my disciples are enabled to buy lands. Behold, this is wisdom, that they may obtain it for an everlasting inheritance.

Specific instructions are given to individuals in the next several verses of this revelation, then the Lord gives the commandment to commence colonizing the land of Zion in these words:

And thus let those of whom I have spoken be planted in the land of Zion, as speedily as can be, with their families, to do those things even as I have spoken.

D&C 58:1-13, 49-50

Pursuant to the instructions the Lord had given to members of the Colesville branch (refer again to Section 38), many of them had left New York, and journeyed to Jackson County, Missouri. They arrived during the last week of July 1831, and Joseph received this revelation the following Sunday in the land of Zion.

Given our understanding today of the hardships and persecutions through which the saints passed after this first expedition into the land of Zion, it is hard to imagine what they must have thought then. Of course, they could not know in advance of the difficulties that awaited them in that land. They must have wondered as they stood on the hilltops overlooking that beautiful scene, basking in the warm summer sunshine, what the Lord had in store for them when they heard this revelation for the first time.

The entire revelation gives instruction to the saints pertaining to their role in the land of Zion. In this revelation Martin Harris is commanded to "be an example unto the church, in laying his moneys before the bishop of the church," the first man in this dispensation to consecrate his properties. (See verse 35).  An agent is appointed in Kirtland to receive moneys from the saints for the purchase of lands in Jackson County, and Sidney Rigdon is directed to write a description of the land of Zion, and to dedicate the land. He dedicated the land the following day, August 2, 1831.

Hearken, O ye elders of my church, and give ear to my word, and learn of me what I will concerning you, and also concerning this land unto which I have sent you.
For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.
Remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which is to follow.
Behold, verily I say unto you for this cause I have sent you that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come;
And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand.
And also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor; yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail;
Yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited.
First, the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble;
And after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come.
Behold, I, the Lord, have spoken it.
And that the testimony might go forth from Zion, yea, from the mouth of the city of the heritage of God.

And let there be an agent appointed by the voice of the church, unto the church in Ohio, to receive moneys to purchase lands in Zion [this agent was Sidney Gilbert, who was called to this appointment in the previous revelation see D&C 57:6].
And I give unto my servant Sidney Rigdon a commandment, that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known by the Spirit unto him [Sidney's attempt to fulfill this requirement of the Lord was rejected (see D&C 63:55-58), because "he exalted himself in his heart, and received not counsel, but grieved the Spirit," thus providing a powerful object lesson for each of us].

What do the scriptures reveal about this strange phrase, “the feast of fat things?” While we will say more about it later, this specific phrase relates directly to the law of consecration and stewardship. It is an eternal law designed to bless the poor and eliminate poverty. (D&C 42:30-34; 51:7-15). It is a law given by God to produce equality among the Saints with “no respect to persons as to those who [stand] in need.” Further, by obeying this law the Saints would “prosper and become far more wealthy than those who [do] not belong to [the] church.” (Alma 1:30-31).  As the Lord would reveal in subsequent revelations, this law will be lived in Zion – the only law upon which Zion can be built. (D&C 51:2-3; 104:15-18; 105:3-5, 34). Joseph’s followers – “this people” – had already been told in a previous revelation that to establish this law would be “a privilege.” (D&C 51:15).

Were there other prophets who foretold “the feast of fat things?” Although all the prophets spoke generally of Zion as North and South America (see TPJS, 362), Isaiah specifically foretold its fulfillment. He prophesied the Lord will someday reign in Mount Zion (Isaiah 24:23) and the strong people shall glorify the Lord. (Isaiah 25:3-4. “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall”).

The Lord revealed the law of consecration to eliminate poverty, PERIOD. Not just among the Saints in our dispensation, but among all people throughout the whole world if they would receive the invitation to come and partake. The places of refuge for the Saints were to be the stakes of Zion, as the Lord revealed. (D&C 115:5-6; 124:36).  The strangers (Gentiles) are to be brought low, and then the Lord said: “And in this mountain [meaning Zion or America] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” (Isaiah 25:5-6).  Apparently, Heavenly Father wants to include all his children in this glorious wedding feast. It is the destiny of this Church to swing wide the doors of the stakes of Zion to welcome the refugees from wherever they originate.

In our day the Lord said “all nations shall be invited,” but the invitations are to be extended to the nations in a certain order. “First, the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble; and after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come.” (D&C 58:9-11).  This allusion to the wedding feast is the eventual fulfillment of the symbolism of the bride (Israel) and the bridegroom (Christ) we witnessed in our earlier treatment of Old Testament symbols.

Those first invited to the feast are the rich and the learned, the Gentile nations of the earth. The word "nations" is often translated “Gentiles.” (See James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Frederick C. Grant and H. H. Rowley, rev. ed. [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963], 689-90, as found in Leon R. Hartshorn, Dennis A. Wright, and Craig J. Ostler, eds., The Doctrine and Covenants, a Book of Answers: The 25th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 153).  When the Lord first introduced the law of consecration to remember the poor, he declared: “For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel.” (D&C 42:30-39).  Note that the Lord refers to what he spake by the mouths of the prophets, and then he reveals the Gentiles have riches. After those among the Gentiles who are rich and learned embrace the gospel, the “poor of [the Lord's] people who are the house of Israel” are to be invited. Clearly, a central purpose of the restoration of the gospel in the latter days was “that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets.” (D&C 1:18).  One may always profit by observing how precise the Lord always is with specific phrases like this one describing the feast of fat things. It is not coincidental when these exact phrases recur in modern revelation. They are given to us to help us interpret the ancient prophets and to verify the revelations they received. As Nephi said, “In the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass.” (2 Nephi 25:7).

D&C 59:1-3

One week following the preceding revelation, Joseph received this one. It is prefaced in the History of the Church (see Vol. 1, 196-198) by a beautiful description of the land of Zion written by the Prophet.

Polly Knight, wife of Joseph Knight, Sr., died August 7, 1831, having become the first member of the church to die in the land of Zion in this dispensation. She had traveled the difficult miles from New York to Missouri, knowing that she was in failing health but sustained by the hope of seeing the land of Zion before she passed away. The introductory verses of this revelation seem to have been given in recognition of her faith, and as a comfort to the many others who would follow her in death in that land.

Once again, the members of the Church could not imagine the pain and sorrow that awaited them in that land, but the Lord was giving forewarning in these early revelations.

Behold, blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory, according to my commandments.
For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.
Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.
And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time they that are faithful and diligent before me.

D&C 60:12-16

This revelation was given August 8, 1831, to missionaries who had received their calls in the land of Zion, and were about to depart for their return trip to the East. Instructions were given in answer to Joseph's inquiry about how they should proceed on their journey, then in these verses directions are given to those who have not yet come up to the land of Zion.

And now I speak of the residue who are to come unto this land.
Behold, they have been sent to preach my gospel among the congregations of the wicked; wherefore, I given them a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known. [This idea of burying our talents is universally misunderstood and the symbol is routinely misapplied whenever reference is made to it in the Church today. Reread the parable as the Savior gave it see Matthew 25:14-30 in its full context in the chapter and ask, "What is the Savior likening the talent unto?" See also 3 Nephi 18:24-25 and D&C 84:42-58. Rather than musical ability and money, isn’t the talent really being likened to LIGHT?].
And after thou hast come up unto the land of Zion, and hast proclaimed my word, thou shalt speedily return, proclaiming my word among the congregations of the wicked, not in haste, neither in wrath nor with strife. [They came to Zion to be called as missionaries, then departed from Zion that the prophecy might be fulfilled see D&C 58:13; Micah 4:2].
And shake off the dust of thy feet against those who receive thee not, not in their presence, lest thou provoke them, but in secret; and wash thy feet, as a testimony against them in the day of judgment. [This is the "dusting doctrine" with which nearly every eager young missionary in my era seemed determined to experiment. See the following: Matthew 10:14; Luke 9:5; Acts 13:51; 18:5-6; D&C 24:14; 75:20; 84:92-95].
Behold, this is sufficient for you, and the will of him who hath sent you.

D&C 61:14-29

In the preceding revelation the Lord commanded the elders to make the return trip to the East by way of the Missouri River (see D&C 60:5), and to either buy or make their own boat. Pursuant to those instructions they bought enough canoes for their party and set off.

All went well until the third day of the journey. The canoe in which the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon were riding capsized, nearly drowning the passengers. In this revelation received the day following the incident, August 12, 1831, the Lord explains the seeming contradiction in commanding them to take such a perilous journey in these words: ". . .I suffered it that ye might bear record; behold, there are many dangers upon the waters, and more especially hereafter; For I, the Lord, have decreed in mine anger many destructions upon the waters; yea, and especially upon these waters. Nevertheless, all flesh is in mine hand, and he that is faithful among you shall not perish by the waters." (See verses 4-6).  Apparently the journey was an object lesson in the need for repentance among other things, inasmuch as the Lord tells them in verse 8 that they were being chastened for their sins. Then the Lord prescribes the course of travel for all who will yet go up to the land of Zion.

In his preface to this revelation the Prophet records: ". . .after we had encamped upon the bank of the river, at McIlwaine's Bend, Brother Phelps, in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision." (See HC, Vol. 1, 203).

Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters. (See Revelation 16:4).
And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart.
And, as I, the Lord, in the beginning cursed the land, even so in the last days have I blessed it, in its time, for the use of my saints, that they may partake the fatness thereof.
And now I give unto you a commandment that what I say unto one I say unto all, that you shall forewarn your brethren concerning these waters, that they come not in journeying upon them, lest their faith fail and they are caught in snares;
I, the Lord, have decreed, and the destroyer rideth upon the face thereof, and I revoke not the decree.
I, the Lord, was angry with you yesterday, but today mine anger is turned away.
Wherefore, let those concerning whom I have spoken, that should take their journey in haste again I say unto you, let them take their journey in haste.
And it mattereth not unto me after a little, if it so be that they fill their mission, whether they go by water or by land; let this be as it is made known unto them according to their judgments hereafter.
And now, concerning my servants, Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, let them come not again upon the waters, save it be upon the canal, while journeying unto their homes; or in other words they shall not come upon the waters to journey, save upon the canal.
Behold, I, the Lord, have appointed a way for the journeying of my saints; and behold, this is the way that after they leave the canal they shall journey by land, inasmuch as they are commanded to journey and go up unto the land of Zion;
And they shall do like unto the children of Israel, pitching their tents by the way.
And, behold, this commandment you shall give unto all your brethren.
Nevertheless, unto whom is given power to command the waters, unto him it is given by the spirit to know all his ways;
Wherefore, let him do as they Spirit of the living God commandeth him, whether upon the land or upon the waters, as it remaineth with me to do hereafter.
And unto you is given the course for the saints, or the way for the saints of the camp of the Lord, to journey.

D&C 62:1-4

On August 13, 1831, the Prophet's group meets a party of elders on their way to the land of Zion, and Joseph is given this revelation concerning their mission. This is a prolific period of revelation in the life of Joseph -- he is receiving revelation concerning the work of Zion almost on a daily basis, and the promise of forgiveness is once again voiced by the Lord.

Behold, and hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.
And verily mine eyes are upon those who have not as yet gone up unto the land of Zion; wherefore your mission is not yet full.
Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.
And now continue your journey. Assemble yourselves upon the land of Zion; and hold a meeting and rejoice together, and offer a sacrament unto the Most High.

D&C 63:23-54

The Prophet received this revelation on August 30, 1831, following his arrival in Kirtland, Ohio. Discontent among the members of the Church surfaced while Joseph was in Missouri, and the Prophet's concern about the early signs of dissension in addition to his continued interest in what should be done about land acquisition in Missouri distilled into this revelation. The Lord gives specific direction to the members, encouraging some to settle their affairs in Kirtland in preparation for the move to the land of Zion. It is clear the Lord is not as concerned about the size of the sacrifice, as he is about obedience. (See verse 40). The Lord declares that the land of Zion is to be obtained by purchase or by blood, then gives a brief glimpse of the wars yet to come upon the earth in which the wicked will destroy the wicked. (See verses 27-33).

Only the verses pertaining to Zion are quoted here, but the reading of the entire revelation will yield valuable insight into preparations for the Second Coming of the Lord, and conditions during the Millennium.
But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.

And now, behold, this is the will of the Lord your God concerning his saints, that they should assemble themselves together unto the land of Zion, not in haste, lest there should be confusion, which bringeth pestilence.
Behold, the land of Zion -- I the Lord, hold it in mine own hands;
Nevertheless, I, the Lord, render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's.
Wherefore, I the Lord will that you should purchase the lands, that you may have advantage of the world, that you may have claim on the world, that they may not be stirred up unto anger.
For Satan putteth it into their hearts to anger against you, and to the shedding of blood.
Wherefore, the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood, otherwise there is none inheritance for you.
And if by purchase, behold you are blessed;
And if by blood, as you are forbidden to shed blood, lo, your enemies are upon you, and ye shall be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance.
I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.
I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man.
And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire.
And behold, this is not yet, but by and by.
Wherefore, seeing that I, the Lord, have decreed all these things upon the face of the earth, I will that my saints should be assembled upon the land of Zion;
And that every man should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins, and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by flight that desolation shall come upon the wicked.
Wherefore, let my disciples in Kirtland arrange their temporal concerns, who dwell upon this farm.
Let my servant Titus Billings, who has the care thereof, dispose of the land, that he may be prepared in the coming spring to take his journey up unto the land of Zion, with those that dwell upon the face thereof, excepting those whom I shall reserve unto myself, that shall not go until I shall command them.
And let all the moneys which can be spared, it mattereth not unto me whether it be little or much, be sent up unto the land of Zion, unto them whom I have appointed to receive.
Behold, I, the Lord, will give unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., power that he shall be enabled to discern by the Spirit those who shall go up unto the land of Zion, and those of my disciples who shall tarry. [Years later, following their individual and collective tests of faith, those who were "chosen" were likewise revealed to Joseph "by the voice of the Spirit" -- see D&C 105:35 37].
Let my servant, Newel K. Whitney retain his store, or in other words, the store, yet for a little season.
Nevertheless, let him impart all the money which he can impart, to be sent up unto the land of Zion.
Behold, these things are in his own hands, let him do according to wisdom.
Verily I say, let him be ordained as an agent unto the disciples that shall tarry, and let him be ordained unto this power;
And now speedily visit the churches, expounding these things unto them, with my servant Oliver Cowdery. Behold, this is my will, obtaining moneys even as I have directed.
He that is faithful and endureth shall overcome the world.
He that sendeth up treasures unto the land of Zion shall receive an inheritance in this world, and his works shall follow him, and also a reward in the world to come.
Yea, and blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth, when the Lord shall come, and old things shall pass away, and all things become new, they shall rise from the dead and shall not die after, and shall receive an inheritance before the Lord, in the holy city.
And he that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man.
Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye.
Wherefore, for this cause preached the apostles unto the world the resurrection of the dead.
These things are the things that ye must look for; and, speaking after the manner of the Lord, they are now nigh at hand, and in a time to come, even in the day of the coming of the Son of Man.
And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire.

D&C 64:15-43

Many of the saints were making preparation to leave Kirtland for the land of Zion, September 11, 1831, and Joseph was likewise making plans to move to the John Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio, to continue his work on the inspired revision of the Bible, when this revelation was given. It is clear from the introductory verses that the Lord was not pleased with those who were still inciting contentions and dissent among the members. Several are called to repentance by the Lord in this revelation, and are commanded to "forgive all men." (See verse 10).

This revelation is rich with counsel and instruction concerning the establishment of Zion, and individual roles of those who were seeking to do the Lord's will are spelled out.

Behold, I, the Lord, was angry with him who was my servant Ezra Booth, and also my servant Isaac Morley, for they kept not the law, neither the commandment;
They sought evil in their hearts, and I, the Lord, withheld my Spirit. They condemned for evil that thing in which there was no evil; nevertheless I have forgiven my servant Isaac Morley.
And also my servant Edward Partridge, behold, he hath sinned, and Satan seeketh to destroy his soul; but when these things are made known unto them, and they repent of the evil, they shall be forgiven.
And now, verily I say that it is expedient in me that my servant Sidney Gilbert, after a few weeks, shall return upon his business, and to his agency in the land of Zion;
And that which he hath seen and heard may be made known unto my disciples, that they perish not. And for this cause have I spoken these things.
And again, I say unto you, that my servant Isaac Morley may not be tempted above that which he is able to bear, and counsel wrongfully to your hurt, I gave commandment that his farm should be sold.
I will not that my servant Frederick G. Williams should sell his farm, for I, the Lord, will to retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five years, in the which I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby I may save some.
And after that day, I, the Lord, will not hold any guilty that shall go with an open heart up to the land of Zion; for I, the Lord, require the hearts of the children of men.
Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
For after today cometh the burning this is speaking after the manner of the Lord for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.
Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.
And it is not meet that my servants, Newel K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert, should sell their store and their possessions here; for this is not wisdom until the residue of the church, which remaineth in this place, shall go up unto the land of Zion.
Behold, it is said in my laws, or forbidden, to get in debt to thine enemies;
But behold, it is not said at any time that the Lord should not take when he please, and pay as seemeth him good.
Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord's errand; and whatsoever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord's business. [Here is the best definition we have in scripture of the Lord's business -- it is whatever we do according to the will of the Lord. Anything less is our own business and is subordinate].
And he hath set you to provide for his saints in these last days, that they may obtain an inheritance in the land of Zion.
And behold, I, the Lord, declare unto you, and my words are sure and shall not fail, that they shall obtain it.
But all things must come to pass in their time.
Wherefore, be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.
And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land.
For, verily I say that the rebellious are not of the blood of Ephraim, wherefore they shall be plucked out.
Behold, I, the Lord, have made my church in these last days like unto a judge sitting on a hill, or in a high place, to judge the nations.
For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.
And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.
And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead.
For, behold, I say unto you that Zion shall flourish, and the glory of the Lord shall be upon her;
And she shall be an ensign unto the people, and there shall come unto her out of every nation under heaven.
And the day shall come when the nations of the earth shall tremble because of her, and shall fear because of her terrible ones. The Lord hath spoken it. Amen.

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