The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 107 to D&C 119)
D&C 107:35-37, 58-59, 74
This revelation deals with various instructions pertaining to offices in the priesthood, and was given prior to the time when the Twelve were planning to leave on missions from Kirtland, Ohio. While the first fifty-eight verses were given on March 28, 1835, most of the rest were given as early as November 1831. The instruction in verses 35-37 pertains to the high council that was organized in Zion, and of course spells out much broader powers for that body than exist today in the usual sense. Verses 58-59 mention Zion in general terms, speaking of the order of the priesthood organization, and verse 74 describes the duties of the bishop in the Church.
The Twelve being sent out, holding the keys, to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and first unto the Gentiles and then unto the Jews.
The standing high councils, at the stakes of Zion, form a quorum equal in authority in the affairs of the church, in all their decisions, to the quorum of the presidency, or to the traveling high council.
The high council in Zion form a quorum equal in authority in the affairs of the church, in all their decisions, to the councils of the Twelve at the stakes of Zion.
It is the duty of the Twelve, also, to ordain and set in order all the other officers of the church, agreeable to the revelation which says:
To the church of Christ in the land of Zion, in addition to the church laws respecting church business.
Thus shall he be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion, or in a stake of Zion, or in any branch of the church where he shall be set apart unto this ministry, until the borders of Zion are enlarged and it becomes necessary to have other bishops or judges in Zion or elsewhere.
By now it was clear to Joseph that Zion would not be redeemed for some time, subject to the conditions the Lord had specified in earlier revelations, and this excerpt gives a synopsis of that which the Prophet had learned to this point concerning Zion's eventual redemption.
Put upon thy servants the testimony of the covenant, that when they go out and proclaim thy word they may seal up the law, and prepare the hearts of thy saints for all those judgments thou art about to send, in thy wrath, upon the inhabitants of the earth, because of their transgressions, that thy people may not faint in the day of trouble.
And whatsoever city thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive their testimony, let thy peace and thy salvation be upon that city; that they may gather out of that city the righteous, that they may come forth to Zion, or to her stakes, the places of thine appointment, with songs of everlasting joy;
And until this be accomplished, let not thy judgments fall upon that city.
And whatsoever city thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive not the testimony of thy servants, and thy servants warn them to save themselves from this untoward generation, let it be upon that city according to that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of thy prophets.
But deliver thou, O Jehovah, we beseech thee, thy servants from their hands, and cleanse them from their blood.
O Lord, we delight not in the destruction of our fellow men; their souls are precious before thee;
But thy word must be fulfilled. Help thy servants to say, with thy grace assisting them: Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.
We know that thou hast spoken by the mouth of thy prophets terrible things concerning the wicked, in the last days -- that thou wilt pour out thy judgments, without measure;
Therefore, O Lord, deliver thy people from the calamity of the wicked; enable thy servants to seal up the law, and bind up the testimony, that they may be prepared against the day of burning.
We ask thee, Holy Father, to remember those who have been driven by the inhabitants of Jackson county, Missouri, from the lands of their inheritance, and break off, O Lord, this yoke of affliction that has been put upon them.
Thou knowest, O Lord, that they have been greatly oppressed and afflicted by wicked men; and our hearts flow out with sorrow because of their grievous burdens.
O Lord, how long wilt thou suffer this people to bear this affliction, and the cries of their innocent ones to ascend up in thine ears, and their blood come up in testimony before thee, and not make a display of thy testimony in their behalf?
Have mercy, O Lord, upon the wicked mob, who have driven thy people, that they may cease to spoil, that they may repent of their sins if repentance is to be found;
But if they will not, make bare thine arm, O Lord, and redeem that which thou didst appoint a Zion unto thy people.
And if it cannot be otherwise, that the cause of thy people may not fail before thee may thine anger be kindled, and thine indignation fall upon them, that they may be wasted away, both root and branch, from under heaven;
But inasmuch as they will repent, thou art gracious and merciful, and wilt turn away thy wrath when thou lookest upon the face of thine Anointed.
Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.
Remember the kings, the princes, the nobles, and the great ones of the earth, and all people, and the churches, all the poor, the needy, and afflicted ones of the earth;
That their hearts may be softened when thy servants shall go out from thy house, O Jehovah, to bear testimony of thy name; that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and thy people may obtain favor in the sight of all;
That all the ends of the earth may know that we, thy servants, have heard thy voice, and that thou hast sent us;
That from among all these, thy servants, the sons of Jacob, may gather out the righteous to build a holy city to thy name, as thou hast commanded them.
We ask thee to appoint unto Zion other stakes besides this one which thou hast appointed, that the gathering of thy people may roll on in great power and majesty, that thy work may be cut short in righteousness.
Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.
The Prophet's petition for the safety of the servants of the Lord, who will in some future day go forth in the midst of widespread destruction, calamity, and the judgments spoken of by the prophets, is consistent with all the revelations the Lord has given concerning Zion's redemption. Zion will be redeemed in the aftermath of this chaos, as the saints arise from the ashes to fulfill their destiny in Zion. As we will discover later in examining the prophetic utterances of the Prophet Joseph, destruction will open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel. In addition we have this well-known statement from Heber C. Kimball, who is quoting Brigham Young:
The western boundary of the State of Missouri will be swept so clean of its inhabitants that as President Young tells us, when you return to that place, there will not be left so much as a yellow dog to wag his tail. (Deseret News, Church Department, May 23, 1931, 3).
. . .let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God. Zion shall not be moved out of her place. . . (D&C 101:16-17).
It is our role as members of the Church to prepare spiritually and temporally for the day of prophesied destruction that will open the door of fulfillment. The day will eventually come when our enemies will attack us on our shores, within the boundaries of our own country. One thing seems certain – unrest among the nations and war will increase and peace will decrease. There is also little doubt that only a select number of the saints will return to Jackson County to commence the work of reclaiming the centerstake of Zion. It will not be a general gathering of saints initially, and dependence upon the Prophet of the Lord in that day will be the means whereby the reclamation will occur. It will come in no other way. The Lord has declared: "For after much tribulation come the blessings." (D&C 58:4).
It behooves us, therefore, my brethren and sisters, to look to ourselves, turning the eye of scrutiny in upon our own souls, and to ask ourselves, "Am I preparing to help redeem Zion and to build up the waste places thereof?" "Am I shaping my conduct so that when the Lord shall call upon the people to do this, I will be one that will be chosen for the work?" (Millennial Star, 56:385-87, June 18, 1894).
The Lord has given us the encouragement to look forward to the day of destruction throughout the scriptures, for in the destruction the delivery of the saints from their bondage in spiritual Babylon begins. He has said: "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. . ." (D&C 49:23).
What shall our attitude toward these realities be? Shall we ignore the admonitions of the Lord to be looking for the fulfillment of the signs of the times? Shall we sing the tired refrain of the spiritually dead, "All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth, all is well?" Shall we cower in fear with all the fatalism of the spiritually unaware, unwilling to move forward with their plans for life? No, verily no!
This much seems clear at this writing (September 12, 2001). An unknown enemy (later determined to be operatives among Muslim extremists linked to “al-Qaida” who had planned their attack meticulously under the direction of Osama bin Laden) has now attacked America within its own boundaries. While the number of casualties is still not known and may never be known, it seems life in America will never be the same again. It appears that the Gadianton robbers have been reborn, and this event might produce a higher number of casualties than any other single day in American history. It is my belief that America’s steadfast support of Israel and the Jews inspired this attack. That support will now evoke short-term sympathy and rally allies from around the world to our side and to the side of Israel, perhaps even enough support to pave the way for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple at Jerusalem. As violence mounts, however, the atrocities associated with retribution and reciprocity – a familiar pattern now – will also escalate, and that short-term support may eventually turn the whole world against Israel after its temple is erected. Left alone in that vacuum, Israel may then come under the influence of the Anti-Christ, giving rise to the whole end-time chain of events that has been foretold in Revelation. Whatever the eventual scenario, keep your eye on the Temple Mount at Jerusalem. There will be a Jewish temple there someday before the Second Coming.
Now over a year later (November 9, 2002), the fifteen-member United Nations Security Council has given unanimous approval to a resolution mandating that Saddam Hussein, the dictatorial ruler of Iraq, disarm his nation of weapons of biological, chemical, and nuclear destruction. It seems war with Iraq, part of President George W. Bush’s infamous “axis of evil,” is just short of becoming a certainty. The declared war on terrorism since the 9/11 attacks is about to expand, perhaps with no end in sight.
And now, fast forward to 2010 -- think what has happened in the aftermath of 9/11. Very little good will or sympathy remains in the world for the United States or for Israel. Our financial decline has been steep and dramatic ever since. At this writing, America, once the financial envy and safe haven for foreign investment in the world economy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, largely because of our own stupidity as a profligate nation, having little to do with our foreign enemies. The worldwide economic meltdown was largely self-induced, including the double whammy of escalating debt and sub-prime mortgage bank investment risks that proved to be catastrophic. That reality was brought to pass by poor judgment on our part. Coupled with the escalated rhetoric coming out of Iran, now possessed with nuclear capability, we continue to keep a wary eye on events in the Middle East. Wars and rumors of wars continue unabated after two very unpopular wars are proving difficult to disengage from against the former dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The drain on America’s pocketbook has been exacerbated by natural disasters around the world, including most recently Haiti and Chile. In light of all these red-flag warnings, however, the present administration and Congress have now surpassed the Franklin D. Roosevelt era of the New Deal in ever-mounting debt and deficit spending that seems like a never-ending orgy of budgetary red ink. Not a happy picture portending uninterrupted success and prosperity, is it? But despite it all we soldier on as saints of the latter days in anticipation of what is yet to come in the fulfillment of prophetic visions concerning the establishment of Zion.
D&C 111:2, 6
Much has been made of this revelation by the enemies of the Church, who have directed their guile at the Prophet's presumed lust for money and buried treasure. This much is true concerning the circumstances surrounding this revelation:
1. The Church in July 1836, was destitute, and desperately in need of cash.
2. A report had come to the Prophet's attention, while he was living in Kirtland, that a large amount of money was buried beneath a home in Salem, Massachusetts.
3. The Prophet was sufficiently persuaded about the accuracy of the report that he left Kirtland on July 25, 1836, with some of the brethren to investigate the claim.
4. They found no money in Salem, but a detailed account of their journey, compiled by Lyndon Cook (see RPJS, 220-1, 330-1), points out that the prophecy they would find "much treasure" in the city of Salem was literally fulfilled within a few years, when close to 100 baptisms were performed.
I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality.
Concern not yourselves about Zion, for I will deal mercifully with her.
Let thy habitation be known in Zion, and remove not thy house; for I, the Lord, have a great work for thee to do, in publishing my name among the children of men.
March 1838 is the date given for this revelation. The commandment was given in January of that year for the Prophet to leave Kirtland, because of the threats against him. The earliest records of these questions and answers are found in the Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith that was begun in Far West, Missouri, on April 12, 1838. (See RPJS, 224).
As we discovered earlier while examining references to Zion in The Book of Mormon, Isaiah 52 was a particular favorite of the prophets. No doubt Elias Higbee also read the passages, and wondered about their fulfillment. We are fortunate that he asked the Prophet to tell him what the prophecy meant, and that a record of the answer was preserved.
Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion -- and what people had Isaiah reference to?
He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.
What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse?
We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.
Many subjects are contemplated in the few verses quoted from this revelation: The name of the Church was officially established, the city of Far West, Missouri, was designated as holy ground, the gathering to Zion and into her stakes as a defense from the destruction of the last days was discussed, and the commandment to build a temple at Far West was given.
Prior to this revelation, given April 26, 1838, the name of the Church was "The Church of Christ," and "The Church of the Latter day Saints." As we move further away in time from the first attempt to redeem the land of Zion through the organization of Zion's Camp, the revelations seem to indicate that there will be more to do before Zion can be reclaimed.
Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and also my servant Sidney Rigdon, and also my servant Hyrum Smith, and your counselors who are and shall be appointed hereafter;
And also unto you, my servant Edward Partridge, and his counselors;
And also unto my faithful servants who are of the high council of my church in Zion, for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world;
For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.
Let the city, Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me; and it shall be called most holy, for the ground upon which thou standest is holy.
Therefore, I command you to build a house unto me, for the gathering together of my saints, that they may worship me.
D&C 117:4-9, 13-14
The Lord reveals much about himself in this revelation, given July 8, 1838. The Lord declares in verse 1 that he sends the snow upon the earth, which begs the question if God does not sometimes use the weather to humble his children. Verses 4 and 6 speak of the silly notion some still held, even after all the revelations to the contrary, that property is so important to the Lord, and he declares that he holds the destinies of all the armies of the earth.
We learn in verse 8 that the land of Zion in Missouri is the place where Adam dwelt, putting to rest forevermore that question. Verse 11 rebukes Newel K. Whitney for his participa-tion in the "Nicolaitane band" (see Revelation 2:6, 15, and scriptures in The Book of Mormon related to secret combinations), a group of dissidents who were secretly plotting against the Prophet. The Lord, still trying to root out the covetous spirit in the hearts of his servants, teaches us through Oliver Granger, that our sacrifice is more sacred than our increase, a message very few of us yet understand. (See Mark 12:41-44; JST Mark 10:15-26, then don't be so hard on yourself for your blindness -- not even his closest disciples understood that the only way to have all the Father has is to give up all you have in sacrifice and consecration. It's an equal exchange. We only receive what we're willing to give. The covenant is all for all). Then, finally, the Lord declares in verse 16 that he will yet overthrow "the moneychangers."
Here again, the references to Zion in this revelation are less significant than the rest of the information conveyed.
Let them repent of all their sins, and of all their covetous desires, before me, saith the Lord; for what is property unto me? saith the Lord.
Let the properties of Kirtland be turned out for debts, saith the Lord. Let them go, saith the Lord, and whatsoever remaineth, let it remain in your hands, saith the Lord.
For have I not the fowls of heaven, and also the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the mountains? Have I not made the earth? Do I not hold the destinies of all the armies of the nations of the earth?
Therefore, will I not make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance? saith the Lord.
Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and on the plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt, that you should covet that which is but the drop, and neglect the more weighty matters?
Therefore, come up hither unto the land of my people, even Zion.
Therefore, let him [Oliver Granger] contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord.
Therefore, let him come up hither speedily, unto the land of Zion; and in the due time he shall be made a merchant unto my name, saith the Lord, for the benefit of my people.
Four members of the Quorum of the Twelve have apostatized at the time of this revelation, namely, William E. McLellin, Lyman E. Johnson, Luke Johnson, and John F. Boynton. Named to replace them were John Taylor, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, and Willard Richards.
Thomas B. Marsh is commanded to remain in Far West to oversee the publication of the revelations, while the remainder of the Twelve is commanded to go to England on missions the following spring. The petition of the brethren, resulting in this revelation given July 8, 1838, was, "Show us thy will, O Lord, concerning the Twelve." It is only one of many revelations given on the same day.
Let my servant Thomas remain for a season in the land of Zion, to publish my word.
This revelation introduces the law of tithing, and was also given on July 8, 1838. The implementation of tithing called for the consecration of all the surplus property of the saints, then the payment of one tenth of "all their interest annually." Since the saints had withheld their substance under the full implementation of the Church program for the law of consecration, it should come as little surprise that they were likewise inclined to treat the law of tithing with similar reluctance. It was not until well into the next century that the Church began living the law of tithing to the degree that even approached what the Lord had in mind initially.
As you read the following statement of Brigham Young, ask yourself how much progress we have made in our attitudes. While there are many inspiring and dramatic examples of the sacrifices of our ancestors throughout our history, conditions have not really changed that much since then. There are always a few, then as now, who are truly willing to consecrate all their property to the Lord, but sad to say the generality of the membership of the Church still have not learned this lesson. I have been blessed to know many who will consecrate. As we read these words, it could well be today’s Prophet speaking:
When the revelation which I have read [Section 119] was given in 1838, I was present, and recollect the feelings of the brethren. A number of revelations were given on the same day. The brethren wished me to go among the Churches, and find out what surplus property the people had, with which to forward the building of the Temple we were commencing at Far West. I accordingly went from place to place through the country. Before I started, I asked brother Joseph, "Who shall be the judge of what is surplus property?" Said he, "Let them be the judges themselves, for I care not if they do not give a single dime. So far as I am concerned, I do not want anything they have."
Then I replied, "I will go and ask them for their surplus property;" and I did so; I found the people said they were willing to do about as they were counselled, but, upon asking them about their surplus property, most of the men who owned land and cattle would say, "I have got so many hundred acres of land, and I have got so many boys, and I want each one of them to have eighty acres, therefore this is not surplus property." Again, "I have got so many girls, and I do not believe I shall be able to give them more than forty acres each." "Well, you have got two or three hundred acres left." "Yes, but I have a brother-in-law coming on, and he will depend on me for a living; my wife's nephew is also coming on, he is poor, and I shall have to furnish him a farm after he arrives here." I would go on to the next one, and he would have more land and cattle than he could make use of to advantage. It is a laughable idea, but is nevertheless true, men would tell me they were young and beginning the world, and would say, "We have no children, but our prospects are good, and we think we shall have a family of children, and if we do, we want to give them eighty acres of land each; we have no surplus property." "How many cattle have you?" "So many." "How many horses, etc.?" "So many, but I have made provisions for all these, and I have use for every thing I have got."
. . . I mention these things to illustrate the feelings of many of the people, for they do not understand the spirit they are of. When a man wishes to give anything, let him give the best he has got. The Lord has given me all I possess; I have nothing in reality, not a single dime of it is mine. . . The time will come when the people will look back on their first experience, and they will realise that that which they now consider hardship was their greatest blessing. They are called to leave their homes, their parents, their families, and their native country. They are called away by the providence of God to what they now consider to be sorrow; but it is not so, it is only an experience put into the possession of the Saints, that they may know the blessings of eternity. There is no being in eternity about whom we have ever read or heard, but what has suffered in like manner as we have, for it was by suffering they had to gain their exaltation, as you and I will have to do. (JD, vol.2, 306-7).
Now contrast that characterization of the smallness of soul Brigham observed in others with how he characterized his own situation. Some knew how to consecrate, while the majority could not or would not. Guess for yourself who obtained the promised blessings:
I came into this Church in the spring of 1832. Previous to my being baptized, I took a mission to Canada at my own expense; and from the time that I was baptized until the day of our sorrow and affliction, at the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, no summer passed over my head but what I was traveling and preaching, and the only thing I ever received from the Church, during over twelve years, and the only means that were ever given me by the Prophet, that I now recollect, was in 1842, when brother Joseph sent me the half of a small pig that the brethren had brought to him, I did not ask him for it; it weighed 93 pounds. And that fall, previous to my receiving that half of a pig, brother H. C. Kimball and myself were engaged all the time in pricing property that came in on tithing, and we were also engaged in gathering tithing, and I had an old saddle valued at two dollars presented to me, and brother Heber was credited two dollars in the Church books for one day's services, by brother Willard Richards who was then keeping those books. Brother Heber said, "Blot that out, for I don't want it." I think it was crossed out, and so was the saddle, for I did not want it, even had it been given to me. These were the only articles I ever received in the days of Joseph, so far as I recollect. (JD 4:34).
Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion,
For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.
And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.
And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.
Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.
And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.
And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen.
Few can doubt that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become a model of economic fitness and wellness based upon the application of the simple laws of tithing and consecration. Governments, particularly the government of the United States of America, would do well to take note.
These eighteen men — the Presidency, the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric — constitute the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes. What might be regarded as executive committees of this larger council include the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee. The expenditure of all Church funds comes under the purview of these bodies.
In the financial operations of the Church, we have observed two basic and fixed principles: One, the Church will live within its means. It will not spend more than it receives. Two, a fixed percentage of the income will be set aside to build reserves against what might be called a possible "rainy day."
For years, the Church has taught its membership the principle of setting aside a reserve of food, as well as money, to take care of emergency needs that might arise. We are only trying to follow the same principle for the Church as a whole. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 120).