The Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation in Kirtland on 9 March 1833, one day after section 90 was given. He was engaged in the revision of the Bible at the time (see D&C 90:13). The Bible from which he was making his corrections contained the Apocrypha. The Prophet inquired of the Lord whether he should also revise that part of the Bible, after which he received the revelation known as section 91 (see History of the Church, 1:331–32).
“It is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated” (D&C 91:3).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave the following explanation of the apocryphal writings and why the Latter-day Saints do not accept them as scripture:
“Scholars and Biblical students have grouped certain apparently scriptural Old Testament writings, which they deem to be of doubtful authenticity or of a spurious nature, under the title of the Apocrypha. There has not always been agreement as to the specific writings which should be designated as apocryphal, but the following are now generally so listed: 1st and 2nd Esdras (sometimes called 3rd and 4th Esdras, because in the Douay Bible, Ezra is 1st Esdras, and Nehemiah, 2nd Esdras); Tobit; Judith; the rest of the chapters of Esther; Wisdom of Solomon; Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus; Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah; additional parts of Daniel, including the Song of the Three Holy Children, the History of Susanna, and the History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon; Prayer of Manasses; 1st and 2nd Maccabees (called in the Douay Version, 1st and 2nd Machabees).
“These apocryphal writings were never included in the Hebrew Bible, but they were in the Greek Septuagint (the Old Testament used by the early apostles) and in the Latin Vulgate. Jerome, who translated the Vulgate, was required to include them in his translation, though he is quoted as having decided they should be read ‘for example of life and instruction of manners’ and should not be used ‘to establish any doctrine.’ Luther’s German Bible grouped the apocryphal books together (omitting 1st and 2nd Esdras) at the end of the Old Testament under the heading: ‘Apocrypha: these are books which are not held equal to the sacred scriptures, and yet are useful and good for reading.’
“The Apocrypha was included in the King James Version of 1611, but by 1629 some English Bibles began to appear without it, and since the early part of the 19th century it has been excluded from almost all Protestant Bibles. The American Bible Society, founded in 1816, . . . and the British and Foreign Bible Society [excluded the Apocrypha from most of their Bibles during the 19th century].
“From these dates it is apparent that controversy was still raging as to the value of the Apocrypha at the time the Prophet began his ministry. Accordingly, in 1833, while engaged in revising the King James Version by the spirit of revelation, the Prophet felt impelled to inquire of the Lord as to the authenticity of the Apocrypha. From the answer it is clear that the books of the Apocrypha were inspired writings in the first instance, but that subsequent interpolations and changes had perverted and twisted their original contexts so as to leave them with doubtful value.
“Speaking of the Apocrypha the Lord says: ‘There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated. Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated.’ (D. & C. 91.) . . .
“Obviously, to gain any real value from a study of apocryphal writings, the student must first have an extended background of gospel knowledge, a comprehensive understanding of the standard works of the Church, plus the guidance of the Spirit.” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 41–42.)
“In the Revelation given on April 26th, 1832 (sec. 82), the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, Sidney Rigdon, Newel K. Whitney, and a few others (v. 11) to unite their temporal interests under the rule of the Order of Enoch. In this Revelation the brethren in that organization are commanded to receive, as a member, Frederick G. Williams, whom the Lord had declared to be the equal of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in holding the keys of the kingdom (Sec. 90:6).” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, pp. 586–87.)
The law of consecration is the law whereby individuals consecrate their time, talents, and possessions to the Lord. The united order was an organization set up to implement the law of consecration. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained the difference: “In order to live the law of consecration, the early saints in this dispensation set up the United Order as the legal organization to receive consecrations, convey stewardships back to donors, and to regulate the storehouses containing surplus properties” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 813).
Verse 1 of this revelation commands the members of the united order to receive Frederick G. Williams as a member. Verse 2 admonishes Williams to be “a lively member in this order” (D&C 92:2). A lively member of a group is one who works diligently to advance the goals and principles of the group. A major purpose of the order of Enoch was to help the Church become “independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world” (D&C 78:14).
The spring of 1833 was a time of joy but also a time of trials for the Saints. In Kirtland the Lord revealed many things in the School of the Prophets, and the Saints prepared for a stake of Zion to be established there.
In Zion, in Jackson County, Missouri, a special conference was held on 6 April to commemorate the organization of the Church. “It was an early spring, and the leaves and blossoms enlivened and gratified the soul of man like a glimpse of Paradise. The day was spent in a very agreeable manner, in giving and receiving knowledge which appertained to this last kingdom—it being just 1800 years since the Savior laid down His life that men might have everlasting life, and only three years since the Church had come out of the wilderness, preparatory for the last dispensation. The Saints had great reason to rejoice.” (History of the Church, 1:337.)
But in April 1833 mobs gathered to persecute the Saints in Missouri. In both Kirtland and Independence members of the Church apostatized and turned against their former brethren, and Joseph was faced with the possibility of a schism between the Church in Missouri and in Ohio.
On 6 May 1833 the Prophet received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 93, which comforted the Saints and gave instruction on several gospel themes.
All God’s faithful children will eventually realize the fulfillment of the promise to see His face, but “it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (D&C 88:68). But we do not need to wait until then to know that He lives. We can have a witness long before we arrive at that point.
Elder Francis M. Lyman taught: “Every Latter-day Saint is entitled to this witness and testimony. If we have not received [it] . . . the fault is ours, and not the Lord’s; for every one is entitled to that witness through faith and repentance, forsaking all sin, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the reception of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. Now, if any of our brethren and sisters have lived for years without really knowing, being thoroughly satisfied and thoroughly convinced, just as positive as of anything in life, that this work is of God, if they have lacked that witness and testimony it is their fault, for it is not possible for a man to do the will of the Father and not know the doctrine.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1910, pp. 29–30.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote that the promise of seeing the face of God may be fulfilled in this life:
“We have the power—and it is our privilege—so to live, that becoming pure in heart, we shall see the face of God while we yet dwell as mortals in a world of sin and sorrow.
“This is the crowning blessing of mortality. It is offered by that God who is no respecter of persons to all the faithful in his kingdom.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p. 52; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 34.)
President Spencer W. Kimball added: “I have learned that where there is a prayerful heart, a hungering after righteousness, a forsaking of sins, and obedience to the commandments of God, the Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil and to know more than man knows. A person of such righteousness has the priceless promise that one day he shall see the Lord’s face and know that he is.” (“Give the Lord Your Loyalty,” Ensign, Mar. 1980, p. 4.)
See Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 88:6–13.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“John the Baptist [was] destined to write of the gospel of that Lord whose witness he is, but his account, perhaps because it contains truths and concepts that the saints and the world are not yet prepared to receive, has so far not been given to men. On May 6, 1833, however, the Lord did reveal to Joseph Smith eleven verses of the Baptist’s writings, and promised that ‘the fulness of the record of John’ would be revealed when the faith of men entitled them to receive it. (D&C 93:6–18.)
“From what has been revealed of the writings of the Baptist, and from what John the Apostle has written in his Gospel, it is clear that John the Apostle had before him the writings of John the Baptist when he wrote his Gospel. John 1:1–38 and John 3:23–36 are quoted or paraphrased from that which was first written by the Baptist” (Mortal Messiah, 1:426–27).
Section 93 teaches that this world and other worlds were not made directly by the Father but by the Lord Jesus Christ under His direction. In the New Testament, John the Apostle says, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3; see also verse 10). The Epistle to the Hebrews states that Christ, God’s “heir of all things,” is the one by whom God “made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus is creator of “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33)—innumerable to man, but numbered unto God (see v. 37).
President Lorenzo Snow said: “When Jesus lay in the manger, a helpless infant, He knew not that He was the Son of God, and that formerly He created the earth. When the edict of Herod was issued, He knew nothing of it; He had not power to save Himself; and His father and mother had to take Him and fly into Egypt to preserve Him from the effects of that edict. Well, He grew up to manhood, and during His progress it was revealed unto Him who He was, and for what purpose He was in the world. The glory and power He possessed before He came into the world was made known unto Him.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1901, p. 3.)
Jesus grew until He had a fulness of grace, truth, glory, and power. John saw that Jesus “received a fulness of the glory of the Father” (D&C 93:16). Verse 17 of section 93 says that “he received all power both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.” Verses 19 and 20 indicate that all people may grow to the point of receiving a fulness if they will follow the example of the Savior.
President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “God the Father has given Jesus Christ a name above all others, so that eventually every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the light, and no one can come back into the presence of our Father in heaven except through him. Christ is God the Son and possesses every virtue in its perfection. Therefore, the only measure of true greatness is how close a man can become like Jesus. That man is greatest who is most like Christ, and those who love him most will be most like him.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1972, p. 53; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, p. 57.)
If that goal seems unachievable, we should remember that even Jesus did not have the fulness at first but achieved it by receiving “grace for grace” (D&C 93:12). The word grace is a translation of the Greek word charis, which has the basic meaning of “sweetness, charm, loveliness,” but which the New Testament uses in the sense of “good-will, loving-kindness, favor.” The grace of God is “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of Christian virtues.” (Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, pp. 665–66.)
In short, grace refers to the gifts and power of God by which we can be brought to perfection. To come to a fulness by moving from grace to grace means that as we obey the commandments, the Father gives us more and more power until we receive a fulness of power.
The Lord taught Moroni this same principle and added that His grace (or gifts and powers) are “sufficient,” that is, fully capable of doing what is required. “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
To receive these gifts and power, we must submit to God’s will and obey His commandments. None of us can become perfect through our own efforts alone. Moroni shows how our personal efforts can bring the grace of God and move us step by step, from grace to grace, to perfection (see Moroni 10:32–33).
The word worship comes from two Anglo-Saxon words: weorth, worthy, and scipe, state or condition. The Lord deserves to be worshiped because His condition is a worthy one. Elder James E. Talmage said: “The worship of which one is capable depends upon his comprehension of the worthiness characterizing the object of his reverence. Man’s capacity for worship is a measure of his comprehension of God.” (Articles of Faith, pp. 395–96.)
We worship to express our feelings about divine things. If we have reverence for God’s truth and grace and desire to be like Him, we can worship Him by keeping His commandments. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:
“To worship the Lord is to follow after him, to seek his face, to believe his doctrine, and to think his thoughts.
“It is to walk in his paths, to be baptized as Christ was, to preach that gospel of the kingdom which fell from his lips, and to heal the sick and raise the dead as he did.
“To worship the Lord is to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, to center our whole hearts upon Christ and that salvation which comes because of him.
“It is to walk in the light as he is in the light, to do the things that he wants done, to do what he would do under similar circumstances, to be as he is.
“To worship the Lord is to walk in the Spirit, to rise above carnal things, to bridle our passions, and to overcome the world.
“It is to pay our tithes and offerings, to act as wise stewards in caring for those things which have been entrusted to our care, and to use our talents and means for the spreading of truth and the building up of his kingdom.
“To worship the Lord is to be married in the temple, to have children, to teach them the gospel, and to bring them up in light and truth.
“It is to perfect the family unit, to honor our father and our mother; it is for a man to love his wife with all his heart and to cleave unto her and none else.
“To worship the Lord is to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
“It is to work on a welfare project, to administer to the sick, to go on a mission, to go home teaching, and to hold family home evening.
“To worship the Lord is to study the gospel, to treasure up light and truth, to ponder in our hearts the things of his kingdom, and to make them part of our lives.
“It is to pray with all the energy of our souls, to preach by the power of the Spirit, to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving.
“To worship is to work, to be actively engaged in a good cause, to be about our Father’s business, to love and serve our fellowmen.
“It is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to comfort those that mourn, and to hold up the hands that hang down and to strengthen the feeble knees.
“To worship the Lord is to stand valiantly in the cause of truth and righteousness, to let our influence for good be felt in civic, cultural, educational, and governmental fields, and to support those laws and principles which further the Lord’s interests on earth.
“To worship the Lord is to be of good cheer, to be courageous, to be valiant, to have the courage of our God-given convictions, and to keep the faith.
“It is ten thousand times ten thousand things. It is keeping the commandments of God. It is living the whole law of the whole gospel.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1971, pp. 168–69; or Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 130.)
We may grow to a fulness of the glory of God by following the Savior.
As explained in Doctrine and Covenants 29:30–33, the Lord used the word beginning only because finite mortals cannot grasp completely that all things are eternal. The word beginning may refer to the time when we began as the spirit offspring of God or to the time when the earth began as a temporal sphere.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the intelligent part of man has always existed: “The spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be eternal.” (History of the Church, 3:387.)
Speaking of eternal truth, Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:
“For those who believe we are all going to be around forever, it is both natural and wise to concern ourselves with such questions and also with such principles which are also going to be around forever. The definition of truth given in 1833 about things ‘as they are,’ ‘as they were,’ and ‘as they are to come’ (D&C 93:24) is related to another scripture: ‘. . . for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be . . . plainly, for the salvation of our souls. . . .’ [Jacob 4:13.] Note the presence of that powerful adverb really. The gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints deal plainly with realities—‘things as they really are,’ and ‘things as they really will be.’” (“Eternalism vs. Secularism,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 71.)
President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “If we live in such a way that the considerations of eternity press upon us, we will make better decisions. Perhaps this is why President Brigham Young once said that if he could do but one thing to bless the Saints, he believed it would be to give them ‘eyes with which to see things as they are.’ (Journal of Discourses, 3:221; italics added.) It is interesting to note how those last words reflect the words of the scripture in which truth is described as ‘knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.’ (D&C 93:24.) Jacob reminds us also that ‘the Spirit speaketh the truth . . . of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.’ [Jacob 4:13.]
“The more clearly we see eternity, the more obvious it becomes that the Lord’s work in which we are engaged is one vast and grand work with striking similarities on each side of the veil.” (“The Things of Eternity—Stand We in Jeopardy?” Ensign, Jan. 1977, p. 3.)
Elder John A. Widtsoe noted that “intelligence as used by Latter-day Saints has two chief meanings. . . . First, a man who gathers knowledge and uses it in harmony with the plan of salvation is intelligent. He has intelligence. . . . Second, the word when preceded by the article an, or used in the plural as intelligences, means a person, or persons, usually in the spiritual estate. Just as we speak of a person or persons, we speak of an intelligence, or intelligences.” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 3:74; see also Abraham 3:22–23.)
We know very little about the concept of intelligence. President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Some of our writers have endeavored to explain what an intelligence is, but to do so is futile, for we have never been given any insight into this matter beyond what the Lord has fragmentarily revealed. We know, however, that there is something called intelligence which always existed. It is the real eternal part of man, which was not created or made. This intelligence combined with the spirit constitutes a spiritual identity or individual.” (Progress of Man, p. 11.)
President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “The earth is spherical. If all the four billion people in the world think it flat, they are in error. That is an absolute truth, and all the arguing in the world will not change it.
“We learn about these absolute truths by being taught by the Spirit. These truths are ‘independent’ in their spiritual sphere and are to be discovered spiritually, though they may be confirmed by experience and intellect. (See D&C 93:30.) The great prophet Jacob said that ‘the Spirit speaketh the truth. . . . Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.’ (Jacob 4:13.) We need to be taught in order to understand life and who we really are.
“The Gods organized and gave life to man and placed him on the earth. This is absolute. It cannot be disproved. A million brilliant minds might conjecture otherwise, but it is still true. And having done all this for his Father’s children, the Christ mapped out a plan of life for man—a positive and absolute program whereby man might achieve, accomplish, and overcome and perfect himself. Again, these vital truths are not matters of opinion. If they were, then your opinion would be just as good as mine, or better. But I give you these things, not as my opinion—I give them to you as divine truths which are absolute.
“Some day you will see and feel and understand and perhaps even berate yourself for the long delay and waste of time. It is not a matter of if. It is a matter of when.
“Experience in one field does not automatically create expertise in another field. Expertise in religion comes from personal righteousness and from revelation. The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: ‘All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it.’ (D&C 93:30.) A geologist who has discovered truths about the structure of the earth may be oblivious to the truths God has given us about the eternal nature of the family.
“If I can only make clear this one thing, it will give us a basis on which to build. Man cannot discover God or his ways by mere mental processes. One must be governed by the laws which control the realm into which he is delving. To become a plumber, one must study the laws which govern plumbing. He must know stresses and strains, temperatures at which pipes will freeze, laws which govern steam, hot water, expansion, contraction, and so forth. One might know much about plumbing and be a complete failure in training children or getting along with men. One might be the best of bookkeepers and yet not know anything of electricity. One might know much about buying and selling groceries and be absolutely ignorant of bridge building.
“One might be a great authority on the hydrogen bomb and yet know nothing of banking. One might be a noted theologian and yet be wholly untrained in watchmaking. One might be the author of the law of relativity and yet know nothing of the Creator who originated every law. I repeat, these are not matters of opinion. They are absolute truths. These truths are available to every soul.
“Any intelligent man may learn what he wants to learn. He may acquire knowledge in any field, though it requires much thought and effort. It takes more than a decade to get a high school diploma; it takes an additional four years for most people to get a college degree; it takes nearly a quarter-century to become a great physician. Why, oh, why do people think they can fathom the most complex spiritual depths without the necessary experimental and laboratory work accompanied by compliance with the laws that govern it? Absurd it is, but you will frequently find popular personalities, who seem never to have lived a single law of God, discoursing in interviews on religion. How ridiculous for such persons to attempt to outline for the world a way of life!” (“Absolute Truth,” Ensign, Sept. 1978, pp. 3–5.)
We are dual beings comprised of both a spirit and a physical body. These bodies together form the soul (see D&C 88:15; Notes and Commentary on D&C 88:15.) Death separates the body and the spirit temporarily, but the Resurrection connects them inseparably. The Resurrection paves the way for a “fulness of joy” (D&C 93:33).
The physical body is a gift from God and is sacred. In this verse and elsewhere, the physical body is compared to a temple (see 1 Corinthians 3:16–17). Part of our judgment will be based on our treatment of the body. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body.” (Teachings, p. 181.)
The devil, jealous that he cannot have a physical body, tries to tempt us to abuse it. The Lord, on the other hand, has given the Word of Wisdom and other counsel so we can know what is good and bad for the body, or how to care for the temple the Lord has given us.
Elder John A. Widtsoe explained:
“Among the many great truths revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, none is more beloved by the Church than ‘The Glory of God is intelligence. The word intelligence, as used in common speech, means readiness in learning, quickness of mind. Its higher Gospel meaning is more profound. The intelligent man is he who seeks knowledge and uses it in accordance with the plan of the Lord for human good. This is implied in the revelation from which the quotation is made, for the full sentence reads, ‘The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth.’ When men follow the light their knowledge will always be well used.
“Intelligence, then, becomes but another name for wisdom. In the language of mathematics we may say that knowledge, plus the proper use of knowledge, equals intelligence, or wisdom. In this sense intelligence becomes the goal of the successful life. Knowledge is one of the means by which such intelligence is attained; the use of knowledge is equally as important, for it gives life and direction to knowledge. . . . Thus it often happens that a person of limited knowledge but who earnestly and prayerfully obeys the law, rises to a higher intelligence or wisdom, than one of vast Gospel learning who does not comply in his daily life with the requirements of the Gospel. Obedience to law is a mark of intelligence.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1938, p. 50.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that “there is no such thing as original sin as such is defined in the creeds of Christendom. Such a concept denies the efficacy of the atonement. Our revelation says: ‘Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning’—meaning that spirits started out in a state of purity and innocence in preexistence—‘and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God’ (D&C 93:38)—meaning that all children start out their mortal probation in purity and innocence because of the atonement. Our revelations also say, ‘The Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.’ (Moses 6:54.)” (“The Salvation of Little Children,” Ensign, Apr. 1977, p. 4.)
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that the home is the most important place to counter Satan’s influence:
“In 1833 the Lord warned through his prophet, ‘And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.’ (D&C 93:39.)
“And then he offered the solution, ‘But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.’ (D&C 93:40.)
“The spirit of the times is worldliness. Hoodlumism is common. Supposedly good youth from recognized good families express their revolt in destructive acts. Many defy and resist the law-enforcing officers. Respect for authority, secular, religious, and political, seems to be at a low ebb. Immorality, drug addiction, and general moral and spiritual deterioration seem to be increasing, and the world is in turmoil. But in our time the Lord has offered his ageless program in new dress and it gives promise to return the world to sane living, to true family life, family interdependence. It is to return the father to his rightful place at the head of the family, to bring mother home from social life and employment, the children away from unlimited fun and frolic. The home teaching program with its crowning activity, the family home evening, will neutralize the ill effects only if people will apply the remedy.” (“Home: The Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, pp. 3–4.)
The Lord spoke to Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Newel K. Whitney in turn about the seriousness of neglecting their families. President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“In modern times the Lord said, ‘Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness.’ (D&C 68:31.) We do not rear children just to please our vanity. We bring children into the world to become kings and queens, priests and priestesses for our Lord.
“To Frederick G. Williams, the Lord said, [D&C 93:41–43].
“Turning to Sidney Rigdon, the Lord charged, [D&C 93:44].
“And then the Lord said, ‘What I say unto one I say unto all; pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place.’ (D&C 93:49.)
“How sad if the Lord should charge any of us parents with having failed to teach our children. Truly a tremendous responsibility falls upon a couple when they bring children into the world. Not only food, clothes, and shelter are required of them, but loving, kindly disciplining, teaching, and training. “Of course, there are a few disobedient souls regardless of training and teaching, but the great majority of children respond to such parental guidance. The scripture says, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ (Prov. 22:6.) And if he departs, he will probably return if he has been brought up in the right way.” (“Train Up a Child,” Ensign, Apr. 1978, pp. 4–5.)
Parents have the stewardship to teach and train their children.
On 23 March 1833 a council was called to appoint a committee to purchase land in Kirtland for a stake of Zion. The committee was appointed, and some large farms were purchased. Among these was the Peter French farm, so-called after its previous owner. It was purchased because it had an excellent stone quarry and facilities for making brick. (See History of the Church, 1:335–36, 346.) The Kirtland Temple was later built on a part of the Peter French farm.
Once the land was purchased, a city plat was surveyed, and the Saints gathered from surrounding states until the Church in Kirtland numbered about fifteen hundred souls. In this revelation, given on 6 May 1833, the same day section 93 was given, the Lord instructed the Saints “to build the city of Kirtland Stake, beginning at His house” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 600; see also Historical Background to Doctrine and Covenants 93).
“The city of the stake of Zion” at Kirtland was to be built “beginning at my house” (D&C 94:1). The city was to be laid out with the temple as the starting point and the rest of the city built in relation to it. Joseph Smith drafted a plan for the central city of Zion in the spring of 1833 as a general pattern for cities of Zion. According to a copy of the plan sent to the Church in Independence, the temple was to be located in the center tier of blocks in a one-mile-square plat (see p. 118; see also Berrett, Restored Church, pp. 91–92.)
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
“A lot was set apart for the building of a house for the use of the First Presidency and where revelation could be given and all matters pertaining to the progress of the Church could receive proper attention. . . . It was to be dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, according to the order of the Priesthood. There is no question that the First Presidency needed a place where they could attend to the matters of Church government. This was to be a sacred house; no unclean thing was to be permitted to enter it, and if the builders would remember this the presence of the Lord should be in the building.
“The second lot south of this building was to be dedicated for the building of another house where the printing for the Church could be done and the translation of the scriptures, on which the Prophet had been working off and on for many months, could be published. . . . This house also was to be dedicated to the service of the Lord, and set apart for the printing.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:404.)
In such a sacred building as the house of the First Presidency mentioned here, the Lord will manifest His glory for the benefit of those who enter worthily. The Spirit of the Lord is repulsed by uncleanness. Therefore, if individuals enter the Lord’s house in a state of impurity, “the Spirit of the Lord is grieved” and “the heavens withdraw themselves” (D&C 121:36–37). Therefore, all who enter must purify themselves from sin. This was true of the houses referred to in this revelation, as well as the Kirtland Temple, which was built later, and it is true of modern temples. One purpose of the temple recommend is to ensure that those who enter the temple do so in worthiness, so that the Lord’s house will not be defiled and the outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit will not be inhibited or restrained.
Bishops hold the keys to judge individuals worthy to enter the temple.
Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter were appointed as a committee to oversee the completion of certain buildings in Kirtland. To aid them in their assignment, the Lord gave them land adjacent to the temple lot. The Lord specified that the buildings for the First Presidency and the printing work should not begin “until I give unto you a commandment concerning them” (D&C 94:16). As it happened, the building of the Kirtland Temple took all the energy and finances of the Church. By the time it was completed, the faithful in Kirtland were compelled to leave for Missouri, so the other two buildings were not completed.
The commandment to build a temple was first given in December 1832 (see D&C 88:119). The Prophet Joseph Smith reported that when Doctrine and Covenants 95 was given, “great preparations were making to commence a house of the Lord,” but “the Church was poor” and the work lagged (History of the Church, 1:349–50.) On 1 June 1833 the temple committee, composed of Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter, sent a circular to all the members, encouraging them to assist spiritually and temporally in building the temple. On the same day the Prophet Joseph Smith received section 95, in which the Lord reproved the Saints for neglecting the commandment to build a temple.
If we love someone in the highest sense of the word, we are deeply concerned for that person’s eternal as well as temporal welfare. Sometimes a leader or parent sees that correction is necessary for a person to progress. President Spencer W. Kimball, counseling priesthood leaders, said:
“We are concerned that too many times the interviewing leader in his personal sympathies for the transgressor, and in his love perhaps for the family of the transgressor, is inclined to waive the discipline which that transgressor demands.
“Too often a transgressor is forgiven and all penalties waived when that person should have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated. Too often a sinner is disfellowshipped when he or she should have been excommunicated. . . .
“Do you remember what was said by the prophet Alma? ‘Now,’ he said, ‘repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment.’ [Alma 42:16.]
“Ponder on that for a moment. Have you realized that? There can be no forgiveness without real and total repentance, and there can be no repentance without punishment. This is as eternal as is the soul. . . .
“Please remember these things when somebody comes before you who has broken the laws of God.
“It is so easy to let our sympathies carry us out of proportion; and when a man has committed sin, he must suffer. It’s an absolute requirement—not by the bishop—but it’s a requirement by nature and by the very part of a man.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p. 116; or Ensign, May 1975, p. 78.)
Sometimes chastening is the only way to bring about obedience and the happiness that results. “Whom I love I also chasten,” the Lord said (D&C 95:1). President Brigham Young said: “At times I may to many of the brethren appear to be severe. I sometimes chasten them; but it is because I wish them to so live that the power of God, like a flame of fire, will dwell within them and be round about them. These are my feelings and desires.” (In Journal of Discourses, 8:62.)
Later verses in section 95 show why it was so important to build the temple. Missionaries were to be prepared there “to prune [the Lord’s] vineyard” for the last time (v. 4). Also in the temple the Lord intended to “endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high” (v. 8).
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “The Kirtland Temple was necessary before the apostles (who had not yet been called), and other elders of the Church could receive the endowment which the Lord had in store for them. The elders had been out preaching the Gospel and crying repentance ever since the Church was organized and many great men had heard and embraced the truth, nevertheless the elders could not go forth in the power and authority which the Lord intended them to possess until this Temple was built where he could restore keys and powers essential to the more complete preaching of the Gospel and the administering in its ordinances. . . .
“Four days after the Lord had rebuked the brethren for their neglect, without waiting for subscriptions, the brethren went to work on the Temple. Elder George A. Smith, a recent convert, hauled the first load of stone for the Temple. Hyrum Smith and Reynolds Cahoon commenced digging the trench for the walls, and they finished the same with their own hands.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:406–7.)
“The vineyard is the harvest symbol usually used to represent the world—the earth and all of the people who live on the earth. At times the vineyard (the people of the world) has become corrupt, and it is necessary to prune it so the vine will be able to produce good fruit in abundance. The process of pruning involves the separation of one part of the plant from other parts. This could be achieved by calling out or separating the righteous from among the wicked or by the actual destruction of the wicked. It is usually in the former sense that the Lord instructs his servants (missionaries) to prune his vineyard. However, the Lord has also warned that when the pruning process is completed, the vines that continue to bring forth bad fruit will be burned. This evidently refers to the burning of the wicked, which will take place at the second coming when Jesus Christ will come in power and great glory.” (Ludlow, Companion, 2:318.)
The world is likened to a vineyard.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote: “A fresh view is not always welcomed . . . ; it can be jarring to those who are intensely set in their ways (see Isaiah 28:21). Even the remarkable Enoch was not welcomed by many of his contemporaries. Of him and his labors it was said anciently, ‘There is a strange thing in the land’ (Moses 6:38). Isaiah’s phrase ‘strange work’ is amplified in Restoration scriptures. Fresh and striking truths were necessary so that mortals could ‘hear and know that which they have never considered’ (D&C 101:94). Without such vision, people perish (see Proverbs 29:18).
“Having described the Restoration as his ‘strange act,’ and ‘my strange work,’ the Lord indicated that it would go against the grain of much of society. Yet restitution of the unfamiliar, the uncommon, the unusual, and the unique would actually aid mortals by providing fresh, divine standards and help them in discerning between righteousness and wickedness, as God ‘poured out [His] Spirit upon all flesh.’ (D&C 95:4; 101:95.) With values otherwise shorn of true perspective, the inversions of certain of them become almost inevitable. Finally, evil can end up being called good, and good evil. (See Isaiah 5:20; 2 Nephi 15:20; Moroni 7:14.)” (A Wonderful Flood of Light, 9.)
It is one thing to be called to labor in the vineyard and another to be faithful in the performance of that work. Only those who faithfully fill their callings are chosen by the Lord for exaltation in the kingdom of God. Those who are called but not chosen “have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day” (D&C 95:6), for they do not respond to the light of the restored gospel that surrounds them (see also D&C 121:34–40).
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Solemn assemblies have been known among the Saints since the days of Israel. They have been of various kinds but generally have been associated with the dedication of a temple or a special meeting appointed for the sustaining of a new First Presidency or a meeting for the priesthood to sustain a revelation, such as the tithing revelation to President Lorenzo Snow. . . .
“Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were first sustained by a congregation, including a fully organized priesthood. Brigham Young was sustained on March 27, 1846, and was ‘unanimously elected president over the whole Camp of Israel . . .’ by the council. (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, vo. 3, p. 52.) Later he was sustained, and the Hosanna Shout was given.
“Each of the presidents of the Church has been sustained by the priesthood of the Church in solemn assembly down to and including President Harold B. Lee, who was sustained October 6, 1972.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, pp. 64–65; or Ensign, May 1974, p. 45.) All the Presidents of the Church after President Lee have also been sustained as prophet, seer, and revelator in solemn assemblies.
The Bible mentions several solemn assemblies held in ancient times (see Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; Deuteronomy 16:8; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 8:18; Isaiah 1:10–14; Ezekiel 45:17; 46:11). Such assemblies are sacred meetings attended by the priesthood or those who seek to separate themselves from the world by keeping God’s commands.
The command to the elders to hold a solemn assembly was given in Doctrine and Covenants 88:70. The purpose for the assembly was to help the elders spiritually prepare to continue their missionary work among the people of the world.
An endowment is a gift or a bequest. In the Church it usually refers to a temple ordinance in which members make certain promises and receive a gift of knowledge and spiritual power in return. The endowment spoken of here, however, is not the same as the ceremony administered in later temples. Priesthood members in Kirtland did participate in a “partial endowment, the full ordinance being reserved for a future performance when a temple designed for ordinance work itself should be built” (Bruce R. McConkie, “A New Commandment: Save Thyself and Thy Kindred!” Ensign, Aug. 1976, p. 10). The first complete endowment in this dispensation was given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo on 4 May 1842.
The endowment received in Kirtland included washings and anointings, as well as the washing of feet for official priesthood brethren. The Lord also poured out His Spirit, or in other words endowed them with spiritual power, and many received revelations or other gifts (see History of the Church, 2:308–10).
Adding to the “grievous sin” (D&C 95:10) of failing to commence the temple as commanded (see Notes and Commentary on D&C 95:3), the Lord named another serious sin: contention in the School of the Prophets. Members of that special group had been told by revelation before the school was started to “cease from all . . . [their] lustful desires, . . . pride and light-mindedness, and from all . . . wicked doings” (D&C 88:121).
President Joseph Fielding Smith pointed out that the Kirtland temple “was to be erected for other and greater purposes than those made known at this time to the officers and members of the Church. The time had not come for the real purposes and the nature of the endowment to be revealed. The elders, much less the members, were not prepared in 1833 for the fulness of the revelation which the Lord declared would be bestowed upon them. The severe rebuke administered to the Church had its effect and the brethren forgot the need of other buildings and commenced to concentrate their efforts upon this house of the Lord.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:406–7.)
The name Ahman is explained in Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 78:20. Alphus and Omegus are other forms of the names Alpha and Omega; see Notes and Commentary for D&C 38:1.
In the months following the purchase of land in Kirtland for the Saints, the Lord directed the Church to prepare a building for the Presidency, another for printing, and the temple (see D&C 94–95). The Kirtland council met to consider how to use the French farm, but since they could not agree on who was to be the overseer, they decided to take the matter to the Lord (see History of the Church, 1:352; see also Historical Background for D&C 94).
“They also considered the matter of dividing lots according to wisdom (D. & C. 96.) and the Lord gave them counsel in relation to these matters. The Stake of Zion was to become strong. The poor were to be cared for. The bishop, Newel K. Whitney, was to take charge of the matter of assigning lots and preparing them for the building of a city and a Temple to the name of the Lord. John Johnson was to be given responsibility and admitted into the united order, so that he could assist in bringing forth the word of the Lord to the children of men.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:407.)
To pitch a tent, one drives stakes into the ground to secure it. The deeper the stakes, the stronger and more stable the tent. The revelations of the Lord compare Zion to a great tent, whose stakes are its support and therefore must be strong.
“The expression ‘stake of Zion,’” wrote President Joseph Fielding Smith, “is taken from the expression in Isaiah: ‘Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities; thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.’ (Isa. 33:20.) Again: ‘Enlarge the place of thy tent and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.’ (Isa. 54:2.) Isaiah speaks of Zion as a tent, or tabernacle, having in mind the Tabernacle which was built and carried in the wilderness in the days of Moses, and the cords are the binding cables that extend from the tent, or tabernacle, to the stakes which are fastened in the ground. Now the Lord revealed that Zion was to be built and surrounding her would be the stakes helping to bind and keep her in place. This figure of speech has almost been lost through the intervening years, but it retains its significance, or beauty. To speak of Zion, the New Jerusalem, or even that section where the city will be built, as a stake of Zion, is a sad mistake. Zion is the tent, the stakes of Zion are the binding pegs that support her. Zion, therefore, cannot be a stake, it would be as improper to call a tent a stake as to apply this term to Zion.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:321–22.)
Zion is compared to the tent of the Lord and its stakes.
The preparation of the scriptures and the location of a place in which to publish them (see D&C 94:10) continued as directed by the Lord so that His word could be sent forth (see D&C 96:5). The publication of the scriptures was an important part of preparing the people to establish Zion.
“One day all the standard works will be so organized and prepared, to make them one monumental testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father. The doctrines of salvation must be available to all mankind, not just in their hands, but in their heads and hearts.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Teach the Scriptures” [address to religious educators], 14 Oct. 1977, p. 6.)
Although some resist and even fight against the gospel’s influence, others are tempered and influenced for good by its power and the example of those who have received it. Elder Bruce R. McConkie counseled: “Build up Zion, but build it up in the area where God has given you birth and nationality. Build it up where he has given you citizenship, family, and friends. . . . The Saints who comprise . . . Zion are and should be a leavening influence for good in all these nations.
“And know this: God will bless that nation which so orders its affairs as to further his work.” (“Come: Let Israel Build Zion,” Ensign, May 1977, p. 118.)
On 20 July 1833 the first open violence against the Saints in Jackson County broke out. The printing press owned by William W. Phelps was destroyed, many of the Saints were turned out of their homes, and Edward Partridge and Charles Allen were tarred and feathered on the public square in Independence, Missouri. The Prophet, unaware of the problems, sent a letter to the leaders of the Church in Missouri on 6 August 1833 in response to questions concerning the School of Zion. The letter contained Doctrine and Covenants 97, given 2 August 1833, and Doctrine and Covenants 98, in which the Lord warned the inhabitants in Zion to observe His commandments or they would be visited “with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire” (D&C 97:26). As it turned out, the Saints did not fully heed this warning. The promised devastation followed early in November 1833. (See History of the Church, 1:390–93, 400.)
In these verses the Lord commended those in Zion who “are truly humble and are seeking diligently to learn wisdom and to find truth” (D&C 97:1) and promised that they would be blessed. Even though many of the Saints did not live as required and were eventually driven out, the Lord indicated here that some truly were worthy. Sometimes the wickedness of some individuals brings suffering to all, even those who are righteous.
In the summer of 1833, a “school of Elders” began in Zion with Parley P. Pratt as its teacher. Its main purpose was to prepare the brethren living there to go forth as missionaries during the coming winter. Elder Pratt wrote that “in the latter part of summer and in the autumn , I devoted almost my entire time in ministering among the churches; holding meetings; visiting the sick; comforting the afflicted, and giving counsel. A school of Elders was also organized, over which I was called to preside. This class, to the number of about sixty, met for instruction once a week. The place of meeting was in the open air, under some tall trees, in a retired place in the wilderness, where we prayed, preached and prophesied, and exercised ourselves in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Here great blessings were poured out, and many great and marvelous things were manifested and taught. The Lord gave me great wisdom, and enabled me to teach and edify the Elders, and comfort and encourage them in their preparations for the great work which lay before us. I was also much edified and strengthened. To attend this school I had to travel on foot, and sometimes with bare feet at that, about six miles. This I did once a week, besides visiting and preaching in five or six branches a week.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 93–94.)
A monument to the School of the Elders
In Doctrine and Covenants 97:7 the Lord says that His people, Zion, are like fruit trees (see also Matthew 3:10). People are like trees in that they are known by their fruits, or their works (see Matthew 7:16–20). Good trees bear good fruit and evil trees bear evil fruit. The Lord will cut down “every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit” (D&C 97:7). The phrase “the ax is laid at the root of the trees” (v. 7) evokes a vivid image. Generally, one touches the ax to the spot chosen for the first blow before delivering the blow. Figuratively speaking, a tree that saw an ax laid at its root might be motivated to change its ways and bring forth good fruit so as not to be hewn down. Even as this revelation was given, the mobs were gathering for their initial blow in Jackson County.
See Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 58:2–4.
The dictionary defines tithing as a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution. In section 97 the word tithing is equated with sacrifice, specifically the sacrifice necessary to build a temple in Zion. The Lord later defined tithing for the Saints as “one-tenth of all their interest annually” (D&C 119:4). Today tithing is a tenth of one’s annual increase, or income.
“Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a part tithing. Tithing is a tenth, and unless a person contributes the tenth, he has only made a contribution to the tithing funds of the Church. Somewhat inappropriately the term part-tithepayer is used with reference to those making such contributions.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 798–99.)
Elder John A. Widtsoe said: “Temple work . . . gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength. . . . The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. Then I see more clearly my place amidst the things of the universe, my place among the purposes of God; I am better able to place myself where I belong, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life, so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 97–98.)
The temple is a place where the Saints “may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (D&C 97:14).
The Lord’s house is a house of instruction.
A temple of God is a place of purity and holiness. Those who enter it must be worthy, so interviews for temple recommends are held yearly to determine worthiness. The Saints are under the Lord’s command not to “suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled” (D&C 97:15). If this requirement is met, the Lord promises that He “will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God” (v. 16).
Elder Henry D. Taylor commented on the responsibility of the President of the Church: “In general terms, and this is something that pertains to all of us, it is the Lord’s plan that no unrepentant sinner enter the temple, for the Lord has declared that he will not abide in temples that have been defiled by any unclean thing. (See D&C 97:15–19.) The President of the Church, President Spencer W. Kimball, is directly responsible to the Lord to see that the sacredness of the temples and the ordinances performed therein are maintained. I can assure you that President Kimball takes that stewardship most seriously.” (“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Feb. 1976, p. 34.)
Here the Lord says that Zion “shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible” (D&C 97:18).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “You know there has been great discussion in relation to Zion—where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation is, and which I am now going to tell you. The prophets have spoken and written upon it; but I will make a proclamation that will cover a broader ground. The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south, and is described by the Prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord should be, and that it should be in the center of the land. When Elders shall take up and examine the old prophecies in the Bible, they will see it.” (History of the Church, 6:318–19.)
President Brigham Young said: “This American continent will be Zion; for it is so spoken of by the prophets. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and will be the place of gathering, and the tribe of Judah will gather there; but this continent of America is the land of Zion.” (In Journal of Discourses, 5:4.)
Terrible is used to describe Zion because the basic meaning of the word is “something that causes terror.” Zion’s glory will be such that it will strike terror into the hearts of the wicked (see D&C 45:70; 105:31; see also Enrichment B in the Appendix).
Zion is not only a location but a condition as well. The Lord declares that a person worthy of Zion is one who is “pure in heart” (D&C 97:21). Hyrum Smith described Zion as “the honest and pure in heart that will harken to the everlasting covenant” (in History of the Church, 6:320).
Great and marvelous blessings are promised for Zion, or those who are pure in heart (see D&C 97:21). In this section, the Lord also decrees punishment on the wicked. Even Zion will not escape unless she does the works of righteousness. The Prophet Joseph taught:
“If Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved of in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath. Let me say unto you, seek to purify yourselves, and also the inhabitants of Zion, lest the Lord’s anger be kindled to fierceness.
“Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed, and that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind. I say to you (and what I say to you I say to all), hear the warning voice of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest.” (Teachings, pp. 18–19.)
On 6 August 1833, “seventeen days after the mobbing of the saints in Missouri,” wrote President Joseph Fielding Smith, “the Prophet received a revelation in which the Lord said that the prayers of saints were heard in heaven, and counsel was given them to be patient in their afflictions and not seek vengeance against their enemies. Oliver Cowdery did not leave Independence on his special mission until after the 23rd of July, and if he arrived in Kirtland before the 6th of August when this revelation was received, it certainly was a miraculous journey considering the distance and the means he had of transportation. Just when he arrived we do not know, but the Prophet had learned that difficulties of a serious nature had commenced in Jackson County. Naturally the members of the Church there were extremely aroused and it was only natural that in their hearts there should be some spirit of retaliation and revenge upon their enemies. Because of this the Lord gave this revelation.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:432.)
The Prophet wrote of these days: “July, which once dawned upon the virtue and independence of the United States, now dawned upon the savage barbarity and mobocracy of Missouri” (History of the Church, 1:372; see also Historical Background for D&C 97).
The first three verses of this section must have tested the faith of some of the Saints, for, in the month before this revelation was received, the Saints had seen the effects of unrestrained mobs. On 20 July 1833 a mob had gathered at the courthouse in Independence, called in the leaders of the Church in Missouri, and demanded that they prepare to leave Jackson County. The leaders asked for three months to consider their requests. When that request was denied, they asked for ten days. The mob refused and granted them only fifteen minutes. When the elders did not accept the mob’s illegal and unreasonable demands, the mob determined to destroy the offices of the Evening and Morning Star immediately. The printing shop and the residence of W. W. Phelps were completely demolished, as was the store run by Sidney Gilbert (see D&C 57:8–9). Even this destruction was not sufficient to satisfy these men:
“They broke into the houses of the Saints, searching for the leading elders. Men, women, and children ran in all directions, not knowing what would befall them. They caught Bishop Partridge and Charles Allen and dragged them a half mile to the public square, where they were given two alternatives: deny the Book of Mormon or consent to leave the county. The Book of Mormon they would not deny, nor would they consent to leave the county. Bishop Partridge was granted permission to speak. . . .
“His words were drowned by the tumultuous crowd, many of whom were shouting, ‘Call on your God to deliver you and your pretty Jesus you worship!’ The mob stripped Partridge and Allen of their clothing, smeared their bodies with tar mixed with pearl ash, a flesh-eating acid, and emptied a pillow of feathers over them. This indignity was endured with such resignation and meekness that the mob became ashamed; their sympathies touched, they permitted the two abused men to retire in silence. . . .
“On July 23, 1833, five hundred men rushed into Independence waving a red flag and brandishing guns, dirks, whips, and clubs. With oaths and curses they searched for the leading elders of the Church, threatening to whip the ones they captured with from fifty to five hundred lashes. Negroes owned by members of the mob laid waste the crops of the Saints. Dwellings were demolished by the mob as they threatened ‘We will rid Jackson county of the “Mormons,” peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must. If they will not go without, we will whip and kill the men; we will destroy their children, and ravish their women.’
“To save the lives of the Saints, Edward Partridge, William Phelps, Isaac Morley, A. Sidney Gilbert, John Whitmer, and John Corrill offered themselves as a ransom for the lives of their brethren, to be scourged or put to death if need be. For this noble gesture their names will be remembered forever in the annals of the Church. But the mob, insensible to this noble manifestation of love, scoffed at the six leaders and with brutal imprecations swore they would flog every man, woman, and child until the Mormons agreed to leave the county. ‘Leave the county or die’ was the demand.” (Barrett, Joseph Smith, pp. 251–52, 255–56.)
It was in this setting that the Lord called on the Saints to “rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks” (D&C 98:1) and reminded them that “all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (v. 3). This was a call to show great faith in God. It can be harder to feel gratitude to God in the face of persecution than in times of peace and plenty. The promise that all things work for the good of the righteous is repeated in several other places. (See D&C 90:24; 100:15; Deuteronomy 6:24; Romans 8:28.)
“The meaning is that even the evil designs of men, in the hands of the Masterworkman, will turn out for the benefit of the people of God, and for His glory. The divine Will overrules all things for the final good of His children. We can see this exemplified in the history of the Latter-day Saints.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 616.)
In such times of trial and adversity, when “the very jaws of hell . . . gape open the mouth wide” after the Saints (D&C 122:7), the Saints can do as Job did: have faith in God no matter what happens. Upon hearing the news that his entire fortune had been wiped out and that his children had been killed in the collapse of a house—all on the same day—Job’s response was, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). When he was covered with painful boils and his wife encouraged him to curse God for the afflictions that had come upon him; he said, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). And then he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). That is the faith and commitment that God required of His Saints in Jackson County, even in the midst of their persecutions. (See Notes and Commentary for D&C 101:4–5 and for D&C 122.)
Mark E. Petersen stressed the need for Church members to uphold the Constitution.
The Lord, our lawgiver, commanded His Saints to befriend “that law which is the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6). Freedom comes from God, and constitutional law protects that freedom. “Whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil” (v. 7). The establishment of the Constitution was an important part of the divine plan, as Elder Mark E. Petersen explained:
“When the Kirtland Temple was to be dedicated and the Prophet Joseph sought direction from the Lord in accomplishing this important responsibility, the Lord gave to the Prophet the dedicatory prayer for the occasion. It was revelation—the word of the Lord—and not of man. Yet in it, the Lord directed the prophet to pray: “. . . may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.’ (D&C 109:54.) This is significant!
“Let us recall again the words of the Lord to the Nephites. Said he, in speaking of this mighty nation of the Gentiles that he said would be established on this land in latter days: ‘For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father. . . .’ (3 Nephi 21:4. Italics added.)
“Without the Constitution there would be no government such as the Lord had in mind. The Lord gave us that government by providing the Constitution written by the hands of wise men whom he raised up for this very purpose. It was an act of God. It was another step in establishing the free conditions under which the gospel could be restored and then taken by the believing Gentiles to all other nations.
“As the Lord indicated so plainly through Nephi and likewise in his own declaration to the Nephites after his resurrection as quoted above, it was a giant step in the divine plan to fulfill the promise made to Abraham, that God would recover his scattered seed by the preaching of the gospel. (See 1 Nephi 22:7–11; 3 Nephi 21:4.) His sheep would know his voice.
“This, then, is why there is a United States.
“The Prophet Joseph Smith said that ‘the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner. . . .’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 147. Italics added.)
“He also said, ‘I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on earth.’ (Ibid., p. 326.)
“The Constitution provided freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. Therefore, under the Constitution the Lord could restore the gospel and reestablish his church. The preparation of the Constitution was the work of his own hand. The restoration of the gospel was likewise his work. Both were part of a greater whole. Both fit into his pattern for the latter days.
“There would be no state church in America to interfere. All men in this land now were given the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and that included Joseph Smith and his followers. It is true they were persecuted, as the people of God always have been, but the law—the Constitution—provided the very thing the Lord had in mind: freedom to reestablish his work in these last days, for he had so arranged it. . . .
“For years the Church has held that the Constitution is an inspired document. But how many know why it was inspired and what the Almighty had in mind in giving such inspiration?
“May we never forget the underlying reasons for it all: to provide a proper place for the restoration of the gospel and to allow for the worldwide preaching of that sacred word.
“Let us always remember that its formation was one of the vital steps preparatory to the second coming of the Savior.” (Great Prologue, pp. 74–75, 78.)
Though the Constitution was given through inspiration, the law is administered by mortals whose human failings can sometimes get in the way of true and righteous principles. “When the wicked rule, the people mourn” (D&C 98:9). It is therefore important for citizens, wherever they have a choice, to elect “honest and wise men” who will administer it to the best of their ability (v. 10). The First Presidency said:
“Laws which are enacted for the protection of society have no value except when they are administered in righteousness and justice, and they cannot be so administered if dishonest men occupy administrative offices.
“The Lord says: ‘When the wicked rule, the people mourn.’ Wise men, good men, patriotic men are to be found in all communities, in all political parties, among all creeds. None but such men should be chosen. . . .
“Without beneficent laws, righteously administered, the foundations of civilization crumble, anarchy reigns, decay and dissolution follow.” (First Presidency, as cited by Anthony W. Ivins, in Conference Report, Oct. 1928, p. 16.)
As people seek to decide who should represent them in government, they should maintain their own honor and integrity as citizens. It is not enough to choose good and righteous leaders. Citizens must follow true and holy principles themselves. A righteous citizenry is the best safeguard to peace and happiness. For Zion to be established, the Saints must forsake all evil.
The real source of confidence and inner peace is the gospel. President Joseph F. Smith noted: “We hear about living in perilous times. We are in perilous times, but I do not feel the pangs of that terror. It is not upon me. I propose to live so that it will not rest upon me. I propose to live so that I shall be immune from the perils of the world, if it be possible for me to so live, by obedience to the commandments of God and to his laws revealed for my guidance. No matter what may come to me, if I am only in the line of my duty, if I am in fellowship with God, if I am worthy of the fellowship of my brethren, if I can stand spotless before the world, without blemish, without transgression of the laws of God, what does it matter to me what may happen to me? I am always ready, if I am in this frame of understanding, mind, and conduct. It does not matter at all. Therefore, I borrow no trouble nor feel the pangs of fear.” (“The Gospel a Shield from Terror,” Improvement Era, July 1917, p. 827.)
Ezra Taft Benson spoke of the house of Judah walking with the house of Ephraim.
Against the terrible and unjust actions of the mobs in Jackson County (see Notes and Commentary on D&C 98:1–3), the natural reaction of the Saints would have been to retaliate. But such a reaction is not in harmony with the godliness required of Saints, and here the Lord outlines the laws which must govern Christians in times of persecution. He outlines the law of retaliation (vv. 23–32), the law of war (vv. 33–38), and the law of forgiveness (vv. 39–48). Smith and Sjodahl elaborated on these laws:
“The Law of Retaliation. The Lord here states what may, perhaps, be called the lex talionis of the gospel. ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ was the highest ideal of justice to which the majority of the Children of Israel could rise under the Mosaic law. Our Lord enunciated a higher ideal, ‘But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also’ (Matt. 5:39–40). This principle is set forth in further detail in the paragraphs before us. If men will smite you, or your families, and ye will bear it patiently, and not seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded (v. 23). If the offense is repeated, and ye bear it patiently, your reward shall be a hundred fold (v. 25). If it is repeated again, and ye bear it patiently the reward shall be multiplied four times (v. 26), and the Lord will judge the offender (v. 27). If he still persists he must be solemnly warned, and if he does not heed the warning, the victim is justified in ‘rewarding him according to his works’ (v. 31); but if the wronged party will spare the offender, the reward for his righteousness will surely come (v. 30).
“As the world is constituted at present, it is impossible to live in it without being wronged some time. What to do, when wronged, is one of the great problems of a Christian life. The world says, ‘Get even!’ The Master said, ‘Forgive!’ ‘Absurd!’ the world exclaims, ‘What are laws and courts and jails for?’ Christ bids us remember that our worst enemy is, after all, one of God’s children whom Christ came to save, and that we ought to treat him as we would an erring brother. Very often Christian love in return for a wrong proves the salvation of the wrongdoer. It always has a wonderful effect upon those who practice it. It makes them strong, beautiful and God-like, whereas hatred and revenge stamp, upon the heart in which they dwell, the image of the devil. . . .
“The Law of War. Israel was a war-cradled nation, but the divine law placed many restrictions on their military life. All men from twenty years of age, capable of carrying arms, were liable to military service (Numbers 1:3), but all the priests and Levites, who were engaged in the Temple service were exempt (Numbers 1:47); so was also a man who had built a house and had not yet dedicated it; one who had planted a vineyard and had not yet eaten of its fruit, and one who was engaged to be married and had not yet taken his betrothed home (Deuteronomy 20:5–7). A newly-married man was exempt for one year (Deut. 24:5), and, finally, every one who was afraid, or ‘faint-hearted,’ was barred from the service, lest ‘his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart’ (Deut. 20:8). By these sweeping restrictions, the Temple service, industrial and agricultural pursuits, and domestic happiness were exalted above militarism, at a time when the military cast wielded the predominating influence in many countries.
“Israel was enjoined from going to war with any city or nation, until a peace-offer had been refused (Deut. 20:10; compare Deut. 2:26–9). When war became inevitable, the Israelites were expressly commanded not to cut down the fruit trees in the territory of the enemy (Deut. 20:19). Unnecessary vandalism was prohibited.
“Compare the instructions given to the Nephites, Alma 48:10–25.” (Commentary, pp. 623–24.)
President David O. McKay taught:
“There are . . . two conditions which may justify a truly Christian man to enter—mind you, I say enter, not begin—a war: (1) An attempt to dominate and to deprive another of his free agency, and (2) Loyalty to his country. Possibly there is a third, viz., Defense of a weak nation that is being unjustly crushed by a strong, ruthless one.
“Paramount among these reasons, of course, is the defense of man’s freedom. An attempt to rob man of his free agency caused dissension even in heaven. . . .
“To deprive an intelligent human being of his free agency is to commit the crime of the ages. . . .
“So fundamental in man’s eternal progress is his inherent right to choose, that the Lord would defend it even at the price of war. Without freedom of thought, freedom of choice, freedom of action within lawful bounds, man cannot progress. . . .
“The greatest responsibility of the state is to guard the lives, and to protect the property and rights of its citizens; and if the state is obligated to protect its citizens from lawlessness within its boundaries, it is equally obligated to protect them from lawless encroachments from without—whether the attacking criminals be individuals or nations.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1942, pp. 72–73.)
Smith and Sjodahl continue:
“The Law of Forgiveness. In [verses] 23–32 the Saints are taught to bear persecution patiently, and not to seek revenge; here they are instructed to go still farther, and forgive an enemy as often as he repents of his evil-doing, and a stated number of times, even if he does not repent (v. 43). If, however, he continues to trespass and does not repent, the case is to be brought before the Lord, in the hope that the sinner may be brought to repentance; when that object is gained, he is to be forgiven (vv. 44, 45); if there is no repentance, the matter is to be left entirely in the hands of the Lord.
“[Until seventy times seven] means, practically, an unlimited number of times. In the days of our Lord, the Rabbis taught that no one was under obligation to forgive a neighbor more than three times. Peter, asking the Master for a ruling on that question, suggested that perhaps seven times would be a liberal improvement on the rule of the Jewish teachers, but our Lord answered, ‘seventy times seven.’ . . .
“The gospel teaches us that if we have a grudge against any man, in our hearts, we should drive it out. It teaches us to do good to all, even to enemies, and thereby it makes us as happy as only a heart full of sunshine can be.” (Commentary, pp. 625–26; see also Notes and Commentary for D&C 64:9–10.)
In May 1976 President Ezra Taft Benson spoke in Canada to a congregation that included many Jews. In his talk President Benson stated:
“In Jacob’s blessing to Judah, he declared: ‘Judah is . . . as an old lion: who shall rouse him up?’ (Gen. 49:9; italics added.) We come as messengers bearing the legitimate authority to arouse Judah to her promises. We do not ask Judah to forsake her heritage. We are not asking her to leave father, mother, or family. We bring a message that Judah does not possess. That message constitutes ‘living water’ from the Fountain of living water.
“Our prophet, Joseph Smith, was given a commandment by the Lord to turn ‘the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets, and the prophets unto the Jews.’ (D&C 98:17.) We are presently sending our messengers to every land and people whose ideology permits us entrance. We have been gathering Joseph’s descendants for 146 years. We hope you, who are of Judah, will not think it an intrusion for us to present our message to you. You are welcome to come to our meetings. We display no crosses. We collect no offerings. We honor your commitment to your unique heritage and your individuality. We approach you in a different way than any other Christian church because we represent the restored covenant to the entire house of Israel.
“Yes, we understand the Jews. . . . We understand them because we belong to the same house of Israel. We are your brothers—Joseph. We look forward to the day of fulfillment of God’s promise when ‘the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel.’ (Jer. 3:18.)” (“A Message to Judah from Joseph,” Ensign, Dec. 1976, p. 72.)
Ensample means “a precedent which may be followed or imitated; a pattern or model of conduct” (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “ensample”).
For the past several decades, the Church has lived in relatively peaceful circumstances. The bitter persecutions of earlier generations have not been seen on a general scale. There are indications, however, that this will not be permanent. Several scriptures speak of Satan and his forces waging war against the Saints (see, for example, Daniel 7:21–22, 25; Revelation 13:7; 1 Nephi 14:13).
President Brigham Young taught that such times of peace as are now enjoyed are only temporary respites. “If we live, we shall see the nations of the earth arrayed against this people; for that time must come, in fulfilment of prophecy. Tell about war commencing! Bitter and relentless war waged against Joseph Smith before he had received the plates of the Book of Mormon; and from that time till now the wicked have only fallen back at times to gain strength and learn how to attack the Kingdom of God.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 111.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie testified:
“But the vision of the future is not all sweetness and light and peace. All that is yet to be shall go forward in the midst of greater evils and perils and desolations than have been known on earth at any time. . . .
“The way ahead is dark and dreary and dreadful. There will yet be martyrs; the doors in Carthage shall again enclose the innocent. We have not been promised that the trials and evils of the world will entirely pass us by.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1980, pp. 99–100; see also Ensign, May 1980, p. 73.)
In other words, the Saints may yet have cause to look to the laws of retaliation, war, and forgiveness as outlined in section 98 to know how to respond to persecution. As the Savior himself said in another setting: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.)
The Prophet Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants 99 on 24 August 1832 at Hiram, Ohio. “This is a Revelation calling Elder John Murdock to go on a mission to the Eastern States. He was one of the men who received the gospel in Kirtland when Oliver Cowdery and companions passed through that city on the first western journey to the Lamanites, and together with Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, Lyman Wight, and others, he was called to the ministry at that time. He held many important positions in the Church and discharged his duties faithfully.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 629.)
John Murdock filled one of the first missions to the eastern states.
Each individual must accept the gospel when it is offered or face the consequences of rejecting it. To receive the Lord’s servants is to receive Him; to reject the Lord’s servants is to be rejected by the Lord as well. “And whoso rejecteth you shall be rejected of my Father and his house” (D&C 99:4).
“Who have rejected this gospel? The indifferent, those who would not take the trouble to investigate it, those who would not take the trouble to bow in submission before the Lord and ask his testimony concerning it, those who thought it beneath them, those who have been too proud, or too rich or too well situated or who, for some other reason, have failed to take any interest in this work; these are they who are not members of this Church and who have failed to obey this gospel when they heard it preached in its simplicity and its purity amongst the nations of the earth. . . . There will be a heavy condemnation fall upon this generation because of their inattention to these things. Judgements and calamities will be visited upon the inhabitants of the earth in consequence of neglecting the word of God written in the Scriptures, and also the word of God to his servants in these days.” (George Q. Cannon, in Journal of Discourses, 20:248.)
See Notes and Commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 24:15 and 60:15–17.
The Lord’s Second Coming in the clouds of heaven will be a time of judgment, for the sheep (the righteous) shall be separated from the goats (the unrighteous). “At that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked” (D&C 63:54). The ungodly deeds of evil men will then be uncovered for all to see. In the meantime, the righteous are to continue proclaiming the gospel. “Of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation” (D&C 82:3).
“Any person who is truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ will naturally and anxiously want to share these truths with others. Also, the Lord has given commandments to his saints that, inasmuch as they have been warned of the impending destruction preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ, they have the responsibility to warn the others. Missionary service, then, has been one of the distinguishing characteristics of the true Church in this dispensation.” (Ludlow, Companion, 2:183.)
Elder John Murdock lost his wife when she gave birth to twins on 1 May 1831. The day before, Emma Smith had also borne twins and lost them both in death. Unable to care for his newborn children and knowing of Emma’s heartache, John Murdock gave his motherless infants into the care of Joseph’s wife.
But Brother Murdock had other children who were older. The Lord told him to delay his departure for his mission until his remaining children were provided for.
The word kindly in the nineteenth century meant more than just to perform an act with kindness. It meant “in the way suitable or appropriate . . . ; properly, fittingly.” It also meant to do something “with natural affection” or “in a way that is pleasant or agreeable to the recipient or object.” (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “kindly.”)
“While the enemies in Missouri were gathering their lawless forces for an assault upon the Church there, the Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph to go on a mission and proclaim the gospel message. He was not to mind the enemies. His calling was to testify to the world. And he went on this mission as far as Canada, as full of faith and hope as if there had been no storm clouds in the sky.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 630.)
While on this mission, in a journal entry dated 11 October 1833, the Prophet wrote: “I feel very well in my mind. The Lord is with us, but have much anxiety about my family.” (History of the Church, 1:419n.) On 12 October they arrived at Perrysburg, New York, where the Lord gave them the revelation now contained in Doctrine and Covenants 100.
The term friends, when used by the Lord, speaks peace to the souls of those for whom it is intended. It identifies the quality of the relationship between them, for the friend of the Lord knows both Him and His ways. Indeed, the Lord says that He makes known to them “all things that I have heard of my Father” (John 15:15). The friend of God is the one for whom the Savior died (see John 15:13).
Since they had left their families behind before embarking on their mission, it was only natural that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon should feel some concern. In this verse the Lord assured both men that their families were in His care and that He would see to them.
In the early days of the Church some of the brethren were occasionally called to serve missions and to leave the care of their families entirely in the hands of the Lord. More often, missionaries were instructed to provide for their families before leaving (see D&C 99:6), or in some cases the Church helped care for missionary families. Today as in former times the Lord helps those who make sacrifices to keep missionaries in the field. Elder M. Russell Ballard noted: “The Lord does bless His missionaries just as surely as they bless the lives of those they teach and baptize. Difficult languages are learned with astonishing speed and skill. Financially strapped families back home find unforeseen means to support their missionaries. Weaknesses become strengths, challenges become opportunities, trials become triumphs, and adversity becomes an adventure in the service of the Lord—another fruit of gospel living” (Our Search for Happiness, p. 108).
The warning voice is to gather the righteous.
Joseph and Sidney went on this mission to Canada in 1833 to save souls (see D&C 100:4). The Lord promised that if they would lift up their voices and “speak the thoughts” he put into their hearts (v. 5) “an effectual door” to missionary labor would be opened unto them (v. 3). Thus began the labor in Canada that was to result in the conversion of so many souls. It was through this “door” that Parley P. Pratt walked two years later to contact John Taylor, future President of the Church. When we place themselves in the Lord’s hands, as did Joseph and Sidney, we cannot help but succeed.
The Lord’s agents are to speak as moved upon by the Holy Ghost (see D&C 68:4), and they are to do so “in solemnity of heart” (D&C 100:7). If we walk by the Spirit, we can receive the guidance needed for safety (see 1 Nephi 4:6). But the things of God are sacred “and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit” (D&C 63:64). But we must not hold back and fail to speak at all. Where “much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3). President Wilford Woodruff explained the importance of this responsibility: “I will say as Paul did, ‘Woe be unto me if I preach not the Gospel’ [1 Corinthians 9:16]. I will say the same for the Apostles, the High Priests, the Seventies, and the Elders, so far as they are called to declare the words of life and salvation to this generation; the judgments of God will rest upon us if we do not do it. You may ask why. I answer, because a dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been given to man in ancient days or in this age, for any other purpose than for the salvation of the human family.” (In Journal of Discourses, 22:204.)
Sidney Rigdon, like Aaron in an earlier time (see Exodus 4:16), was appointed a spokesman for the Prophet Joseph Smith. Blessed with great gifts as an orator and student of scripture, Sidney was promised “power to be mighty in testimony” (D&C 100:10). President George Q. Cannon said: “Those who knew Sidney Rigdon, know how wonderfully God inspired him, and with what wonderful eloquence he declared the word of God to the people. He was a mighty man in the hands of God, as a spokesman, as long as the prophet lived, or up to a short time before his death. Thus you see that even this which many might look upon as a small matter, was predicted about 1,700 years before the birth of the Savior [see 2 Nephi 3:18], and was quoted by Lehi 600 years before the same event, and about 2,400 years before its fulfillment, and was translated by the power of God, through his servant Joseph, as was predicted should be the case.” (In Journal of Discourses, 25:126.)
According to Doctrine and Covenants 100:11, while Sidney was to be a spokesman for Joseph Smith, the Prophet was to “be a revelator” unto Sidney. In this way Brother Rigdon was to “know the certainty of all things pertaining to the things of my kingdom on the earth” (v. 11). Sidney, because of his call to be a spokesman for the Prophet Joseph Smith, claimed to be guardian of the Church after Joseph’s death. To lead the Church, however, was not within the scope of his calling.
Just before starting for Canada, Oliver Cowdery brought word to the Prophet that enemies of Zion were working to destroy the Church. Joseph sent Orson Hyde and John Gould from Kirtland to Jackson County, Missouri, “with advice to the Saints in their unfortunate situation” (History of the Church, 1:407). This journey would be very hazardous because they would be traveling near anti-Mormon mobs. The Lord assured them that He would be with them so long as they kept His commandments.
Joseph also received a promise from the Lord concerning Zion’s future state: Zion would be redeemed after a season. Such a delay was the means of purifying a people who would serve the Lord in righteousness. Serving in righteousness is a prerequisite for building Zion.