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- Doctrine and Covenants 14:2 — 𝚃𝚑𝚎 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝙶𝚘𝚍 𝚒𝚜 “𝚚𝚞𝚒𝚌𝚔 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚙𝚘𝚠𝚎𝚛𝚏𝚞𝚕.”
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- This week’s LDS Coloring Pages free digital download: Come, Follow Me Doctrine and Covenants Lesson 11: March 8–14 “Strengthen the Church” Doctrine and Covenants 23–26
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- **#ComeFollowMe nugget** | 𝙸𝚏 𝙸 𝚊𝚖 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚍, 𝙸 𝚗𝚎𝚎𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚏𝚎𝚊𝚛.
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Come Follow Me Insights (Doctrine and Covenants 124, Oct 25-31) – powered by Happy Scribe
I’m Taylor and I’m Tyler.
This the Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today. Doctrine and Covenants, section 124.
Now, this is this is the granddaddy of them all. As far as size is concerned. This is the longest section, the most verses of pages in the Doctrine and Covenants. And there are also more people mentioned in this section by quite a ways than any other section in the Doctor and Covenants. Now, if you look at the heading, you’ll notice, especially when it’s side by side with section 123, that we’re going from March of 1839 in Liberty Jail, where you got sections 21, 21, 122 and 123 to now section 124, if you look at the heading, it’s in January of 1841, we’re almost two full years later.
And there’s this big gap in the Doctrine and Covenants. There are no canonized revelations coming in here. Keep in mind, there is a lot happening in this time period that would probably give us some good reasons as to why they’re not focusing so much on specific revelations to put into the Doctrine and Covenants. Keep in mind Joseph and those who were with him that were being transported to a new location from Liberty. The guards had allowed them to escape. And Joseph is going to arrive in Quincy, Illinois, on April 22, 1839.
And they see the incredible needs of the Saints there. And those people in Quincy, Illinois, there has to be a special place in heaven reserved for how kind they were to these refugees. They had nowhere to go. And it was the middle of the winter and cold, and they took them in and did everything they could to provide for their needs. Well, now, as we prepare for summertime, they’re able to procure some land up river from Quincy. That’s really a swamp land. Commerce.
Maybe that’s why they’re able to get it.
Maybe that’s why they were able to afford it and get it. And Joseph changes the name from commerce to Navu, which in the Hebrew means beautiful.
It’s kind of a rare word shows up in Isaiah.
Yeah. And the problem here is it’s a swamp plant. So they spend most of the summer, late spring, and through the summer and fall of 1839, they’re out digging trenches for the swamp water to make its way out and to drain the land so they can start building stuff. And it’s not a shock that many of them succumb to malaria. Now, Ironically, that disease is named malaria. It’s a Latinbase mall for bad and Aria, which is air. They thought that that disease was caused because of that swamp stench in the air.
Little did they know that the mosquitoes.
The state bird of Minnesota state bird.
Yes. Okay. Little did they know that those mosquitoes were causing this disease. Now, Joseph and Emma have so many people that they’re taking care of that they’ve got them in their living quarters. So now Joseph and Emma are living outside in a tent, and many people are sleeping on the ground. This influx of people not just from Missouri and still a few from Kirtland. But now you start getting people coming from England, and the numbers are in. Navu are going to just grow until we get to 15,000 people.
It becomes a very sizable city.
In fact, it was competing with Chicago, which today Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States. But Navu competed in size with Chicago at the time.
So one day, July 22, 1839, Joseph arose from his bed because he has become sick himself. And he basically says, I’m done, we’re going to rebuke this sickness. And so he commenced in his own house and started commanding the sick in the name of Jesus Christ to arise and be made whole. And they were healed according to his word. He then went from house to house, tent to tent along the river, healing people. And this is exhausting work. Spiritual work is physically exhausting and physically demanding it.
And he’s been sick. He didn’t have lots of stored up energy reserves, and he’s exhausted. He had crossed the river in a boat accompanied by several members of the corner of the Twelve over to Montrose, Iowa. So Wilford Woodruff records this in his Journal. A man came to Joseph and asked him if he would go about 3 miles and heal two of his small children, who were twins, about three months old and were sick nighing to death. He was a man of the world. He had never heard a sermon preached by a latterday Saint.
Joseph said he could not go, but he would send a man. You can picture him exhausted and wanting to go. But the three he spent. So he says, after hesitating a moment, he turned to me once again, this is Wilfred Woodruff. And he said, you go with this man and heal his children at the same time, giving me a red silk handkerchief. And he said, after you lay hands upon them, wipe their faces with it, and they shall be healed. And as long as you will keep that handkerchief, it shall ever remain as a League between you and me.
I went and did as I was commanded, and the children were healed. It’s one of those sweet little stories that connects our Church history with some of the biblical stories where you read in the Book of Acts about Peter and his amazing gift to heal, that he would heal many people. In fact, some of them would just try to get the sick people so they could get their beds so that Peter’s shadow would pass over them and they would be healed. Now someone say, wow, this sounds like some strange folk magic going on.
I love the fact that there’s a gift to heal. And then there’s a spiritual gift to be healed where you have enough faith where you can be healed and sometimes people need something external to get their faith to be healed over a certain threshold where God can actually perform a miracle with them. And this is one of those examples of a red silk handkerchief. You can look it up online and see pictures of it, where a corner of it has actually been cut out. We don’t know who took it, but you can still see it today in the Church archives.
And the handkerchief wasn’t the thing that healed these children. But sometimes God uses these physical things to get us over that threshold where we can believe more. And so don’t ever underestimate the power of doing those small and simple things when you’re ministering to people’s needs. There’s something powerful about human touch, about giving food, about reaching out to people and helping increase their faith to be healed.
A kind word, a note, a card, a visit. I want to point out what I love about Wilford Woodruff, too, is that he was a diligent Journal keeper, and many of us think, Well, my life is really not worth very much. I would actually encourage all of you to make records daily records of your life because there are people in the future who will benefit from your faith and from the experiences you have, just like we benefit from Wilfur Woodruff. But more importantly, it becomes a record of the growth of your testimony and how God has blessed you throughout your life.
And I am so inspired by Welfare Woodruff, who took the time if I had my stats right, that he kept a daily Journal for decades and decades. And so much of these great stories of Church history is because he took the time to record them.
Yeah. So now at the end of the following year, so they’ve been working to drain the swamp through 1839. We live through that winter now, the following year, 1841, they continue to work and they’re building things up. They’re building houses and Mercantile and the city. It’s just slowly being built up. When on 16 December 1, 1840, they get their city charter from the state, which allows them all kinds of things. They can have their own militia, they have their own court system, they can have all kinds of benefits, a University, as long as it doesn’t run contrary to the state of Illinois law.
Once they have that in place, then it’s January. So it’s a month shortly after they’ve received their city charter. When Joseph now receives what we might call the spiritual charter for the city, where they get some very specific instructions regarding what God wants them to do here in Navu, now that they’re not being abused by the mob. And so this is an amazing section that it’s very long, like we said. And there’s a lot of detail in here about two things, the building projects. So that would include both the temple and the naval house.
We’ll talk about them as well. As kind of the structure of how the Church is set up administratively and to take care of the needs and the affairs of the Church. Now, once again, this beautiful tie back to biblical stories. So Moses is out in the wilderness with all these children of Israel that he’s brought out of Egypt. And what is he doing?
He’s trying to run everything on his own. And before we get to the challenges he faced and how his father in law, Jethro, suggested to him something that’s very useful. We want to point out the difference of different types of prophets. So Moses is in some ways, like a chief executive officer. Not only is he receiving revelation, but he’s managing an entire people and trying to build them as a people. But you take a Prophet like Isaiah or Zephaniah. These are prophets who kind of their main job was to provide direction to the King, almost like he’s a court Prophet or a private consultant.
You have other prophets like Amos who are speaking to all the people, but they don’t have any executive function. Their job is not like Moses to kind of look out for all the temporal and spiritual needs of the people. It’s very just spiritual. We look here at Joseph Smith, we’re tied into Moses here, and even Brigham Young. They are like the chief executive officers. And even to this day, our prophets, the President of the Church, still retains a chief executive function where it’s not just the spiritual needs of the members of the Church.
But he also looks out for the temple needs. And that just creates a lot of complexity. And for Moses, what happens? Everybody is showing up there’s. Normal life is going on. And so there’s just friction points. People bump into each other and they need help getting them resolved. And Moses is a man of God. So everybody goes to Moses, solve our problems for us. And he spends all day listening to all these conversations, all these debates, all this complaints, and his fatherinlaw, who’s had a few more years of life experience.
Moses, this is probably not a wise thing to do. It’s interesting that God could have come down and given a revelation to Moses to solve all this. But remember, we fought a war in heaven for agency. God often allows us just to act and to try and experience. And often it’s other people’s wisdom and inspiration that can help us.
Yeah. So in this case, what you’re going to see in section 124 is God kind of doubling down on helping Joseph recognize the various offices and quorums and bodies of people who can take some of that load off of his shoulders. So he doesn’t have to do everything. And because of the 1837 38 Apostasis in Kirtland and Missouri, we’ve lost some pretty big names.
Important leadership have been super valuable in helping to build the Kingdom. Yeah.
And those positions need to be refilled so that’s going to happen here in Section 124, we’re going to re constitute the quorum, the Twelve and set up their members in their order. And we’ll talk about that to me. It’s a fascinating study. As you get into that part, this administrative delegation, part of the section that a person who is ultimately power hungry wants to retain more of the power and the decisionmaking for themselves. You’ll notice that the farther we go along, the more sections that come and go, the more God is helping create a wide base of leadership for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints to be able to move forward so that it doesn’t ever become the Church of Joseph Smith or later on, the Church of Brigham Young.
It’s a beautiful concept that allows Jesus to still be in charge of the Church and to guide all of the different aspects of the Church, both physical and spiritual in nature so that it can move forward without disruption. If a person falls away or is taken before their time and not able to complete all of the things they set out to do.
Your point here connects to this gap. It’s not that Joseph Smith didn’t pray or didn’t have any revelation, but what we see is a couple things. There’s a lot that has to be done in terms of the temporal needs of the people. Let’s find a place where we can actually reside. Let’s get our food, let’s get safety. But also by this point, Joseph through revelation had already been delegating out God’s power through the structure and administration of the Church, so that more could be done that didn’t need canonized.
Revelation, for example, today revelation still guides the Church. But we aren’t canonizing every revelation that comes to the Prophet, to the Apostles or to us individually. And this is what we see here is that God has continued to direct his people, but the power has been distributed. Inspiration is being acted upon day by day, but it doesn’t all have to be recorded in a sacred book that we call the doctrine and covenants. That’s beautiful.
Now, one other historical aspect to throw out here is regarding the temple. Now we said there are the two building projects. That’s the first major element we’re going to cover. And then the second is this delegation of authority and power to various people and leaders and quorums. The temple issue is fascinating. Section 124 because you’ll notice what we did with the Kirtland Temple. They did washing of the feet. They did some washings and anointings and they had this outpouring of the Spirit this day of Pentecost like experience and all of these keys restored in sections section 109, the Dedicatory print 110 that we’ve covered before.
Now in Navu Joseph’s understanding and awareness of what the temple can be and what it can do. It starts to accelerate, and it’s amazing. So he is preaching a sermon on August 15, 1018 40. So we’re back in that middle year where we have no canonized revelations in the doctrine and covenants. So it’s August 15, 1840, he’s speaking at the funeral of Seymour Brunson. And as he’s speaking, he sees a sister in the congregation who has recently lost a son who did not get the chance to be baptized.
And keep in mind it’s on Joseph’s mind, his older brother, Alvin, who was one of his heroes that he looked up to, had likewise died before receiving baptism before the restoration of the Church and the ordinance of baptism. And so it’s in that sermon at that funeral, where he announces to the audience that God is opening away for people on this side of the veil to be baptized by proxy for and in behalf of our loved ones who have passed on without having received that ordinance.
Well, you can imagine the excitement in the crowd that’s one of the best funeral sermons ever for these people. They are so excited. Very soon, many of them go down to the Mississippi River. And our first recorded baptism for the dead was performed by Harvey Olmstead. He took Jane Neymar and goes out into the water in the Mississippi River. And by the way, the witness for that baptism happens to be riding on horseback. Her name is Vienna Jakes. She was mentioned back in a previous lesson.
An amazing Saint. And she’s the witness for this baptism. And Harvey Olmstead baptizes Jane Namar for her deceased son named Cyrus. Now, did you catch that a mother being baptized for her son with one witness, Vienna Jakes, on horseback out in the Mississippi River. And there are people getting baptized in Rivers, streams, Lakes and ponds, anywhere they can find. And it’s Willy nilly. They’re men baptized for women, women baptized for men, no recorder present, no double witness. It’s kind of Willy nilly. Now, are you noticing something that God often will give you an idea?
He’ll plant a thought, and that’s all it is. It’s a concept. It’s an idea. And sometimes we get really excited about this idea. We know what the idea entails in this case, baptism for the dead. But what God didn’t give is a large handbook for how so we know what to do. Baptize for the dead. That’s pretty powerful. But we don’t have the handbook. And you’ll notice that these people based on our handbooks today, based on our policies and our procedures for baptisms for the dead today we would say, you’re doing it all wrong.
You’re messing up. I don’t know about you, but we were Angels in the premortal realm at the time that this is all happening. I can’t imagine us looking over the railings of heaven down at the Earth and seeing these people go out and perform these baptisms in the manner in which they’re doing it. I can’t picture for a moment me shaking my head in anger or frustration or disgusting. How dare they they’re messing that up. They’re getting it wrong. I don’t think that would be our approach.
I think our approach would be, oh, look how much love they have for those who have passed on. They’re doing everything they can, everything in their power to open doors to access the Savior’s atonement and his redeeming Grace through that ordinance of baptism that these spirits in the spirit world can’t accomplish for themselves anymore. Brothers and sisters, I think we could probably have an equal amount of compassion and empathy for other things that we’re doing or that we notice other people doing, even if they may not be doing it the way that they should be or that we think they should be doing it.
There’s something beautiful about the fact that they’re doing the best they can with what they understand. And section 124 is going to give them some very clear instructions partway through this section. We’ll get to this where it gives them more light and knowledge regarding the how of their baptisms for the dead. But I guess for me, the point is, don’t be discouraged when you’re working through things in life, either individually or with family members or in your career or in your education or in your Church callings.
If you don’t have all the answers to how to do it, and you’re just kind of bumbling your way forward, doing the best you can with what you got. I can picture the Angels in heaven smiling at you in that moment, not shaking their head in disgust or anger at you like we sometimes do with each other or with ourselves in the mirror. So that’s the final element that we wanted to cover. As far as what’s been happening in this two year gap between section 123 and section 124.
This is a really interesting principle, because a lot of life is like this. We know the what, but we aren’t given the how. In fact, God kind of gives us agency to figure things out, and sometimes we make mistakes. So in a few more weeks, we’re going to get to section 132 where we’re talking about plural marriage. So it’s a principle or an idea that God shared at a particular point, and he didn’t really give a lot of instructions around how and if you look at the history, there’s all sorts of different attempts over the how, and even Lorenzo Snow and others later said we didn’t really know what we were doing.
We were kind of making it up as we went along. We knew what God had said, but we didn’t really know how, and that historical empathy can be hopefully a bit helpful for a topic that sometimes is a bit challenging to wrap our arms around. Absolutely.
Now let’s open up verse one. This particular verse is probably my favorite of the entire long, long section because I find it so deeply relevant and so applicable to our life and more specifically to my life. Look at verse one Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant, Joseph Smith. I am well pleased with your offering and Acknowledgments, which you have made. Keep in mind, we’ve come through the Kirtland, followed by the Missouri era. We’ve built up this city out of a swamp over the last nearly two years.
And the Lord is saying, I am well pleased with your offering and Acknowledgements. I love the fact that he didn’t just say, I am well pleased with you or I’m well pleased with what you’ve done. He put two things in that list. I’m well pleased with your offerings and your Acknowledgments. Now, I don’t know about you, but there are countless times in my life when I feel much like the young lad in the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, who looks at this group of 5000 men beside the women and children.
And you’re the only one who brought food, five small loaves of bread and two fish. And you’re looking at 5000 people and you’re saying this isn’t going to cut it. But what does he do? He gave it to the Apostles, who then gave it to Jesus, who then magnified it and fed the $5,000. I am well pleased with your offering. You gave me what you had. No, it wasn’t huge. No, it wasn’t the freshest bread or the biggest freshest fish. But you gave me what you had.
It was your offering. I love that God isn’t asking you to perform to the level of a Joseph Smith or an Emma Smith. He’s not asking you to have the capacity of an enich or an Abraham and Sarah. He’s asking you to make an offering of what you have, whatever your five loaves and your two fish are. It’s that offering that you give to the Lord and then notice the second thing and Acknowledgements, I don’t know exactly what the Lord meant by that, but I know what it means to me, at least today, at this level of my spiritual maturity, with plenty of room to continue to grow.
It’s that idea that I acknowledge who God is, who I am, who other people are, and my complete need for His Grace, my dependence upon the Savior for all that I have for all that I hope to be, and to become it’s that acknowledgement that softens the heart that says, I need thee. Oh, I need thee. That acknowledgement opens channels of revelation for me to be able to say it’s not about me. It’s about connecting as many people as I can with the God who gave them life and the God who wants to redeem them.
And so this opening phrase, it resonates with my soul. I want to be more like this, to be more willing to offer all that I have. Keeping in mind that elder Neelie Maxwell said, anytime you and I make an offering on the altar, you could stamp it with return to sender with a capital s because everything that I have has been given to me by God and I’m just offering to give it back to him in return. Notice the next phrase for unto this end have I raised you up?
You’ll notice who’s in charge here. I’ve raised you up to this end that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the Earth. I love that phrase because my whole life I have felt like a little schoolboy from Cash Valley and I like that feeling. I like knowing that the Lord is in charge and anything good that happens in my life is because of his Grace and his merits and his mercy at using me as an instrument in his hands. Have you noticed, by the way, how rarely this scenario occurs, you’re at home, you’ve eaten, you’ve finished the dishes, the house is totally clean.
You’ve answered all of your emails. You’re completely caught up on everything.
Responsibilities, Church callings for relationships. Everything is in perfect order. And by the way, you slept perfectly last night for 8 hours uninterrupted and it’s been a beautiful day. Sunshining, the flowers are growing, the birds are chirping and you are in perfect health and perfect mental capacity. And you’ve just finished the dishes and you realize you have 4 hours in front of you for the rest of the evening with nothing to do but to sit and quietly contemplate the things of eternity as you study your scriptures. And it’s at that moment when the phone rings or the doorbell rings or somebody’s knocking your door needing help and you say, Wonderful, this is perfect timing.
I have all the resources I need to be able to help you with your struggles and your needs right now. How often does that scenario play out for you? Or are you listening to this thinking that’s a nice fairy tale because most of the time you feel like you’re exhausted or in pain or having a lack of sleep or feeling like you don’t have enough energy, time, money. Your inbox of emails needing your attention is huge yet again and people’s demands you might have little children coming to you.
Mommy, mommy, I need this. I need this. And you feel like you’re just going to go crazy because you have no time to just be still and know that he is God and immerse in scripture study or in quiet contemplation to connect with heaven. And then it’s at that point that you get a text from the Relief Society President saying, hey, Sister, so and so really needs some help. Could you go and visit or could you prepare a meal for her tomorrow or today and you feel like you need a meal?
You feel like you need to go and lay down and just take a break. I love the fact that if you look at the scriptures and if you look at the history of different dispensations of the gospel. It seems to me that God often does his work with people who aren’t filled with time and energy and even talent. At times he takes the weak things of the world who maybe don’t feel like they’re on top of their game. And he says, Will you go to work in my vineyard today?
And sometimes he called the very most inconvenient times where you think this is the worst timing possible. And yet that’s when some of the greatest miracles are performed. I love the fact that here’s Joseph Smith, having come from two years before out of five and a half months in jail and incarceration through those winter months in Missouri and then into this terrible setting in Illinois, trying to build up this city out of the swampland and dealing with all of the struggles and never having enough money to do what they really need to do.
And yet God is performing his miracles anyway, in spite of our weakness. Why? I think it comes back to the first part of verse one. It’s because of your offering and your Acknowledgements which you have made. Don’t ever get discouraged with whatever your commerce or swampland may be in life. If you keep digging, you keep working, you keep offering what you’ve got, even if it’s just five loaves and two fish for a group of 5000, it’s the Lord who multiplies the harvest. It’s the Lord who takes whatever our best is, even when we’re feeling down and he magnifies it and makes the Kingdom grow in spite of our struggles.
There’s something beautiful about acknowledging His hand in that process. Now, in verse two through seven, the Lord gives him the commandment to make a proclamation of his gospel to the whole world. Look of verse three, the proclamation shall be made to all the Kings of the world, to the four corners thereof, to the honorable Presidentelect and the highminded governors of the nation in which you live, and to all the nations of the Earth scattered abroad. So this proclamation is supposed to be sent out and you’re going to notice God gives them some pretty specific instructions as to what they need to put into that proclamation, including calling Robert Thompson in verse twelve to help write the proclamation.
Now Robert Thompson is going to die in August of this year, 1841, so he isn’t going to live to be able to help write that proclamation. Now the tractors would look at that and say So God through Joseph, called Robert Thompson to help write this proclamation. Then he dies in August. Shouldn’t the Prophet have known he was going to die? Why give him an assignment that he can’t fulfill to me, there’s an interesting aspect when you consider God gives you an end goal. He gives you a target, if you will, to aim at and to prepare for and work at getting to that end goal that we use to accomplish that end goal.
It’s fascinating that sometimes we end up judging or condemning Joseph or other prophets who will give assignments or make prophecies that don’t seem to be fulfilled when, in fact, from a heavenly perspective, looking down on this scenario, the proclamation is going to be written. It’s going to happen in 1845, a year after Joseph’s death. They’re going to fulfill this prophecy. So the end goal is going to be met, just not the way they thought at the outset that it was going to be met. But what happens in the process?
You get people like Robert Thompson, and you get people like Joseph Smith working through different aspects of this process, working through these means, and they’re getting better. They’re developing. They’re offering what they have to one degree or another, and you can work towards those ends. I’ve known some people who have been very, very frustrated because they have some things in their patriarchal blessing, for instance, and they say this is never going to happen for one reason or another. And those are hard conversations, and there aren’t any really easy answers to give, and you have to have compassion and empathy in those kinds of conversations.
I don’t know how to explain all of those specific scenarios, but what I do know is this I know that God is in his heavens, and I know that sometimes he gives Commandments or he gives promises or prophecies that don’t end up getting fulfilled for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because we weren’t faithful. Other times it’s because of circumstances outside of our control. In fact, if we can just jump ahead in this section, it has one of the most powerful answers to that particular issue.
And then we’ll come back to these beginning verses again, flip over to verse 49. Verily Verily, I say unto you that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might, and with all they have to perform that work and cease not their diligence and their enemies come upon them and hinder them for performing that work. Behold, it behoove with me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept there’s that word again, offerings to accept of their offerings.
Now that’s one scenario where you don’t get to the end goal. It’s because sometimes there are people who rise up and hinder you from being able to accomplish what you intended to do or set out to accomplish. But he says I will accept of their offering their efforts, the means that they use to try to get to the end. Now that’s specifically referring to the temple in Jackson County, Missouri, here in this setting. But there are people at a personal level who have tried and tried to fulfill certain promises, and it’s just not happening.
Can I just say that sometimes God seems to set up a target for us, so we will start working towards it. And God knows we’re not going to get to that target. He knows we’re not going to accomplish that thing. But perhaps Heaven’s target for us was different from the outset than what we thought our target was, which was accomplishing that thing. You see, God’s target is you. God is focused on you, not just you right now, but you as you used to be as you are.
And as he is helping shape you to become. And there’s something about working through the process that softens hearts that makes us more moldable that makes us more prone to bow our head when things don’t always work out and say, Lord, what would thou have me do? What can I do to be better as an instrument in thy hands? There’s something annoying about making those offerings, even if we don’t achieve the end, because we put our full trust in God that he is achieving His end goal, which is to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of all of us to the greatest to be possible, respecting our agency.
As you look at this proclamation command, even though Joseph didn’t fulfill the commandment. And even though Robert Thompson didn’t fulfill or wasn’t able to write the proclamation, it does get written in 45 and sent out to the world by the Quorum of the Twelve. Now it is probably a document that most of you, if you’re like me, haven’t read recently, so I read it last night in preparation for today, and it’s quite lengthy. Back in the mid 1970s. Ezra Taft Benson, Elder Benson of the Corma the Twelve Apostles.
At the time he read the entire proclamation as part of one of his talks. He says, this is so important, it’s a proclamation of the world. It’s given by commandment in section 124, and he re read it. I would encourage it if you have extra time to just read through it. Here’s the opening few sentences to the rulers and Peoples of all nations. We solemnly declare again that the God of Heaven has established his latterday Kingdom upon the Earth in fulfillment of prophecies. Holy Angels have again communed with men on the Earth.
God has again revealed himself from heaven and restored to the Earth his Holy priesthood with power to administer in all the sacred ordinances necessary for the exaltation of his children. It’s a pretty bold statement to be making to all of the Kings and presidents and rulers and Magistrates and all the people into the four corners of the world. It’s worth reading. We will have the link to this proclamation in the header of this episode below. Now in verse 15, he shifts focus to Hiram Smith, the Prophets brother, verse 15 says, and again, Verily, I say unto you, Blessed is my servant, Iron Smith, for I the Lord love Him.
Because of the integrity of His heart, and because he Loveth that which is right before me saith the Lord. What an amazing thing when God has servants who have integrity in their heart who are willing to give him their covenantal loyalty at every level. It’s powerful.
I love what John Taylor says about Hiram Smith. You might recall that John Taylor was in the Carthage jail when Hiram and Joseph were shot. Here’s what John Taylor says about Hiram. He was a great and good man, and my soul was cemented to his. If ever there was an exemplary, honest and virtuous man, an embodiment of all that is Noble in the human form. Iron Smith was its representative. It’s such an absolutely beautiful statement to make about somebody. And what’s significant about what we have going on here in section 124 is that Hirem is now being put into a position that once was occupied by Oliver Caudry, where now Hiram is allowed to be the second witness.
This is an interesting thing, Taylor, because there are only two people that I know of in the history of the Church who have held that particular. It’s called the second elder, or we might call it the assistant or the associate President of the Church, this second Prophet of the Church, Oliver Caudry. And now Hiram Smith. Because of what we’re going to be told later on in verse 91, 92, 93 94. It’s a pretty unique calling.
And what this allows is for the ceiling of the testimony. When these two men are martyred in the Carthage jail, it seals the opening of the last dispensation. It seals that God has set forth a restoration, and it’s a double witness. A double ceiling. Beautiful. Very powerful symbolism. Beautiful.
Now. Verse 16. So we’ll come back to hire him again a little bit later. Verse 16, you get John C. Bennett, who is quite a character.
This guy has a history where he’s been in multiple States as the Dean of this medical school that he’s set up to train doctors and give them their medical licenses.
A bit of a diploma mill. Yeah.
You have the money, I’ll sign the paper and you pay me enough. I’ll make you a doctor right now without the training is what’s happened. And he’s a very, very smooth talker, a real people person. And he comes to Navu, and instantly everyone loves John C. Bennett. Joseph is a very trusting individual. He’s the kind of a guy who gives the benefit of the doubt.
He’s like a little child. He just assumes the best in everybody, which is actually a pretty nice way to live straight as long as nobody is taking advantage of you.
Yeah, well, John C. Bennett comes in. He’s very quickly rises to power, and he is elected the Mayor of Navu.
Well, he also helped pass the Navu charter through the Illinois legislature, which gives all this power and authority to the city to be able to protect the people what they were looking for. So people are deeply grateful for the efforts of John C. Bennett to give them this charter with so many protections. But he becomes the Chancellor of the University.
He gets a high, the militia.
He’s got all this power, and it’s all within just a series of months. In fact, we were talking earlier about the two major buildings they’re building this time the temple and the Navu House, which is supposed to be built to house dignitaries and illustrious people. Well, Joseph been in his tent, and John C. Bennett gets a very nice room in the Navu house.
It’s fascinating. At one point the Navu Legion is having some field work, and John C. Bennett tells Joseph on this sham battle, he sends Joseph over to an unprotected place in that battle. And the spirit whispers to Joseph, no, there’s foul play here, almost as we don’t know exactly what would have happened. But the Prophet said he felt the spirit constrain him. Don’t go over to that unprotected place. John C. Bennett has something, some nefarious intent here. And so it was eight days later that things start to unravel for John C.
Bennett and John Taylor. He later on said this quote, respecting John C. Bennett. I was well acquainted with him at one time. He was a good man, but he fell into adultery and was cut off from the Church for his iniquity. At the time of the revelation here. Section 124. John Taylor says John C. Bennett was a good man, but he was overcome by the adversary and made the slave of his carnal desires. The Lord knew him and warned him his reward shall not fail. If he received counsel, he shall be great if he do this, et cetera.
Bennett did not heed these warning. Ifs from him who knew what was in his heart, you will find those warning. Ifs in verse the bottom of verse 16 and two of them in 17, you could circle them once again. The Lord gives these conditional ifs to us about these promises. But in this case, John C. Bennett is going to become one of the leaders of the groups that are stirring up the mob that eventually, three years later, is going to lead to the martyrdom in Carthage.
It’s just sad both of these two counselors, William Law, John C. Bennett, who had so much promise both had given in to their base desires. Actually, many base desires. And just a really sad story of what could have been and what I love is that God gives all of us opportunities to get to our very best selves through Him. If we choose to diligently, continue to try, that’s the power of the Sacrament. Every single week you get to declare again, Lord, it is my desire to be with you.
It is my desire to be faithful to you. And these are just cautionary tales and also just sad, just the destruction that they caused, not just in their own lives in the lives of so many people.
Now, on a happier note, notice he shifts in verse 19 that he mentions here his servant, David W. Patton, who is with me at this time. Remember, Elder Patton was shot at the Crooked River conflict, trying to free the hostages that had been taken. That was October 25, 1838. So it’s been over two years ago. And the Lord is telling Joseph, my servant, David W. Patton, who is with me at this time and also my servant Edward Partridge, and also my aged servant, Joseph Smith SR. Who sitteth with Abraham in his right hand and blessed and Holy is he, for he is mine.
This idea that these three people that are very near and dear to Joseph’s heart, the Lord is reassuring him. Death is not the end. They are alive and well. And what’s more, they’re with me. The Savior is reassuring him. They’re with me. So for those of you who have perhaps lost a loved one recently, I hope you find great hope in Christ that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to the timing of when these people have passed on and he will bless them and protect them.
It must be so reassuring to Julia Smith at this time, because these three key people and there were many others who go unnamed here are the consequence of the conflict in Missouri that every Partridge from succumbing to just the illnesses. And Joseph senior, he’s actually only 69 years old. So at that time, 69 was old. We live in a day with modern scientific miracles of better health than medicine. Many people can live beyond that. But for Joseph, who has the weight of building God’s Kingdom on his shoulders, obviously, he’s spreading and delegating.
But these men have played such an important role in supporting him in the work. And I just love Joseph’s faithfulness that he presses forward, even though some of his friends are no longer with him in the journey.
Absolutely. Now, Joseph or this revelation shifts to instructions about building up the Navu house, as it’s going to be called. It’s supposed to be this beautiful kind of a hotel of sorts, for guests, for Noble people who come so they can be very comfortable when they come to Navu and they hear the message that the people there have to share with them, and they see the beauties of the city and the temple.
Well, the idea was that Navu was going to be the gathering place. God says, Well, we’re going to do it in New York. We’re going to do it in Kirtland. We’re going to do it in Missouri. We keep moving based on the circumstances. God is okay to work with people’s agency. And now Navu is going to be the place where the whole world will come together to experience God and truth. And so this is just supposed to be one of the first main steps of how do you welcome people in and not simply give them these enlightening and ennobling spiritual truths, but also take care of their physical bodies.
Now, you can have incredible spiritual experiences when you’re down in the dumps, like physically. But there’s something about taking care of temporal needs that can enhance your ability to experience spiritual revelation and have your spiritual needs taken care of.
Absolutely. So there’s a fascinating aspect in section 124 that there are actually more verses that refer to the instructions about the building up of the Navu house for a variety of reasons. And we can guess what many of those reasons might be, but at the end of the day, there are probably other reasons that the Lord had in mind that we don’t know yet. But he gives more verses for the naval house than he does for the temple. Keep in mind, we’ve had many revelations in the past about the temple, and so it’s not a comparison like, oh, well, the Navu house must be more important.
It’s just at this time they needed more instructions in order to get the Navu house right than they needed in order to get the temple right. So you’ll notice the temple picks up in verse 25, 26, and 27 when he gives the commands to build a house to his name for the most high to dwell therein. And some would say, Well, wait a minute. Does God really need a dwelling place? He has the heavens and the Earth is his footstool. Well, this goes back to the Old Testament when God tells Moses that he needs him to build a Tabernacle for a place where God can come and dwell with his people.
It’s this God with us. The Tabernacle. The temple becomes this connecting point between heaven and us on the Earth. Sisters, brothers, God doesn’t need a place to stay. We’re the ones who need a place for God to come on the Earth. He’s already exalted. At this point, he doesn’t need a temple in order to be saved, but we need a connecting point with him, and he’s asking us to make an offering of our money and our time and our talent to be able to create this connecting point for him and us, between heaven and us.
What’s interesting is how he talks about building a house to my name for the most high to dwell therein. So we do have these physical structures where God’s presence can reside. Now, you can find God’s presence throughout the world. But when you have a temple, you have a specific place where you know that you can encounter God. What I think is interesting is we’ve all taken upon ourselves the name of God at baptism. We are also temples. So look at this verse again in 27. Build a house or a body.
Think about your own personal body to my name for the most high to dwell therein. So, yes, temples are physical places where we can go and counter God. But our bodies are also temples where God’s name and His presence resides. And if you think about your baptismal Covenant and the Sacrament Covenant, you are reminding yourself on a weekly basis that God’s name is with you and His presence is with you. So I just love to tie in here. Beautiful.
Paul would agree. No, you’re not. You’re the temple of our God. Look at verse 28, for there is not a place found on the Earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you. You can Mark that he’s going to restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he had taken away even the fullness of the priesthood. So he’s promising that you don’t have a fullness of the priesthood yet. But I’m going to restore this to the Earth. And then he gives more clarification with the baptismal font in verse 29 and the ordinance in verse 30.
That particular ordinance, baptism for the dead. It belongs in my house, not out there in the Mississippi River or in the canals or in the Lakes and the ponds. It belongs in my house. It’s a connecting point between heaven and Earth. And he says he gives the command to build it. And then verse 32 at the end of this appointment, your baptism for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me lest you do them in the temple. So it’s in the General Conference of October of 1841, where Joseph tells them you can no longer do baptisms until we finish the font in the Navu Temple.
Well, a month later, the font is completed in November. It’s now completed, and they have a temporary structure builder it’s in the basement of the Navy temple, so they can continue to do their baptisms for the dead. That’s how important it was to them. They very quickly accelerated that process when they realized, oh, we can’t keep doing it out here.
It’s back to the what and the how they get the what back in 1840. And they get all excited about doing these baptism for the dead and God’s like, let me give you some more how. Let’s actually refer again to this fullness of the priesthood that we saw in these earlier verses. Let me share with you a couple of comments, one from Joseph Smith and another one from Bruce Omer Conkey. First, Joseph Smith, he said about the fullness of the priesthood. If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it.
And that was by keeping all the Commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord. This is why it’s crucial to get a temple. If we want to be like Jesus, we need a temple so we can get all the Commandments and all the ordinances. Remember, the word ordinance means order. So God shows his order and his orderliness for Salvation. Gurusama Kanki taught further about the fullness of the priesthood. The Lord says that the fullness of the priesthood is received only in the temple itself.
This fullness is received through washings, anointing, Psalm, assemblies, oracles and Holy places, conversations, ordinances, endowments and ceilings. It is in the temple that we enter into the patriarchal order, the order of the priesthood that bears the name, the new and everlasting Covenant of marriage.
Which we’ll talk more about in section 132. Now, for those who have wondered what really is the purpose of the temple, all of this is powerful stuff. Why does God need a temple? Why can’t he just give us these things at our Church house or in our home?
We’re up at a temple.
Sorry. In the Old Testament, they did mountain tops. Why can’t we do that? The same thing? Now look at verse 40 and Verily, I send you let this house be built unto my name. Once again. Remember the significance we’ve talked about in previous episodes about the name and the power that comes with the name that I may reveal mine ordinances there and unto my people, for I deign to reveal unto my Church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world. Now, that’s interesting, because back in verse 28, he says he needs us to build this place so that he can restore again that which was lost into you.
That would be the dispensation of the fullness of times. Where everything that Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Savior’s own dispensation. Those major dispensations that have come before us. Everything that they have is to be given to us in the latter days. And we get that in verse 28 restored. But you’ll notice verse 41 said, I deign to reveal unto my Church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fullness of times.
So it’s not a restoration.
And that part, it’s not a restoration.
You can’t restore what was never there, at least on Earth. It was always in the heavens.
It was in the heavens, and he’s going to reveal things that were hid from before the foundation of the world. Sometimes we take our current temple understanding and we try to take that and go back in time and say, oh, all of these things are happening in these other dispensations. I don’t know what fits in verse 28 completely and what fits in verse 41. But I know there are elements in verse 41 that would tell us that we are experiencing things in our temple today that Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses never knew about, as far as ordinance is concerned or as far as keys of the priesthood.
We’re concerned, I don’t know. But he’s telling us we’re getting new things in this our dispensation.
It’s probably important to remind all of us that the temple is a place God’s home, where he instructs us in the plan of Salvation, and he can update the instructions from time to time or how he presents the story of Salvation, or how he asks us to participate in that story. But I think it’s quite interesting that the temple, in some ways is an interactive story about Salvation, where God asks us to participate in enacting what the plan of Salvation is all about. And from time to time, we need to make adjustments.
So the story has resonating power for people as times and cultures changes. I mean, we’re not doing it in Hebrew because most people don’t speak Hebrew or Greek. So God uses the languages that we are familiar with. And you’ll notice over the years that updates have been made to the temple, so that the story, the focus on Jesus and his work of Salvation is front and center.
Yeah, that’s a great reminder. The temple for us, this temple experience. When we walk in those doors, it becomes this connecting point between Earth and heaven that we can change the actual procedures, the wording, what you do in different parts of the ordinance. And it doesn’t ever change the powerful connection point that I come out of the world into the temple, to find God, to connect with Christ, to become more one with him, to say to Him more than I have in the past. I want you to be my God, and I want to be thy people.
I want that binding, sealing power of God to claim me as his.
Because this world is hard, living in a physical body with all of its natural man and natural woman tendencies can be hard. And I need that connection with God that temple provides. It’s the line from one of my favorite songs. Come now, fount of every blessing for me, a temple experience, even though I don’t always walk away saying, wow, best experience ever. I heard Heavenly Choir sing. I saw Angels, I saw heavenly light shine when I went to the temple because that doesn’t happen to me. But when I go to the temple, what I do feel is that line from Come now, fount it’s an offering and an acknowledgement.
Here’s my heart. O, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.
Because the heart is prone to wander. Lord, I feel it. That’s why I’m begging him to seal it for the courts above. So this whole temple unfolding revelation is so powerful as you watch God teaching these early Saints more clearly, the absolute need to sacrifice in order to get this temple.
We go here because the temple is a template or a pattern that reminds us for how God will work with us. So as you go to the temple, I love the song that Tyler has reminded us of. Remember, it’s an opportunity for us to encounter God, for him to encounter us and for him to show us patterns or templates for how he makes the plan of Salvation real in our lives. So as you go, we might just ask ourselves, what are the patterns or the principles of Salvation that God is trying to communicate to me?
How is he inviting me into this story of Salvation? So it’s about Him saving me.
Now, something very fascinating happens in verse 58. You’ll notice, he says, as I said unto Abraham concerning the kindreds of the Earth. Even so, I say unto my servant Joseph, in thee and in thy seed, shall the kindred of the Earth be blessed? That is probably the most oftrepeated scripture across our Old Testament. New Testament. Book of Mormon doctrine, Covenant’s Pearl. Great price is that promise given to Abraham that through him and his seed shall all the kindreds and tongues and people of the Earth be blessed.
And here God just said to Joseph, just like I told Abraham that now I’m telling you that, Joseph, why? It’s because our dispensation, the dispensation of the fullness of times has a responsibility given to it that no previous dispensation has been given, which is not just responsibility for spreading the gospel into the four corners of the world in ways that it’s never happened before, but also for the Salvation of all of the kindred dead. Going clear back through all those previous dispensations, providing connecting points for those people through temple work.
And it all comes through the revelations received by the Prophet Joseph. It’s not hard to see how, as the numbers of temples that are being announced and as the work seems to just be exploding, as far as operating temples and the need for us to do the family history work and then go to those temples and perform those ordinances. Well, what are we doing? We’re blessing all of the kindreds of the Earth through that effort. We’re helping to fulfill this promise in verse 58 that were the children of Abraham.
Because the promise that Abraham got is the promise we all get. And don’t you just love that to be chosen doesn’t mean you’re special and better than anybody. It’s you’re chosen to serve. You are chosen to bless the lives of others. What happened to Abraham? What happened to Joseph? What happens to each of us as we are children of Abraham? God has chosen you. You are chosen people and chosen for what? To spread God’s light and goodness throughout the world, not to hoard. It not to say I’m better than others because I’m a member of His Kingdom, but to do all that you can to spread light and goodness and to share that love so that others are also blessed.
He has chosen you to do that. Excellent.
Now look at page 251 in your English Doctrine and Covenants. If you speak English here, if you’re following along in that particular version at the very bottom of the page, you’ll notice this is probably the shortest of all of the footnotes of any page, and that would cause you to scratch it and say, Well, why? It’s interesting that whole page is talking about people buying stock in the Navu house, whereby it’s a novel way that the Lord has inspired Joseph to use to generate the funds in order to build the Navu house.
So there’s not a lot of what you would call spiritual significance. But remember earlier on in the doctrine comes, Lord said, I’ve never given a temporal commandment. All things are spiritual unto me. Saith Lord. So even though there isn’t a lot of cross referencing and a lot of footnote improvements to this page, it’s helping them at that time accomplish the needs. Now jump clear over to verse 91. This is where William Law is appointed and anointed a counselor to Joseph Smith. And Hiram Smith is given the office of patriarch, which had been his father, Joseph Smith senior before him.
But Joseph Smith senior, giving Hiram a blessing, had told him he would be a patriarch, and verse 91 is fulfilling that blessing that had been pronounced upon Hyram’s head. And verse 92, he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people, and whosoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed. He’s kind of describing some powerful promises to patriarchs. Now, back in that day, when you only have a few thousand Saints, it’s easy to have one person in charge of that with our Church today, with its size.
What an amazing privilege it is for each stake of the Church to have a patriarch to be able to give those blessings and those patriarchs. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed it many times now. There is a power there that is unlike anything else when blessings are given, it’s profound when God speaks to individuals through the keys of a patriarch, an ordained patriarch. This is one of the unsung blessings of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days, and I don’t know if they had similar things as far as everyone getting a patriarchal blessing back in previous dispensations.
But what a privilege that everyone has that right today in the Church.
In our stake, we have so many youth they’ve actually called two patriarchs to be able to keep up with the spiritual need. And these men and their wives are just so committed to the cause of God. And I have spent time with them even recently. I’ve just felt of their deep love and devotion for God to help God’s children know His will for those individuals. So if you haven’t received a picture of a blessing, you might talk to your Bishop about being prepared. And if you have received a picture of a blessing, you might take the time to prayerfully.
Recall what God has told you and document how God has fulfilled the things that He’s promised to you and strive to be faithful to him to see all those promises fulfilled in your life?
Can I just throw out here that a patriarchal blessing has the capacity to be as eternal as you? In other words, those blessings not fulfilled in this life, if you’re faithful will all be fulfilled in the next. There’s something comforting about that, knowing that God will keep all promises made in righteousness and under the Spirit of prophecy in revelation for you. If you are diligently moving forward now, the rest of this section is setting up Hiram Smith as the second elder after he got that assignment as a patriarch and replacing Oliver Cawgary section one, verse 126 re establishes the first presidency.
You’ll notice that the core of the twelve in verse 127 through 130 is reordered because we’ve lost some people. But a fascinating thing happens here in verse 130. It says after listing eleven Apostles, Brigham Young is the President in verse 127. Then the Apostles are listed in verse 129, and then we’ve only gotten to eleven or missing one who’s the 12th verse 130. David Patton, I have taken unto myself behold his priesthood. No man taketh from him but Verily. I say unto you, another may be appointed unto the same calling.
So for a short season here for two years on a little bit there’s this position in the corner of the twelve that isn’t refilled with somebody else. The Lord is saying, David W. Patton is still in that position in that quorum. It causes me to think of our not just our Church leaders who pass on and continue to help build up the Kingdom of God on that side of the veil. But it makes me think of our family members who pass on just because they die doesn’t mean they’re no longer your spouse or your grandparent or your child or your aunt or your uncle.
They’re still part of your family, and they still have these beautiful positions to fill in your family. They’re just going to fill it a little differently from the other side of the veil. But just like on this side of the veil, the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t come down and do everything for us. He inspires people on what they can do to help lift the load that you’re carrying or make burdens light for people who are struggling. I believe with all my heart that the same principle applies in the Spirit world that God, rather than doing everything for us from that side of the veil, will give opportunities and assignments and possibly inspiration to people on that side of the veil who are loved ones to be ministering Angels to us on this side of the veil in hours of need, at times of great struggle and where they can, even though we may not see them with our physical eyes, perhaps we can sense their presence and know that they’re working to help our family or our loved ones.
It’s a powerful perspective that the restored gospel gives us of ministering Angels on the other side of the veil. Then he gives all of these other priesthood quorums down through the end of the section, once again, creating a very broad base for this Church to move forward, not relying on one individual or even one quorum or one group alone, but to scatter the power and the ministering and the administering among many groups so that the work can move forward more smoothly and more accelerated. Now, as we finish, I want to come back to where we began.
You don’t have to run faster and you have strength. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else in the world. There’s an amazing song from a music group that my family enjoys named Runrigg, a band from Scotland. They have a song called The Story. For the first part of the song. They sing in their native Gaelic. But then there’s a line in there where this idea comes out, where they’re remembering their younger years. So the chorus in English, they sing, speaking of the early years now, for them, it involves the Hebrides, these Islands for us.
If you replace the word Hebrides with the heavenly, the premortal this beginning of our life. Listen to these words, and I’m still dreaming of the Hebrides. And I’m still leaning on the early years. And I can’t help feeling it will always be the story of the life inside of me, brothers and sisters. You all have a story of the life that’s inside of you. Your life didn’t begin at birth. You have so many experiences. You have so many talents, so much to offer and so much to acknowledge to the Lord that as you move forward in faith, trusting in Him more than ever before saying, I will give all that I have to thee, even though I acknowledge it’s not much.
But I’ll offer it all. Then be still and watch how amazing his power and capacity is to multiply your offering. And in the process, you are going to discover the story of the life that’s inside of you. And it’s a beautiful story. And you are the hero of that story with the help of the Savior. May the Lord bless us as we individually and collectively move forward. Discovering the story that’s inside of each of us. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen know that you are loved.