Come, Follow Me Doctrine and Covenants Lesson 36: August 30–September 5 “For the Salvation of Zion” Doctrine and Covenants 94–97
D&C 94: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, August 2, 1833. Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter are appointed as a Church building committee.
D&C 95: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, June 1, 1833. This revelation is a continuation of divine directions to build a house for worship and instruction, the house of the Lord (see section 88:119–36).
D&C 96: Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, showing the order of the city or stake of Zion at Kirtland, Ohio, June 4, 1833, as an example to the Saints in Kirtland. The occasion was a conference of high priests, and the chief subject of consideration was the disposal of certain lands, known as the French farm, possessed by the Church near Kirtland. Since the conference could not agree who should take charge of the farm, all agreed to inquire of the Lord concerning the matter.
D&C 97: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, August 2, 1833. This revelation deals particularly with the affairs of the Saints in Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, in response to the Prophet’s inquiry of the Lord for information. Members of the Church in Missouri were at this time subjected to severe persecution and, on July 23, 1833, had been forced to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County.
Come Follow Me with Casey Paul Griffiths (Doctrine and Covenants 94-97, August 30 – September 5) – powered by Happy Scribe
One of the central tenets of the Latter-day Saint religion is our idea and belief and temples. Now, there’s a lot about temples that are sacred and that it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss in a setting like this. But when the Doctrine Covenants talks about temples, it’s not about what’s happening inside. It’s about the blessings the temples bring to us on the outside. The Lord was very, very concerned that the Saints in the early Church build the temple so that he could reveal into them an endowment for power and give them knowledge that would help them do the things that they had to do to bring to pass his work in the latter days.
You might remember, at this point in time, there’s two communities of Saints. There’s one in Missouri, and there’s one in Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Mint lived in Kurland, Ohio. But there were number of important Church leaders, including Edward Partridge and Oliver Cadre and David Whitmer, who lived in Missouri. In fact, during this time, most members of the Church lived in Missouri because that was the spa chosen to build the City of Zion at the center of the City of Zion in Missouri was going to be a complex of temples.
These weren’t temples the same way that we use temples to Dame. These temples had to be built so that the ordinances that we use in the temples to day could be revealed and so that the Lord could give us more knowledge. But at the heart of the city of and there were supposed to be 24 different temples. It’s pretty ambitious to ask as a group of people that have just moved to a new country to build 24 buildings. But all the Lord was really looking for was effort on their part, a sincere showing of their faith and effort that they were trying to build the temple.
So even though there’s 24 temples, remember, the Lord really just wanted them to show that they were gonna start by building one. Now in section 88 of the Doctrine Covenants, the Saints in Kurtland, the other Church Center, were also commanded to build a temple, a house for the Lord. And section 94 and section 97 of the Doctrine Covenants explained that this house was really supposed to be a series of houses or three temples. Put simply, each one of these houses had a different purpose. One was designated as the house for the presidency, the kind of Church administration building where the leaders of the Church could meet together, transact business, and receive guidance from the Lord.
Another one of the houses was designated as a house for printing the scriptures. This was a place where the Church press would be housed and where they’d be able to print the revelations that they received and promulgate scriptures like the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine Covenants. Now, the final and most important one was the House of the Lord. This was going to be a worship space where the Saints could gather together and received their blessings, and also an endowment of power that the Savior promised throughout the Scriptures.
Now, this ain’t in Kurtland weren’t successful in building all three of these, though they did build a smaller structure that housed the presidency and the printing press.
They spent most of their time brightly focusing on the house of the Lord, which later on became the Kurtland Temple. Lucy McSmith, Joseph Smith’s mother, said, There was but one main spring to all our thoughts and actions, and that was the building of the Lord’s house. But the other thing to keep in mind is that the Saints in Missouri and in Kurtland were both very, very poor. For instance, when the proposal was made to build a house of the Lord in Kurtland, one of the ideas that was brought up was that they should build it out of logs.
Joseph Smith got up and spoke in front of a group of brethren and said, Shall we brethren build a house for our gone out of logs?
No, he retorted, I have a better plan than that. I have a plan for the house of the Lord given by himself. In other words, the Lord was intensely involved in the planning and construction of these buildings. You might even notice if you look in these two sections 94 or 95, the same year even gives the exact dimensions of the three houses and how big they’re supposed to be, and the Saints build them according to their specifications. Now, in section 95, the Lord had to chase in the Saints and Kurtland because they were too slow to get organized to build the temple.
Lord did so in the most affectionate way possible, telling them thus saith the Lord unto you, who I love and whom I love. I also Chasen that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement, I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation. And I’ve loved you. But you must need stand chased and Sandra. But before my face, the Kurtland Saints listened to what the Savior hand to say.
They didn’t take the chasing personally. They took it as a call to repentance, and they’re a pendant. And as such they were blessed with visions and understandings about the smallest details of the temple in Kurtland that was supposed to be built. Truman angel, who was one of the workers on the Kurtland Temple, later remembered that Frederick G Williams, who worked as the architect on the temple, saw envision the temple. He said, Joseph Smith received the word of the Lord for him to take his two counselors, Williams and Rigdon, and come before the Lord, and he would show them the plan or model of the house to to be built.
We went upon our knees, called on the Lord, and the building appeared within viewing distance. I being the first to discover it. Then we all viewed it together. After we’d taken a good look at the exterior. The building seemed to come right over us, and the makeup of that hall seemed to coincide with what I there saw to Minutia.
So even the smallest detail was shown in vision of the first Presidency. And the Saints in Kurtland put in real effort and their whole hearts to try and build the house. Section 96 basically talks about the French farm or the land that they used to build the house and the first temple. The Church was completed in Kurland and dedicated to the 1836. Now let’s jump back to the other Church Center in Missouri, who had also been commanded to build a temple.
24 temples. But the Lord really wanted them to just start on one first and then get the rest of the temple complex built. In contrast to what was happening with the Kurtland Saints in section 97, the Missouri Saints also received a really strong warning. The Savior tells them in verse seven, the axis laid at the roof of the trees, and every tree that bring us not forth, good fruit shall be honed down and cast in the fire. I, the Lord have spoken it.
You see, the Saints in Missouri, for whatever reason, had dragged their feet when it came to building the temple. Now they were living in difficult frontier conditions among a community that didn’t like them, and there were a lot of reasons why there was conflict between the Saints and the Missourians. Missouri was a slave state, and most members of the Church came from the Northern United States, where they didn’t practice slavery. The Church members below that the Lamanites, the Native Americans, had a special destiny and purpose, and that wasn’t something that the other settlers liked very much, either.
As Latterday Saints poured into the territory, some of the original settlers worried that they would lose political influence and power, and all these things led to conflict that flared up around the same time Section 97 was given.
So just a few days before this revelation was received, and before Joseph Smith could have possibly been aware of mob violence broke out against the Saints in Jackson County, the Church, in turning office was destroyed. Several leaders of the Church were tired and feathered, and other people were beaten and forced out of their homes. And the Savior is pleading with them and warning them that if they focus on the temple, they’ll receive his protection. In verse eight, the Savior said barely, I say unto you all among them who know their hearts are honest and are broken, and their spirits are contrite and are willing to observe their Covenance by sacrifice.
Every sacrifice which I had Lortel command, they are accepted of me.
But it’s also possible that the Saints Missouri just couldn’t imagine that they would lose their land because it had been designated as the place for the City of Zion. In their mind, it was the land that was significant and important. And that’s why they couldn’t imagine that it would ever be taken away from them. Now, in section 97, the Lord clarifies exactly what he means by Zion and what the city is. The land is still important.
But in verse 21, the Savior taught, therefore Verily, thus the Lord let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion, the pure in heart. Therefore let Zion rejoice. While all the wicked saw mourn, it was possible for them to lose the land because the Savior wasn’t as worried about the land as he was about the people. A few months before the persecutions broke out of Missouri, Joseph Smith had written a letter exhorting the Saints to purify themselves, to live the laws, to live in harmony with each other, and become the kind of people that were worthy to live in Zion.
Joseph Smith, writing in a letter to WW Phelps in Zion a few months before the persecutions erupted, said, The Lord will have a place from whence his word will go forth in these last days, impurity, whereas Zion will not purify herself so as to be approved in all things.
In his sight, he will seek another people, for this work will go on until Israel is gathered, and then he will not hear his voice, must expect to feel his wrath. Then the Prophet vary, emphatically and pleadingly told, the Saints and Missouri seek to purify ourselves and also all the inhabitants of Zion. Less the Lord’s anger, be kindled, the fierceness. Now, sometimes because we’re latterday Saints, and because we’ve been given tremendous blessings, we have this idea that the blessings are just inevitable, that they’re going to come to us, that a temple will be built in our area that will have the opportunity to do the things that we want to do, because we’re the good guys.
Well, it’s not necessarily the opportunities, the land or anything physical, but the people, the makeup sign.
The Lord was concerned with creating a people that could inhabit the city. The trees, the buildings, even the temples were less important than the people that would go into them and receive their blessings. In this case, the Lord was trying to reassure them that even if they lost the land which they did, they could still achieve Zion by becoming pure and heart. And the Zion wasn’t really a place they were going to arrive to. It was something that they were going to become.