Come Follow Me LDS 2021 D&C 94-97 (August 23-29) (Doctrine and Covenants) – Persecution Rages – powered by Happy Scribe
It’s June 1833, and the Lord deals a stinging rebuke in Kurtland thus saith the Lord unto whom I love, you have not considered the great commandment that I have given concerning the building of my house in which I designed to endow you with power from on high. Immediately, Hiram Smith and Reynolds Cocoon went out, grabbed shovels, and started seeking the foundation, while George Smith went to the query and loaded the first stones to be used in the temple construction. Sometimes we just need to grab a shovel and start digging.
Temples are a major part of the restoration. However, the early Saints didn’t yet know how important temple blessings were, even though they’d already been commanded to build two temples in Kirtland. The land had been purchased in March, but building hadn’t started yet, and in Zion or Missouri, Joseph Smith had laid the cornerstone nearly two years earlier, but nothing else had been done. The Lord needed to restore his keys and powers and gifts through his temples and promise that if the Saints built them, I will multiply a multiplicity of blessings upon you and your generations forever and ever.
Unfortunately, their daily troubles caused them to lose focus on the temple. That never happens to us right now. There were two problems keeping the curtain Saints from starting a temple. The first was the same thing that always plagued the early Saints lack of money. They were still learning that as we sacrifice and are completely obedient, the Lord makes up the difference.
The other problem was they had no idea how to build it. Most of them lived in crude log cabins, and the idea of building a temple was mind boggling. Finally, in June, the three members of the First Presidency humbled themselves and knelt in prayer to ask the Lord for help in designing and building the temple. As they prayed, a vision of the temple appeared as if it was already built, and they were touring it. Hey, this is centuries before virtual tours were a thing.
Examining its exterior, they observe the structure of the windows, roof, and staple the temple. Then inexplicably moved over the top of them, and they found themselves inside it, inspecting its interior walls. Immediately after their vision ended, they drew up the plans for the temple. Now, while the Saints and Kurland were starting to build the temple, things weren’t going well for the Missouri Saints. Facing persecution and Destruction Violence erupted on July 20 as a mob of angry men storm the Felt home and printing press.
They forced Center Sally Felps and her five children outside, where they huddled together and watched the mob destroy their furniture, possessions, and home along with the printing press. The mob then through the precious page ages of the Book of Commandments out the window. Luckily, Mary and Caroline Rollins and sister Vienna Jakes were able to rescue some of these pages so that at least a few copies could be bound. Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen would track the main square to be tarred and feathered. Bishop Partridge desperately pleaded for the men to kill him and let the rest go.
But the angry men were delirious with mob mentality, and many other Saints were driven from their homes as personal belongings and farms were destroyed. Mary elders were falsely accused and unjustly arrested as the Sheriff was moving them from the courthouse to the jails. Several members of the mom surrounded them with guns. A few elders were able to escape safely, but Sydney Rignon stood his ground. Two mobsters menacingly came up to him, aimed their guns directly at his chest, and shot, but nothing happened.
Sydney quickly searched his body and found no injuries. One of the guns had broken and the other misfired at close range. Yes, the Lord was helping them, even if it was hard for them to see at the time. Nevertheless, at gunpoint, the Church leaders were forced to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County by early spring. But the violence quickly escalated to the point where the Saints were forced to flee across the Missouri River in the middle of winter.
But why did this happen? Well, while we definitely don’t know all of the answers, we do know a few. Obviously, the biggest reason was that Satan was doing everything he could to keep the Saints from establishing Zion and building a temple. He knows the power of temple blessings, so he fanned the flames of the non Mormons irritations into a full fledged hatred. Also, some of what WW films printed in the Church newspaper, The Evening and Morning Star further troubled Missouri citizens.
One article stated that freed slaves could be baptized and joined the Saints in Missouri. Oh, this really angered the original settlers because Missouri was a slave state and they didn’t want freed slaves moving in, and they didn’t want to lose their own slaves. Remember that whole Civil War thing on the horizon? Yeah. Furthermore, because of the large number of Saints moving in, they’d soon be the major political voting power in the area.
And the old settlers certainly needed enough votes to remain a slave state. And to be fair, some of these Saints weren’t always very kind and neighborly to those that didn’t belong to the Church. And unfortunately, since the Saints hadn’t started building the temple in Zion, they weren’t enjoying the huge blessings associated with temples that the Lord had promised. Really, the importance the Lord placed on building his early temples can help us recognize how widely important they are to us today. And Mary, remind us that sometimes we just need to grab a shovel and start digging for the car keys and start driving to the temple.
Next time we’ll learn about the Lord’s answers to the persecution and how Joseph Smith struggled to solve these problems.
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