- Doctrine and Covenants 115-120: “His Sacrifice Shall Be More Sacred unto Me Than His Increase” (October 11-17)
“Strengthen Thy Stakes” (Doctrine and Covenants 115-117)
“Enlarge the place of thy tent,” said Isaiah, as he prophesied of the gathering of Israel. “Let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes” (Isaiah 54:2). The imagery is one of thrilling expansion and growth.
When the Savior visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He quoted this prophecy, promising that it would be fulfilled soon after the publication of the Book of Mormon. (See 3 Nephi 21:1-2, 22:2). And Moroni reference this prophecy again in the final verses of his book. (See Moroni 10:31.)
As church members began to gather in a new city called Far West, Missouri, the Lord referenced the imagery of this prophecy. “Arise and shine forth,” He said, “that thy light may be a standard for the nations; and that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:5-6). The Lord encouraged them to continue building Far West, adding that “other places should be appointed for stakes in the regions round about” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:18).
In response to this instruction, Joseph Smith and other church leaders looked for other places for church members to settle. As they explored the undeveloped areas to the north, they found a place which the Lord called “Adam-ondi-Ahman,” the place where Adam, the Ancient of Days, will one day sit in judgment. (See Doctrine and Covenants 116:1.) Within a few months, more than 200 families built homes there. (See Jacob W. Olmstead, “Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman,” Revelations in Context.)
In July 1838, the Lord instructed church members still in Kirtland, Ohio, including William Marks, Newel K. Whitney, and Oliver Granger, to immigrate as quickly as possible to Missouri in order to be with this growing body of saints. “Come up hither unto the land of my people,” He said, “even Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 117:9).
And this expansion stretched far beyond Missouri and Ohio. The Lord also instructed the apostles to prepare for a mission to Great Britain the following spring (Doctrine and Covenants 118).
Here are some lessons I have learned from these revelations:
- Gathering with other believers can provide us with a refuge from the storms of life: Lengthen Thy Cords and Strengthen Thy Stakes – 3 Nephi 22:2-3.
- When we find refuge, we must work to provide it to others as well: They Did Receive All the Poor of the Zoramites – Alma 35:8-9.
- As we gather around the gospel of Jesus Christ, we make it more visible to others: A Standard for My People.
Tithing (Doctrine and Covenants 119-120)
At Far West, the Lord modified the method for supporting the financial needs of the church. He instructed members of the church to donate “one-tenth of all their interest [income] annually” to the church (Doctrine and Covenants 119:4). He also established what is now called the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes, which consists of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, and He charged them to use these sacred funds according to “mine own voice unto them” (Doctrine and Covenants 120:1). (See Jared B. Larson, “Church Auditing Department Report, 2020,” General Conference, April 2021.)
Here are some principles I have learned relating to the law of tithing:
- The blessings we receive when we pay tithing are far greater than the amount we have given: Why Does God Command Us to Pay Tithing?
- Tithing reminds us that the accumulation of material possessions is not our highest goal in life: What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About Tithing?
The Name of the Church (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4)
After the Savior organized His church on the American continent, His disciples came to Him with a question: What should the church be called? Jesus answered unequivocally: “Ye shall call the church in my name” (3 Nephi 27:7).
In 1838, the Lord revealed the name by which His church should be known in our time: “Thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).
Here are two blog posts about the importance of using the correct name of the Church:
In his first epistle to the Corinthian saints, Paul promises to spend some time with them in the future, but not right away. “I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost,” he says. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me” (1 Corinthians 16:9). The word effectual means “successful in producing a desired or… Continue Reading →
I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. Psalm 119:60 There is power in doing what needs to be done as soon as possible, without unnecessary delay. When the Lord instructed Alma to return to the city of Ammonihah, “he returned speedily” (Alma 8:18). Sometime later, when Zeezrom asked Alma and Amulek to… Continue Reading →
In a poignant expression of self-doubt, Isaiah lamented his apparent lack of success: I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and in vain; surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God. 1 Nephi 21:4, Isaiah 49:4 In response God offered the following words of reassurance: And… Continue Reading →
With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. Job 12:12 There are many reasons for us to love and respect Adam and Eve. As the first man and woman on the earth, they pioneered the way for us, learning by experience so many things which we take for granted. They made our mortal experience… Continue Reading →
The Hebrew word or (אוֹר) means light. When used as a verb, it means to be light or to become light. Speaking to a future generation of Israelites who would be gathered home, Isaiah said: Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Isaiah 60:1 They could share light… Continue Reading →
In 1837, Thomas B. Marsh was concerned about the state of the Church. In Missouri, church members had been driven from their homes. In Ohio, many members and even church leaders were becoming disaffected. As president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Thomas must have felt a deep desire to help curb the chaos… Continue Reading →
When it was time for Lehi and his family to begin their journey in the wilderness, God gave them a tool to help them steer a straight course toward their destination. Nephi refers to it as “a round ball of curious workmanship” (1 Nephi 16:10). Alma later explains to his son Helaman that it was… Continue Reading →
In the middle of a passage about the gathering of Israel, Isaiah pleads with the Lord to rescue His captive people: Awake, awake! Put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient days…. Art thou not he who hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the… Continue Reading →
After prophesying that Israel would be conquered, using a metaphor of a tree being chopped down or burned, Isaiah presents an image of rebirth: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1, 2 Nephi 21:1 As he does frequently, Isaiah gives us two parallel phrases… Continue Reading →
Isaiah prophesied of a time when “darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” But he promised that, in the midst of this darkness, “the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy… Continue Reading →
When Jesus was on the earth, He chose twelve apostles and commissioned them to help Him do His work. (See Matthew 10.) But following His resurrection and ascension, the apostles faced an administrative problem. One of their number, Judas Iscariot, had betrayed the Savior and had subsequently taken his own life. So they now numbered… Continue Reading →
As Jacob traveled to Padan-aram to live with his uncle, he had a dream in which the Lord renewed the promise He had made to Jacob’s father and grandfather. Waking the next morning, Jacob built a stone pillar and poured oil on it as a form of worship. (See Genesis 28:18.) Years later, after Jacob… Continue Reading →
One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is for us to “know the covenants of the Lord” (Title Page). The Savior emphasized three of those covenants during His visit to the American continent, following His death and resurrection: Israel will be gathered: “Then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth;… Continue Reading →
Behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. 1 Nephi 20:10, Isaiah 48:10 Last April, President Russell M. Nelson invited us to make a list of lessons we have learned during the pandemic. “Adversity is a great teacher,” he said. “What have you learned in the past two years that… Continue Reading →
In March, 2019, I studied 20 different names or titles of Jesus Christ which appear in the Book of Mormon. I was particularly interested in the way each name was used, both in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible.
In 2018, I wrote summaries of many of the sermons in the Book of Mormon. Each summary describes the setting, the purpose, an outline of the sermon’s content, and my takeaways from the sermon.
In 2019, I used the Book of Mormon to study 365 questions—one per day. Here is a list of those questions, grouped by category, with a link to the blog post for each question.