- Doctrine and Covenants 102-105: “After Much Tribulation…Cometh the Blessing” (September 13-19)
The High Council (Doctrine and Covenants 102)
In February 1834, a group of church members gathered at the home of Joseph Smith and organized a new governing organization called the high council. The group consisted of twelve high priests and operated under the direction of the First Presidency of the Church. Their purpose was to settle “important difficulties…which could not be settled by the church or the bishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties” (Doctrine and Covenants 102:2).
The minutes of this organizing meeting are found in Doctrine and Covenants 102. While this is only one of many councils to be established in the church, it illustrates the principle that there is safety in making decisions by council. (See Proverbs 11:14.)
Here are a couple of blog posts on this topic:
Dissolution of the United Firm (Doctrine and Covenants 104)
Two months later, at a meeting to discuss the debts owed by the church, leaders decided that it was best to dissolve the United Firm, an organization which had been established to help them pool their resources. Soon after, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which the Lord reiterated some foundational principles of temporal welfare, including:
- “The earth is full, and there is enough and to spare.”
- “Every man [is] accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings.”
- “The poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.”
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from this revelation:
- We can strive to excel without comparing ourselves with each other: Above the Stars of God – 2 Nephi 24:12-17.
- Every time we receive an assignment from the Lord, we receive gifts from Him to help us fulfill that assignment: Gazelem – Alma 37:23.
Zion’s Camp (Doctrine and Covenants 103, 105)
Church members who had relocated to Jackson County, Missouri had been forcibly driven from their homes in late 1833 and were living temporarily in neighboring counties. In February 1833, the Lord instructed Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight to recruit a large number of people to travel about 800 miles from Ohio to Missouri to help these people. He promised, “Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land” (Doctrine and Covenants 103:20).
The group they recruited—initially about 100 people, but growing to over 200—left Kirtland, Ohio in April. When they arrived at Fishing River, only a few miles from Jackson County, they heard that a mob was preparing to attack them. Some of them wanted to attack the mob preemptively, but Joseph Smith responded, “No. Stand still and see the salvation of God.” Shortly after, an enormous storm began, which toppled trees and swelled the river, so that it was not passable.
Several days later, Joseph received a revelation in which the Lord disbanded the group, explaining, “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.” He further explained, “This cannot be brought to pass until mine elders are endowed with power from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:5, 11).
Here is one of the lessons I’ve learned from this revelation:
- Even though the law won’t save us, we must “learn obedience” to it: Salvation Doth Not Come by the Law Alone – Mosiah 13:28.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 Alma was troubled. As the high priest over the church, he had taught church members “that there should be no contention one with another,” but that they should have “their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21). He taught… Continue Reading →
God made the following promise to Abraham: In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore. Genesis 22:17 The Apostle Paul later reminded the Hebrews that these promises weren’t fulfilled all at once. The… Continue Reading →
The wealthy man passed the beggar every day, but he never felt sufficient compassion to share. In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus provided a name for the beggar but not for the wealthy man, indicating where His sympathies lay. The rich man lived comfortably, even extravagantly. He “was clothed in purple… Continue Reading →
Why are we so prone to be complacent? Speaking for the Lord, the prophet Jeremiah expressed frustration with people who had failed to listen when everything was going well: I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth. Jeremiah 22:21 The prophet Mormon lamented our tendency… Continue Reading →
John wrote that we can become like God. “When he shall appear, we shall be like him,” he wrote, “for we shall see him as he is.” Then, he added, “[Everyone] that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Mormon described a similar future state for those… Continue Reading →
In his first epistle to church members in Corinth, the apostle Paul emphasized that God’s wisdom is greater than human wisdom and that therefore preaching the gospel is about connecting people to God’s Spirit, not just convincing them of truths by eloquence and reasoning. “My speech and my preaching,” he said, “was not with enticing… Continue Reading →
Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi describes an expansive vision in which he viewed many future events. One of those was the immigration of Europeans suffering religious persecution to the American continent and the establishment of the United States of America: I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out… Continue Reading →
As the children of Israel prepared to enter the promised land, Moses asked them to consider some of the lessons of their sojourn in the wilderness. One of those lessons came from the food they ate: manna, which mysteriously appeared every morning except the sabbath in sufficient portions to provide them with physical nourishment. (See… Continue Reading →
Near the end of the 46th psalm, there is a curious sentence. The rest of the psalm is narrated by a person who reassures us that God is has all power. Even though terrible things might happen—”the earth be removed,” “mountains be carried into the midst of the sea,” “the heathen [rage],” and “kingdoms [be]… Continue Reading →
King David asked the following soul-searching question: Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? Then, he provided the following answer: He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4 The Savior taught the same principle as one of the Beautitudes: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they… Continue Reading →
When the Lord invited John Johnson to participate in the United Firm in 1833, He coupled that invitation with an assignment: He shall seek diligently to take away incumbrances that are upon the house named among you, Doctrine and Covenants 96:9 An encumbrance (or incumbrance) is a burden or an impediment to progress. As a legal term,… Continue Reading →
In a revelation received by Joseph Smith in 1833, the Lord laments the state of church members who fail to recognize what they have. He described them as “walking in darkness at noon-day” (Doctrine and Covenants 95:6). This imagery is reminiscent of the following passage in the book of Job: They meet with darkness in… 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.