Between December 1831 and January 1832, Joseph Smith received revelations on at least three topics: missionary work, his translation of the Bible, and the role of a bishop. Here is a summary of these revelations, and some principles I’ve learned from them:
- December 1: The Lord instructed Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to set aside the work of translating the Bible and dedicate time to proclaiming the gospel. A former member of the Church had published a collection of letters criticizing the Church, and Joseph and Sidney needed to counteract the influence of those letters by teaching the truth (Doctrine and Covenants 71). Sometimes, we need to set aside even important work to meet an immediate need.
- December 4: Newell K. Whitney was called to serve as the bishop of the church in Ohio. This revelation explains his duties and his relationship with the bishop in Missouri, Edward Partridge (Doctrine and Covenants 72). When Joseph extended this calling, Newell said, “I cannot see a Bishop in myself, Brother Joseph; but if you say it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll try.” Joseph replied, “You need not take my word alone. Go and ask Father for yourself.” After Newell prayed and received his own confirmation that this calling was from God, he accepted. (See “Newel K. Whitney: A Man of Faith and Service,” on history.churchofjesuschrist.org.) We need to trust God when He gives us assignments that stretch us.
- On January 10, the Lord told Joseph and Sidney that it was time to resume the translation of the Bible. However, they should also continue preaching the gospel “inasmuch as it is practicable.” (Doctrine and Covenants 73). Our responsibilities may change over time, but the responsibility to share the gospel is continuous.
- As Joseph and Sidney worked on the Bible translation, they received clarifying information about a potentially confusing verse: 1 Corinthians 7:14. The Lord reaffirmed that “little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 74). God can help us learn true principles from the scriptures.
- On January 25, the Lord called 24 men to serve as missionaries. He instructed them to work hard, to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and to arrange for their families to be cared for in their absence (Doctrine and Covenants 75). We need to work hard, but we should also seek help from the Lord and from other people.
Here are some additional principles taught in these sections, with relevant blog posts:
- When your ally is the most powerful Being in the universe, you can overcome intimidation and move forward with confidence (Doctrine and Covenants 71:8-10): No Weapon That Is Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper – 3 Nephi 22:16-17.
- The bishop ensures that things donated to the church are managed carefully and used wisely (Doctrine and Covenants 72:9-12): The Storehouse.
- As our understanding grows, we need to be willing let go of habits and practices that are not productive (Doctrine and Covenants 74:4-6): Dead Works – Moroni 8:23.