As Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon produced an inspired translation of the Bible, they continually sought guidance from the Lord about the passages they were reading. Doctrine and Covenants 77 contains fifteen questions Joseph asked about the Book of Revelation, together with the answers he received. He asked questions about specific symbols (“What are we to understand by the eyes and wings, which the beasts had?”), about timing (“When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation?”), and about people mentioned in the book (“What is to be understood by the two witnesses, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation?”).
While the answers can help us better understand the imagery in the Book of Revelation, these questions and answers are also useful as a prototype for our own scripture study. Insights and explanations can come to us as we ponder passages of scripture and seek answers to specific questions about those passages.
On March 1, 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation instructing him to further organize “the storehouse for the poor.” The revelation gave specific instructions about how to coordinate the efforts of church members in Ohio and Missouri. It also reaffirmed the core principles behind these efforts. “If ye are not equal in earthly things,” the Lord said, “ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:6). “I will lead you along,” He promised. “The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:18).
The specific processes for managing the storehouse have changed over time, but the core underlying principles are the same. We care for the poor because we are all children of God and see each other as equals. As we follow God’s counsel, we prosper, receiving blessings of eternal value.
Two mission calls issued in March 1832 are also recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants:
- Jared Carter, who had just returned from a mission to the eastern states, was called to go back, and to travel “from place to place, and from city to city, in the power of the ordination wherewith he has been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 79:1). (See Revelations in Context, “‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries” for more information about Jared Carter.)
- Stephen Burnett was called to preach the gospel with Eden Smith as his companion. The location of their service was entirely up to them: “Whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss” (Doctrine and Covenants 80:3).
Here are some blog posts relating to the themes in these chapters: