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.