“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: