125 – “Let them gather themselves together.”
As church members began to establish the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith contemplated the future for church members who had settled on the west side of the Mississippi River, in Iowa. In answer to his prayer, the Lord revealed that those people could remain in Iowa and establish another city there, to be called Zarahemla. The Lord clarified that there would be multiple gathering places, or “stakes,” each of which would help them “be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 125:2).
- We should prepare now for blessings we will receive in the future: Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent – 3 Nephi 22:1-3.
- We can gather by becoming physically close but also by becoming unified in thought and purpose: What Is the Gathering of Israel?
126 – “Take especial care of your family.”
Brigham and Mary Ann Young had made extraordinary sacrifices for the gospel. As Brigham returned from London to Nauvoo, Joseph Smith visited them in a log cabin Mary Ann had constructed. He received a revelation in which the Lord commended them for their efforts and instructed Brigham to remain at home. “It is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me” (Doctrine and Covenants 126:1).
127 & 128 – “Glad tidings for the dead”
At the funeral of Seymour Brunson in August 1840, Joseph Smith introduced the doctrine of baptism for the dead. Citing 1 Corinthians 15:29, in which the apostle Paul mentions that church members anciently were baptized for the dead, Joseph revealed that church members would soon be able to be baptized on behalf of their deceased ancestors. (See “Let the Work of My Temple Not Cease,” Ensign, January 2010.)
Two years later, Joseph wrote two epistles to the Church, in which he provided additional information about this practice. He clarified that it was important for church members to keep a careful record of who had received this ordinance. “Whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven,” he wrote, “and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven; for out of the books shall your dead be judged” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:8).
Here are some principles I’ve learned from these epistles, with relevant blog posts:
- Family history brings us closer to our ancestors and to the Lord (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18): A Genealogy of His Fathers – 1 Nephi 5:14-17.
- Human language is imperfect, so there is no such thing as a “perfect translation,” only a translation which is sufficiently clear for a specific purpose (Doctrine & Covenants 128:18): Why Do Quotes from the King James Version Appear in the Book of Mormon, Even Ones that Joseph Smith Later Altered in his Translation of the Bible ?
- Our offering to the Lord is the record we keep of our ancestors and of the work we do on their behalf (Doctrine and Covenants 128:24): What Offering Will the Sons of Levi Make in Righteousness?
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