Doctrine and Covenants 135-136: “He Has Sealed His Mission and His Works with His Own Blood”

Winter Quarters,” by Jonathan Leo Fairbanks

135 – The Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum

What would you be willing to give your life for?

The prophet Abinadi was offered the chance to avoid execution by recanting the message God had sent him to deliver. In response, he declared, “I will not recall the words which I have spoken unto you concerning this people, for they are true; and that ye may know of their surety I have suffered myself that I have fallen into your hands. Yea, and I will suffer even until death, and I will not recall my words, and they shall stand as a testimony against you. And if ye slay me ye will shed innocent blood, and this shall also stand as a testimony against you at the last day” (Mosiah 17:9-10).

Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum similarly gave their lives because they were true to their prophetic mission. A few days before they were murdered by an armed mob while incarcerated in Carthage Jail, Joseph said, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:4).

On the morning of their death, Hyrum read the following passage from the Book of Mormon: “I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean” (Ether 12:36-37, see Doctrine and Covenants 135:5).

Perhaps standing up for what is right always requires some courage, but when a person is willing to sacrifice his or her life for what they believe, that is an extraordinarily powerful testimony.

Here are some principles I have learned from the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum:

  • Some things are more important than life itself, as evidenced by those who have been willing to pay the ultimate price for their testimony: Martyrdom.
  • To “bear witness” is to carry a burden with significant implications for other people: Why Do We “Bear” Witness?
  • We can help God accomplish His purposes in spite of our limitations and shortcomings: Out of Weakness…

136 – Winter Quarters

In January 1847, more than 7,000 church members who had fled from Nauvoo, Illinois were encamped on the banks of the Missouri River, 300 miles away. Another 3,000 people were en route, at various locations along the trail. Brigham Young was distraught as he saw the suffering of the people he was called to lead.

In response to his prayers for guidance, Brigham received a revelation, which he entitled “The Word and Will of the Lord” (D&C 136). The revelation gave instructions about how church members should organize themselves to continue their journey to their new home.

Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. Although these people would face many challenges during their migration, they found strength and safety by organizing themselves according to guidance given by the Lord. (See Chad M. Orton, “This Shall Be Our Covenant,” Revelations in Context.)

Here are some lessons related to this revelation:

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