D&C 85 We Must Take Our Covenants and Commitments Seriously
As noted in the section heading, this revelation addresses Church members in Missouri who had not fulfilled their duties in regard to the law of consecration. The instructions include:
- A record is to be kept of all members’ consecrations/donations, along with the “inheritances” or stewardships that they were given, their “faith and works,” plus a record of those who apostatized and left the Church after receiving their inheritances (verses 1-2; see also verses 3-5, 9-12).
- Our obedience prepares us to survive “the day of vengeance and burning” (verse 3; see also D&C 64:23).
- The Lord refers to a “mighty and strong” servant who would be sent to help “set in order the house of God” (verse 7). The identity of this servant is not made clear. Because Bishop Edward Partridge repented after receiving the Lord’s rebuke in verse 8 (see also D&C 64:17), we may assume that the “one mighty and strong” was never identified nor sent.
- In verse 8 the Lord compared the misguided actions of Bishop Partridge to the Old Testament event of “steadying the ark” (see Numbers 1:51; 4:15; 2 Samuel 6:6-7; 1 Chronicles 13:9-10). “Steadying the ark” in our day can refer to inappropriate attempts to set right our leaders or other things in the Church of God. We must not attempt to set others right or to “fix” things in the Church, when such actions do not pertain to our stewardship, or when our approach is ill-advised or poorly undertaken.
D&C 86:1-7 Wheat and Tares
As the Prophet Joseph Smith continued his inspired translation of portions of the Bible, he received this revelation, which adds further explanation of the Lord’s parable of the wheat and tares, which is found in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
We learn from verses 2-3 that in this parable, the “field” represents the world (as in Matthew 13:38), and the “sowers of the seed” represent the apostles of Jesus’s day (in Matthew 13:37 the Savior identified Himself as the sower; but so it is, when His servants labor in His behalf). After the deaths of the apostles, Satan sowed or planted tares into the fields where the apostles had sown wheat. (Tares are an injurious weed that, when young, are indistinguishable from wheat, thus polluting the field.) The resulting effect was the apostasy—or falling away—of the meridian church.
What stands out for you in D&C 86:4-7, as the Lord applied this parable to the last days? Truly, we are participating in the Lord’s gathering of His people in the last days, and at His Second Coming He will destroy all wickedness. In 1974 Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Twelve taught, “There is a real sifting going on in the Church, and it is going to become more pronounced with the passing of time. It will sift the wheat from the tares, because we face some difficult days, the like of which we have never experienced in our lives. And those days are going to require faith and testimony” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 107).
What does it mean for angels to “reap down the fields”? (verse 5). In 1893, at the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, President Wilford Woodruff declared, “God has held the angels of destruction for many years, lest they should reap down the wheat with the tares [see verse 6; Matthew 13:28-30]. But I want to tell you now, that those angels have left the portals of heaven, and they stand over this people and this nation now, and are hovering over the earth waiting to pour out the judgments. And from this very day they shall be poured out. Calamities and troubles are increasing in the earth, and there is a meaning to these things. Remember this, and reflect upon these matters. If you do your duty, and I do my duty, we’ll have protection, and shall pass through the afflictions in peace and in safety” (Young Women’s Journal, August 1894, pp. 512–13).
D&C 86:8-11 The Priesthood
In these verses the Lord refers to today’s holders of the priesthood as “lawful heirs [to the priesthood], according to the flesh” (verse 9), “through the lineage of your fathers” (verse 8). This likely has reference to our status as descendants of Abraham to whom the Lord promised, “ I will make of thee a great nation … and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations” (Abraham 2:9).
According to verse 11, in what other ways does the priesthood bless mankind, including those who hold and righteously exercise it?
D&C 87 War
Read the section heading, then verses 1-3. Note how the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865 (some 30 years after this revelation) at least partially fulfills the prophecies in these verses. Between 620,000 and 750,000 soldiers died in the Civil War, plus an unknown number of civilians (all this from a total population of only about 31 million); still ranking as the deadliest war in U.S. history.
Read verse 6 and cross-reference it to D&C 43:18-25; D&C 88:87-91. What do these three references tell you about the Lord and His works among mankind? The “full end of all nations” (D&C 87:6) and peace on earth will occur at the Second Coming, which brings in the Millennial era.
Read verse 7, and note the Lord’s words as He explains at least one of the reasons for the U.S. Civil War. Read verse 8, and consider what you can do to follow the counsel the Lord gives. During times of war and widespread commotion, we have one true source of peace. Ponder John 14:27; 16:33.