D&C 94 Church Facilities
It is May 1833 and there are about 1,500 Church members in Kirtland. The Lord calls upon three brethren to form a building committee (Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter), to construct an office building for the work of the First Presidency (verse 3) and a facility for the printing of the scriptures (verse 9). Why do you think the Lord placed these needs even above the need for a chapel or meetinghouse?
After giving these instructions, in verse 16 the Lord tells them to delay the construction until He indicates, which apparently never happened. Thus, these two facilities were not built in Kirtland.
D&C 95 “Ye Must Needs Be Chastened”
What have you learned from chastening you have received in your life? In late December 1832, about five months prior to Section 95, the Lord had commanded the Saints to begin building a temple in Kirtland (see D&C 88:119). Now, in early June 1833, perhaps they had ample reasons for not having begun, such as poverty, persecution, sending men on missions, and apostasy among the members. Nonetheless, in this revelation the Lord spoke directly and firmly to Joseph Smith regarding this “very grievous sin” of omission (verse 3).
President Russell M. Nelson declared, “The Lord loves effort” (see Joy D. Jones, April 2020 general conference). Our Heavenly Father wants us to put forth efforts, not excuses. From Section 95 we can learn:
- What did the Lord say in verse 1, as a prelude to His chastening? Do you ever feel chastened by the Spirit? Do you see it as a manifestation of the Lord’s love for you?
- What else did the Lord say in verses 2-3, 5-6, 10, 12 about the Saints’ faults? How can you personally apply any of these verses?
- What promise did the Lord make in verse 11? Can you think of a time when the Lord gave you power to do something He had commanded you to do? (see also 1 Nephi 3:7).
- Note that in verse 3 the Lord calls the building of a temple “the great commandment in all things.”
- Find some of the purposes of temples, as stated by the Lord in verses 4, 7-8, 16-17 (the Lord’s promise in verse 8 to “endow” the Saints with power in His house was more completely fulfilled in Nauvoo, when the full temple endowment was instituted).
On the day Section 95 was given, Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter (of the committee charged in Section 95) began digging trenches for the foundation of the temple. Brother Karl Ricks Anderson wrote: “Neither the Church nor its poverty-stricken members had ever undertaken such a task. The cost of the building, estimated at about $40,000, was a staggering sum for the 1830s…. There were only a handful of experienced builders among the Saints, and certainly none had constructed anything as huge and complex as the temple. The Saints also faced great opposition from the community. Townspeople thought it foolhardy for them to build such a structure, and some vowed ‘that the walls should never be erected.’ …
“Joseph Smith asked the brethren for their views about how the temple was to be constructed…. Some were in favor of building a frame house, but others were of a mind to put up a log house. Joseph reminded them that they were not building a house for a man, but for God [and Joseph said,] ‘shall we, brethren, build a house for our God, of logs? No, I have a better plan than that. I have a plan of the house of the Lord, given by himself; and you will soon see by this, the difference between our calculations and his idea of things’” (Joseph Smith’s Kirtland, pp. 155, 157-58; see also D&C 95:13-14.)
D&C 96 To Bring Forth His Word
From the section heading and this revelation, we learn:
- The Lord expressed His desire that the Kirtland Stake be strengthened (and this can be taken to refer to all stakes in the Church—that their members and organization be built up and be “made strong” (verse 1).
- The presiding bishop (Newel K. Whitney) was given charge over the temple property (verses 2-3; today, the Presiding Bishopric of the Church is responsible for all things pertaining to properties and other temporal affairs).
- A “most expedient” priority is that the Lord’s word be brought forth to all, “for the purpose of subduing the hearts of the children of men for your good” (mentioned three times; see verses 4-5, 8). Sharing the word of God can subdue those who oppose us, even if they do not accept the message of the restored gospel. Debating and contending are not the Lord’s way. We can take for our example the manner in which our General Authorities interact with those who are not members of the Church, including leaders of government, business, educational, social, political, and other organizations.
D&C 97 Problems in Missouri
When Joseph Smith received this revelation in Kirtland on August 2, 1833, it is not known—but unlikely—whether he knew the extent of the persecution against the Saints in far-away Missouri. Yet, the Lord gave instructions in Sections 97 and 98 regarding how they were to respond and carry forward.
A brief account will be helpful: A mob atmosphere had been developing against the Saints in Missouri, and in early July 1833, hundreds of people, including prominent citizens, signed a manifesto known as the “secret constitution,” denouncing the Mormons and declaring their intent to remove them, “peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must.” On July 20, four or five hundred disgruntled citizens—including many civic leaders—met at the county courthouse and demanded that all Latter-day Saints must leave Jackson County. The leaders of the Church in Missouri were startled by this demand and felt that they should not forsake their “Zion.” They asked for three months to consider the proposition and to consult with their leaders in Ohio. This was denied. They then asked for ten days, but they were allowed only fifteen minutes.
The mob surrounded the printing office, threw the furniture into the street, broke the press, scattered the type, and destroyed most of the unbound sheets of the Book of Commandments (the first edition of what would later become the Doctrine and Covenants). A small number of copies of the Book of Commandments were preserved, because two sisters, Mary Elizabeth and Caroline Rollins, ages 14 and 12, grabbed as many sheets as they could carry, ran into a cornfield, and lay down quiet as mobbers searched for them, but never found them.
The mob appeared again on July 23 with rifles, pistols, whips, and clubs. They searched for Church leaders, cursing and profaning as they set fire to haystacks and grain fields and destroyed homes, barns, and businesses. They confronted six leaders of the Church who, seeing the property and lives of their fellow Saints in jeopardy, offered their lives as a ransom. Their offer was rejected. Under duress the brethren signed an agreement that all would leave by April 1, 1834. Throughout the summer, mobs broke into Mormons’ homes daily and continued their violence, even though they had agreed to refrain from harassment as the Saints prepared to leave. Almost all Church members had left by November 1833.
D&C 97:1-9 It Begins with Humility
The Lord said that “many” of the Saints in Missouri were “truly humble” and that such humility would lead to wisdom, truth, mercy, and meekness (verses 1-2). However, others needed to be chastened and were in danger of being “hewn down” (verses 6-7).
The Lord continued by sharing more of what He expects of His children. What attitudes and behaviors did the Lord ask of us in verse 8? In verse 9, what blessings can result in our lives?
D&C 97:10-17 Temple Blessings
In Section 95 the Lord listed some of the purposes and blessings of temples. Now in Section 97 He adds more:
- Building temples allows us to show our love and devotion to the Lord through sacrifice (verse 12).
- Our temples are key in leading us to salvation (verse 12).
- The temple is a “place of thanksgiving for all saints” (verse 13).
- The temple is a place of instruction (verse 13).
- What we gain in the temple helps us in our ministry and callings (verses 13-14).
- The temple helps us to learn principles and doctrines related to “all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth” (verse 14).
- The Lord promises that His glory may “rest upon” the temples; this blessing being subject to our worthy entry into the temples (verses 15, 17).
- The Lord promises His presence in the temples, where “the pure in heart … shall see God” (verse 16).
What blessings have you seen flow into your life because of your temple covenants? What does your temple attendance do for you? What have you experienced through your efforts in family history work? Can you see why the Lord chastened the Saints in Section 94 for having delayed the construction of the Kirtland Temple?
D&C 97:18-28 Zion
The scriptures and teachings of modern prophets provide several interpretations of what is meant by “Zion.” These include a place (actually, a number of places); an attitude; a way of life; a gathered people; an individual’s character; and so forth. Study verses 18-28 and list the things the Lord says about Zion, and how you can apply His teachings to your life. How would you define “pure in heart”? What is a person like, who has a pure heart? Which verses in Section 97 do you think could be most helpful for the persecuted Saints in Missouri at this time? Why?