D&C 124:1-2 Nauvoo
In 1839 the Saints were expelled from Missouri and the Prophet Joseph Smith and his associates were allowed to escape from imprisonment. Church leaders purchased property in Illinois and began to lay out the city of Nauvoo. Joseph traveled to Washington D.C. to seek redress for the Missouri wrongdoings from President Martin Van Buren, to no avail. Members from throughout the United States and many converts from Great Britain began settling in Nauvoo in April 1839, and by January 1841—when Section 124 was given—there were over 3,000 members in Nauvoo.
Note the Lord’s loving words to Joseph Smith in verses 1-2: “I am well pleased with your offering”; “For unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth”; “Your prayers are acceptable before me.”
In verse 2 and verse 60 the Lord designates Nauvoo as “a cornerstone of Zion.” This may simply mean that there would be more stakes of Zion in Nauvoo, but following is an additional potential scenario:
- With Independence, Missouri as the designated “center place” for the gathering of the Saints and the city of Zion (D&C 57:1-3), and with Nauvoo as “a cornerstone of Zion” (D&C 124:2, 60), perhaps we can plot out the future Zion.
- It is 190 miles in a straight line from Independence to Nauvoo. If this pretended Zion is a regular quadrilateral square (four equal sides) with a diagonal of 380 miles (190 x 2), it would have four sides of 269 miles each, resulting in 72,200 square miles within the square.
- A city of 72,200 square miles is near in size to the entire state of Utah (82,000 square miles), and is 144 times larger than the city of Los Angeles, California (considered to be very large, at 503 square miles).
- We have limited knowledge about the future city of Zion, but this scenario could answer a question potentially raised by D&C 45:65-71, How could the many Saints gathering from all nations fit into the city of Zion?
D&C 124:2-14 A Solemn Proclamation
In the April 2020 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson issued the Church Proclamation titled, “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World.” President Nelson explained that this was only the sixth proclamation in this dispensation. In Section 124 the Lord gave instructions regarding what was to become the second proclamation, which was issued April 6, 1845. Find in verses 3-8, 11 the things the Lord said about this proclamation. What stands out most for you in these verses?
The 1845 proclamation begins, “To all the kings of the world, to the president of the United States of America, to the governors of the several states and to the rulers and people of all nations: Greeting. Know ye that the kingdom of God has come, as has been predicted by ancient prophets, and prayed for in all ages; even that kingdom which shall fill the whole earth, and shall stand forever. Therefore we send unto you, with authority from on high, and command you all to repent and humble yourselves as little children before the majesty of the Holy One; and come unto Jesus with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and be baptized in his name for the remission of sins … and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…. This Spirit shall bear witness to you of the truth of our testimony….” (Note: In the October 1975 general conference President Ezra Taft Benson quoted and taught from the 1845 proclamation.)
D&C 124:15, 19-21, 91-96, 124, 127-130 Hyrum, David, Edward, Joseph Sr., George, Brigham
- What were Hyrum Smith’s strengths and blessings, according to verses 15, 91-96, 124? How would you define “integrity”? (Perhaps the Lord’s assertion in verse 95 that Hyrum would take upon himself all that was previously put upon Oliver Cowdery includes Hyrum’s dying alongside Joseph. Also, the Lord’s promise in verse 124 that Hyrum was “sealed up unto the day redemption” is a possible reference to Hyrum’s having his calling and election made sure.)
- What did the Lord say about David Patten in verses 19, 130? (David had been killed October 25, 1838, by a mob in Missouri).
- What did the Lord say about Edward Partridge in verse 19? Note that in D&C 64:17 the Lord had called on Edward to repent of evil, and in D&C 85:8 He warned him that he could fall “by the shaft of death.” He repented!
- What did the Lord say in verse 19 about Joseph Smith, Sr.?
- What did He say in verses 20-21 about George Miller?
- What did the Lord tell Brigham Young in verses 127-128?
D&C 124:25-47, 55 The Nauvoo Temple
The Kirtland, Ohio Temple construction took place between June 1833 and March 1836, but it was defiled by apostates and abandoned by Church members in early 1838. The temples designated for Jackson County and Far West, Missouri were not built. Here in Section 124, the Lord gave instructions for the construction of the Nauvoo Temple. Here is a time line:
- The groundbreaking took place February 18, 1841 (less than two weeks after Section 124 was given).
- Construction was about half-complete when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were assassinated on June 27, 1844.
- The construction was completed in April 1846, two months after the beginning of the Saints’ departure for the great movement westward.
- The temple was dedicated May 1, 1846 by Apostle Orson Hyde, with only a few people in attendance, due to the forced abandonment of Nauvoo.
- By September 1846, all Church members had departed and the Nauvoo Temple fell into the hands of others, who vandalized and otherwise polluted the temple.
- On October 8, 1848 an unknown arsonist set fire to the temple, gutting the temple’s interior, with only the four exterior walls still standing.
- In May 1850 a tornado toppled one of the temple’s walls, and in following years the other walls were taken down for the purpose of safety.
- By 1865 there was nothing left standing and most of the temple stone had been hauled off for construction of various homes and other buildings in the surrounding area.
- In 1937 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints re-acquired the Nauvoo Temple property.
- In the October 1999 general conference President Gordon B. Hinckley announced plans to re-build the Nauvoo Temple. It was dedicated by President Hinckley on June 27, 2002.
The Lord’s instructions for the Nauvoo Temple include the following:
- “Come ye, with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones … and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein” (verses 26-27; see also D&C 109:4).
- The temple was to be built as a place “to restore again that which was lost … even the fulness of the priesthood” (perhaps referring to the full endowment, which had not been given in the Kirtland Temple era; verse 28; see also verses 34, 38, 40-41).
- “That they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead” (verse 29; this practice had begun in the Mississippi River in August 1840, as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith; verses 30-31 explain why it was allowed to be done—for a time—in a place other than the temple; proxy baptisms for the dead were moved to the unfinished Nauvoo Temple—after dedicating the completed font area—in November 1841).
- After speaking of baptisms for the dead, the Lord also mentions washings (verses 37, 39) and anointings (verse 39); also solemn assemblies and “oracles [revelations] in your most holy places,” plus “the glory, honor, and endowment” of those in Zion (verse 39).
- The Lord makes clear that “all things pertaining to this house” would be shown to Joseph Smith (verse 42); and that He would make the temple and its site holy (verse 44).
- Among other blessings of the temple, the Lord promises the faithful Saints that He will “crown [them] with honor, immortality, and eternal life” (verse 55).
Surely, we rely on our temple covenants to bless us throughout eternity. Consider this: How does the temple bless you now, on a day-to-day basis?
D&C 124:49-54 The Lord Excuses the Saints
According to these verses, why did the Lord excuse the Saints for their failure to build the city of Zion and the temple in Jackson County, Missouri? How did He apply this to other things He has commanded, but which are made impossible by uncontrolled circumstances?
D&C 124:143 Perfecting
After giving instructions for all priesthood offices (verses 123-142), what four things did the Lord say in verse 143 that summarize the work of all priesthood holders?
Good resource for my SS lesson! Jay Rush