Section 34

A Revelation to Orson Pratt

“Section 34, A Revelation to Orson Pratt,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2002), 69–70

Historical Background

The Prophet wrote in his journal that “in the fore part of November, Orson Pratt, a young man nineteen years of age, who had been baptized at the first preaching of his brother, Parley P. Pratt, September 19th (his birthday), about six weeks previous, in Canaan, New York, came to inquire of the Lord what his duty was, and received the following answer: [D&C 34].” (History of the Church, 1:127–28.)

Elder Orson Pratt made a journal entry about this revelation: “In October, 1830, I traveled westward over two hundred miles to see Joseph Smith the Prophet. I found him in Fayette, Seneca County, New York, residing at the home of Mr. Whitmer. I soon became intimately acquainted with this good man, and also with the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. By my request, on the 4th of November, the Prophet Joseph inquired of the Lord for me and received the revelation published in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 34.” (Journal History, Nov. 1830, p. 1.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 34:1–4. “My Son … You Have Believed”

The Lord’s calling Orson Pratt “my son” is one example of the many times he has taught that all mankind may come unto him and become his sons and daughters (see D&C 25:1; Mosiah 5:7–8; 15:10–16; Moses 1:4–6; 6:68; Romans 8:14–18; 1 John 3:1–3).

President Lorenzo Snow wrote a poem about the doctrine of becoming sons and daughters of God.

Hast thou not been unwisely bold,

Man’s destiny to thus unfold?

To raise, promote such high desire,

Such vast ambition thus inspire?

Still ’tis no phantom that we trace

Man’s ultimatum in life’s race;

This royal path has long been trod

By righteous men, each now a God:

As Abra’m, Isaac, Jacob, too,

First babes, then men—to gods they grew.

As man now is, our God once was;

As now God is, so man may be,—

Which doth unfold man’s destiny.

The boy, like to his father grown,

Has but attained unto his own;

To grow to sire from state of son,

Is not ’gainst Nature’s course to run.

A son of God, like God to be,

Would not be robbing Deity;

And he who has this hope within,

Will purify himself from sin.

(Lorenzo Snow, “Man’s Destiny,” Improvement Era, June 1919, pp. 660–61.)

D&C 34:5–10. “Preach My Gospel … [and] Prophesy”

Elder Orson Pratt said of his calling to prophesy: “‘Lift up your voice and prophesy, and it shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.’ This was a particular point in the revelation that seemed to me too great for me ever to attain to, and yet there was a positive command that I should do it. I have often reflected upon this revelation, and have oftentimes inquired in my heart—‘Have I fulfilled that commandment as I ought to have done? Have I sought as earnestly as I ought to obtain the gift of prophecy, so as to fulfill the requirement of heaven?’ And I have felt sometimes to condemn myself because of my slothfulness, and because of the little progress that I have made in relation to this great, heavenly, and divine gift. I certainly have had no inclination to prophesy to the people unless it should be given to me by the inspiration and power of the Holy Ghost; to prophesy out of my own heart is something perfectly disagreeable to my feelings, even to think of, and hence I have oftentimes, in my public discourses, avoided, when a thing would come before my mind pretty plain, uttering or declaring it for fear that I might get something out before the people in relation to the future that was wrong.” (In Journal of Discourses, 17:290–91.)

Though Orson Pratt felt inadequate in this calling, a study of his writings clearly shows that he did indeed fulfill the Lord’s admonition to prophesy. His writings are full of prophetic insights and promises.

D&C 34:7–12. “I Come Quickly”

The phrase “I come quickly” refers to the nearness of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and is found in at least thirteen sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Although over 170 years have passed since some of these revelations were given, that is a relatively short period of time when compared to the nearly 6,000 years that the earth has existed in a telestial condition. The fulfillment of many of the prophecies pertaining to the Second Coming indicates that that event is indeed near.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained the phrase and its significance:

“‘I come quickly.’ This is a scriptural expression that occurs frequently, especially in the book of Revelation. This is ‘speaking after the manner of the Lord.’ (D. & C. 63:53.) This does not mean that immediately the Lord will make his appearance, but when he does come he will come suddenly, when he is least expected. He told his disciples that the day would come when men were unawares, as the thief in the night. For this reason we should watch and pray, ‘For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.’ (Luke 21:34–35.) There is no excuse for any of us, then, not to be prepared, for we have been fully and frequently warned.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:157.)

Enrichment H in the Appendix gives a further treatment of the events associated with the Second Coming.

Lorenzo Snow taught a great doctrinal principle concerning man’s relationship with God.