“Doctrine and Covenants 97,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 97,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 2 Aug. 1833. Featured version copied [ca. 6 Aug. 1833] in Revelation Book 2, pp. 61–64; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; Revelations Collection, CHL. For more information, see the source note for Revelation Book 2 on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
In accordance with counsel given in a revelation sent to Missouri earlier in 1833, members of the Church of Christ in Jackson County, Missouri, organized a “school of the prophets” in summer 1833 to further their ministerial education.1 By early July 1833, they desired to know God’s will concerning the school and sent two letters—one from Oliver Cowdery, written 9 July 1833, and one from “the breatheren composing the school,” written likely in early July—to JS. In these letters, Cowdery and others requested JS to inquire “of the Lord … concerning the school in Zion,” though their exact questions about the school are unknown.2 Before receiving these letters, JS dictated a revelation that gave further instructions on constructing a House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio, which was to be the meeting place for the Ohio School of the Prophets.3 On 25 June, the presidency of the high priesthood along with Martin Harris sent a letter to Missouri that included plans drawn by Frederick G. Williams for a religious and educational house, or temple, to be “built immediately” in Zion, with accompanying explanations.4 Those items, however, had not yet arrived in Jackson County by early July, when the leaders in Missouri sent their queries to JS in Kirtland.
In response to the two letters from Jackson County, the presidency of the high priesthood wrote a letter to Missouri leaders on 6 August that included three revelations. The presidency referred to the first revelation—the text featured here—as “the communication which we received from the Lord concerning the school in Zion.”5 Following up on the plans for the Missouri House of the Lord sent on 25 June, the revelation directed church members to build “speedely” the House of the Lord, an edifice in which to hold the school as well as their public worship.6 The revelation also called for Parley P. Pratt, who had been engaged in missionary work in and around Jackson County while conducting the Missouri school of the prophets, to “continue to preside over the school.”7 Finally, the revelation provided a brief glimpse of Zion’s promised future glory “if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her,” a sentiment similar to the one found in a March 1833 revelation that promised that Jesus Christ would chasten Zion “untill she overcome and are clean before me for she shall not be moved out of her place.”8 The 2 August revelation featured here further warned that if the members of the church did not observe divine commandments, they would suffer “sore afflictions with pestilence with plague with sword with vengence with devouring fire,” but if Zion sinned “no more none of these things shall come upon her.”
Unbeknownst to JS, at the time he dictated this revelation, church members in Jackson County were already suffering “sore afflictions.” Other county residents demanded that Saints leave their homes, destroyed the church’s printing establishment, and tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen.9 The 2 August revelation instructed church members to chastise the wicked among them and to repent completely to avoid further violence and suffering.10 According to Parley P. Pratt’s later autobiography, “This revelation was not complied with by the leaders and church in Missouri, as a whole; notwithstanding many were humble and faithful. Therefore, the threatened judgment was poured out to the uttermost, as the history of the five following years will show.”11
Several copies of this revelation were made: one was included in the body of the aforementioned letter sent to Missouri on 6 August 1833, which also included copies of two other revelations.12 Another was inscribed in Revelation Book 2, which is the version transcribed here. Insufficient evidence exists to determine which is the earliest extant copy. Because the 6 August letter is published in its entirety later in this volume, the version featured here is from the manuscript revelation book. Significant differences between these two early texts are noted.
Kirtland 2d. of August 1833—
The word of the Lord unto Joseph Sidney [Rigdon] and Frederick [G. Williams], verely I say unto you my friends13 I speak unto you with my voice even the voice of my spirit that I may shew unto you my will concerning your brethren in the Land of Zion many of whom are truly humble and are seeking dilligently to Learn wisdom and to find truth, verely verely I say unto you blessed are all such for they shall obtain14 for I the Lord sheweth mercy unto all the meek and upon all whomsoever I will that I may be justified when I shall bring them into judgment behold I say unto you concerning [the school]15 [p. 61] in Zion I the Lord am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion and also with my servant Parley [P. Pratt] for he abideth in me and inasmuch as he continue to abide in me16 he shall continue to preside over the school in the Land of Zion and I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings in expounding all scriptures17 and mysteries to the Edefication of the school and of the church in Zion18 and to the residue of the school I the Lord am willing to shew mercy19 nevertheless there are those that must needs be chastened and their work shall be mad[e] known,20 the ax is laid at the root of the trees and evry tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire21 I the Lord hath spoken it, verily I say unto you all among them who know their hearts are honest and are broken and their spirits contrite and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice22 yea every sacrifice which I the Lord shall command they23 are all accepted of me for I the Lord will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land by a pure stream that yealdeth much precious fruit,24 Verely I say unto you that it is my will that an house should be built unto me in the Land of Zion like unto the pattern which I have given you25 yea let it be built speedely26 by the tithing of my people behold this is the tithing [p. 62] and the sacrifice which I the Lord require at
the hand of there hands27 that there may be an house built unto me for the salvation of Zion for a place of thanksgiving for all saints and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices that they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry in theory in principle and in doctrine in all thing[s] pertaining to the Kingdom of God on the earth the keys of which kingdom have been confered upon you28 and inas much as my people build an house unto me in the name of the Lord and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it that it be not defiled my glory shall rest upon it yea and my presence shall be therefor I will come into it and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God29 but if it be defiled I will not come into it and my glory shall not be there for I will not come into unholy temples30 and now behold if Zion do these things she shall prosper and spread herself and become very glorious very great and very tereble and the Nations of the earth shall honor her31 and shall say surely Zion is the city of our God and surely Zion cannot fall neithe[r] be mooved32 out of her place for God is there and the hand of the Lord is there and he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower33 therefore verily thus saith [p. 63] the Lord let Zion rejoice for this Zion the pure in heart34 therefore let Zion rejoice while all the wicked shall mourn for behold and lo vengence cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind and who shall escape it the Lords scurge shall shall pass over by night and by day and the report thereof shall vex all people yet it shall not be staid until the Lord come for the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works35 nevertheless Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her but if she observe not to do whatsoeve[r] I have commanded her I will visit her according to all her works with sore afflictions with pestilence with plague with sword with vengence with devouring fire nevertheless let it be read this once in their ears that I the Lord have accepted of their offering but if she sin no more none of these things shall come upon her and I will bless her with blessings and multiply a multiplicity of blessing upon her and upon her generation for ever and ever saith the Lord your God Amen