“Chapter 17: Doctrine and Covenants 43–45,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 17,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
When Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, in February 1831, he found that some converts had been misled by excessive religious ferver and counterfeit revelations. Some claimed to receive revelations, including a woman known as Mrs. Hubble who called herself a prophetess. Because she had deceived some of the Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed about the matter and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 43. In this revelation the Lord provided truths that reminded the Saints of God’s pattern for giving revelation to the Church.
The Lord had previously called elders of the Church to declare the gospel (see D&C 42:4–8). Soon after that commandment was given, the Lord gave a revelation, now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 44, instructing the elders to prepare for a conference. The Lord promised them that if they would exercise faith in Him, they would receive His Spirit upon them and overcome their enemies.
As the Church grew in Kirtland, hostility toward the Church increased. Critics attacked the Church in newspapers and made other efforts to oppose the Saints. In March 1831, during this time of opposition, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45. In this revelation the Lord described the latter days, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the New Jerusalem, or Zion.
November 1830–February 1831
After the missionaries left, some of the new converts in Kirtland, Ohio, claimed to receive letters or writings from heaven.
False reports about the Saints and their beliefs appeared in Ohio newspapers, such as the Painesville Telegraph.
“Mrs. Hubble,” a recent convert in Ohio, claimed to be a prophetess of the Lord.
Doctrine and Covenants 43 was received.
Doctrine and Covenants 44 was received.
March 7, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 45 was received.
Early June 1831
A Church conference was held in Kirtland, Ohio.
When John Whitmer arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, in January 1831, he found that some of the new converts there had been deceived by a few who claimed to receive strange and dramatic communications from heaven. These counterfeit revelations supposedly appeared as “writings on the outside cover of the Bible, and on parchment, which flew through the air, and on the back of their hands, and many such foolish and vain things” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, ed. Michael Hubbard MacKay and others , 256).
Concerns increased when a woman called Mrs. Hubble “came with great pretensions to revealing commandments, laws and other curious matters” (Joseph Smith, in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 101, josephsmithpapers.org). John Whitmer, the Church historian at the time, indicated that the influence of this woman led some Church members astray: “About these days there was a woman by the name of Hubble who professed to be a prophetess of the Lord, and professed to have many revelations, and knew that the Book of Mormon was true; and [she believed] that she should become a teacher in the Church of Christ. She appeared [to be] very sanctimonious and deceived some who were not able to detect her in her hypocrisy” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Histories, Volume 2: Assigned Histories, 1831–1847, ed. Karen Lynn Davidson and others , 29; spelling, capitalization, and punctuation standardized; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, 257, note 95).
This woman’s actions came as a challenge to the doctrine that the Lord revealed to the Church at Fayette, New York, several months earlier: The Prophet Joseph Smith was the only one who could “receive commandments and revelations” for the Church (D&C 28:2). However, few of the Saints from New York who had been made aware of this previous revelation had yet arrived in Kirtland, and none of the previous revelations had been published. The Kirtland Saints were new converts, and they were mostly unaware of the Lord’s divinely appointed order for revealing His will to His Church. Thus, the Prophet inquired of the Lord concerning the matter and received a revelation so “that [the Saints] may not be deceived” (D&C 43:6).
In response to the Prophet’s inquiry about Mrs. Hubble and other false revelations occurring in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord instructed the Saints that “there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations” besides the President of the Church (D&C 43:3). President J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961) of the First Presidency taught the following:
“The President of the Church has a … special spiritual endowment … , for he is the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the whole Church.
“Here we must have in mind—must know—that only the President of the Church, the Presiding High Priest, … has the right to receive revelations for the Church, either new or amendatory, or to give authoritative interpretations of scriptures that shall be binding on the Church, or change in any way the existing doctrines of the Church. He is God’s sole mouthpiece on earth for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the only true Church. He alone may declare the mind and will of God to his people” (“When Are the Writings and Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, July 7, 1954], 6, emp.byui.edu/marrottr/ClarkWhenAreWritings.pdf).
There are laws that govern the order in which revelation is received in the Church. Doctrine and Covenants 43 illustrates that although individuals can and should receive personal revelation (see D&C 43:16), there is order in the way that revelation is given for the whole Church. President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency summarized five fundamental truths relating to how God reveals truth in His Church:
“First, the keys and the authority of God have been given by Him to Joseph Smith and each of his successors who have been called as Presidents of the Church.
“Second, those keys and authority are never to be given to another people, and those who have such authority are ‘known to the Church’ [D&C 42:11].
“Third, continuing revelation and leadership for the Church come through the President of the Church, and he will never mislead the Saints.
“Fourth, individual members of the Church may receive revelation for their own callings and areas of responsibility and for their own families. They may not receive spiritual instruction for those higher in authority.
“Fifth, those who claim direct revelation from God for the Church outside the established order and channel of the priesthood are misguided. This also applies to any who follow them” (“The Prophetic Voice,” Ensign, May 1996, 7).
The Lord’s instructions regarding the order of revelation in the Church included the provision that even if Joseph Smith were to lose the privilege of being the prophet of God, he would still have the power to appoint another as an authorized successor. President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901) of the First Presidency explained this special circumstance: “When the Lord spoke to Joseph about falling, he said he would have authority to appoint another in his stead [see D&C 43:4], and that no one would have the right to act except he was ordained by authority, or came in through the gate [see D&C 43:7]. You may know by the revelation I have read that no man can get the authority elsewhere. It must come through the holy Priesthood. Men may say they have heard the voice of Jesus, or heard this, that or the other; but you will find that the power of God will attend the keys [of the priesthood], and His blessing will follow the administration of His servants who hold the authority” (“Discourse by Elder Geo. Q. Cannon,” Deseret News, Dec. 15, 1869, 532).
Any question about who the Lord has chosen to lead His people has been clearly answered in scripture. The Savior taught:
“He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
“But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1–2).
Church members can be confident that no leader will rise up through unusual circumstances or by secret ordination, for the Lord promised that priesthood leaders will “be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church” (D&C 42:11).
Church members should beware of those who claim to have special authority or ordination to lead God’s children. President James E. Faust cautioned:
“From the beginning some from both inside and outside of the Church have sought to persuade members of the Church against following the inspired declarations of those who hold the keys of the kingdom of God on earth. Some of those seeking to mislead have done so claiming special endowments of intelligence or inspiration beyond the established order of the Church. …
“The Prophet Joseph explained in the winter of 1832–33 that ‘no true angel from God will ever come to ordain any man, because they have once been sent to establish the priesthood by ordaining me thereunto; and the priesthood being once established on earth, with [the] power to ordain others, no heavenly messenger will ever come to interfere with that power by ordaining any more. … You may therefore know, from this time forward, that if any man comes to you professing to be ordained by an angel, he is either a liar or has been imposed upon in consequence of transgression by an angel of the devil, for this priesthood shall never be taken from this church’ [Orson Hyde, ‘Although Dead, Yet He Speaketh,’ Millennial Star, Nov. 20, 1846, 139]” (“The Prophetic Voice,” 5, 7).
When Church members meet to “instruct and edify each other” (D&C 43:8), they follow a divinely appointed pattern of teaching and learning gospel truths. Gospel instruction prepares God’s children to be sanctified as they act upon what they have learned. It is not sufficient to simply obtain a knowledge of spiritual things. Those who receive the gospel of Jesus Christ make covenants that “bind [them] to act in all holiness before [the Lord]” (D&C 43:9).
General conferences, held twice each year, provide an important opportunity for Church members to receive gospel instruction. Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy explained why it is not enough to simply listen to the messages delivered at general conference: “In order for the messages of general conference to change our lives, we need to be willing to follow the counsel we hear. The Lord explained in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith ‘that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know … how to act upon the points of my law and commandment’ [D&C 43:8]. But knowing ‘how to act’ isn’t enough. The Lord in the next verse said, ‘Ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me’ [D&C 43:9]. This willingness to take action on what we have learned opens the doors for marvelous blessings” (“The Blessings of General Conference,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 52).
In addition to referring to our personal responsibility to act upon the laws and commandments we receive from the Lord, Doctrine and Covenants 43:8–9 suggests that as we assemble together to be instructed and edified by the gospel, we bind ourselves together as a body of Saints. President Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901) explained:
“We must understand that we have got to act upon certain principles by which we can bind ourselves together as a people, to bind our feelings together that we may become one, and this never can be accomplished unless certain things are done, and things that require an exertion on our part.
“How would you go to work to bind yourselves together? How would a man go to work to unite himself with his neighbor? If two men were associated together who had never been acquainted, how would they go to work to secure each other’s friendship, attachment and affection one towards another? Why something would have to be done, and that not by one party only, but would have to be done by one as well as by the other. It would not answer for one to do the business alone; it would not do for one to answer those feelings and do the work himself, but in order to become as one in their sentiments and affection—the action of both would be requisite” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow  198–99).
As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 43:12–14, the Lord told the Saints that they could sustain the Prophet Joseph Smith through faith and prayer and also by providing for the temporal needs of his family. The Prophet was devoting his full attention to the administrative and spiritual affairs of the Church. Providing material support to him would result in blessings for Church members, including doctrinal understanding gained from the inspired translation of the Bible.
“The great day of the Lord” (D&C 43:17) refers to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and the commencement of the Millennium. God commanded His servants to declare repentance to prevent His children from being destroyed with the wicked when the Savior returns. While some will give heed and repent, others will ignore and reject the voice of the Lord’s servants. Therefore, the Lord raises the voice of warning to repent through a variety of means: His servants, the ministering of angels, His own voice, and even the destructive power of nature.
“The great Millennium” (D&C 43:30) refers to the 1,000 years ushered in by the Savior’s Second Coming (see Revelation 20:4; D&C 29:11). During the Millennium, “Christ will reign personally upon the earth” (Articles of Faith 1:10). The Lord assured the righteous that they would reign with Him during the Millennium (see D&C 43:29). Satan will be bound during the Millennium and will not have power to tempt those who are living at that time (see D&C 43:31; 101:28).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) reflected on the blessings that will be enjoyed when Satan is bound: “Then will begin the great millennium (D&C 43:30) period of a thousand years when Satan shall be bound and the Lord shall reign over his people. Can you imagine the wonder and the beauty of that era when the adversary shall not have influence? Think of his influence upon you now and reflect on the peace of that time when you will be free from such influence. There will be quiet and goodness where now there is contention and evil” (“We Need Not Fear His Coming,” Liahona, July 1982, 3).
Soon after arriving in Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42, which outlined laws guiding the Church. Included was the commandment that the elders should “go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two. … And from this place ye shall go forth” (D&C 42:6, 8). The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 44 called for the elders of the Church to meet together before going forth to preach the gospel.
The Prophet Joseph Smith acted on that instruction and sent a letter on February 22, 1831, to Martin Harris, who was still living in New York. The Prophet made reference to the revelation when he explained to Martin that “the work is here breaking forth on the east, west, north, and south; you will also inform the Elders which are there that all of them who can be spared will come here without delay if possible, this by Commandment of the Lord as he has a great work for them all” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, 263; punctuation and spelling standardized).
In subsequent weeks during the spring of 1831, many of the Saints from New York gathered to Kirtland, Ohio. The fourth conference of the Church was held in June 1831, and many elders participated in the meetings of this conference, which prepared them to leave afterward to preach the gospel.
The Lord promised the elders of the Church that if they assembled together and exercised faith in Him, He would pour out His Spirit upon them. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that this is one of the purposes of our Church meetings: “In general conferences and in other Church meetings around the world, we come together seeking companionship—the good company of brothers and sisters in the gospel and the comfort of sweet communion with the Spirit of God. In our worship services, the presence of that Spirit fills our hearts with love for God and for our fellow Saints” (“Valued Companions,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 32).
While the Church had been legally organized in the state of New York, similar efforts were needed in Ohio as the Saints gathered to Kirtland. This would permit the Church to be recognized as a religious organization and would make it possible for the Church to own land and enjoy the same privilege given other religious groups in Ohio. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 44, the Lord clarified that this step was needed to prevent enemies from destroying the Church. (See Steven C. Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants: A Guided Tour through Modern Revelations , 153.)
By the spring of 1831, many converts were gathering with the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. This rapid growth of the Church was met by increasing opposition. The Prophet Joseph Smith described the challenges the Saints were facing at this time: “At this age of the church many false reports, lies, and fo[o]lish stories, were published in the newspapers, and circulated in every direction, to prevent people from investigating the work, or embracing the faith. … But to the joy of the saints who had to struggle against every thing that prejudice and wickedness could invent, I received the following [Doctrine and Covenant 45]” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 104, josephsmithpapers.org). The Prophet received this revelation on March 7, 1831, and it helped the Saints better understand the opposition they encountered within the context of the latter days, the signs of the times, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
We are all guilty of sin, and according to the justice of God, no unclean thing can dwell in His presence. However, Jesus Christ came to earth to make salvation possible for each of Heavenly Father’s children. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can be made clean and can be saved from sin and death. His merits, mercy, and grace make repentance and forgiveness available to all. Because Jesus Christ was perfectly righteous and satisfied the demands of justice for the sins of others, He can be an Advocate for us by pleading our cause before the Father. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“Jesus is our Advocate with the Father (see 1 John 2:1; D&C 29:5; 32:3; 45:3; 110:4). The word advocate comes from Latin roots meaning a ‘voice for,’ or ‘one who pleads for another.’ Other related terms are used in scripture, such as intercessor or mediator (see also 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Nephi 2:28; D&C 76:69). …
“… Comprehending him as our advocate-intercessor-mediator with the Father gives us assurance of his unequaled understanding, justice, and mercy (see Alma 7:12)” (“Jesus the Christ—Our Master and More” [Brigham Young University fireside, Feb. 2, 1992], 4, speeches.byu.edu).
Significantly, the Savior pleads our cause before the Father and asks that those who believe on Him be spared the eternal demands of justice, not based on our innocence but on His atoning sacrifice. His case for our redemption from the penalty of sin is “the sufferings and death of him who did no sin” (D&C 45:4).
Jesus Christ met with His disciples on the Mount of Olives during His last week in mortality. At that time He prophesied of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and His disciples asked when that destruction would occur and when He would return to the earth (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2–4). In response the Lord revealed the signs that would occur shortly after His death and those that would precede His Second Coming. He repeated this prophecy to His Saints in the latter days, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45:16–59.
Those who know the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and follow the counsel given through the Lord’s prophets will be prepared to deal with the challenges of this momentous time and will be “looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come” (D&C 45:39). They will not be taken by surprise but will be anxiously awaiting the Lord’s Second Coming.
The scriptures are the best resource for those who want to study the signs and events of the Second Coming. For example, many details can be learned from the instructions given to the New Testament disciples when they asked the Savior, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus Christ’s teachings found in Matthew 24:3–51 were greatly expanded through the inspired translation made by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as found in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4–55 (in the Pearl of Great Price). Several sections in the Doctrine and Covenants also help to explain the events of the last days and how God’s children can prepare for them (examples include D&C 29; 38; 45; 63; 84; 88; 101; 133).
The signs of the Lord’s Second Coming may be divided into two main categories: (1) signs that are part of the Restoration of the gospel and its eventual expansion throughout the world and (2) signs that are part of the increase of evils and the calamities and judgments to come upon the world. Some of the signs and events of the Second Coming that are described in Doctrine and Covenants 45:16–59 include the following:
Gentiles and Jews will be gathered (see D&C 45:25, 30, 43)
“Wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion” (D&C 45:26)
The fulness of the gospel will be restored (see D&C 45:28)
“A desolating sickness shall cover the land” (D&C 45:31)
The Lord’s disciples “shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved” (D&C 45:32)
“Earthquakes … in divers places, and many desolations” (D&C 45:33)
“Signs and wonders … shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath” (D&C 45:40)
“The sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood” (D&C 45:42)
The Lord will come “clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels” (D&C 45:44)
“Saints that have slept shall come forth” (D&C 45:45)
The Lord will appear on the Mount of Olives and converse with the Jews (see D&C 45:48, 51–53)
One of the purposes of the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45 was to help Heavenly Father’s children prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. While the wicked will suffer and be destroyed, the Lord’s disciples will find peace and blessings if they will “stand in holy places, and … not be moved” (D&C 45:32).
Sister Ann M. Dibb, who served as a Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, explained how we can stand in holy places: “President Ezra Taft Benson counseled, ‘Holy places include our temples, our chapels, our homes, and the stakes of Zion, which are … “for a defense, and for a refuge’’ [D&C 115:6]’ [‘Prepare Yourself for the Great Day of the Lord,’ New Era, May 1982, 50]. In addition to these, I believe we can each find many more places. We might first consider the word place as a physical environment or a geographic location. However, a place can be ‘a distinct condition, position, or state of mind’ [Merriam-Webster Online, ‘place,’ merriam-webster.com/dictionary/place]. This means holy places can also include moments in time—moments when the Holy Ghost testifies to us, moments when we feel Heavenly Father’s love, or moments when we receive an answer to our prayers. Even more, I believe any time you have the courage to stand for what is right, especially in situations where no one else is willing to do so, you are creating a holy place” (“Your Holy Places,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 115).
While many of the signs of the Second Coming include calamities and terrifying events, the Savior calmed His followers by explaining that these signs would serve as an indication that “the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled” (D&C 45:35). These promises may have reference to the blessings awaiting the righteous as the Millennium is ushered in.
The parable of the ten virgins was originally given when Jesus gave instructions to his disciples on the Mount of Olives (see Matthew 25:1–13). The Doctrine and Covenants provides some interpretation of this parable, explaining that the blessings promised to those who are wise include the promise to be with the Lord during His Millennial reign on earth (see D&C 45:56–59). The wise are described as those who “have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived” (D&C 45:57).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that every member of the Church has the opportunity to take the Holy Ghost as a guide: “Taking ‘the Holy Spirit for [our] guide’ (D&C 45:57) is possible and is essential for our spiritual growth and survival in an increasingly wicked world. Sometimes as Latter-day Saints we talk and act as though recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare or exceptional event. We should remember, however, that the covenant promise is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. This supernal blessing applies to every single member of the Church who has been baptized, confirmed, and instructed to ‘receive the Holy Ghost’” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 30).
The inspired translation of the Bible that the Prophet Joseph Smith began in New York in June of 1830 continued after he arrived in Kirtland, Ohio. Since beginning the translation, the Prophet had worked exclusively in the Old Testament. By March 7, 1831, when the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 45 was received, the translation had progressed up through Genesis 19:35. The Lord then instructed Joseph Smith to begin translating the New Testament (see D&C 45:60–61). The Prophet and Sidney Rigdon began work on the Gospel of Matthew the very next day. “Page 1 of the manuscript is dated March 8th 1831, followed by the notation ‘A Translation of the New Testament translated by the power of God.’ This comment shows how the brethren felt about the work they were doing” (Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary , 73).
As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45:62–71, the Lord taught the Saints how to prepare for the troubles and calamities that were prophesied to increase before the Lord’s Second Coming. Specifically, they were told to gather together and establish a city of Zion after the pattern of Enoch’s city (see Moses 7:18–20). It would be called the “New Jerusalem” and would be “a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety” (D&C 45:66). The word Zion is sometimes used to mean slightly different things. Sometimes the word refers to the people of Zion and describes them as “the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21). Elsewhere Zion refers to the entire Church and its stakes all over the world (see D&C 82:14). The word Zion can also refer to specific geographic locations. In this revelation, Zion referred to a physical city that the Saints would establish and to which they would gather.
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) made the following statements about Zion in the latter days:
“The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory.
“Anyplace where the Saints gather is Zion, which every righteous man will build up for a place of safety for his children.
“There will be here and there a Stake [of Zion] for the gathering of the Saints. … There your children shall be blessed, and you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. The Gospel net gathers of every kind.
“… We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. … The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 186).
President Brigham Young (1801–1877) focused the Saints on the importance of establishing a latter-day Zion:
“The purpose of our life should be to build up the Zion of our God, to gather the House of Israel, … store up treasures of knowledge and wisdom in our own understandings, purify our own hearts and prepare a people to meet the Lord when he comes. …
“We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God. It must be done according to the will and law of God [see D&C 105:5], after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion, which was taken away to heaven. … We, through our faithfulness, must prepare ourselves to meet Zion from above when it shall return to earth, and to abide the brightness and glory of its coming” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 111–12).