Chapter 32: Doctrine and Covenants 85–87

“Chapter 32: Doctrine and Covenants 85–87,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)

“Chapter 32,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual

Chapter 32

Doctrine and Covenants 85–87

Introduction and Timeline

In late November 1832, some of the Saints who had moved to Zion, in Missouri, had not consecrated their properties as the Lord had commanded. Because of this they had not received an inheritance of land according to the laws of the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith addressed this issue in an inspired letter to William W. Phelps, dated November 27, 1832, a portion of which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 85.

On December 6, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 86, the same day he was working on the inspired translation of the Bible. This revelation provided further explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares and the role of the priesthood in helping the Lord gather the righteous in the last days.

Throughout 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church members likely learned through newspaper reports of troubles sweeping the earth. For example, they were aware of disputes over slavery in the United States, and they also knew about the nullification of federal tariffs in the state of South Carolina. On December 25, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87, which includes prophecies about the wars and judgments that would be “poured out upon all nations” (D&C 87:3) in the last days.

November 6, 1832Emma Smith gave birth to Joseph Smith III.

November 6, 1832Joseph Smith returned from preaching in the eastern United States.

November 8, 1832Joseph Smith met Brigham Young for the first time.

November 27, 1832Doctrine and Covenants 85 was written (extract from a letter written by Joseph Smith to William W. Phelps).

December 6, 1832Doctrine and Covenants 86 was received.

December 25, 1832Doctrine and Covenants 87 was received.

Doctrine and Covenants 85: Additional Historical Background

By November 1832, more than 800 Latter-day Saints had gathered to the land of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 315). It was expected that Church members who settled in Zion would live according to the system of consecration commanded by the Lord (see D&C 42:30–36; 57:4–7; 58:19, 34–36; 72:15). This meant that a member would consecrate or dedicate property and resources to the Lord through a legal deed that was signed by both the member and the bishop. In return, the member was given, through another legal deed, property and resources called an “inheritance” or “stewardship” according to the needs and wants of the member’s family. Saints who settled in Jackson County, Missouri, and were obedient to the law of consecration received an inheritance of land that had been purchased by Church agents.

Newel K.Whitney store, Kirtland, Ohio

The Prophet Joseph Smith and his family lived in the upstairs of the Newel K. Whitney store from September 1832 to February 1834.

In October and November of 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith received correspondence from Church leaders in Zion, including from William W. Phelps, who oversaw the Church’s printing operation in Independence, Missouri, as a member of the United Firm. On November 27, 1832, Joseph Smith wrote a letter responding to William W. Phelps’s questions. The Prophet was aware that some of the Saints in Zion did not participate in the system of consecration required by the Lord, and he addressed the issue of whether land inheritances should be given to those Saints who had not consecrated their property. Doctrine and Covenants 85 contains an extract of the letter that the Prophet sent to William W. Phelps.

Map 2: Some Important Locations in Early Church History

Doctrine and Covenants 85

The Lord commands that a record be kept of those who have consecrated and received inheritances

Doctrine and Covenants 85:1–5. “The book of the law of God”

In March 1831 the Lord appointed John Whitmer “to keep the church record and history continually” (D&C 47:3). This earlier command was repeated when the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote that “it is the duty of the Lord’s clerk [John Whitmer], whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion” (D&C 85:1). As part of his duty, the clerk was to record the names of those who consecrated their property and received inheritances or stewardships from the bishop, along with “their manner of life, their faith, and works” (D&C 85:2). Further, the inspired direction given to Church leaders in Missouri was that those who were not willing to consecrate their properties in order to receive an inheritance in Zion were not to have their names, nor the names of their family members, recorded “in the book of the law of God” (D&C 85:5; see also Joshua 24:15, 25–26).

Three record books are mentioned in this revelation: “the book of the law of God” (D&C 85:5, 7), “the book of remembrance” (D&C 85:9), and “the book of the law” (D&C 85:11). It is likely that these descriptions all refer to the same book. Later, after the Saints had settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith directed that a record be kept containing his journal entries and a list of tithing donations made for the construction of the Nauvoo Temple. This book was also referred to as “the Book of the Law of the Lord” (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 319, note 160).

The commandment of tithing mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 85 and in other early revelations referred to all offerings given to the Church, including consecrated property (see D&C 64:23–24; 85:3; 97:11–12; D&C 119, section heading).

Doctrine and Covenants 85:7–8. Who is the “one mighty and strong”?

During the initial visit of Church leaders to Missouri in the summer of 1831, a disagreement occurred between Bishop Edward Partridge and the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Prophet had directed that land be purchased in Independence, Missouri, but a conflict arose as Bishop Partridge expressed concern over the quality of the land. He was chastened by the Lord, but the problem of disunity was not immediately resolved. Sometime before April 1832 the Prophet and Bishop Partridge reconciled (see D&C 58:14–17; 82:1–7; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 12–13).

The inspired wording found in the Prophet’s letter to William W. Phelps in November 1832 referred to “one mighty and strong” who would arise to set in order the house of God because of one who “putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God” (D&C 85:7–8). This warning would have applied to Bishop Edward Partridge had he not repented. Oliver Cowdery recorded in 1834 that Joseph Smith had later clarified that the warning in his letter did not apply to any specific person, “but it was given for a caution to those in high standing to beware, lest they should fall by the shaft of death as the Lord had said” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 320, note 161).

The reference to the “one mighty and strong” (D&C 85:7) who is to set in order the house of God and the reference to one who “putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God” (D&C 85:8) have been used by many apostates to justify their falling away from the Church. They claim that various Presidents of the Church have lost favor with God and are rejected, and that they, the apostates, are the “one mighty and strong” called by God to set things right. Such claims contradict the meaning of the scriptures.

In an official statement issued in 1905, the First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund) discussed the circumstances that brought forth the prophecy recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 85:7–8 and those to whom the phrases “one mighty and strong” (D&C 85:7) and “putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God” (D&C 85:8) referred:

“Bishop [Edward] Partridge was one of the brethren, who—though a most worthy man, one whom the Lord loved, and whom the Prophet described as ‘a pattern of piety,’ and ‘one of the Lord’s great men’—at time arrayed himself in opposition to the Prophet in those early days, and sought to correct him in his administrations of the affairs of the Church; in other words, ‘put forth his hand to steady the ark.’ …

“… Through his repentance and sacrifices and suffering, Bishop Edward Partridge undoubtedly obtained a mitigation of the threatened judgment against him of falling ‘by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning,’ so the occasion for sending another to fill his station—‘one mighty and strong to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints’—may also be considered as having passed away and the whole incident of the prophecy closed” (in Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, comp. James R. Clark [1970], 4:113, 117).

Doctrine and Covenants 85:8. What does it mean to “steady the ark of God”?

The phrase “steady the ark of God” refers to an incident recorded in the Old Testament that occurred during the reign of King David in ancient Israel. The Philistines had captured the ark of the covenant in battle but returned it when they were struck by plagues (see 1 Samuel 4–6). David and the people later brought the ark to Jerusalem in an ox cart, driven by Uzzah and Ahio. “And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:6–7). The ark was the symbol of God’s presence, His glory and majesty. When first given to Israel, the ark was placed in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, and not even the priest was permitted to approach it. Only the high priest, a type of Christ, could approach it, and then only after going through an elaborate ritual of personal cleansing, which represented the cleansing of his sins.

The Lord referred to this incident in latter-day revelation to teach the principle that we should not take upon ourselves the responsibility to give direction (“steady the ark”) to those God has called and appointed to reveal His will and direct His kingdom upon the earth (see D&C 85:8). There may be those who fear the ark is in danger of falling and presume to steady it. Some members of the Church may see problems and be frustrated with the way they feel the Lord’s servants are addressing those problems. They may feel that even though they do not have the authority to do so, they need to correct the course of their ward or even of the Church. However, the best intentions do not justify such interference with the Lord’s Church by those who have not been duly called and appointed by God.

President David O. McKay (1873–1970) taught: “It is a little dangerous for us to go out of our own sphere and try unauthoritatively to direct the efforts of a brother. You remember the case of Uzzah who stretched forth his hand to steady the ark [see 1 Chronicles 13:7–10]. He seemed justified when the oxen stumbled in putting forth his hand to steady that symbol of the covenant. We today think his punishment was very severe. Be that as it may, the incident conveys a lesson of life. Let us look around us and see how quickly men who attempt unauthoritatively to steady the ark die spiritually. Their souls become embittered, their minds distorted, their judgment faulty, and their spirit depressed. Such is the pitiable condition of men who, neglecting their own responsibilities, spend their time in finding fault with others” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1936, 60).

Doctrine and Covenants 85:9–11. “Shall not find an inheritance among the saints”

The inheritances of land that the Saints were to receive in Zion through the law of consecration and that are referred to in Doctrine and Covenants 85 can be likened to the eternal inheritances promised to the faithful. The record of the earthly inheritances received by faithful Church members through consecration included their names and a record of “their manner of life, their faith, and works” (D&C 85:2). The names of those who were unfaithful or who had apostatized were not found in “the book of the law of God” (D&C 85:5). Similarly, as we keep our covenants, we are assured to receive eternal inheritances in the celestial kingdom (see D&C 38:17–20; see also D&C 63:47–49).

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught what we must do to obtain an eternal inheritance:

“Your Heavenly Father has high aspirations for you, but your divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance. God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine. …

“For this reason, we speak of walking the path of discipleship.

“We speak of obedience to God’s commandments.

“We speak of living the gospel joyfully, with all our heart, might, mind, and soul” (“Living the Gospel Joyful,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 121).

Doctrine and Covenants 86: Additional Historical Background

Sometime in the spring of 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith made inspired changes to Matthew 13 as part of his inspired translation of the New Testament. At that time he made very few changes to the parable of the wheat and the tares recorded in that chapter (see Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43). From July 1832 to February 1833, as Joseph was working on the inspired translation of the Old Testament, he reviewed changes he had made to the New Testament. While it is not clear whether he was reviewing Matthew 13 again or working on Old Testament passages regarding the gathering of Israel, his journal entry for December 6, 1832, which was the day the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 86 was received, states that he had been translating on that day and “received a Revelation explaining the Parable [of] the wheat and the [tares]” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, ed. Dean C. Jessee and others [2008], 11).

Doctrine and Covenants 86

The Lord explains the parable of the wheat and the tares

Doctrine and Covenants 86:1–7. “The parable of the wheat and of the tares”

The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) explained that the parables recorded in Matthew 13 referred to the establishment of Christ’s Church during His mortal life and also to the growth and destiny of that Church in the latter days (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 294).

wheat and tares

While reviewing his translation of the Bible, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 86, an inspired translation of the parable of the wheat and tares (see D&C 86, section heading).

Several years after the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 86 was received, Joseph Smith gave additional teachings regarding the parable of the wheat and the tares, and these teachings were published in the December 1835 issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate (see “To the Elders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints,” 225–27). Speaking specifically of that parable, the Prophet Joseph Smith explained:

“Now we learn by this parable, not only the setting up of the Kingdom in the days of the Savior, which is represented by the good seed, which produced fruit, but also the corruptions of the Church, which are represented by the tares, which were sown by the enemy, which His disciples would fain have plucked up, or cleansed the Church of, if their views had been favored by the Savior. But He, knowing all things, says, Not so. As much as to say, your views are not correct, the Church is in its infancy, and if you take this rash step, you will destroy the wheat, or the Church, with the tares; therefore it is better to let them grow together until the harvest, or the end of the world, which means the destruction of the wicked, which is not yet fulfilled. …

“Now men cannot have any possible grounds to say that this [the Savior’s clarification of the parable to His disciples, recorded in Matthew 13:36–39] is figurative, or that it does not mean what it says, for He is now explaining what He has previously spoken in parables; and according to this language, the end of the world is the destruction of the wicked; the harvest and the end of the world have an allusion directly to the human family in the last days. …

“‘As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world’ [Matthew 13:40]; that is, as the servants of God go forth warning the nations, both priests and people, and as they harden their hearts and reject the light of truth, these first being delivered over to the buffetings of Satan, and the law and the testimony being closed up, … they are left in darkness, and delivered over unto the day of burning; thus being bound up by their creeds, and their bands being made strong by their priests, [they] are prepared for the fulfillment of the saying of the Savior—‘The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.’ [Matthew 13:41–42.]

“We understand that the work of gathering together of the wheat into barns, or garners, is to take place while the tares are being bound over and preparing for the day of burning; that after the day of burnings, ‘the righteous shall shine forth like the sun, in the Kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear’ [Matthew 13:43]” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 299–301; see also Manuscript History of the Church, vol. B-1, 645–46,

Doctrine and Covenants 86:3–4. “Drive the church into the wilderness”

In the meridian of time, Jesus Christ established His Church and commanded His Apostles to take the gospel message to the world. After the Apostles had “fallen asleep,” meaning after they died, the keys of the priesthood were withdrawn and the ordinances and organization of the early Church were corrupted (see D&C 86:3; see also D&C 1:15–16). Satan, and those who followed him, “[drove] the church into the wilderness,” meaning that the Church was no longer guided by living prophets and apostles and people fell into apostasy and spiritual darkness (see D&C 86:3; see also Revelation 12:1–6). Centuries later, Joseph Smith was called by God to bring the Church of Jesus Christ “out of obscurity and out of darkness” (D&C 1:30; see also D&C 1:17; 5:14; 33:5; 86:3–4; 109:73).

Doctrine and Covenants 86:6–7. “Let the wheat and the tares grow together”

In the Lord’s parable of the wheat and the tares, the wheat represented “the children of the kingdom” and the tares, or weeds, were planted by the enemy and represented “the children of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38). The harvest referred to the time when the reapers would gather the tares to be burned and gather the wheat into the barn (see Matthew 13:30). In latter-day revelation, the Lord clarified the order of the reaping or harvesting, indicating that the wheat would be gathered first, and then the tares would be bound (see D&C 86:7; see also Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:29 [in Matthew 13:30, footnote b]). The parable emphasized the decision to wait until harvest time to separate the wheat from the tares. This demonstrated God’s mercy in giving His children time to be strengthened in their faith before the separation of the righteous from the wicked at the end of the world (see D&C 38:12; 63:54; 88:94; 101:64–66). Until the time of harvest at the end of the world, the righteous and wicked will continue to “grow together” (D&C 86:7).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the challenge this presents to Latter-day Saints today:

“Church members will live in this wheat-and-tares situation until the Millennium. Some real tares even masquerade as wheat, including the few eager individuals who lecture the rest of us about Church doctrines in which they no longer believe. They criticize the use of Church resources to which they no longer contribute. They condescendingly seek to counsel the Brethren whom they no longer sustain. Confrontive, except of themselves of course, they leave the Church, but they cannot leave the Church alone (see [“The Net Gathers of Every Kind,”] Ensign, Nov. 1980, 14). …

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, quiet goodness must persevere, even when, as prophesied, a few actually rage in their anger against that which is good (see 2 Ne. 28:20). Likewise, the arrogance of critics must be met by the meekness and articulateness of believers. If sometimes ringed by resentment, we must still reach out, especially for those whose hands hang down (see D&C 81:5). If our shortcomings as a people are occasionally highlighted, then let us strive to do better” (“Becometh As a Child,” Ensign, May 1996, 68).

Doctrine and Covenants 86:8–11. “The priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers”

After revealing the interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares, the Lord explained the implications of this parable for members of His Church “with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers” (D&C 86:8). The latter-day harvest of wheat, meaning the gathering of the righteous, is organized and carried out by the Lord’s authorized servants. This was promised anciently to Abraham when Jehovah declared that Abraham’s seed, or posterity, would “bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations” and that through this priesthood “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:9, 11). Although we cannot identify descendants of Abraham by their outward appearance, the Lord knows who and where they are. The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that the Latter-day Saints are literal descendants of Abraham and “heirs, according to the flesh,” qualifying them to receive the blessings of the priesthood (see D&C 86:8–9; see also D&C 113:6, 8). The Lord revealed that the descendants of Abraham have a commission to provide the saving ordinances of the priesthood to others, thereby becoming “a savior unto my people Israel” (D&C 86:11; see also D&C 103:9–10).

depiction of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood

Through the priesthood, the Prophet Joseph Smith has helped to bring about “the restoration of all things” (D&C 86:10).

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “You are one of God’s noble and great spirits, held in reserve to come to earth at this time. (See D&C 86:8–11.) In your premortal life you were appointed to help prepare the world for the great gathering of souls that will precede the Lord’s second coming. You are one of a covenant people. You are an heir to the promise that all the earth will be blessed by the seed of Abraham and that God’s covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled through his lineage in these latter days. (See 1 Ne. 15:18; 3 Ne. 20:25.)” (“Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 73).

Doctrine and Covenants 87: Additional Historical Background

During the early history of the United States, there were serious disagreements over how much control the national government should have over individual states. A serious national crisis occurred in 1832, when the state of South Carolina passed an ordinance declaring national tariff laws (taxes on imported goods) to be unconstitutional, and many South Carolinians began to prepare for military action against the federal government. The President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, viewed this as rebellion, and, in a show of force, he sent federal troops to South Carolina and a warship to Charleston Harbor. The passing of a new tariff law in March 1833, which was viewed as a compromise, prevented civil war from occurring at that time.

Many newspapers, including the December 21, 1832, issue of the Painesville Telegraph, published accounts of this political turmoil and of other troubling circumstances throughout the world. Because Painesville, Ohio, was located just 10 miles from Kirtland, the Painesville Telegraph could have been one of the sources of information that led the Prophet Joseph Smith to report the following:

“Appearances of troubles among the nations became more visible, this season, than they had previously done since the church began her journey out of the wilderness. The ravages of the cholera were frightful, in almost all the large cities on the globe; and the plague broke out in India; while the United States, amid all her pomp and greatness, was threatened with immediate dissolution. The people of South Carolina, in convention assembled, (in November,) passed ordinances, declaring their state, a free and Independent Nation. …

“President [Andrew] Jackson issued his proclamation against this rebellion; called out a force sufficient to quell it, and implored the blessings of God to assist the Nation to extricate itself from the horrors of the approaching and Solemn Crisis.

“On Christmas day [1832] I received the following [revelation]” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 244, This revelation is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87.

Doctrine and Covenants 87

The Lord reveals that war will be poured out among all nations

Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–6. “War will be poured out upon all nations”

The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to bring peace to those who obey God’s commandments and who turn to Him in prayer (see D&C 27:15–16; 42:61; 59:23). Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and His followers are invited to receive the peace that He offers (see Isaiah 9:6; D&C 19:23; 84:102). While individuals are to seek for spiritual peace through the gospel, the Lord has declared that “the day speedily cometh … when peace shall be taken from the earth” (D&C 1:35). Through revelation, the Lord warned the Saints that the increasing wickedness of the world would lead to conflict and war (see D&C 38:29; 45:26, 63, 68–69). The news of troubling world events led the Prophet Joseph Smith to receive a “revelation and prophecy on war” (D&C 87, section heading).

In this revelation the Lord provided a warning “concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass” and declared that “war will be poured out upon all nations” (D&C 87:1–2). The condition of war would continue, along with famine, plagues, earthquakes, and other troubles “until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations” (D&C 87:6), which has reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 11:15). While the prophecy recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87 concerning the war between the Southern states and the Northern states was fulfilled during the American Civil War of 1861–1865 (see D&C 87:3), these prophecies concerning the wars and calamities preceding the Lord’s Second Coming continue to be fulfilled.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell noted the continuous number of wars that have been fought in the modern era:

“Alas, though we are asked to be peacemakers, we do live in a time when peace has been taken from the earth. (See D&C 1:35.) War has been the almost continuing experience of modern man. There have been 141 wars, large and small, just since the end of World War II in 1945. As the American Civil War was about to begin, the Lord declared there would be a succession of wars poured out upon all nations, resulting in the ‘death and misery of many souls.’ (D&C 87:1.)

“Moreover, that continuum of conflict will culminate in ‘a full end of all nations.’ (D&C 87:6.) Meanwhile, let mortals, if they choose, put overreliance upon mortal arms. As for us, we shall ‘put on the whole armour of God’! (Eph. 6:11.) And in the midst of such affliction, if we are righteous and we die, we die unto Him; and if we live, we live unto Him. (See D&C 42:44.)” (“Be of Good Cheer,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 67).

Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4. Joseph Smith’s prophecy on war

In a revelation the Prophet Joseph Smith received on December 25, 1832, the Lord told of wars that would begin in the last days with “the rebellion of South Carolina” (D&C 87:1; see also D&C 130:12–13). That prophecy was fulfilled nearly 28 years later on December 20, 1860, when South Carolina became the first of 11 Southern states to announce that they were seceding, or withdrawing, from the United States. This led to a battle that occurred on April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Other Southern states joined in a civil war against the Northern states. In time, as prophesied, the Southern states called on Great Britain for aid (see D&C 87:3). From 1861 to 1865 the terrible conflict known as the American Civil War raged between the Northern and Southern states.

Fort Sumpter, South Carolina

The prophecy on war recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87 was partially fulfilled when the first shots of the American Civil War occurred during a violent attack upon Union troops at Fort Sumter, South Carolina (see D&C 87:1–3).

The revelation the Prophet Joseph Smith received indicated that the wars that began with the American Civil War would “eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls” (D&C 87:1). It has been estimated that more American citizens died in the Civil War than the number of Americans who have died in all other wars combined (see Donald Q. Cannon, “Prophecy of War (D&C 87),” in Studies in Scripture, Volume One: The Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson [1984], 337). In addition, the deaths of millions as the result of wars throughout the world since then give witness to the fulfilling of this prophecy.

The political turbulence that existed in 1832, when this revelation was given, centered on the action taken by the state of South Carolina to nullify or reject national tariff laws. The Prophet Joseph Smith, however, later prophesied that war between the Northern and Southern states would arise over the question of slavery (D&C 130:12–13). President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) noted: “Scoffers have said it was nothing remarkable for Joseph Smith in 1832, to predict the outbreak of the Civil War and that others who did not claim to be inspired with prophetic vision had done the same. … It is well known that senators and congressmen from the South had maintained that their section of the country had a right to withdraw from the Union, for it was a confederacy, and in 1832, war clouds were to be seen on the horizon. It was because of this fact that the Lord made known to Joseph Smith this revelation stating that wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would eventually terminate in war being poured out upon all nations and in the death and misery of many souls. It may have been an easy thing in 1832, or even 1831, for someone to predict that there would come a division of the Northern States and the Southern States, for even then there were rumblings, and South Carolina had shown the spirit of rebellion. It was not, however, within the power of man to predict in the detail which the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, what was shortly to come to pass as an outgrowth of the Civil War and the pouring out of war upon all nations” (Church History and Modern Revelation [1953], 1:358–59).

Doctrine and Covenants 87:8. “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved”

Tijuana Mexico Temple

The Lord counseled His Saints to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come” (D&C 87:8).

Knowing the wicked and hostile conditions that would prevail in the last days, the Lord instructed the Saints to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come” (D&C 87:8). These holy places are to be found in the safety provided in Zion (see D&C 45:66–68; 97:21). While serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander explained:

“Three times in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord counsels His people to ‘stand in holy places’ (see D&C 45:32; 87:8; 101:22). The context of His counsel is all the more significant as we look at the current condition of our world. Desolating disease, persecution, and war have an all-too-familiar face and have imposed themselves into our daily experience. In the face of such perplexing problems, the Lord counsels, ‘Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places’ (D&C 101:22).

“Holy places have always been essential to the proper worship of God. For Latter-day Saints, such holy places include venues of historic significance, our homes, sacrament meetings, and temples. Much of what we reverence, and what we teach our children to reverence as holy and sacred, is reflected in these places. The faith and reverence associated with them and the respect we have for what transpires or has transpired in them make them holy. The importance of holy places and sacred space in our worship can hardly be overestimated. …

“… These sacred places inspire our faith and give us encouragement to be true to that faith and to move forward, despite the challenges that may cross our path” (“Holy Place, Sacred Space,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 71–72).