“Chapter 44: Doctrine and Covenants 111–114,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 44,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
In the summer of 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders traveled to Salem, Massachusetts, to search for means to help pay the Church’s debts. On August 6, 1836, while these brethren were in Salem, the Lord gave the Prophet the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 111. In it He assured the Prophet that there was “much treasure in [Salem] … for the benefit of Zion” (D&C 111:2) and addressed concerns about the Church’s debts and Zion’s future.
In 1837, Thomas B. Marsh, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was concerned about rebellion and dissension among members of that quorum in Kirtland, Ohio. He also had questions about missionary work. He sought counsel from the Prophet Joseph Smith, and on July 23, 1837, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112, in which He instructed Thomas B. Marsh regarding the work of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Thomas’s calling as its President.
In March 1838, after relocating to Far West, Missouri, from Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated inspired answers to questions about certain passages of Isaiah. These questions and answers are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 113 and clarify Isaiah’s prophecies about the latter-day Restoration and the redemption of Zion.
On April 11, 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 114. In this revelation the Lord directed David W. Patten to prepare for a future mission and warned rebellious Church leaders that they would lose “their bishopric,” or calling, if they were not faithful (D&C 114:2).
- August 5, 1836
The Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions arrived in Salem, Massachusetts.
- August 6, 1836
Doctrine and Covenants 111 was received.
- Spring and summer 1837
Various Church members and leaders in Kirtland, Ohio, spoke out against the Prophet Joseph Smith.
- Summer 1837
Apostles Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten, and William Smith traveled from Far West, Missouri, to Kirtland, Ohio, to address rebellion and dissension in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
- July 23, 1837
Doctrine and Covenants 112 was received.
- January 12, 1838
The Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland, Ohio, and began traveling to Far West, Missouri, to escape mob violence.
- March 1838
Doctrine and Covenants 113 was received.
- April 11, 1838
Doctrine and Covenants 114 was received.
- October 25, 1838
Six months after the Lord addressed him in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 114, Elder David W. Patten was fatally shot during the battle of Crooked River.
On July 25, 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery left Kirtland, Ohio, and traveled to New York City and Boston before arriving in Salem, Massachusetts, on August 5, 1836. They stayed in Salem for three weeks before returning to Kirtland in mid-September. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, ed. Brent M. Rogers and others , 271–72.) While no documents from that time period explain why these Church leaders went to Salem, later accounts give some insight into possible reasons for their trip.
In the summer of 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were deeply concerned about the Church’s finances. In the preceding years the Church had accumulated heavy debts as Church leaders had obeyed the Lord’s commandments to build the Kirtland Temple, to purchase lands in Ohio and Missouri, and to fund Zion’s Camp. The Church also needed funds to buy land for Church members in Missouri who had been forced from their homes. In 1834 the Lord had instructed the Prophet and other Church leaders to “pay all [their] debts” (D&C 104:78). However, they had been unable to do so because they had lost income-producing businesses, such as Sidney Gilbert’s store and William W. Phelps’s printing office in Independence, Missouri.
Fifty-three years after the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions visited Salem, Massachusetts, Ebenezer Robinson, a former Church member, wrote an account regarding this visit. He claimed that a Church member named Brother Burgess came to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836 and “stated that a large amount of money had been secreted in the cellar of a certain house in Salem, Massachusetts, which had belonged to a widow, and he thought he was the only person now living, who had knowledge of it, or the location of the house” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 274).
It is possible that the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders heard Brother Burgess’s claim and decided to travel to Salem, Massachusetts, to search for the hidden money so they could pay some of the Church’s debts. According to Robinson’s account, Brother Burgess met the brethren in Salem but could not identify the house where the money was hidden because he no longer recognized the city, and he left Salem soon thereafter (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 274). The Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Hyrum Smith leased a house in Salem and spent the next several weeks preaching the gospel, visiting local historical sites, and trying to obtain a treasure that could help pay their debts. On August 6, 1836, one day after arriving in Salem, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 111. It was not published in the Doctrine and Covenants during the Prophet’s lifetime. It was first included in the 1876 edition (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 277).
It appears that one of the purposes for the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions to travel to Salem, Massachusetts, was to try to improve the Church’s financial situation. They may have viewed Brother Burgess’s claim about money hidden in a house as a possible fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to “send means unto [them] for [their] deliverance” (D&C 104:80) from their debts.
The Lord understood His servants’ motives for traveling to Salem and declared “I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey [to Salem], notwithstanding [despite] your follies” (D&C 111:1). A folly is a mistake or error in judgment. It may have been a “folly” for these brethren to rely on Brother Burgess’s claim and their own efforts to solve the Church’s financial difficulties. However, throughout the rest of the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 111 the Lord mercifully promised them ongoing help and guidance.
The Lord’s acknowledgement of these Church leaders’ mistakes helps clarify the distinction between making mistakes and committing sin. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles acknowledged that we all make mistakes and taught that our mistakes can help us progress:
“Mistakes are inevitable in the process of growth in mortality. To avoid all possibility of error is to avoid all possibility of growth. In the parable of the talents, the Savior told of a servant who was so anxious to minimize the risk of loss through a mistaken investment that he hid up his talent and did nothing with it. That servant was condemned by his master (see Matt. 25:24–30).
“If we are willing to be corrected for our mistakes … innocent mistakes can be a source of growth and progress” (“Sins and Mistakes,” Ensign, October 1996, 67).
Even though the Prophet and his companions had made mistakes, the Lord taught them what to do in order to turn their journey into a fruitful endeavor. Similarly, as we sincerely strive to obey Him, the Lord can help us accomplish much good despite our mistakes.
The Lord explained that He had “much treasure in [Salem, Massachusetts]” and that there were “many people in [Salem], whom [He would] gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion” (D&C 111:2). The Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions did not record having any missionary success during their stay in Salem, but their visit bore fruit five years after this promise was given. “At a Philadelphia[, Pennsylvania,] Church conference in July 1841, Hyrum Smith and William Law of the First Presidency left instructions for Elders Erastus Snow and Benjamin Winchester about Salem. These instructions included a copy of [the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 111] and expressed the First Presidency’s belief that ‘the due time of the Lord had come’ for the revelation to be fulfilled and the people of Salem to be gathered into His kingdom” (Elizabeth Kuehn, “More Treasures Than One,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg , 230, or history.lds.org; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 275).
Elders Snow and Winchester arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, on September 3, 1841. They preached tirelessly but initially had no success. A week later, Elder Winchester went to Philadelphia and Elder Snow remained in Salem. After preaching for several months, Elder Snow baptized the first converts in Salem, in November 1841. On March 5, 1842, he organized a branch in Salem consisting of 53 members. By February 1843 the Salem branch had more than doubled to 110 members. While some of these converts remained in Salem to help the Church grow in that area, many of them eventually moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, and then migrated with the Saints to the Salt Lake Valley. (See Kuehn, “More Treasures Than One,” 232, or history.lds.org; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 275.)
In addition to promising the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions that there were “many people in [Salem], whom [He would] gather out … for the benefit of Zion” (D&C 111:2), the Lord promised, “I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it” (D&C 111:4). The Lord then quoted the Hebrew idiom “They shall not discover your secret parts” (D&C 111:4; see also Isaiah 3:17), meaning that Church members would not be publicly humiliated or looked down upon. He also indicated that the wealth of Salem “pertaining to gold and silver [would] be [theirs]” (D&C 111:4), suggesting that the temporal riches found in Salem would also benefit Zion.
On April 23, 1834, the Lord told Church leaders to “pay all [their] debts,” and promised, “Inasmuch as you are diligent and humble, and exercise the prayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your deliverance” (D&C 104:78, 80). Two years later the Church had gone into greater debt to purchase land for and build the Kirtland Temple, to purchase lands in Ohio and Missouri, and to fund Zion’s Camp. The Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders grew increasingly worried about how they would pay the Church’s debts. In the revelation the Prophet Joseph Smith received on August 6, 1836, at Salem, Massachusetts, the Lord again comforted Church leaders: “Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them” (D&C 111:5). The Lord fulfilled His promise in His time, and eventually the Church was able to pay all of its debts (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow , 159–60).
The Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions to “tarry in [Salem, Massachusetts], and in the regions round about” (D&C 111:7). He promised these Church leaders that they would know where to “tarry,” or stay, “by the peace and power of [His] Spirit” (D&C 111:8). We too can receive the Lord’s direction through the promptings of the Spirit.
Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared an experience that illustrates this principle. He explained that before he was called as a General Authority, a retail company that had employed him for several years merged with a larger company.
“Within a matter of months I found myself in a very difficult situation. The new owners wanted me to violate a trust that I felt I just could not do. After long discussions, they continued to insist and I continued to refuse. Seeing there was no way to break the deadlock, I agreed to leave the company. The timing for me was devastating. I had a wife who was seriously ill and required a lot of medical attention, a daughter away to college, and a son on a mission. I spent the next year just getting enough consulting work to pay my expenses.
“After struggling for about one year, a company called me from California and invited me to come out and talk to them about working for them. I went out and negotiated a very good contract; I was delighted with the opportunity. I told them that I had to return home and discuss it with my family before I could give an answer. I returned home and after a careful discussion, I convinced my family that it was the right thing to do. In the process of calling the firm to accept the offer, a voice just as strong and powerful as I have ever heard came to me and said, ‘Say no to the offer.’ I could not ignore the voice, so I turned the offer down, but I was distressed. I could not comprehend why I had been told to do such a thing. I went upstairs to my bedroom, sat on the bed, opened the scriptures, and they fell open to the Doctrine and Covenants, section 111. This was the only section given in the state of Massachusetts, where my home was at that particular time. These words literally jumped out of the page and met my eye:
“‘Concern not yourselves about your debts, … I will give you power to pay them. …
“‘Tarry in this place, and in the regions round about’ (D&C 111:5, 7).
“A great peace came to my soul. Within just a few days I was offered a fine position in Boston. A few months later I had the great privilege of hosting a conference in which President Harold B. Lee, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, was the featured speaker. The conference was a glorious success as we feasted on the words of President Lee. The following July, President Joseph Fielding Smith passed away and President Lee became the prophet. Three months later I was asked to come to Salt Lake, where I received a call to leave my profession and join the General Authorities.
“I have often wondered what would have happened if I had not heeded the Holy Spirit in its counseling me not to leave Boston” (“That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good,” Ensign, May 1997, 69–70).
In obedience to the Lord’s command to “inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this city” (D&C 111:9), during their stay in Salem, Massachusetts, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions traveled throughout Salem and its surrounding areas visiting museums, historical sites, and libraries (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 278, note 248). They learned more about the city’s founding by the Puritan pilgrims in the early 1600s and about the American Revolutionary War and the establishment of the United States (see Manuscript History of the Church, vol. B-1, page 749, josephsmithpapers.org).
Some of the brethren spent time learning about the Salem witch trials (see Oliver Cowdery, “Prospectus,” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1836, 388–91). In addition, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions visited the remains of the Charlestown Ursuline Convent, which had been destroyed by an anti-Catholic mob motivated by religious intolerance. Referring to this experience, the Prophet wrote: “When will man cease to war with man, and wrest from him his sacred right, of worshiping his God according as his conscience dictates? Holy Father, hasten the day” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. B-1, page 749, josephsmithpapers.org).
In His wisdom, mercy, and foreknowledge, the Lord had granted the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions opportunities to learn from their “follies” (D&C 111:1) and to benefit from their present experiences while laying the foundation for the people of Salem, Massachusetts, to receive future blessings. The Lord can “order,” or arrange, “all things for [our] good” as we remain faithful to Him. Blessings and opportunities for growth may not always come in ways we expect, but they will come in proper proportion and at the right time, “as fast as [we] are able to receive them” (D&C 111:11).
In October 1836, as part of their plans to develop the city of Kirtland, Ohio, and to alleviate Church debt, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders bought property in and around Kirtland and prepared to open a bank in Kirtland, to be named the Kirtland Safety Society Bank (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 285).
After failing to receive a bank charter, or the authority to enact banking transactions, from the State of Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders reorganized the Kirtland Safety Society as a joint-stock company on January 2, 1837. This meant that Church members could become part owners in the Kirtland Safety Society by buying stock, or shares in the company, thus helping fund the company’s operations. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 286–89.) In the January 1837 edition of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, the Prophet called upon Church members to buy stock in the new institution (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 325).
The Kirtland Safety Society faced opposition almost immediately after it opened. Local newspapers ran stories claiming the Safety Society’s banknotes were worthless and warned readers not to accept them. Individuals in and around Kirtland also “actively campaigned against the Kirtland Safety Society” by spreading rumors that the Safety Society had stopped doing business and would not allow customers to trade in their banknotes for regular currency (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 287–88). Several lawsuits were also filed against the Safety Society’s leaders for performing bank-like operations without a bank charter. In addition, the Safety Society encountered problems with underfunding by its stockholders. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 291–93.) Adding to these challenges, a national economic crisis, later known as the Panic of 1837, began in the spring of 1837 and forced hundreds of banks to close throughout the United States (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 363).
The Prophet Joseph Smith and his family had made significant investments in the Kirtland Safety Society and may have had the most to lose if it did not continue. However, as the Safety Society faced ongoing challenges, Joseph and other members of the Smith family, based on his recommendation, chose not to redeem their shares as others had. Instead, they turned their stock over to Oliver Granger and Jared Carter to ensure that all debts were fully settled. (See Mark Lyman Staker, Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting for Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations , 528.) By July of that year, the Prophet Joseph Smith had transferred the operation of the Kirtland Safety Society to others (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 418). Near the end of the summer of 1837, the Kirtland Safety Society ended (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 366).
The Church also faced other challenges during this time. Eliza R. Snow, who later served as the second General President of the Relief Society, noted that many Church members in Kirtland became prideful and lost the Spirit of the Lord. She wrote: “A great change had been going on in Kirtland, in the midst of the Saints. A spirit of speculation [a desire to become rich] had crept into the hearts of some of the Twelve, and nearly, if not every quorum was more or less infected” (Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow , 20). Throughout 1837, economic distress and opposition against the Church steadily increased. Several Church leaders and members spoke out publicly against the Prophet Joseph Smith, blaming him for the Kirtland Safety Society’s troubles and even calling him a fallen prophet. Only two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Kirtland—Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball—continued to support the Prophet during this period. (See Ronald K. Esplin, “‘Exalt Not Yourselves’: The Revelations and Thomas B. Marsh, an Object Lesson for Our Day,” in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Craig K. Manscill , 281.)
Thomas B. Marsh, who was President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and living in Missouri at the time, heard about the difficulties Church members were having in Kirtland, Ohio, and learned that some of his fellow Quorum members were among those rebelling against the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was deeply concerned. He was also upset when he learned that fellow Apostle Parley P. Pratt planned on leaving for a foreign mission without seeking the Quorum President’s counsel. President Marsh believed it was his duty as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to oversee missions abroad. (See Esplin, “Exalt Not Yourselves,” 281–82.)
On May 10, 1837, President Marsh and Elder David W. Patten sent a letter to Parley P. Pratt, advising him not to leave on his mission without meeting with them first. In the letter, President Marsh also called each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to a meeting to be held on July 24, 1837, in Kirtland, Ohio, to work out their difficulties and to plan a mission to Great Britain, which the Quorum had talked about serving since the previous February. (See “Letterbook 2,” pages 62–63, josephsmithpapers.org.) President Marsh, Elder Patten, and Elder William Smith traveled from Far West, Missouri, to Kirtland, Ohio, in the summer of 1837 to attend the July 24 meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Before they arrived in Kirtland, however, the Prophet Joseph Smith called Elder Heber C. Kimball on a mission to England, and Elder Orson Hyde expressed his desire to go as well. The two Apostles left Kirtland on June 13, 1837, for their missions to England. When President Marsh arrived in Kirtland on July 8, 1837, he was upset to learn that Elders Kimball and Hyde had been called on missions without his approval. (See Esplin, “Exalt Not Yourselves,” 281–83; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 410–11.)
Even though President Marsh was upset about the mission calls, he worked diligently to restore harmony among the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who were in Kirtland. Although he was partly successful in doing so during the first few weeks after his arrival, he “was still troubled—troubled that members of his quorum had rebelled and also troubled that missionary work abroad was proceeding without him. Concerned about his own status and wondering if the Lord could still accept the Twelve, he went to [the Prophet Joseph Smith] on July 23 … to discuss his concerns” (Esplin, “Exalt Not Yourselves,” 283). In response, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112.
Although the Lord commended Thomas B. Marsh for praying and working to help his fellow members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, He also acknowledged, “There have been some few things in thine heart and with thee with which I, the Lord, was not well pleased” (D&C 112:2). While we do not know exactly why the Lord was not “well pleased,” it may be that Thomas B. Marsh was still upset that the Prophet Joseph Smith had called Elders Kimball and Hyde to serve in England without consulting him.
Even though President Thomas B. Marsh, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, may have been upset that he was not the first missionary sent abroad in this dispensation or that he was not the one to direct that work, the Lord told him to “be of good cheer” because he would yet have the opportunity to “send forth [His] word unto the ends of the earth” and to preach “among many nations” (D&C 112:4, 7). President Marsh’s future opportunities, just like the opportunities the Lord has planned for any of His children, were based upon his faithfulness. He did not remain faithful and, therefore, did not qualify to receive these promised opportunities. Ironically, the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles departed for another mission to England in 1839, one year after Thomas B. Marsh apostatized from the Church.
In addition to telling Thomas B. Marsh about his future opportunities, the Lord also gave him specific counsel. The Lord’s counsel for him to “contend … morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth” (D&C 112:5) suggests that as a missionary he was to “contend,” or to be bold in declaring his message. The Lord also counseled President Marsh to continue to live in Missouri and to continue publishing Church materials (see D&C 112:6). While there is no specific record of it, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Thomas B. Marsh may have wondered if he should move there to help maintain unity and order within the Quorum.
The Lord also told Thomas B. Marsh that he needed to be humble in order to be led by God and receive answers to his prayers (see D&C 112:10). President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) used this counsel when he taught what we can do to humble ourselves so that we too can qualify for the Lord’s guidance:
“There is no place for arrogance in our lives. There is no place for conceit. There is no place for egotism. We have a great work to do. We have things to accomplish. We need direction in the pursuit of our education. We need help in choosing an eternal companion.
“The Lord has said, ‘Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers’ (D&C 112:10).
“What a tremendous promise is given in this statement. If we are without conceit and pride and arrogance, if we are humble and obedient, then the Lord will lead us by the hand and answer our prayers. What greater thing could we ask for? There is nothing to compare with this. …
“I believe the meek and the humble are those who are teachable. They are willing to learn. They are willing to listen to the whisperings of the still, small voice for guidance in their lives. They place the wisdom of the Lord above their own wisdom” (“A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” Ensign, Jan. 2001, 10).
When Thomas B. Marsh approached the Prophet Joseph Smith and asked for a revelation from God, he was worried about the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and wanted to know how he could help them as the President of that Quorum. The Lord counseled him to “be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself. … And pray for thy brethren of the Twelve” (D&C 112:11–12). The Lord also told him to “admonish them sharply for my name’s sake, and let them be admonished for all their sins” (D&C 112:12). The Lord promised President Marsh, “If they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them” (D&C 112:13).
The Lord’s counsel to Thomas B. Marsh concerning his role as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112:11–13, can apply to anyone called to lead, teach, or watch over others. Those called to lead or watch over others should (1) love those they are called to lead; (2) pray for them; (3) counsel, advise, and warn them about sin and its consequences; and (4) recognize that each person has agency and must choose for himself or herself whether to follow the Lord.
During the tumultuous times of 1837, some members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles living in Kirtland, Ohio, were guilty of exalting themselves, or believing they were better or more intelligent than others, and of rebelling against the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 112:15). For example, because many Church members experienced economic difficulties in 1837, several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church members publicly criticized the Prophet Joseph Smith for his handling of the Church’s business dealings. President Brigham Young recalled that some felt that the Prophet should not involve himself in temporal affairs (see Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 461).
President Young also wrote about an experience that took place during this time, in which he stood in support of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “On a certain occasion several of the Twelve, the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and others of the Authorities of the Church, held a council in the upper room of the Temple. The question before them was to ascertain how the Prophet Joseph could be deposed, and David Whitmer appointed President of the Church. Father John Smith, brother Heber C. Kimball and others were present, who were opposed to such measures. I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God and sink themselves to hell” (in Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801–1844, ed. Elden Jay Watson , 15–16; see also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 79).
On May 29, 1837, “apostles Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson, and Orson Pratt made formal charges against members of the church presidency, including [Joseph Smith], whom Pratt and Lyman Johnson accused of lying, extortion, and disrespect” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 365). In June other Apostles, including Parley P. Pratt and John F. Boynton, came out against the Prophet.
The Lord’s rebuke recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112 was a reminder to the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and to all Church members that Joseph Smith was still God’s chosen Prophet and that he held the keys of this dispensation and would have them until the Lord comes (see D&C 112:15).
Doctrine and Covenants 112:23 echoes Isaiah’s ancient prophecy describing apostasy among the inhabitants of the earth (see Isaiah 60:2). Doctrine and Covenants 112:24–26 indicates the order in which God’s judgments will occur. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “The Lord has clearly indicated that His purifying and sifting judgment would begin first at the house of God and then proceed outward to the world. (See 1 Pet. 4:17; D&C 112:25.)” (“Be of Good Cheer,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 68). In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112, the Lord warned Church members living in Kirtland, Ohio, that if they did not repent of their wickedness, they would be the first to receive His punishments (see D&C 112:25–26).
When the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112, the Church was still relatively young and some matters of Church government had not previously been defined. In this revelation the Lord explained the relationship between the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the priesthood keys they hold. The First Presidency is the highest governing quorum of the Church, and as such its members are “counselors and … leaders” to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (D&C 112:30). The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) declared: “I … hold the keys of the last kingdom, in which is the dispensation of the fullness of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy Prophets since the world began, under the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 511).
President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that ever since these priesthood keys were restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “there has been an unbroken line of authority. The priesthood keys given to the Apostles have always been held by members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve” (“The Twelve,” Ensign and Liahona, May 2008, 84).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following explanation about the priesthood keys members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold:
“The keys of the kingdom of God—the right and power of eternal presidency by which the earthly kingdom is governed—these keys, having first been revealed from heaven, are given by the spirit of revelation to each man who is both ordained an Apostle and set apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve.
“But since keys are the right of presidency, they can only be exercised in their fulness by one man on earth at a time. He is always the senior Apostle, the presiding Apostle, the presiding high priest, the presiding elder. He alone can give direction to all others, direction from which none is exempt.
“Thus, the keys, though vested in all of the Twelve, are used by any one of them to a limited degree only, unless and until one of them attains that seniority which makes him the Lord’s anointed on earth” (“The Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign, May 1983, 22–23).
For a time, Thomas B. Marsh followed the counsel he received in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112. He worked to strengthen the Church and sustain the Prophet Joseph Smith, and in July 1837 he left on a mission to Canada along with the Prophet and several others. However, after he returned to Far West, Missouri, he “fell prey to a spirit of apostasy, as had many others” (Kay Darowski, “The Faith and Fall of Thomas Marsh,” in McBride and Goldberg, Revelations in Context, 57, or history.lds.org). He became concerned about conflicts between disobedient and aggressive Church members in Missouri and their neighbors. In addition, in September 1838, his wife, Elizabeth, became involved in a dispute. She and Lucinda Harris, both members of the Church, had agreed to regularly exchange milk so they would each have enough milk to make cheese, but Sister Marsh was accused of violating her agreement by keeping “the strippings,” which is the creamier part of the milk. The matter was brought before Church leaders more than once and was eventually brought before the First Presidency. Each time, Church leaders decided that Sister Marsh was at fault. Thomas B. Marsh disagreed with these decisions and was angry. (See Darowski, “The Faith and Fall of Thomas Marsh,” 57–58, or history.lds.org; see also George A. Smith, “Discourse,” Deseret News, Apr. 16, 1856, 44.)
While the situation regarding the milk strippings was not the reason Thomas B. Marsh left the Church, it added to his other frustrations, and he became increasingly critical of Church leaders. In October 1838 he signed an affidavit, a sworn statement, that Church members in Missouri were planning violence against their neighbors, which contributed to the extermination order that led to 15,000 Church members being driven out of Missouri (see Darowski, “The Faith and Fall of Thomas Marsh,” 58, or history.lds.org; see also George A. Smith, “Discourse,” 44). He later recalled, “I became jealous of the Prophet … and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time in looking for the evil, and then when the devil began to lead me it was easy for the carnal mind to rise up, which is anger, jealousy and wrath” (“Remarks,” Deseret News, Sept. 16, 1857, 220). Thomas B. Marsh spent almost 20 years away from the Church. He ultimately reconciled with the Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, in September 1857.
By July 1837, dissent among Church members in Kirtland, Ohio, had diminished. In late September 1837 the Prophet Joseph Smith and several others traveled to Missouri to conduct Church business there. When they returned to Kirtland in December 1837, they found that some Church members were once again speaking out against the Prophet. By January 1838, “divisions in Kirtland became more pronounced … as dissidents, excommunicated church members, and others made threats against the lives of [Joseph Smith] and other church leaders.” On January 12, 1838, the Prophet received a revelation that directed the members of the First Presidency and all their “faithfull friends” to leave Kirtland and go to Missouri as soon as possible. The Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon left Kirtland that night. Their families joined them in Norton, Ohio, later, and by January 16 they had left for Missouri. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838, 441–42.)
The Prophet Joseph Smith and his family arrived in Far West, Missouri, on March 14, 1838 (see Manuscript History of the Church, vol. B-1, page 784, josephsmithpapers.org). Soon after his arrival in Missouri, the Prophet began keeping a record book that included questions about passages in Isaiah and the Lord’s answers to those questions. The historical record offers little detail about those who may have asked the questions and why, although Elias Higbee, a Church member and judge living in Far West, Missouri, in 1838, is named as having asked questions about Isaiah 52:1–2 (see D&C 113:7). (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839, ed. Mark Ashurst-McGee and others , 50–51.) Although no details are given regarding the circumstances in which these questions were asked, the questions and the Lord’s answers to these questions are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 113.
On September 21, 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and told him “that God had a work for [him] to do” (Joseph Smith—History 1:33). The angel also told him about the golden plates and the Urim and Thummim and then began quoting prophecies recorded in the Old Testament (see Joseph Smith—History 1:34–41). While reciting those prophecies, Moroni quoted Isaiah 11, “saying that it was about to be fulfilled” (see Joseph Smith—History 1:40). Nearly 15 years later, in March 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith addressed questions about Isaiah 11, and the inspired answers he received explain some elements of this prophecy.
Doctrine and Covenants 113:1–2 states that “the Stem of Jesse” is Jesus Christ. The word stem in Isaiah 11:1 is translated from a Hebrew word that refers to the trunk or stump of a tree—either a tree that has been cut down or a tree that has been planted. Doctrine and Covenants 113:3–6 indicates that “the rod spoken of” in Isaiah 11:1 “is a servant in the hands of Christ,” and “the root of Jesse” in Isaiah 11:10 “is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie shared one interpretation of “the rod” and “the root of Jesse” referred to in Isaiah 11:10 and in Doctrine and Covenants 113:3–6: “Are we amiss in saying that the prophet here mentioned is Joseph Smith, to whom the priesthood came, who received the keys of the kingdom, and who raised the ensign for the gathering of the Lord’s people in our dispensation? And is he not also the ‘servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power’? (D&C 113:4–6.)” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 339–40).
Doctrine and Covenants 113:7–10 contains questions that Elias Higbee asked about Isaiah 52 and the answers to those questions. Doctrine and Covenants 113:8 indicates that “the command … which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion” (D&C 113:7; see Isaiah 52:1) is addressed “to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel.” Doctrine and Covenants 113:10 explains that the injunction to Zion to “loos[e] herself from the bands of her neck” (D&C 113:9; see Isaiah 52:2) is a plea for “the scattered remnants” of the house of Israel “to return to the Lord” and receive the fulness of the gospel. The phrase “the bands of her neck” refers to “the curses of God upon [Zion]” (D&C 113:10), which will be loosened, or undone, when God’s people are gathered and return to Him.
David W. Patten was one of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when it was first organized in 1835. He was known for his physical strength, his dedicated missionary service, his ability to heal the sick, and his courage in defending his fellow Church members (see Lycurgus A. Wilson, Life of David W. Patten: The First Apostolic Martyr , 15–29). In the spring of 1838, David W. Patten, along with Thomas B. Marsh and Brigham Young, was appointed to lead and strengthen the Church in Missouri at a time when several prominent leaders had apostatized (see Wilson, Life of David W. Patten, 52–53). On April 11, 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation regarding David W. Patten. This revelation, which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 114, instructed Elder Patten to arrange his personal affairs so that he could serve a mission the following spring.
Approximately six months later, David W. Patten led a group of Mormon militia to rescue three Church members who were being held hostage by a group of Missourians who threatened to murder them and burn out the rest of the Mormons in the area. During the battle that ensued, Elder Patten was gravely wounded, and he died several hours later (see Wilson, Life of David W. Patten, 64–69). According to David W. Patten’s biographer, President Wilford Woodruff reported that Elder Patten once told the Prophet Joseph Smith “that he had asked the Lord to let him die the death of a martyr, at which the Prophet, greatly moved, expressed extreme sorrow, ‘for,’ said he to David ‘when a man of your faith asks the Lord for anything, he generally gets it’” (in Wilson, Life of David W. Patten, 53). On the day of David W. Patten’s funeral, the Prophet testified, “There lies a man that has done just as he said he would—he has ‘laid down his life for his friends’” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. B-1, page 10 [addenda]). As a witness to David W. Patten’s faithfulness, the Lord later revealed: “My servant David Patten … is with me at this time. … David Patten I have taken unto myself; behold, his priesthood no man taketh from him” (D&C 124:19, 130).
Elder David W. Patten, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, obeyed the Lord’s counsel recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 114 and put his affairs in order in preparation for serving a mission the following spring (see D&C 114:1). His death, which occurred not long after the Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation, demonstrates the wisdom of the Lord’s counsel to Elder Patten to “settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can” (D&C 114:1). Elder Patten’s decision to obey the Lord later became a blessing after receiving a wound in battle that would soon take his life. He was able to depart this life confident that he had kept the faith and that his life was in order.
The Lord will also guide us to prepare for whatever He has planned for us if we will trust Him enough to obey His counsel and promptings. Elder Loren C. Dunn (1930–2001) of the Seventy encouraged the youth of the Church to exercise faith in God by following the counsel of His prophets: “The Lord, who knows all things (see Abr. 2:8), looks into the future and has his prophets prepare us for events yet to come. Our prophet today … is, by his counsel, preparing us for our personal future” (“The Case of the Chevrolet,” New Era, Apr. 1983, 4).
At the time the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 114 was given, some members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders had apostatized from the Church. The Lord said that those who were not faithful would be replaced by others, who would “receive their bishopric” (D&C 114:2). The word bishopric refers to a person’s office, or divinely appointed authority and responsibilities given to those who are called to oversee or administer the Church. Three months after the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 114 was received, four brethren were called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles “to fill the places of those who [had] fallen” (D&C 118:6).