Settlement in Nauvoo Doctrine & Covenants Sections 124
Section 124 Origin • Zion retreated in 1838. The state of Missouri drove the Latter-day Saints out while some of its leading citizens stole their land. Joseph escaped from Missouri after being unjustly confined for more than five months. He emerged from the depressing days spent in Liberty Jail with an undaunted spirit. He knew from revelations received in jail that he had not long to live, but that his work was not yet finished and the Lord would protect him until it was. Joseph determined to give the temple blessings to the Latter-day Saints. • He and the Saints invested in land along the Mississippi River in the state of Illinois and the newly created Iowa Territory. They began to build a city of Zion on the site of a town called Commerce. Joseph renamed it Nauvoo, the Hebrew word translated as beautiful in Isaiah 52:7. In October 1839 he called for all Saints to gather and build a holy city. He lobbied the Illinois legislature for a city charter. The largest cities in Illinois were chartered, giving them constitutional controls independent of the state. Nauvoo’s charter, for instance, created an independent militia, city courts, and city officers empowered to "pass ordinances that contradicted state law, as long as those ordinances did not conflict with the state or national constitution." Illinois legislators overwhelmingly approved the charter in December 1840, and it became effective with the election held the first Monday in February, 1841. • In between those dates Joseph prayed for and received a momentous revelation, the longest in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124. • Jeffrey Walker, “Mormon Land Rights in Caldwell and Daviess Counties and the Mormon Conflict of 1838: New Findings and New Understandings,” BYU Studies 47:1 (2008); Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo, 103.
Following the dramatic events at the Kirtland Temple, difficulties and persecutions required that the Saints move. Wherever they located, they made plans to build a temple. This was true in both Independence and Far West, Missouri. In this period persecution fell upon the Saints with unprecedented rage and eventually they fled to Nauvoo, Illinois. Here the revelation came again and the commandment to build a house of the Lord. The Lord gave the reason . . . ” (D&C 124:28) • Elder Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple
The blessing of the endowment is required for full exaltation. Every Latter-day Saint should seek to be worthy of this blessing and to obtain it. The ordinances of washing and anointing are referred to often in the temple as initiatory ordinances. It will be sufficient for our purposes to say only the following: Associated with the endowment are washings and anointings-mostly symbolic in nature, but promising definite, immediate blessings as well as future blessings. Concerning these ordinances the Lord has said . . . ” (D&C 124:37-39) • In connection with these ordinances, in the temple you will be officially clothed in the garment and promised marvelous blessings in connection with it. It is important that you listen carefully as these ordinances are administered and that you try to remember the blessings promised and the conditions upon which they will be realized. • Elder Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple
Section 124 Outcomes • Joseph began the Book of the Law of the Lord with section 124 • Gave him the rest of his life’s work • Entered the names of the consecrated in the Book • Nauvoo rose like a fortress on a hill • Converts streamed in • Revelation read at April conference 1841 • Joseph urged the saints to obey it by building temple and Nauvoo house • Section 124 reorganized the Church • order its presiding priesthood quorums • replaced apostates and filling the vacancies left by deaths
Section 124 Outcomes • Section 124 reoriented the Church by giving it specific work to do, most importantly in building the Nauvoo Temple as a means to the end of receiving the ultimate blessings, the fulness of priesthood ordinances. Knowing that his days were numbered, Joseph began giving the ordinances in May 1842 to a select few, fifty-seven brothers and sisters in all, even before the temple was finished. He sealed couples and confirmed the fulness of priesthood ordinances on a few according to Section 132. Joseph was killed in June 1844 before the temple was ready for ordinances, but in March of that year he had commissioned the apostles to carry on the work and given them all the necessary priesthood keys to do so. Beginning in December 1845, the apostles and others who had been endowed by Joseph officiated in the temple ordinances for 5,600 Saints. The temple blessings thus resulting from Section 124 are inestimable. Speaking of temples, President Gordon B. Hinckley declared, “these unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology”
Section 125 Origin • From the confines of a wretched jail cell in Liberty, Missouri, Joseph wrote to Bishop Partridge in Illinois, where the Saints had fled after being driven from Missouri by the militia acting on the governor’s orders. Joseph reminded the bishop of Isaac Galland, a land speculator in Iowa Territory, who had invited the Saints to buy land for $2 per acre over twenty years with no money down. “To an impoverished people,” wrote historian Richard Bushman, “those terms seemed heaven-sent.” Joseph told Bishop Partridge he thought it would be wise for the Saints to contract with Galland for the land, which they did. • Joseph escaped from Missouri and joined the Saints in Illinois a few weeks later. He purchased land on a broad peninsula pushing into the Mississippi River toward the Saints’ Iowa tracts and named it Nauvoo. This Illinois land was comparatively expensive. Joseph hoped that the Church could buy it with consecrated funds and offer lots to the poor at prices they could afford, but the offerings were insufficient. As it became clear that the Church would have to sell lots in order to pay its mortgage, Joseph closed outlying stakes and urged all Saints to gather to Nauvoo and help pay for the land. Did that policy apply to the Saints already in Iowa? Joseph received by revelation the answer to that question, Section 125. • Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 125.
Section 125 Outcomes • By declaring the Lord’s will regarding approved gathering places, Section 125 made the Saints capable of acting freely to obey or disobey--once they knew its contents. At General Conference on April 6, 1841, the revelation was read to the Saints. “Many of the brethren immediately made preparations for moving,” and came as soon as their planting was done. Saints moved as a result of Section 125. Alanson Ripley reported that “Joseph said it was the will of the Lord the brethren in general . . . should move in and about the city Zerehemla whith all convenient speed which the saints are willing to do because it is the will of the Lord.”
Section 126 Origin • Brigham Young answered the Lord’s call to serve in England (See Section 118). Both he and his family were sick and homeless when Brigham left Nauvoo in the fall of 1839. While he was in England, Section 124 formalized Brigham’s call as president of the quorum of the twelve apostles (D&C 124:127). Then, having converted hundreds, he returned to Nauvoo in July 1841 and found his family living in a small, unfinished cabin. A week later the Lord gave Section 126 to Joseph. • Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 126.
Section 126 Outcomes • Brigham set to work to care for his family. He chinked the cracks in the cabin, planted an orchard, built a cellar, and got up a garden to meet their needs. Joseph gave Brigham a few weeks and then assigned him to lead the apostles in taking care “of the business of the church in Nauvoo,” including overseeing missionary work (in obedience to Section 126’s command to “send my word abroad”), the gathering of converts, and consecration. This represented a shift in the Apostles’ responsibility. Joseph had often kept them at arm’s length since their calling in 1835, testing them to see who could be trusted with Apostolic assignments. During that time, as several of his fellow apostles apostatized, Brigham had done everything asked of him. He had marched into hostile Missouri to obey a revelation and, sick and impoverished, had forsaken everything else dear to preach the gospel in England. As a result of Section 126, Brigham remained near Joseph for the Prophet’s few remaining years, learning and receiving the keys angels had conferred on Joseph. As a result of Section 126, Brigham was ready to lead when Joseph’s mission was finished. • Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 126.