DC 98 Historical Background
"On August 9, 1833, Oliver Cowdery arrived in Kirtland with bad news. Jackson County citizens were demanding that the Mormons leave, and, under pressure, the Church leaders had agreed to go. Within six months, the Saints were expelled from Jackson County with no realistic prospect of returning...
"Whether they were forewarned or not, Cowdery's arrival in Ohio with news of the citizens' ultimatum threw Kirtland into an uproar. An emergency council first advised the Missouri Saints to look for another home, assuring them that 'an other place of beginning will be no injury to Zion in the end.' The council agreed with the decision to leave. 'There was no other way to save the lives of all the church in Zion.' Joseph, devastated by the news, tried to comfort the brethren with a plaintive postscript wishing he was there to share the suffering. 'My spirit would not let me forsake you unto death.' Be of good cheer, he urged. 'Oh God save my Brethren in Zion Oh brethren give up all to God forsake all for Christ sake.'
"As the days passed, Joseph became more and more troubled. On August 18, he wrote the most anguished letter of his life, all of it in his own hand, addressed to Brother William, John, Edward, Isaac, John and Sidney'-the Missouri leaders. He was driven nearly to 'madness and desperation,' he said, not understanding why the grand plan for Zion, the heart of the whole restoration movement, had been set back. God 'will speedily deliver Zion for I have his immutable covenant, but He 'keeps it back from mine eyes the means how exactly the thing will be done.' Joseph scarcely knew what to say or do." (Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, [New York: Random House, 2005], 222, 225)
Some of [our church] proceeded to make a new location in Van Buren county on the south, but the settlers in that county drew up an agreement among themselves to drive us from that county, after we had commenced laboring there; they threatened to shoot our cattle, and destroy our labor, and in fact, "the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but we have not where to lay our heads." We were obliged to return.
Since the stipulation was entered into, some of our houses have been broken open, and the inmates threatened to be shot if they stirred; and also some of our houses have been stoned or brick-batted.
...Our situation is a critical one; we are located upon the western limits of the state, and of the United States; where desperadoes can commit outrages, and even murder, and escape in a few minutes beyond the reach of process; where the most abandoned of all classes from almost every state may too often pass to the Mexican states, or to the more remote regions of the Rocky Mountains to escape the grasp of justice; where numerous tribes of Indians, located by the General Government amid the corrupting influence of mid-day mobs, might massacre our defenseless women and children, with impunity.
Influenced by the precepts of our beloved Savior when we have been smitten on the one cheek, we have turned the other also; when we have been sued at the law, and our coat been taken, we have given them our cloak also; when they have compelled us to go with them a mile, we have gone with them twain; we have borne the above outrages without murmuring; but we cannot patiently bear them any longer; according to the laws of God and man, we have borne enough... we appeal to the Governor for aid, asking him to raise by express proclamation, or otherwise, a sufficient number of troops, who, with us, may be empowered to defend our rights, that we may sue for damages for the loss of property, for abuse, for defamation, as to ourselves, and if advisable try for treason against the government; that the law of the land may not be defiled, or nullified, but peace be restored to our country. (History of the Church, 1:415-416)
DC 98:1 Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not... rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks
Howard W. Hunter
I think it is incumbent upon us to rejoice a little more and despair a little less, to give thanks for what we have and for the magnitude of God's blessings to us, and to talk a little less about what we may not have or what anxiety may accompany difficult times in this or any generation.
For Latter-day Saints this is a time of great hope and excitement-one of the greatest eras in the Restoration and therefore one of the greatest eras in any dispensation, inasmuch as ours is the greatest of all dispensations. We need to have faith and hope, two of the great fundamental virtues of any discipleship of Christ. We must continue to exercise confidence in God, inasmuch as that is the first principle in our code of belief. We must believe that God has all power, that he loves us, and that his work will not be stopped or frustrated in our individual lives or in the world generally. He will bless us as a people because he always has blessed us as a people. He will bless us as individuals because he always has blessed us as individuals. ("An Anchor to the Souls of Men," Ensign, Oct. 1993, 72)
DC 98:5 the law of the land which is constitutional... belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me
M. Russell Ballard
The principles and philosophies upon which the U.S. constitutional law is based are not simply the result of the best efforts of a remarkable group of brilliant men. They were inspired by God, and the rights and privileges guaranteed in the Constitution are God-given, not man-derived. The freedom and independence afforded by the Constitution and Bill of Rights are divine rights-sacred, essential, and inalienable. In the 98th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord indicates that the "law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me." (D&C 98:5.) ("Religion in a Free Society," Ensign, Oct. 1992, 65)
Ezra Taft Benson
President Woodruff declared that "those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits ... [and] were inspired of the Lord." We honor those men today. We are the grateful beneficiaries of their noble work.
But we honor more than those who brought forth the Constitution. We honor the Lord, who revealed it. God himself has borne witness to the fact that He is pleased with the final product of the work of these great patriots.
In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith on 6 August 1833, the Savior admonished: "I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land." (D&C 98:6.)
In the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer given on 27 March 1836, the Lord directed the Prophet Joseph to say: "May those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever." (D&C 109:54.)
A few years later, Joseph Smith, while unjustly incarcerated in a cold and depressing cell of Liberty Jail at Clay County, Missouri, frequently bore his testimony of the document's divinity: "The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner."
How this document accomplished all of this merits our further consideration...
The major provisions of the Constitution are as follows:
First: Sovereignty lies in the people themselves...
Second: To safeguard these rights, the Founding Fathers provided for the separation of powers among the three branches of government-the legislative, the executive, and the judicial...
The use of checks and balances was deliberately designed, first, to make it difficult for a minority of the people to control the government, and, second, to place restraint on the government itself.
Third: The powers the people granted to the three branches of government were specifically limited. The Founding Fathers well understood human nature and its tendency to exercise unrighteous dominion when given authority. A Constitution was therefore designed to limit government to certain enumerated functions, beyond which was tyranny.
Fourth: Our Constitutional government is based on the principle of representation. The principle of representation means that we have delegated to an elected official the power to represent us. The Constitution provides for both direct representation and indirect representation. Both forms of representation provide a tempering influence on pure democracy. The intent was to protect the individual's and the minority's rights to life, liberty, and the fruits of their labors-property. These rights were not to be subject to majority vote.
Fifth: The Constitution was designed to work with only a moral and righteous people. "Our constitution," said John Adams (first vice-president and second president of the United States), "was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." ("The Constitution-A Glorious Standard," Ensign, Sept. 1987, 9-10)
DC 98:6 I, the Lord, justify you... in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land
"In 1833, Latter-day Saints in Missouri were mourning as a consequence of serious persecution and the clear denial of their constitutional rights. Even so, the Lord continued to teach his Prophet and his people how they were to respond in such circumstances." (Jay M. Todd, "A Standard of Freedom for This Dispensation," Ensign, Sept. 1987, 12)
The First Presidency
Fifty-two years have passed since this (revelation) was given to the Church, and we are now witnessing its fulfillment. The Saints are required to do whatsoever the Lord commands them, to live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God. They are also instructed to befriend every constitutional law of the land; for such laws support the principle of freedom; they maintain rights and privileges. This, as a people, we have striven to do from the beginning of our organization. We have ever been a law-abiding people. Times without number we have suffered the most grievous wrongs without resenting them. We have ever thought it better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 3: 28)
Dallin H. Oaks
Even when victimized by what they must surely have seen as very severe government oppressions and abridgments of freedom, the Mormon people and their leaders have remained loyal to their government and its laws. The compliant position outlined in the twelfth Article of Faith, quoted above, was written during the Nauvoo period after almost a decade of persecutions that government officials either conducted, condoned, or refused to redress. Just after the Saints were forcibly driven out of Jackson County, Missouri, with great hardship and loss of property, the Lord revealed his "will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you. ..." (D&C 101:76.) The Declaration of Belief later adopted by the Church affirmed "that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror. ..." (D&C 134:6.)
These principles and precedents, and others too numerous to cite in this limited space, are persuasive evidence that even an oppressive government that limits freedom is preferable to a state of lawlessness and anarchy in which the only ruling principle is force and every individual citizen has a thousand oppressors. Abraham Lincoln was espousing this preference when he said, "There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law." (Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, p. 635, 14th ed.)
There are exceptions. The command of loyalty to laws and rulers does not compel a citizen to participate in or submit to a government edict that runs counter to the common consensus of humanity, such as genocide or other cold-blooded murder. Nor should it require a person to violate the fundamental tenets of religious faith... there are exceptions, but they should not be applied to any but the most extreme challenges to faith and liberty lest the exceptions be trivialized or used to weaken our support for the principle of ordered liberty. When we see the oppressions our forefathers endured (such as imprisonment and deprivation of civil rights for acts then required by their religion) without repudiating their basic commitment to observance of law, and when we reflect on the considerable opportunities our democratic government offers for the lawful redress of grievances... we should be extremely reluctant to deviate from our basic position of loyalty to rulers and observance of law. ("I Have a Question," Ensign, June 1976, 61-62)
Joseph F. Smith
We are told here that no man need break the laws of the land who will keep the laws of God. But this is further defined by the passage which I read afterwards-the law of the land, which all have no need to break, is that law which is the constitutional law of the land, and that is as God himself has defined it. And whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil. Now, it seems to me that this makes this matter so clear that it is not possible for any man who professes to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make any mistake, or to be in doubt as to the course he should pursue under the command of God in relation to the observance of the laws of the land. I maintain that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has ever been faithful to the constitutional laws of our country. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 406)
DC 98:8 I, the Lord God, make you free... and the law also maketh you free
David O. McKay
Freedom is the most precious possession of life, next to life itself. All human beings crave it, even dictators, for themselves. Today there are two contending forces battling for the souls of men, battling for their minds, struggling for their support and adherence.
Here in the United States we have a guarantee of liberty, part of which is contained in Article One of the Bill of Rights. Note it:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
We should be grateful for our Founding Fathers, for Washington and Lincoln, and for our boys and other great men who have fought and died for our freedom. We should feel grateful that we are not hampered nor hindered in any way by a government that would presume to tell us how to worship, what to worship, or how to build. I wonder how many of us kneel down and thank the Lord for that freedom vouch-safed to us by the Constitution of the United States, a step towards the liberty, the freedom mentioned by the Savior when he said, "If ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 387 - 388)
DC 98:9 when the wicked rule the people mourn
A more succinct phrase could not be framed to describe the wickedness of a thousand kings, a thousand dictators over thousands of years. The Book of Mormon is replete with examples among both the Jaredites and the apostate Nephites wherein wickedness in high places meant mourning in low places. Wicked king Noah's reign prompted Mormon's woeful commentary, "behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!" (Mosiah 29:17)
DC 98:10 honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently
Ezra Taft Benson
Now that is a commandment to his Church and to his Saints. To me it means that we have a responsibility as Latter-day Saints to use our influence so honest men and wise men and good men will be elected to public office in the community, in the county, in the state, and in the nation, To me this commandment of God is just as binding upon the Latter-day Saints as is the law of tithing, or the Word of Wisdom, or any other commandment which the God of heaven has given us. (Conference Report, October 1954, Afternoon Meeting 121)
Ezra Taft Benson
Note the qualities that the Lord demands in those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest. Some leaders may be honest and good but unwise in legislation they choose to support. Others may possess wisdom but be dishonest and unvirtuous. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all three of these qualities. (Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1991], 207)
Ezra Taft Benson
The most dangerous threat of all comes from the disinterested-that great group of otherwise intelligent people who shrug off any responsibility for public affairs. ("Getting Involved, Giving Service, Growing," Ensign, Feb. 1999, 22)
The First Presidency
We wish to reiterate the divine counsel that members "should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness" (D&C 58:27) while using gospel principles as a guide and while cooperating with other like-minded individuals.
Through such wise participation as citizens, we are then in better compliance with this scripture: "Governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and ... he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them" (D&C 134:1).
Therefore, as in the past, we urge members of the Church to be full participants in political, governmental, and community affairs. Members of the Church are under special obligations to seek out and then uphold those leaders who are wise, good, and honest. ("News of the Church," Ensign, Apr. 1998, 77)
Joseph B. Wirthlin
The Church maintains a policy of strict political neutrality, favoring no party or candidate, but every member should take an active part in the political process. We should study the issues and the candidates to be sure our votes are based on knowledge rather than hearsay. We need to pray for our public officials and ask the Lord to help them in making momentous decisions that affect us. Our beliefs regarding earthly governments and laws are summarized in section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants and the twelfth article of faith. We should support public policy that coincides with these moral beliefs. ("Seeking the Good," Ensign, May 1992, 87-88)
DC 98:12 he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept
L. Lionel Kendrick
This pattern for receiving promptings follows the principle by which the Savior was taught and tutored during the meridian of time. John bore witness that "he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness" (D&C 93:13). The Prophet Joseph Smith counseled, "It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time." ("Personal Revelation," Ensign, Sept. 1999, 10)
DC 98:12 I will try you and prove you herewith
Alexander B. Morrison
"I will try you and prove you herewith," the Lord has said (D&C 98:12). Only thus can we be prepared to receive the glory God has in store for us. "My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom" (D&C 136:31).
Trials come in various forms. Some are not easily recognized as such, at least at first glance. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, "Some are tested by poor health, some by a body that is deformed or homely. Others are tested by handsome and healthy bodies; some by the passion of youth; others by the erosions of old age. Some suffer disappointment in marriage, family problems; others live in poverty and obscurity. Some (perhaps this is the hardest test) find ease and luxury. All are part of the test, and there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect" ("The Choice," Ensign, Nov. 1980, 21). ("Life-The Gift Each Is Given," Ensign, Dec. 1998, 17)
Dallin H. Oaks
We may suffer adversities and afflictions from our own mistakes or from the mistakes of others, but in this we have a comforting promise. The Lord, who suffered for the pains and afflictions of his people (see Alma 7:11; D&C 18:11; D&C 33:53), has assured us through his prophets that he will consecrate our afflictions for our gain (see 2 Ne. 2:2; D&C 98:3). We can learn by experience, even from our innocent and inevitable mistakes, and our Savior will help us carry the burden of the afflictions that are inevitable in mortality. What he asks of us is to keep his commandments, to repent when we fall short, and to help and love one another as he has loved us (see John 13:34). ("Sins and Mistakes," Ensign, Oct. 1996, 67)
DC 98:13 whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name's sake, shall find it again
Ezra Taft Benson
Joseph Smith said this about sacrifice: "For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor, and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also-counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ-requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God. ...
"A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power proficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life." (Lectures on Faith, comp. N. B. Lundwall, Salt Lake City: N. B. Lundwall, n.d., p. 58.)
Elder Bruce McConkie said, "Sacrifice pertains to mortality; in the eternal sense there is none. Sacrifice involves giving up the things of this world because of the promises of blessings to be gained in a better world. In the eternal perspective there is no sacrifice in giving up all things-even including the laying down of one's life-if eternal life is gained through such a course. (D&C 98:13-15.)" (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 664.)
But just as when one loses his life in the service of God, he really finds the abundant life, so also when one sacrifices all to God, then God in return shares all that He has with him.
Try as you may, you cannot put the Lord in your debt. For every time you try to do His will, He simply pours out more blessings upon you. Sometimes the blessings may seem to be a little slow in coming-perhaps this tests your faith-but come they will, and abundantly. It has been said, "Cast your bread upon the waters and after a while it shall come back to you toasted and buttered."
Said President Brigham Young, "I have heard a great many tell about what they have suffered for Christ's sake. I am happy to say I never had occasion to. I have enjoyed a great deal, but so far as suffering goes I have compared it a great many times, in my feelings and before congregations, to a man wearing an old, worn-out, tattered and dirty coat, and somebody comes along and gives him one that is new, whole and beautiful. This is the comparison I draw when I think of what I have suffered for the Gospel's sake-I have thrown away an old coat and have put on a new one." (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. by John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 348.) ("Jesus Christ-Gifts and Expectations," Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4, 6)
DC 98:16 renounce war and proclaim peace
Spencer W. Kimball
We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel-ships, planes, missiles, fortifications-and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching:
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 5:44-45.)
We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us-and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)-or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha's life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, "And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kgs. 6:17.) ("The False Gods We Worship," Ensign, June 1976, 6)
Harold B. Lee
In plain language, then, the Saints were told that to avoid war with their enemies they must renounce war and proclaim peace and to see that this was to begin within the home where fathers and children would be at peace with each other.
The Lord gave a further promise, saying that when and if all wrath and indignation would be conquered within themselves, the evils of Satan's powers could not successfully assail them.
He didn't leave us with any question as to the prime place in his church and in the world where this preparation and the battle against evil-unless curbed in the beginning-would break out into armed conflict.
After giving his law to parents to teach and train their children to walk uprightly before the Lord, he indicated his displeasure relative to those among us who, in his language, "are idlers ... and [our] children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness." (D&C 68:31.)
If these words are clearly understood, we have been told where the roots of all evil are to be found. Our children have not been properly taught by parents in the home. ("Teach the Gospel of Salvation," Ensign, Jan. 1973, 61)
Marion G. Romney
A Latter-day Saint's attitude toward war should be in harmony with the Lord's commandment to "renounce war and proclaim peace. ..."(D&C 98:16.) If all people were faithful Latter-day Saints, there would be no wars. ("Gospel Forum," Ensign, Jan. 1971, 16)
DC 98:16-17 seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children
This Malachi reference may seem out of place. Contextually, Joseph Smith is receiving this revelation 3 days before Oliver Cowdery shows up in Kirtland to ask for advice about the Missouri persecutions. What does that have to do with the hearts of the fathers turning to the children and vice versa? More than that, what does it have to do with the hearts of the Jews turning unto the prophets and the hearts of the prophets turning to the Jews?
The Lord teaches us line upon line and precept upon precept (v. 12); He also gives us scripture which we don't understand at first. That is his purpose and his pattern. Consider this reference as an example. The keys of Elijah have not yet been restored; not a single temple has been built; no one understands the temple ordinances because they have not been revealed; the idea of performing vicarious ordinances for the dead will not be revealed until the Nauvoo period. Joseph Smith excepted, the saints don't even understand what Malachi was talking about!
It seems the Lord is making a veiled reference to the glory of Millennial temple work in the two great capitals of Zion and Jerusalem. First of all, the issue facing the Missouri saints is the salvation and redemption of Zion. The Lord has the same concern but knows that tribulation is coming-not redemption. Still, He wants his saints to be focused on the binding power of Elijah's priesthood keys. The Lord is concerned with Zion; He is concerned with making saviors on Mount Zion; he knows no savior on Mount Zion can perform any vicarious work without Elijah's priesthood keys, hence the reference to the hearts of the fathers and children turning to one another. The Lord sees the Millennial Zion in which vicarious temple work is the focus of the saints in the New Jerusalem. The literal realization of Zion may have to wait, but the focus of the saints must remain on Zion's principles.
What then of the Jews and prophets? The Malachi passage doesn't talk of turning "the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets." It does, however, remind the Jews, "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel" (Mal. 4:4). The blessings contained in the Law of Moses will all be fulfilled in the Millennium. Again, the Lord is turning our eyes to the day when the great promises given to the Jews are fulfilled in the Millennial Jerusalem. These promises are as follows:
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth;
And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face; they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.
The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
The Lord shall establish thee a holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.
And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.
And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand; and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. (Deut. 28:1-12)
It is fair to summarize the purpose of all Old Testament prophets since Moses by stating that all these prophets tried to qualify the Jews for the promised blessings. The Jews couldn't see what the prophets could see. When they all see eye to eye; when the hearts of the Jews turn to the prophets; and the hearts of the prophets turn again (as they have always been) to the Jews, then Jerusalem will be built up as a holy city. All the feasts and sacrifices once performed by wicked priests shall be offered to the Lord in righteousness (DC 13:1). The vast temple work that needs to be done will be attended to. The Millennial Jerusalem will be the great temple city of the East, "in that day, the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish... and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem." (Isa. 27:13)
If the two great cities of Zion and Jerusalem are not ready for the Lord when He comes again, then He will have to smite the whole earth with a curse, and all flesh shall be consumed before him. He came to the earth once when there was no room in the inn. The second time, He will come only when a home is complete on two continents.
Ezra Taft Benson
In Jacob's blessing to Judah, he declared: "Judah is ... as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" (Gen. 49:9; italics added.) We come as messengers bearing the legitimate authority to arouse Judah to her promises. We do not ask Judah to forsake her heritage. We are not asking her to leave father, mother, or family. We bring a message that Judah does not possess. That message constitutes "living water" from the Fountain of living water.
Our prophet, Joseph Smith, was given a commandment by the Lord to turn "the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets, and the prophets unto the Jews." (D&C 98:17.) We are presently sending our messengers to every land and people whose ideology permits us entrance. We have been gathering Joseph's descendants for 146 years. We hope you, who are of Judah, will not think it an intrusion for us to present our message to you. You are welcome to come to our meetings. We display no crosses. We collect no offerings. We honor your commitment to your unique heritage and your individuality. We approach you in a different way than any other Christian church because we represent the restored covenant to the entire house of Israel.
Yes, we understand the Jews, as David Ben-Gurion said. We understand them because we belong to the same house of Israel. We are your brothers-Joseph. We look forward to the day of fulfillment of God's promise when "the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel." (Jer. 3:18.) ("A Message to Judah from Joseph," Ensign, Dec. 1976, 72)
DC 98:19 I, the Lord, am not well pleased with many who are in the church at Kirtland
Matthias F. Cowley
On the 11th of December (1836), the Prophet sharply rebuked the Kirtland Saints for their sins and backsliding. He warned them to repent, lest judgment should come upon them as it had come upon the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri. Those were trying times. They were days of separation when it became necessary to separate the unworthy from those who were of the household of faith. Kirtland was not to be the abiding place of the Saints. They must give up their possessions and their love for the city they had striven so hard to adorn. (Wilford Woodruff, His Life and Labors, comp. Matthias F. Cowley [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1916], 65 - 66)
DC 98:23-26 if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently
Dallin H. Oaks
The importance of forgiving one another was given spectacular illustration and emphasis [in section 98]. In 1833 the Missouri Saints had been driven from their homes in Jackson County. Their possessions were scattered, their printing press was smashed, and individuals were whipped and otherwise abused. Without an effective remedy from the state or the federal government, these victims of persecution had two alternatives: armed resistance or peaceful submission. That was the setting in which the Lord gave the revelation in section 98 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
After comforting the Saints, this revelation instructed them on the importance of civil law and of seeking good and wise men for public office. It cautioned them to "forsake all evil" and declared that the Lord would "chasten them" if they did not repent of their "wicked ways." In contrast, it promised that if they would keep the commandments, the Lord would "turn away all wrath and indignation" from them. (Vss. 5-11, 20-22.)
As to the choice before them, the Lord directed them to "renounce war and proclaim peace." (Vs. 16.) He then gave these specific directions on the Saints' behavior toward those who had wronged them: "Now, I speak unto you concerning your families-if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded." (Vs. 23.) Further, if an enemy smote them a second time and a third time and they bore it patiently and did not revile against their enemy, their reward would be greatly magnified. (Vss. 25-26.) Even if their enemy did not repent of wronging them, they should forgive him three times. (Vss. 41-43.) Next, if the enemy escaped the vengeance of God, they should "warn him in [the Lord's] name, that he come no more" upon them. Then, if he does, the Lord says, "I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands." But even then, "If thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness." (Vss. 28-30.)
These verses provide a pointed application of the Savior's great teaching, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matt. 5:44.) They teach that if we bear injustice and persecution patiently, our reward will be great. The succeeding verses even apply this principle to armed conflict among nations or peoples, directing that the faithful seek peace three times and bring these efforts before the Lord, and go out to battle against their adversary only when the Lord commands it. Then, the Lord promises, "I, the Lord, [will] fight their battles." (D&C 98:33-37.) (The Lord's Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 170)
DC 98:25-26 your reward shall be an hundredfold... your reward shall be doubled unto you fourfold
The Master promised his disciples, "every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." (Matt 19:29) Is the Lord exaggerating, or does He really reward the righteous an hundredfold? Do we believe in his promises? Did the Missouri saints believe in these promises?
Let's take the Lord at his word and do the math. Let's imagine, for discussion sake, that the blessing for patiently bearing persecution is $1000. That means the blessing for patiently bearing the second persecution is $100,000. The third persecution, suffered without retaliation, means a fourfold doubling. In our example, that amounts to $1,600,000. That is like winning the lottery!
The faithless will quickly retort that the Missouri saints who patiently suffered persecution never received such a great reward. Perhaps not in this life, but we must have faith that the promised blessings await them in the resurrection. The Lord keeps track; He does the math; He keeps his promises.
George Q. Cannon
This revelation... is well worthy of our attention, especially at the present time. It shows unto us most clearly, my brethren and sisters, that there is no room for revenge in the heart of a true Latter-day Saint. God designs that we shall be a peaceful people, a people who shall love and cultivate peace, a people who shall seek by every means in their power to avert war and to avert bloodshed, to proclaim peace, and to entreat people for peace; and God has said to us most emphatically that He would fight our battles, that He would defend us against our enemies. He does not intend that the Latter-day Saints shall be a people shedding blood. God did not permit David, a man after His own heart, to build the temple at Jerusalem, because he was a man of war, but He gave unto His peaceful son Solomon, who was a peaceful ruler and had no occasion to fight-He gave unto him the privilege of building His holy temple. We are a temple-building people. God has given unto us a mission of this kind, to build temples in which we shall perform the ordinances of life and salvation, and it seems to be meet in His providence that we should refrain from everything that would unfit us for the discharge of this high and holy calling. Therefore, I repeat, that of all people now living upon the face of the earth we are most urgently required by our God to be lovers and cultivators of peace, and to seek not for that revenge which gratifies human passion, which is not of God, and which is opposed to the Gospel of Jesus, and to the sentiments that Jesus invariably inculcated and endeavored to enforce upon His disciples. We have shown this repeatedly. How many times would we have been stirred up to indignation, if we had allowed human feelings to prevail, at the abominable falsehoods which have been circulated in our midst, fabricated by men whose only object has been to bring down vengeance upon this people, to excite the ruling powers against us; to stir up congressional action against us, to create a public opinion against us, to make it justifiable to slay us, to deprive us of every right? How often has this been the case? How easy it would have been for us if we had followed the influences that seem natural to human beings under such circumstances, to have avenged ourselves upon them. But had we done so we should have forfeited the protecting care of our Father and our God. When we attempt to do this, we put ourselves outside of the pale of His protection. We could not ask of Him (as we could do if we were to observe His commandments) that protection and that deliverance which is necessary at times to extricate us from the imminent perils with which we are threatened. And it is by this principle, following this policy, adopting this peaceful, godlike course, that this people have been preserved and blessed up to the present time. It is a spirit which we should cultivate, cultivate it in all our associations, in our intercourse with one another, in our intercourse with the world, and even with those who are most embittered against us. It is not for us to revile against the reviler; it is not for us to bandy vulgar epithets with those who indulge in this mode of warfare; but it is for us to put our trust in God, to leave our cause with Him. For we cannot defend ourselves by earthly weapons. We are too feeble. We are not strong in numbers. We are not strong in wealth. We are not strong in worldly things. We have not these advantages to aid and sustain us. If we are sustained we must be sustained by the overruling providence and power of God our Eternal Father, and not by any earthly power. Therefore our path of safety is the path which God has pointed out for us; not to be a revengeful people, not to be a recriminating people, not to be an abusive people, but to be a meek people, a forbearing people, bearing patiently, but of course not sitting down idly and supinely, and permitting contumely to be heaped upon us without exerting the powers God has given us to dissipate falsehoods. But this can be done in the pirit of meekness, not in the spirit of revenge, not in the spirit of reviling, not in the spirit of hostility and hatred. This spirit is antagonistic to the spirit that Jesus possesses, and which we all ought to possess to be like Him-to be filled as He was with those desirable attributes which were so acceptable to the Father. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 25: 273 - 275)
DC 98:32 this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers
Usually, we don't think of prophets as men of war, but Abraham pulled off quite a military feat when his nephew Lot was captured by a group of 4 confederate kings. Out for military conquest, these 4 kings defeated 6 different Canaanite peoples. When they were finally opposed by an alliance of 5 kings, including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, a great battle ensued. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were killed; their allies fled leaving Sodom and Gomorrah as a spoil. In the process of sacking and spoiling Sodom and Gomorrah, the 4 kings captured Lot and took him with them.
What should Abraham do? Is he justified in killing others to retrieve his nephew? Section 98 declares that he was given the law of justification. The Bible doesn't tell us the details, but Abraham must have been justified. With only 318 servants, trained by Abraham himself, he went against an alliance of 4 great military kings. The Lord must have fought his battles, for he successfully defeated his larger, stronger enemy, took the spoil, and brought Lot home. (Gen. 15) This feat became known as "the slaughter of the kings" (Heb. 7:1). On the way home, he was blessed by Melchizedek, by whom he was ordained, and to whom he paid tithes of the spoil. The rest of the tithes he returned to the new king of Sodom, taking nothing for himself but the association of his nephew.
The Nephites, on the other hand, were always concerned with the issue of justification in their conflicts with the Lamanites. They sought the Lord's approval as they went to war, "for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites." (Alma 43:46-47). When they went on the offensive contrary to this law, they were beaten (Mormon 4:1-4).
DC 98:34 if any nation... should proclaim war... first lift a standard of peace unto that people
George Q. Cannon
[A people may be] determined to have war with us, the Lord says we should lift up a standard of peace unto that nation. That is the duty of this nation. That is the duty of the Latter-day Saints, when their enemies come against them to make war upon them. We must proclaim peace; do all in our power to appease the wrath of our enemies; make any sacrifice that honorable people can to avert war, with all its horrors, entailing as it does dreadful consequences so numerous that they cannot be mentioned. It is our duty, I say, as a nation. The influence of the Latter-day Saints should be used in this direction. We should seek to quell these feelings of anxiety to fight and to shed blood. Our influence should go forth like oil poured upon the troubled waters, quieting the waves of discontent and wrath that are aroused by this fearful spirit. The Lord then tells us what should be done:
And if that people did not accept the offering of peace neither the second nor the third time,
Not only ought we to extend the offering of peace the first time to a nation that proclaims war against us, but again the second time; and if that should be rejected, again the third time; and if it be rejected the third time, then
[They] should bring these testimonies before the Lord.
Go to the Lord, and say, "Here are our testimonies. We have offered peace the first time; we have offered it twice; we have offered it three times; but our offerings are rejected, and this nation is determined to have war with us. Now we bring these testimonies before thee, Lord."
Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people,
And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children's battles, and their children's children's, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation.
Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me.
I do not look for our nation to do this. It is scarcely to be expected, in the nature of things, that they would do it. But it is the true principle, and we as a people should use our influence for this purpose. Our prayers should ascend to God; our petitions should ascend to the government of our nation to do everything that honorable people can to avert war. (Conference Report, April 1898, Afternoon Session)
DC 98:37 I, the Lord would fight their battles
Charles W. Penrose
Let us take the words of the Lord Jesus Christ for our guide, and try to be patient and long-suffering, even as God is. And the Lord will fight our battles, and those who fight against us by and by will be brought to shame and confusion as they always have been. And let those who love to lie about the Latter-day Saints, lie on; there is a place prepared for them, and we will leave them in his hands. Ye who wish to lie, lie on! Do your work, fill the mission you are engaged in as did Judas of old; but as for us, we will serve the Lord; we will keep his commandments; we will battle with the evils in our natures, entailed upon us through the errors of our forefathers; we will learn to govern ourselves and our households in the fear of God, and while we are engaged in battling with evil and corruption God will be on our side, and who shall prevail against him? "A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time." (Journal of Discourses, 20:298-299)
Jeffrey R. Holland
I ask everyone within the sound of my voice to take heart, be filled with faith, and remember the Lord has said He "would fight [our] battles, [our] children's battles, and [the battles of our] children's children." (D&C 98:37) And what do we do to merit such a defense? We are to "search diligently, pray always, and be believing[. Then] all things shall work together for [our] good, if [we] walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted." (D&C 90:24) The latter days are not a time to fear and tremble. They are a time to be believing and remember our covenants. ("The Ministry of Angels," Ensign, Nov 2008, 29-31)
Heber C. Kimball
Brother Brigham would rather go to battle against the whole world with three hundred men filled with the Holy Ghost, than to have the whole of you, except you are united with us; and I am sure I would.
The day is to come when one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. When that day comes, the Lord will make the enemies of His people flee as if there were thousands after them, when there is only one; and that is the way that God will deal with our enemies. The day of God Almighty is at hand, when He will show forth His power, and when He will deliver His people from all their enemies...
I stand in the name and in the strength of Israel's God, by the side of my brother Brigham; for there is my place; and your place is to stand where you belong. (Journal of Discourses, 4:375-376)
DC 98:39-44 if after thine enemy has come upon thee the first time, he repent
Section 98 gives us two separate commandments regarding forgiveness. The first addresses enemies who are unrepentant and malignant. We are to bear the afflictions from these oppressors without retaliation. Turning the other cheek after the first offense earns us a great blessing. "If he trespass against thee the second time, and repent not, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him. And if he trespass against the third time, and repent not, thou shalt also forgive him." (v. 42-43, emphasis added) After 3 offenses, the oppressor is to be warned in the name of the Lord. The Lord no longer expects us to bear more afflictions. Three is enough. Then, we are justified and given the promise that He will fight our battles.
The law of forgiveness is quite different if the offending individual has a repentant attitude. If an individual has offended you and "and come unto thee praying thy forgiveness," that is completely different. Under that circumstance, the saint is to forgive the person "seventy times seven" or 490 for those who are keeping track of every offense. In essence, the law requires us to forever forgive all who trespass against us and request forgiveness. The Lord has said, "of you is it required to forgive all men" (D&C 64:10).
It is our duty to forgive our brother seven times, yes, seventy times seven, when he turns to you and seeks your forgiveness; and we should forgive men in our hearts whether they ask our forgiveness or not. And what about our enemies? What shall we do with them? Offer them peace and forgive them the first time. And what then? Go again the second time and forgive them? Yes... And the third time? Yes; but the fourth time the Lord says thine enemy is in thine hand, do with him as seemeth thee good. You have then fulfilled the law; and even then, if you are merciful, it is said it shall be accounted to you for righteousness. This is the law of the Gospel. (Journal of Discourses, 22:15-16)
God teaches us to pray for a forgiveness of our sins, as we forgive those that trespass against us. Is not that the principle laid down? Yes. "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" enquired Peter of the Savior. "Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven"-that is if he repent. (Journal of Discourses, 24:267, emphasis added)
Do not throw away a man or a woman, old or young. If they commit an evil today, and another tomorrow, but wish to be Saints and to be forgiven, do you forgive them, not only seven times, but seventy times seven in a day, if their hearts are fully set to do right. Let us make it a point to pass over their weaknesses and say, "God bless you in trying to be better in time to come," and act as wise stewards in the kingdom of God. (Journal of Discourses, 8:368)
DC 98:42-43 if he trespass against thee the second time, and repent not, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him
"Though there are clearly some cases in which we should defend ourselves and our families, particularly when our lives are endangered, the Lord wants us to do all we can to preserve peace. In fact, the Book of Mormon tells us that when the Nephites began to seek vengeance, the Nephite army began to lose battles and was eventually destroyed.
"Even when disputes are solved peacefully, we may find it difficult to forgive those who have injured us. 'We are all prone to brood on the evil done us,' says President Gordon B. Hinckley. 'That brooding becomes a gnawing and destructive canker. Is there a virtue more in need of application in our time than the virtue of forgiving and forgetting?' he asks. (Be Thou An Example, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 49.)
"We must constantly strive to forgive those who persecute us; in fact, the Lord says that we should not only forgive those who persecute us, but also love and pray for them. (See Matt. 5:44; see also Luke 6:27-28, 35; 3 Ne. 12:44.)...
"A true follower of Christ does not simply 'turn the other cheek' unceasingly, but, when necessary, seeks reconciliation and solutions to problems peacefully, in genuine friendship. If we are unable to solve a particular problem ourselves, we may appeal to others to help us. Only when absolutely necessary should we defend ourselves by other than peaceful means." (Darrel B. Harker, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1989, 59-60)
Joseph F. Smith
It is a difficult matter, I am aware, for human nature to become subject to these scriptural injunctions. It is difficult for men to curb their passions, to restrain their feelings, and to resist the temptation to rebel and administer measure for measure, but it is enjoined upon us. We have been actually commanded in the revelations given to us in this dispensation to forgive our enemies, without their asking forgiveness. It is laid down that if your enemies come up against you to destroy you, the first time, if the Lord delivers you out of their hands, you shall forgive them; and if they come the second time, you shall forgive them; and if they come the third time against you, the Lord has said they are then in your hands to do with them whatsoever you will; but it will redound to your honor, credit and glory if you forgive them the third time, even if they have not repented and have not asked forgiveness. Now this may seem to be rather a difficult requirement; nevertheless it is so written and is so required of the Latter-day Saints. But how often shall we forgive them if they repent of their sins and ask forgiveness? Jesus has laid down the law that we should forgive them as often as they will repent and ask forgiveness. I am speaking now of individual trespasses; of people who offend me or you or trespass against us. (Journal of Discourses, 23:283)