DC 94 Historical Background
The saints were not interested in traditional American city-building. Whether in Kirtland, Missouri, or Nauvoo, they were building utopian societies with a divine mandate. As a result, we see the Church building the city of Kirtland with the temple as the focus and the Lord as the civil Architect. The Lord declared that the city must be built "according to the pattern which I have given unto you" (v. 2). This revelation not only designates the Church building committee, it also reveals the Lord's instructions on who is to live where-even though the saints will only be there for another 5 years. In the early days of the Church, we rarely see separation between church and state. In this revelation, we see no separation between church, state, and real estate (v. 13-14). All fell under the purview of the Church and its economic firm, the United Order. This is the divine pattern, and we should expect the same organization in the city of Enoch and the Millennial Zion.
"Building cities was like building temples: wherever Joseph lived, he prepared a plat. Hounded out of Kirtland, he planned Far West, Missouri. After Far west, Nauvoo was next, the only city he came near to completing. After Joseph's death, Mormons in the mountain West based the scores of towns they founded on the original plan for Zion." (Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, [New York: Random House, 2005], 221)
"Doctrine and Covenants 94 is not actually concerned with the Kirtland Temple. Rather, it gives instructions for two additional Church buildings, a Church administration building (see v. 3) and a printing office (see v. 10), to be located south of the proposed temple site. A letter from the first Presidency to Edward Partridge and the Saints in Zion clarifies the scope of the Lord's intended building projects. 'Having here given you two revelations [D&C 97 and 98], we accompany them with the following explanations: the revelation [D&C 94] respecting the two houses to be built in Kirtland in addition to the one we are now building [the Kirtland Temple]-one for the presidency and the other for the printing-is also binding upon you. That is, you at Zion have to build two houses as well as the one of which we have sent the pattern [the temple in Independence] and mentioned in the first revelation above written [D&C 97]. You are also, in addition to this one [that is, the temple], to build two others-one for the presidency and one for the printing.' Nevertheless, work on these additional two Church buildings, the administration building and the printing office, both in Kirtland and in Missouri, was not to begin until the Lord gave further specific commandments concerning them (see v. 16). There is currently no evidence that such further commandments were ever given, and these two supporting structures were never built. In response to the practical needs of the Church in Kirtland, the following year a smaller structure was built west of the temple which eventually housed both the School of the Elders and the printing office and also provided offices for Church leaders." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 3:198-199)
John A. Widstoe
Joseph Smith was conscious of the social needs of people. It was not enough that they were healthy in body or well-to-do economically. To be happy, they must be brought together under attractive conditions. So instead of the isolated farm, or the overgrown city, he proposed an ideal city conforming to the natural needs of man.
It is astonishing that this suggestion for city building came from an unlettered young man about twenty-six years of age, untrained in the world's way. But it was characteristic of Joseph Smith. Wherever he went, he blazed new paths. With fearlessness, in every quarter, he tried to improve existing conditions. He always brought light into dark places. He was daring and defended himself with the possession of truth.
He was not only a planner of buildings and cities, he was also a builder. From the beginning of his career he erected houses where the people could live or assemble to study or to hear God's word. That he could do this under constant persecution and much travel is a wonder.
In 1833, though the infant Church was exceedingly poor, preparations were made to build a temple in Kirtland, Ohio, then the headquarters of the Church. The Lord had so commanded. Four years later, on March 27, 1836, the building, notable for the time and place, was dedicated. It is still a see-worthy structure, and must have been a monument to the Church in early pioneer days. (Joseph Smith--Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951], 211)
DC 94:1 the stake of Zion, here in the land of Kirtland
The early saints were just learning about the concept of "stakes of Zion." Already, the center stake had been revealed-Jackson County, Missouri (D&C 57:3). Every other stake would be peripheral to the center stake (D&C 101:20-21). Such is still the case today-even with Salt Lake City as the headquarters of the Church-the Utah stakes have no more significance than any other stake in the Church. The redemption of Zion and its center stake still awaits us.
"Nine months after the Lord told the Saints to 'commence a work of laying out and preparing a beginning and foundation of the city of the stake of Zion' (D&C 94:1), the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Church's first stake in Kirtland, Ohio, on 17 February 1834. Over the next ten years, another eleven stakes were organized, including the large Nauvoo Stake, with up to twenty thousand members." (Lois Decker Brown, "News of the Church," Ensign, Feb. 1995, 76)
Ezra Taft Benson
The term stake is a symbolic expression. Picture in your mind a great tent held up by cords extended to many stakes that are firmly secured in the ground.
The prophets likened latter-day Zion to a great tent encompassing the earth. That tent was supported by cords fastened to stakes. Those stakes, of course, are various geographical organizations spread out over the earth. Presently, Israel is being gathered to the various stakes of Zion.
...the stakes of Zion are to be "for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth." Stakes are a defense for the Saints from enemies both seen and unseen. The defense is direction provided through priesthood channels that strengthens testimony and promotes family solidarity and individual righteousness. ("Strengthen Thy Stakes," Ensign, Jan. 1991, 2, 4)
DC 94:2 it must be done according to the pattern which I have given you
"The Saints were to be organized into a society that included the plan for the ideal city. It was expected that, when Zion's organization was properly developed and regulated, there would be a bishop to each municipal organization of from fifteen to twenty thousand people; but until then, the Prophet wrote, things must be arranged 'according to wisdom.' The more perfect plan would no doubt have to await the establishment of the full program of consecration and stewardship. Students interested in the Prophet's views on city organization have noted the uniqueness and the originality of his plan. Here again he drew upon a heavenly source for that which he endeavored to develop on the earth. Several cities were to be built up according to the essential outline of the plan shown to the Prophet, including Kirtland, Ohio, and Independence, Missouri. In May, 1833, a revelation commanded the Saints to establish the 'foundation of the city of the stake of Zion, here in the land of Kirtland, . . . according to the pattern which I have given unto you.' In reporting the proceedings of the conference held April 6, 1837, Wilford Woodruff threw further light on the origin of this plan. Said he of the Prophet's activities at that conference:
"He also presented us in some degree with the plot of the city of Kirtland, which is the stronghold of the Daughter of Zion. The plan which he presented was given to him by vision, and the future will prove that the visions of Joseph concerning Jackson County, all the various stakes of Zion and of the redemption of Israel will be fulfilled in the time appointed of the Lord." (Hyrum L. Andrus, Joseph Smith, the Man and the Seer [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1960], 107)
When the Lord commanded this people to build a house in the land of Kirtland, in the early rise of this church, he gave them the pattern by vision from heaven, and commanded them to build that house according to that pattern and order; to have the architecture, not in accordance with architecture devised by men, but to have every thing constructed in that house according to the heavenly pattern that he by his voice had inspired to his servants. When this was complied with did the Lord accept that house? Yes! They having complied with the order and built the house according to the pattern, the Lord condescended to grace that house with his presence. In that house the veil was taken away from the eyes of many of the servants of God and they beheld his glory. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 14: 274.)
DC 94:3-7 a house for the presidency
"What was the 'house for the presidency'? Was it the Kirtland Temple?
"At the heart of the city of Kirtland were to be the temple and two other sacred buildings. On the first lot south of the temple was to be a house for the presidency, and on the second lot was to be a house for the publication of God's word (see D&C 94:3, 10). All three of these buildings were to have the same dimensions (compare vv. 4, 11 with 95:15).
"The latter two structures-the buildings for the presidency and the press-were not to be built until the Lord gave further instruction (see D&C 94:16). This direction was not given before the Saints were forced to flee from Kirtland. On the other hand, less than a month after Doctrine and Covenants 94 had been received, the Lord did give further instruction concerning the design and building of his temple (see D&C 95:8-17). Within a few weeks of these revelations the Prophet drew up his plat for the city of Zion, in which he called for not three but twenty-four sacred structures to serve as 'houses of worship, schools, etc.' at the city's center (History of the Church, 1:358)." (Richard O. Cowan, Answers to Your Questions About the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 117)
DC 94:8-9 ye shall not suffer any unclean thing to come in unto it
Certainly, we recognize this counsel as applying to the Lord's temples (D&C 97:15-17), but the Lord is applying this mandate to the surrounding buildings-even the building for the printing press. Were these buildings so special that they should not be defiled? The principle is that we should not allow anything unclean to come into our temples, administrative buildings, chapels, or homes-all should be holy and clean. The issue is that the Lord is trying to build a city wherein all things are holy and dedicated unto him-a city where He can walk and talk with his saints, where He is not made uncomfortable by desecrated edifices. This is according to the "order of the priesthood, according to the pattern" of celestial cities. The saints may never have built the buildings; they may never have attained the perfection the Lord was seeking; but the principle teaches of us his pattern. The pattern will be repeated in the Millennium according to the scriptures.
"Here is the standing promise to the Saints. When we cease to believe that the Gospel is merely a spiritual romance or just a beautiful philosophy, when we begin to believe in the practical application of God's power to man's life and begin to develop that divine power in our lives, then, as Isaiah bears testimony,
...the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night.... (Isaiah 4:5.)
"...to live in a place where the Spirit of the Lord was so concentrated that upon every dwelling place this divine power of intelligence was visible as a cloud and a pillar of fire to the inhabitants of the earth? I am sure that many of us have at some time in our lives experienced a marvelous spiritual experience where the Spirit of the Lord has lifted us... But if the Spirit of the Lord on such occasions as we may have experienced has been so manifest that the world has lost its charms and its vanities, and we have felt the inexpressible peace of God, just think how joyful it would be to dwell where God's glory was so concentrated that it was visibly manifest upon each dwelling place in Zion. Every sanctified home in Zion and all of Zion's assemblies are to be glorified by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night." (Hyrum L. Andrus, The Glory of God and Man's Relation to Deity [Provo: BYU Extension Publications, 1964], 13-14.)
God will not dwell in the midst of a people who will not sanctify themselves before him. That is the reason why he withdrew his presence from ancient Israel. Moses sought diligently to sanctify that numerous people and to bring them into subjection to the law of God; he endeavored to teach them the higher Gospel ordinances and law, which would have exalted them into the celestial kingdom of God, but he could not do it; they were a hard-hearted, stiffnecked people and they would not give heed to his words or to the words of the Lord; and in the absence of Moses they made to themselves a golden calf and worshipped it as the God who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt. If we follow in the same track and make to ourselves golden gods, and heap up the treasures of the earth and worship and think more of them than of the laws of heaven, we may fall under the same example of unbelief and transgression, and under the same judgment that came upon ancient Israel...
It is to be hoped that there will be nothing of this kind among the armies of Israel in the latter days. We have the promise of the Almighty, and I hope that it will never be revoked, that "I say not unto you as I said to your fathers, my angel shall go before you, but not my presence, but I say unto you that my angel shall go before you and also my presence."... I expect that when the Lord leads forth his people to build up the city of Zion, his presence will be visible. When we speak of the presence of the Lord we speak of an exhibition of power. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 15: 364)
DC 94:10-12 a house... for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures
"That July the Church received word that a printing press being used by the Saints in Missouri had been destroyed. The Prophet reacted by saying, 'Another printing office must be built.' Subsequently, in a revelation given August 2, 1833, (referring to D&C 94-based on early records, some have dated D&C 94 in August 1833 rather than May 6 as listed in the section heading) the Lord commanded that a building be constructed for a printing press: 'The second lot . . . shall be dedicated unto me for the building of a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures, and all things whatsoever I shall command you.' (D&C 94:10.) The revelation also directed that a 'house for the Presidency' be built. (D&C 94:3.) The latter was never built, but on October 10, a decision was made to build one building for multiple purposes: to house both the First Presidency's office and a printing press, as well as provide space for the School of the Prophets and other meetings.
"On October 1, Oliver Cowdery left for New York with eight hundred dollars to purchase another printing press. When he returned to Kirtland with a press and other equipment in December, a temporary printing office was established in the John Johnson inn. He wrote to William W. Phelps and John Whitmer on January 21, 1834, that 'our office is yet in the brick building, though we expect in the spring to move on the hill near the Methodist-Meeting house.' This move was not completed until the latter part of November 1834. The printing operation, which was named the 'Literary Firm,' printed a number of books and publications during the four years it operated." (Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith's Kirtland [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 122 - 123)
DC 94:13-15 Hyrum Smith... Reynolds Cahoon and Jared Carter... to be a committee to build mine houses
This building committee of Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter were assigned the task of raising funds for the Kirtland temple and the two other buildings mentioned in section 94. They were successful in raising funds sufficient for building the Kirtland temple but not the other two. The History of the Church includes their letter of appeal to the saints:
Kirtland, June 1, 1833.
To the Church of Christ in-
We feel under obligations to write to you as well as to all the brethren of the different branches; and we do this, that you, with us, may exert yourselves to bring about the fulfilment of the command of the Lord concerning the establishing, or preparing a house, wherein the Elders who have been commanded of the Lord so to do, may gather themselves together, and prepare all things, and call a solemn assembly, and treasure up words of wisdom, that they may go forth to the Gentiles for the last time; and now, in order to accomplish this, we are directed, yea, we are under the necessity, to call upon the whole Church as a body, that they make every possible exertion to aid temporally, as well as spiritually, in this great work that the Lord is beginning...
Therefore, brethren, we write this epistle to you, to stir up your minds to make that exertion which the Lord requires of you, to lend a temporal aid in these things above written; and in order that you may know how to conduct the business, we will relate what we have done and are doing here.
We have met in conference, and agreed to form a subscription, and circulate it through the churches. The conference also appointed Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter, a committee to superintend this business, viz: that of circulating subscriptions to establish a fund to build a house, and to aid the Elders to attend this school. The subscriptions are now in circulation among us, and our Heavenly Father is opening the hearts of our brethren beyond the expectation of many; and not one brother among us, as yet, refuses to exert himself to do something in a temporal way to bring about the establishing of this house and school; and we say, may our Heavenly Father open your hearts also, that you, with us, may gather together something to aid as a temporal benefit...
These considerations we have written to you, knowing it to be our duty thus to do, and may the Lord help you to exert yourselves with us, in raising the means to bring about the glorious work of the Lord; and may we all be kept by the grace of God unto eternal life. Amen.
(History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 1: 349-350.)
DC 94:16 These two houses are not to be built until I give unto you a commandment
Section 94 is concerned primarily with building an administration building and printing press adjacent to the anticipated Kirtland Temple. Yet, the Brethren were not to make either structure until they received further commandment. For whatever reason, perhaps because of the rising debt associated with building the temple itself, the command to begin construction never came. Out of necessity, the saints built a smaller structure meant to perform the functions of a press and a school. Space for an administrative office was available in this smaller house as well as the Kirtland temple itself.
"The anticipated command to build [these houses] never came. Because of the immediate need for a building to house the press, after 20 June and the continuing need for a facility for the school, workers were drawn away from the temple construction. A 30 x 38 foot structure was completed in November 1834. It was located just west of the temple, with the main floor serving as the school, and the second to house the press. Rooms on both levels as well as the attic were used by the Presidency and others as offices." (Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: Missouri [Provo: Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1994], 317, see footnote 14)