Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants combines two revelations, the first received on December 27 and 28, 1832, and the second on January 3, 1833, both in Kirtland, Ohio. Coming as they did after the revelation on war, they helped to advocate peace in difficult times. That may be why Joseph Smith referred to the first as an “olive leaf . . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord’s message of peace to us.” Collectively, the revelations show that we can have peace in this life despite all that swirls around us.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–126
The first revelation, given on December 27 and 28, 1832, came in response to the prayers offered up by priesthood holders at a conference in Kirtland. In this revelation, the Lord instructed the members of the Church in their duties and in doctrine.
Just as the Savior promised another Comforter to His disciples following His crucifixion (John 14:16), the Lord in this revelation also promised another Comforter to His disciples in the latter days. This Comforter, He said, was “the Holy Spirit of promise; . . . the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John. This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom; which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son.” (Verses 3–5.)
In other words, no matter what else happened to them, the disciples had the sure promise of eternal life in the celestial kingdom if they lived worthy lives and had the Spirit’s seal. That promise brought peace and comfort.
The Light of Christ
Section 88 also talks about “the light of Christ.” This light is “in all and through all things, the light of truth.” It “is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.” It is also “in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made,” “the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made,” and “the earth also, and the power thereof.” This light “is the same light that quickeneth your understandings” and “proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.” It “is in all things, . . . giveth life to all things, . . . is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.” (Verses 6–13.)
In other words, this light permeates the universe and makes God’s influence felt everywhere.
Resurrection and Redemption
Because of Christ’s atonement (“the redemption which is made for you”), the resurrection will take place, defined as the reuniting of “the spirit and the body,” which together make up “the soul of man.” Because of that redemption, “the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.” (Verses 14–17.)
Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial Glory
After the earth has “filled the measure of its creation,” it will die, “be quickened again,” and be “sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory” and “shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father.” The sanctified, resurrected righteous inherit this renewed earth as the celestial kingdom because they can abide by its law. (Verses 18–20, 25–26.)
Those who do not merit a celestial glory and cannot abide its law instead inherit a terrestrial or telestial glory, according to what they can abide, with some (the sons of perdition) having to “abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.” (Verses 21–24, 27–33.)
Laws, Bounds, and Conditions
Section 88 points out the importance of eternal laws. “All kingdoms have a law given” (verse 36). “There are many kingdoms” and “no space in the which there is no kingdom” (verse 37). “That which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same” (verse 34). Anyone who can’t live the laws of a kingdom cannot reside there (verse 35). God has “given a law unto all things, by which they move” (verse 42).
Ponder, Pray, and Prepare to See God
Having taught these doctrines to the recipients of section 88, the Lord then gives them duties to perform. They are to take what He has told them, “ponder” it “in your hearts,” and pray for understanding (verses 62–63). God will then give them whatever “is expedient for you” (verse 64). If they sanctify themselves fully, “you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (verse 68).
Call a Solemn Assembly
He commanded them to sanctify themselves “and call a solemn assembly” (verses 69–70). In preparation for this assembly, they were to “purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean” (verse 74), “clean from the blood of this wicked generation” (verse 75). They were then to pray, fast, and teach each other “the doctrine of the kingdom” in preparation for “the mission with which I have commissioned you ” (verses 76–80).
Testify and Warn
That mission was to go out “to testify and warn the people,” that they may be “left without excuse” (verses 81–83). They were “to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, . . . to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, . . . to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come” and “the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked” (verses 84 – 85).
Wrath and Indignation
“After your testimony,” the Lord said, “cometh wrath and indignation upon the people” in the form of earthquakes, storms, and waves (verses 86–90). “And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people” (verse 91). And for good reason. The Lord will come with his holy angels, the wicked will fall, and vengeance will come on those who persecuted the Saints of God (verses 92–94).
The First Resurrection
Then will come the first resurrection. “The face of the Lord shall be unveiled.” Then “the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.” The righteous dead “shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven.” Next will come “the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh.” (Verses 95–99.)
The Last Resurrection
The rest of the dead will not come forth until after the Millennium and “the end of the earth.” Unlike the righteous who reign with Christ on earth, those who remain in their graves “until that great and last day, even the end, . . . shall remain filthy still.” (Verses 100–102.)
Restoration, Millennium, and End of the World
Before these things, the “the everlasting gospel” shall go to “all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” (verse 103). Eventually, “every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” when “the hour of his [Christ’s] judgment is come” (verse 104).
During the Millennium, “Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years” (verse 110). At the end of the Millennium, “he shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies. And Michael, . . . even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven. And the devil shall gather together his armies; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies. And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all. For Michael shall fight their battles, and shall overcome him who seeketh the throne of him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb.” (Verses 111–115.) The sanctified shall then “not any more see death” (verse 116).
The House of the Lord
In preparation for all this, the Saints were to call a solemn assembly, as He commanded them, teach each other, sanctify themselves, and build a temple, “a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (Verses 117–126.) This is the commandment that led to the building of the Kirtland temple.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:127–137
The second revelation found in section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants was given on January 3, 1833, in Kirtland. To prepare themselves for their upcoming missions after the building of the Lord’s house and the solemn assembly, the saints where to have a “school of the prophets.” This school was to be established in such a way that those attending it felt they were entering “the house of God.” Each member would be greeted by the teacher “in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant.” None were to be accepted “into this school save he is clean from the blood of this generation” with ordinances described in the revelation.