Week 38: Doctrine and Covenants 102‒105

September 12, 2021

As the Church approached its fourth birthday, it had grown a great deal both in terms of size and complexity. Doctrine and Covenants sections 102 through 105 illustrate that complexity. They include organizational minutes for a high council, a revelation to organize the Camp of Israel to help the Saints driven from Jackson County, a revelation on helping the Church to meet temporal needs, and a revelation to dissolve the Camp of Israel after its members had proved themselves.

Doctrine and Covenants 102

The New Testament is made up of multiple kinds of materials, including four gospels or spiritual biographies of Christ, a history of the apostles’ ministry, many letters or epistles, and the revelation of John. The Doctrine and Covenants also varies in its content, including direct revelation, translation, instruction, declarations, and even the set of minutes that make up section 102.

When the Church was organized on April 6, 1830, with only six official members, there was no need for a complex organizational structure. But by mid-February 1834, there were thousands of baptized members, and it was time to add a high council to help the presidency of the stake in Kirtland. Section 102 is the organizational minutes of that high council.

For additional history on this section, click here.

Verse 2 explains, “The high council was appointed by revelation for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the church or the bishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties.” Much of the section provides details on how to do this.

One of the most important principles in this section appears in verse 23: “In case of difficulty respecting doctrine or principle, if there is not a sufficiency written to make the case clear to the minds of the council, the president may inquire and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation.” In other words, those responsible for decision-making can rely on revelation, especially when answers are not clear.

Doctrine and Covenants 103

The revelation that is now section 103 of the Doctrine and Covenants was received on February 24, 1834 “concerning the salvation and redemption of your brethren, who have been scattered on the land of Zion” (verse 1). Much of the revelation deals with Zion and why the Saints there experienced what they did.

But the revelation also repeated an important principle that the Savior taught during his earthly ministry. In Luke 9:24, the Lord declared to His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” During his translation of the New Testament, Joseph Smith had revised this verse to read, “For whosoever will save his life, must be willing to lose it for my sake; and whosoever will be willing to lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

Verses 27 and 28 of Doctrine and Covenants 103 commanded, “Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple.” The section then asked those who were willing to die for the Lord to organize into a group to rescue those in Zion.

In those days, the group that organized for this purpose was called the Camp of Israel. Today, we often call it Zion’s Camp.

For more history on this section, click here.

Doctrine and Covenants 104

As it does today, the Church in 1834 had a number of entities focused on the temporal aspects of the Lord’s work, such as the publication of scriptures and care for Church-owned property. In 1834, as the Church was dealing with temple building in Kirtland and the struggles of the Saints in Missouri, there was a need to reorganize the Church’s various temporal concerns. The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 104 was given for this purpose on April 23, 1834.

For more on the history of this section, click here.

Verses 17 and 18 provide key principles that still apply today about the importance of sharing the blessings God has given to us with others in need. “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare,” the Lord declared. “Yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.”

Doctrine and Covenants 105

On June 22, 1834, after leading the Camp of Israel (Zion’s Camp) to Missouri, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation that is now section 105, which disbanded the group before it achieved its ostensible purpose of restoring the Saints to their lands in Jackson County.

For more on the history of this section, click here.

The Lord, of course, knew from the beginning that the group would not fight. But He wanted Church members to demonstrate whether they were willing to lay down their lives for His cause. Those who were part of the Camp of Israel proved themselves and became the senior leaders of the Church for the remainder of the nineteenth century. See “The Calling of the Twelve Apostles and the Seventy in 1835.”

Credit for the image at top of the page: Stock photo from depositphotos.com.

Author: Richard E. Turley Jr.

Richard E. Turley Jr. served for twenty-two years as managing director of the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and eight years as Assistant Church Historian and Recorder. He also served as managing director of the Family History, Public Affairs, and Church Communication Departments.

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