Sunday, February 14, 2021

February 8-14: D&C 11-13

This week's lesson uses the revelation to Joseph Knight Sr. (D&C 12) as an example of how we all have opportunities and responsibilities "to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion" (D&C 12:6.  

The lesson poses these questions: What does it mean to you “to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion”? (verse 6). How do the principles and attributes in verses 7–9 help you do this?

One way to bring forth Zion is to talk about it and live its principles. That's why I have the "how to Zion" blog, here:


The phrase "cause of Zion" appears only four times in the scriptures, all in the D&C. 

D&C 6:6, directed to Oliver Cowdery.

D&C 11:6, directed to Hyrum Smith.

D&C 12:6, directed to Joseph Knight Sr.

D&C 21:7, describing Joseph Smith "For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard."

We can ask, what is the "cause of Zion" in this context? 

The phrase "cause of Zion" suggests the cause of the Restoration. D&C 6, 11 and 12 were given before the Book of Mormon was completely translated. D&C 21 was given on April 6, 1830, in connection with the organization of the Church.

Earlier Christian writers had used the phrase. For example, the phrase "cause of Zion" appears three times in a sermon given by Samuel West, the pastor of the church in Dartmouth, the largest town near Joseph's early home in Vermont. The sermon was published in Boston in 1778, and presumably people in the area of Dartmouth would have been familiar with it. 

After quoting Isaiah 66:9, West wrote, "i. e. As I have so wonderfully brought forth a people to maintain the cause of Zion against her enemies, can you think that I will stay my hand, and not continue to raise up persons to defend her, till her deliverance is compleated [sic].... 

I will now close this Appendix, by asking whether the 66 th chap. of Isaiah, may not be illustrated by compairing it with the 4 th chapter of Micah, the first five verses of which are evidently a prophecy of the glorious state of the Church of Christ in the latter days, in the 6 th verse it is added, in that day i. e. at the time when God shall be about to establish the glorious state of the church..."*

In this sense, Christians everywhere can view Oliver, Hyrum, Joseph Knight, and Joseph Smith as among those persons raised up to defend Zion.


As the lesson manual explains, Joseph Knight Sr. and his wife were helpful supporters of Joseph Smith's translation work. Here's a link for more information:

We visited his house a few years ago and I took a drone photo of the Knight home next to the Susquehanna River. Upstream, and across the river, is the home of Josiah Stowell, the man who hired Joseph and his father to work in the area of Harmony, Pennsylvania. 

They boarded at the home of Isaac Hale, which is how Joseph met Emma Hale. 

The Joseph Knight and Josiah Stowell homes have been purchased by Latter-day Saints who make the sites available for visits (subject to COVID restrictions).
These sites are about 20 miles upstream from Harmony, which is now called the Priesthood Restoration site on most maps. (The village of Harmony is no longer in existence. The location of the Hale home is now in Oakland Township. If you search for Harmony, PA, on a map, it will take you to a different Harmony north of Pittsburgh. There are actually three townships in Pennsylvania named "Harmony," each in a separate county, so it can be confusing.)

A barn across the road from the Joseph Knight home was the site of the original Colesville branch. Hyrum Smith presided there for five months beginning in October 1830.

These are fascinating places to visit. We're very grateful to the faithful Latter-day Saints who have preserved these historic sites.


The lesson also mentions D&C 13:1 with some helpful references. But as far as I could tell, none of those references discuss the last part of the verse which has generated multiple interpretations: "this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness."

One I heard just this week is the claim that literal Levite priests must offer an animal sacrifice in Jerusalem to fulfill this verse. This is apparently based on Doctrines of Salvation, Vol 3, p. 96, which says, "Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored." 

Maybe so.

Another interpretation comes from the askgramps site.

Finally, the words of John the Baptist leave us with an enticing question. What does he mean when he says the priesthood will not be taken from the earth until the sons of Levi offer an offering in righteousness? We immediately think of Aaronic Priesthood offerings in John’s time, which would have involved animal sacrifices. We wonder, will the Aaronic Priesthood eventually be taken from the earth? If animal sacrifice ended with the shedding of the Savior’s blood which it symbolized, what will the offering be?

In the Bible, the sons of Levi included Moses and his brother, Aaron.  D&C 84:31 and 34 tell us that the modern sons of Levi are those who hold the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods. What is the offering they will offer? Joseph Smith answers this question in D&C 128:24,

 … [A]nd he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.

The vast genealogical work of the Church, under the direction of the Priesthood, is the book containing the records of our dead, to be presented to the Lord as an offering when He returns. If this work was not underway when He returns, the earth would be smitten with a curse (See Malachi 4:6). This work will continue throughout the Millennium, thus the work of the Aaronic Priesthood will continue right up until the end of the thousand years, when its mission will be fulfilled as a preparatory priesthood and a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (D&C 84:26,Galatians 3:24).

There are probably additional interpretations you can find (or come up with), but the verse refers to a time when the Aaronic priesthood will be taken from the earth. That implies it will be superseded, presumably by a more universal Melchizedek priesthood. 

* I have a copy of this sermon if anyone would like it. Just email me at with "Samuel West sermon" in the subject line.

Full Reference: An anniversary sermon, preached at Plymouth, December 22 d, 1777. In grateful memory of the first landing of our pious New-England ancesters [sic] in that place, A.D. 1620. / By Samuel West, A.M. Pastor of the church in Dartmouth. ; [Eight lines of Scripture texts]
West, Samuel, 1731–1807.
79, [1] p. ; 20 cm. (4 to)
Printed, by Draper and Folsom, at their printing-office, at the corner of Winter-Street.,
Boston: :

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