Sunday, April 18, 2021

April 12-18: D&C 37-40


Section 37 alludes to the translation of the Book of Moses. 

1 Behold, I say unto you that it is not expedient in me that ye should translate any more until ye shall go to the Ohio, and this because of the enemy and for your sakes.

(Doctrine and Covenants 37:1)

The lesson explains:

When Joseph received the revelation recorded in section 37, he had completed a few chapters of the book of Genesis and had just learned about Enoch and his city of Zion (see Genesis 5:18–24; Moses 7). Some of the principles the Lord taught Enoch are similar to those He revealed in section 38.

Section 38 begins by referring to the creation and the Zion of Enoch.

1 Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;

2 The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;

3 I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.

4 I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.

(Doctrine and Covenants 38:1–4)

Joseph dictated the Book of Moses chapters 1-7 from June through December 1830 while he was still living in western New York, but there is little information about the source. People have long assumed it was purely a revelation, partly because of the comment inserted by Willard Richards, "Given by revelation to Joseph Smith, Jr.," which you can see here:

Chapter 7 of Moses was first published in The Evening and the Morning Star in August, 1832.

Regarding the origin of the Enoch material in the Book of Moses, we can refer to what Moroni said in Ether.

3 And as I suppose that the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower, and whatsoever things transpired among the children of men until that time, is had among the Jews—

4 Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time; but they are had upon the plates; and whoso findeth them, the same will have power that he may get the full account(Ether 1:3–4)

This suggests Joseph may have obtained "the full account" of the creation of Adam and the ensuing history from the plates. Oliver Cowdery explained that he and Joseph visited the repository of Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah in New York multiple times. Neither he nor Joseph explained much detail about these visits, but some think Joseph may have translated at least part of the Book of Moses from the plates in the repository, as Moroni told him he could.

The reality of a Zion society appeals to everyone in the world, but no one knows where to find it. The Lord revealed the key principles to Joseph Smith and offered to make it possible, but only if we "seek it with all our hearts." 

D&C 38, which discusses the "Zion of Enoch," was given to Joseph in Fayette, New York, but it refers to the imminent gathering to Ohio. Verse 32 "for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high."

The section also invokes the example of the Nephites in verse 39. "And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old."

Many of we Latter-day Saints who still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah also think the Nephite Zion of 4th Nephi was established in "the Ohio." It's interesting to consider the parallels. We could say this is a chiastic structure of time and place. 

We've previously discussed how the last place where true prophets lived on Earth (Mormon and Moroni at Cumorah in New York) became the first place where a new prophet was called (Joseph Smith near Cumorah in New York).

Now we see that the last place on earth to experience a Zion society (Ohio, per 4 Nephi) is the first place where the Zion society was restored (Ohio, per D&C 38).

That's all interesting, but what about today?


So far, neither the Latter-day Saints nor the people of the world generally have sought Zion "with all our hearts." We love the idea, but we want everyone else to do it. If we sought Zion with all our hearts, we would heed the Lord's direction, which he emphasized here:

24 And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me.

25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.

(Doctrine and Covenants 38:24–25)

People have all kinds of rationalizations to justify their behavior. We can each measure ourselves by King Benjamin's address.

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
(Mosiah 4:16–18)

Because we have no statistics on Latter-day Saints specifically, we can look for proxies. The state with the highest proportion of Latter-day Saints also has the least income inequality in the United States.

That's a remarkable statistic, but the difference between Utah and the next least-unequal state, Alaska, is not that much. 

It could be that inequality among the Latter-day Saints is evident in these statistics. Thanks to the Church's program of Fast Offerings and assistance to people in need, income inequality among Latter-day Saints is probably much less than the statistics for Utah show.

I've seen the Church's programs operate in many countries around the world. Among Latter-day Saints everywhere, income inequality is undoubtedly lower than among non-Latter-day Saints.

Nevertheless, we could do better. We seek our own prosperity and do not share our wealth equally. In the midst of poverty, homelessness, and hunger, people build mansions and accumulate real estate, investments, cars, boats, and other toys. "Utah has the highest average home size in the United States, at 2,305 square feet. Utah also boasts a whopping median of four bedrooms for the typical real estate listing."

That may be attributed to the relatively large family sizes in Utah, but while there are enormous mansions in Utah, there remain homeless people. Utah ranks #30 among the states for the highest rate of homelessness.

We are all distracted by "pride and the cares of the world."
(Doctrine and Covenants 39:9)

The Lord's parable is devastating when we consider it in light of our behavior as Saints.

26 For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.
(Doctrine and Covenants 38:26–27)

Still, the promises remain if we ever decide to seek Zion with all our hearts.

16 And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons.

17 And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it.

18 And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh;

19 And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts.

(Doctrine and Covenants 38:16–19)

The Church has several programs to motivate the Saints to seek for Zion. The self-reliance program alone could do much to bring forth Zion if everyone participated and incorporated the lessons in their lives. The Pathway program can help bring forth Zion by elevating the educational level and talents of Latter-day Saints everywhere in the world.

But ultimately, it's the responsibility of each individual member to seek Zion in our own lives and in our own ways.

As the lesson notes,

The need to gather to Ohio has long since passed, but Saints today still unite around the same cause, the same work: to “bring forth Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:13). Like those early Saints, we forsake “the cares of the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 40:2) because we trust the Lord’s promise: “You shall receive … a blessing so great as you never have known” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:10).

My blog on Zion,, discusses various ways in which we, in our day, can help to establish Zion.

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