The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has four books of scriptures: The Holy Bible (KJT), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Today, I’d like to talk about the Doctrine and Covenants. From the title page we read:
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. Although most of the sections are directed to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the messages, warnings, and exhortations are for the benefit of all mankind, and contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation.
Most of the revelations in this compilation were received through Joseph Smith, Jun., the first prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Others were issued through some of his successors in the Presidency. (See headings to Sections 135, 136, and 138, and Official Declarations 1 and 2.)
Jesus Christ, Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Messiah of the New Testament, has been in communication with His prophets since Adam. The Old and New Testament prove this. What has been interesting, is that somehow certain members of the human race at one point, and I’m not going to point fingers, decided God was no longer communicating with mankind and that was that.
That wasn’t that . . . God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8, 1 Nephi 10:18-19). Because of this, reason dictates that He has continued to speak to His prophets until this very day. This is wonderful and should be cause for great rejoicing.
In the Doctrine & Covenants there are so many wonderful scriptures, but there is a passage that speaks so clearly and deeply to my heart. Joseph Smith, Jr. was persecuted from 1820 to 1838 when his life was brutally and viciously taken by a mob with their faces painted black.
Prior to that dark day, the Saints had been driven from state to state by their persecutors. They were robbed, raped, tarred and feathered, and murdered . . . there was no action too vile for those who drove the Saints from their homes over and over again.
When the Saints gathered in Missouri it was not long before they became a powerful voting block, more powerful than any other voting block in the state. There are many reasons why the Missouri atrocities occurred, but this is one of the main ones: greed.
Missouri was the last state admitted into the union that was a slave state. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vehemently opposed slavery and its members were very vocal about it. The largest land and slave owner of the state of Missouri was the infamous Governor Lilburn Williams Boggs. It was he who issued the Extermination Order on the 27th of October in 1838.
Headquarters of the Militia
City of Jefferson, October 27, 1838
Gen. John B. Clark.
Since the order of this morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Rees, Esq. of Ray county and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State.
Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operations with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary, for the public peace-their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you may consider necessary.
I have just issued orders to Maj. Gen. Willock of Marion county, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of Daviess, and there unite with General Doniphan, of Clay, who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north.
They have been directed to communicate with you by express, you can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead, therefore, of proceeding as at first directed to reinstate the citizens in their homes, you will proceed immediately to Richmond and then operate against the Mormons.
Brig. Gen. Parks of Ray, has been ordered to have four hundred of his Brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The whole force will be placed under your command.
I am very respectfully,
Your Ob’t Serv’t,
L. W. BOGGS, Commander-in-Chief.
This heinous letter has been nick named “The Mormon Extermination Order”. It began the wholesale slaughter of Mormons in every community across the state of Missouri. Many fled into the cold wintry night and crossed the frozen Mississippi with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
As mobs roamed the countryside Joseph Smith, Jr. determined that the only way to stop this was to surrender himself to the authorities. It was really him they wanted and so he, Hyrum Smith (his brother), Parley P. Pratt and a few others surrendered. It didn’t stop the massacres, the rapes, the plundering, but by the time Joseph escaped from jail six months later, there wasn’t a Latter-day Saint left in Missouri. The extermination order had done it’s job.
During his long and painful sojourn in Liberty Jail Joseph wrote:
1 O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?
4 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.
5 Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy sword avenge us of our wrongs.
6 Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever. (D&C 121:1-6)
How often have we pled unto God the Father, “O God, where art thou”? Joseph Smith suffered so much because he would not deny that he’d seen Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He refused to deny it even when mobs tarred and feathered him, tried to force poison down his throat, and left him in a field to die . . . he still would not deny Jesus Christ.
We look around at our lives, and sometimes see the ruin we have made of this gift we call mortality. Sometimes our lives are so wracked with pain, torture and suffering, that some wonder if there even is a God.
I pledge to you, He hears your cries. God is there and watching over you. Sometimes it is years or decades before we see the hand of God in things. Sometimes it seems as if we are given more than we can bear.
The Lord did answer Joseph’s plea, “Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.” (D&C 121:10)
When life gets dark and it seems as if you cannot go on . . . that is when you open your eyes and recognize the hand of God in every aspect of your lives. Friends, family, majestic mountains, beautiful lakes, gorgeous flowers, health . . . God and His angels. His loving touch is all around us, if we will but open our eyes and see. You are never alone and I promise you, this trial too shall pass. Pray and pray often . . . listen . . . and then act.