In January of 1847, just a few years after the succession crisis, Brigham Young and his associates crafted a revelation that gave his followers directions on how to migrate west.
It was a somewhat eclectic revelation employing good old fashion common sense and morality, mingled with Old Testament lingo, referring to the saints as the “Camp of Israel“.
That phrase is used about six times in the Old Testament. It was used in Exodus when God’s people were Journeying from Egypt to the promised land.
Interestingly, the saints of the restoration were doing just the opposite. They were leaving the promised land and going into the wilderness of Utah.
The revelation began by claiming to be-
“The word and will of the Lord concerning the Comp of Israel in their Journeyings to the West”
One of the themes of the revelation had to do with being honest and fair with each other and returning borrowed things that did not belong to you.
One proclamation that had particular significance to those involved in the secret polygamy brotherhood was “covet not that which is thy brothers..”. A few of them had already learned hard lessons in Nauvoo regarding that little temptation.
At times the revelation read as if it was a group petition or agreement being offered up to the Lord-
“And this shall be our covenant, that we will walk in the ordinances of the Lord..”
At other times the text sounded as if the Lord himself was speaking directly to the people.
“I am the Lord your God, even the God of you fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. I am he who led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.”
Even though the majority of the revelation was directed at common sense directives about the migratioin, it takes on a prophetic tone in parts in which the following proclamations and assurances were given
“Go thy way and do as I have told you, and fear not thine enemies; for they shall not have power to stop my work.
Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time..
..My people must be tried in all things, (compare with D&C 101:4-5) that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom..
..For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly.
Thy brethren have rejected you and your testimony, even the nation that has driven you out;
And now cometh the day of their calamity, even the days of sorrow, like a woman that is taken in travail; and their sorrow shall be great unless they speedily repent, yea, very speedily.
For they killed the prophets, and them that were sent unto them; and they have shed innocent blood, which crieth from the ground against them.
According to the revelation, the saints were going to temporarily go to “a land of peace“. With the context already given in revelation, the saints would only be in this land of peace until it was time for Zion to be redeemed. Following that, the saints would return from the wilderness of Utah to the Land of Zion which had been designated as the land where the gathering would take place by the Lord.
For the next 30 years Brigham Young would continually remind the saints that they would eventually return to Missouri to build up the land of Zion from which they had fled.
Sometime between the death of Brigham Young and the present, the “land of peace” in the Salt Lake Valley that the saints had fled to from Zion, mystically became Zion and future generations of Mormons would grow up thinking that the Wasatch front was Zion.
With this reversal, new converts of the church were indoctrinated to believe that the that they were actually gathering to the land of Zion in Utah. Eventually the concept of needing to gather to any particular place in the world was expunged from church doctrine. The new belief among many Mormons was that any stake of Zion anywhere in the world was Zion and that there was no need to gather in the future. Zion had now mystically become any place where a group of saints were.
One of the reasons that Brigham Young allowed the building of the Salt Lake Temple to take so long is because he did not really expect or necessarily want it to be completed before the saints returned to Missouri. The building of the temple simply provided a worthy cause for people to focus on in the meantime.
The revelation that Brigham produced in Winter Quarters no doubt encouraged the saints and undoubtedly led them to believe that the revelatory mantle that Joseph Smith had enjoyed had now fallen on Brigham, similar to how the mantled of Elijah had been transferred to Elisha.
Interestingly, Brigham Young would never canonize another thus sayeth the Lord revelation that came through him for the remainder of his life.
Nonetheless, this article will contend that Brigham Young, with the help and support of some of his brethren, including Orson Pratt, was instrumental in canonizing an astounding number of revelatory messages just before he died.
Whether or not Brigham and his brethren fully understood the full significance of the revelatory insertions or whether they did so unwittingly through the providence of God, I will leave up to the reader to determine.
The year was 1876 and the latest version of the Doctrine and Covenants was to be published. The changes that had been made were done by Orson Pratt under the direction of President Young.
Again, it is not clear who all the players were that were involved and what their agendas were.
I also want to make it clear that some of the “revlelations” that were inserted, are of questionable credibilty and they were obviously included with the intent to do replace some of the true doctrines of the restoration with heretical one.
Nevertheless, the purpose of this post is to focus on the truly revelatory insertions.
Again, although Brigham Young did not have any revelations to insert that he had personally received, he did commission Orson Pratt to canonize 26 revelations that would be new entries to the Doctrine and Covenants.
Oddly enough, virtually all of these revelations and/or historical events or teachings of Joseph Smith which were being repurposed as “revelations”, had emerged during Josephs life. They all involved Joseph Smith and all could have been included in the Doctrine and Covenants by Joseph Smith had he wanted to include them.
I don’t point that out to suggest that the content wasn’t worthy of canonization, I believe overwhelmingly that most of it probably was, although there was no “thus sayeth the Lord” commandment to canonize these revelations.
I mention these things to alert the reader to the fact that certain truly revelatory things pertaining to church history that were to be hidden during Joseph’s 15 year public ministry, were now ordained to be brought to light and added to the official canon of scripture for future generations to deconstruct.
I am going to suggest that Joseph Smith intentionally did not canonize certain revelations even though he possibly expected them to be canonized in the future. I speculate that he did this because certain things were to remain hidden, probably at the bequest of God.
Many of revelations added to the Doctrine and Covenants under the direction of Brigham Young, had been published in Joseph Smith’s history Among them were: 87, 108, 111, 114, 115, 117, 118, 120, 125, 126, and 132 [D&C 87; D&C 108; D&C 111; D&C 114; D&C 115; D&C 117–118; D&C 120; D&C 125–126; D&C 132].
Sections 116, 129, 130, and 131 [D&C 116; D&C 129–131] were inspired statements by Joseph Smith.
Section 85, 121, and 123 [D&C 85; D&C 121–123] are extracts of letters he had written to people. .
Sections 2 and 13 [D&C 2; D&C 13] contain significant historical events.
Sections 77 and 113 [D&C 77; D&C 113] include interpretations of scripture by Joseph Smith;
Section 109 [D&C 109] was the dedication prayer for the Kirtland Temple and section 110 [D&C 110] recorded the visit of the heavenly beings who appeared in the temple 3 April 1836; section 136 [D&C 136] is the revelation we just covered produced by Brigham Young at Winter Quarters. .
(see https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1984/12/the-story-of-the-doctrine-and-covenants?lang=eng )
Was Brigham Young Inspired?
Few believers in the restoration have been more critical of Brigham Young’s revelatory abilities than me.
I have always given Brigham high marks for being a great organizer and a great BSer. I think he had a strong enough personality to accomplish his many colonizing achievements.
However, I have always maintained that he did not have the same revelatory relationship with God that Joseph Smith had enjoyed during the Kirtland years.
In this post I am going to suggest that embedded in the 26 revelations canonized under the direction of Brigham Young just prior to his death was a sequence of revelations that has greatly helped to unlock the true history of Mormonism to those of us that have been parsing through church history.
Because of this, the revelatory contribution of Brigham Young is difficult to marginalize.
I must admit that if Brigham Young had not canonized several of these revelations, it would have been virtually impossible to use modern revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants as a prophetic template from which to create the true historical narrative of the restoration movement.
Let’s begin with Section 110 as one of the most significant contributions.
This is one of the most profound events that took place during Joseph Smith’s ministry. We have already addressed this amazing event countless times so I will not beat a dead horse.
Suffice it to say, that this remarkable visitation of Christ and three angels to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple is a historical event that baffles many people simply because Joseph, Oliver, and the scribe the wrote down the event, never shared publicly revealed what had taken place.
They had kept it a secret.
One that would come to light after the death of all three people.
I simply want to point out that it was according to the providence of God that this historical event which Joseph Smith quietly entered into the historical record, came to the attention of Brigham Young and his brethren years after it actually happened.
They first published it in 1853 in the Deseret News and finally canonized it in 1876.
Did Brigham Young and his brethren actually understand the significance of what the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham really was?
Did they actually understand what the keys of the gathering that were delivered by Moses alluded to?
Did they understand why Elijah appeared and declared that the prophecy about himself given by Malachi had fully been fulfilled?
Did Brigham and his associates know about the secret teaching of Joseph Smith’s that John the Baptist of the New Testament was Elijah the Tishbite of the Old Testament?
If you are not familiar with this secret doctrine that Joseph Smith revealed in the Inspired Version of the bible, please review the following article:
And view the info graphic below showing that the changes in the Inspired Version [prove that John the Baptist is Elijah and therefore, Elijah did in fact reveal the priesthood by hand in May of 1829:
The grand secret that John the Baptist was Elijah the Prophet is requisite in understanding what really took place during Joseph’s ministry from a prophetic fulfillment perspective.
At first blush, one might suppose that Brigham Young and Orson Pratt were clueless and that they were just randomly adding revelations to be canonized.
And yet, as we analyze the list of revelations that Young canonized, it is remarkable to realize that several of them are crucial pieces of the puzzle in understanding what actually took place during Joseph’s ministry.
Section 110 is not the only game changing revelation to be added by Brigham Young in 1876..
For example, note that the revelation known today as section 109 which contains the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple.
This revelatory petition to the Lord from the saints was ultimately answered by God within one week, by sending Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah as documented in section 110..
Section 109 and section 110 are inseparably connected to each other. It is difficult to comprehend the significance of each of them without the other.
Is it a coincidence that Brigham Young just happened to canonize section 109 at the same time that he canonized section 110?
I don’t think so.
But the story does not end there.
It gets better.
Are you aware that the restoration of the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist that we have in section 13 was also canonized for the first time in 1876, along with sections 109 and 110?
I don’t think so.
The truly puzzling thing is, why didn’t Joseph Smith include section 13 in the Book of Commandments or the original Doctrine and Covenants??
Why did it take Brigham Young to bring about the canonization of section 13 into the Doctrine and Covenants?
For many years scholars have been befuddled at the declaration of Elijah the Prophet in section 110 because modern revelation had revealed that Elijah would reveal the priesthood by hand.
And yet, in the section 110 narrative it fails to indicate that Elijah restored the priesthood by hand. It only has Elijah making a declaration alluding to the fact that the revealing of priesthood by hand and the related prophecy of Malachi had already taken place.
Thanks to Brigham Young, the cryptic answer to this dilemma is provided in canonized revelation by virtue of the fact that section 13 was canonized along with sections 109 and 110.
But wait, the details of Brigham Young’s canonical insertions in providing keys to this great puzzle do not stop there.
It was essential to remind people that Elijah had to reveal the priesthood by hand so what did Brigham Young do?
He took the following snippet from the words of Moroni taken from Joseph Smith History’s description of Moroni’s visit and made them into a canonized revelation. It is Section 2 of the Doctine and Covenants:
1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.
3 If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
You have got to be kidding me.
What motivated the canonization of that passage?
Consider this, there is really no apparent reason to the casual reader, as to why Brigham Young would only canonize that small snippet from the declarations of Moroni. Take a look at the whole prophetic snippet. Notice the snippet that became section 2 highlighted in yellow:
36 After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:
37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
39 He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
40 In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.
41 He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here.
In all fairness, the prophecy of Malachi that is provided above in yellow highlight is not more prophetically significant than the 11th chapter of Isaiah, or the 3rd chapter of Acts or the 2nd chapter of Joel. Yet Brigham Young only canonized into section 2 the snippet about the priesthood being revealed by hand!
He didn’t even provide the entire narrative about the prophecy of Malachi, he only took the part that provides clarification about the Elijah revealing the priesthood by hand!
Does it not look like a targeted message is being sent here?
Brigham Young was cryptically canonizing a sequence of prophetic events and declarations that exposes a great secret that had been hidden for decades.
One would assume that the snippet from Moroni which originated in September of 1823 would have been placed next to section 110 since they both showcased verbiage relating to the prophecy in Malachi about Elijah but no.
This was to be the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants wherein the revelations would be placed in chronological order according to date, (with the exception of sections 1 and 133 which had been declared the preface and the appendix by revelation.)
Do you see a prophetic and historical pattern emerging here?
It is interesting how the declaration about Elijah by Moroni takes place about seven years before John the Baptist reveals the priesthood by hand.
About seven years after that, Elijah comes to the temple to declare the fulfillment of something that had already taken place:
Was Brigham Young completely oblivious to the fact that the revelations that he was canonizing were going to provide the necessary documentation for exposing the true history of the church?
Or did he know the secret?
Was he leaving bread crumbs to mark the way for those who are watching to discover this great mystery?
And there are other critically important keys to understanding the secret history of Mormonism but most of them are interconnected to this three part fulfillment of prophecy that has been hidden in plain site in church history for four generations.
I believe the inclusion of these events into the canon of modern scripture represents that last great cryptic message from Brigham Young to generations of the saints who would follow later.
And the story about the prophetic 1876 revision of the Doctrine and Covenants does not end there.
Brigham also canonized other teachings of Joseph Smith into canonized scripture in 1876. One of them was section 85 which speaks prophetically of the one mighty and strong coming forth at a future time to set in order the house of God.
Another one is Section 113. In it, Joseph interprets parts of Isaiah 52 and reveals that the latter day saints are the ones that had initially been given priesthood power but then stumbled and lost it.
Yet the time would come when they would return to the power they had lost.
He revealed that the saints would become a fallen and cursed and scattered people among the gentiles but would eventually return to the Lord.
God will finally speak to us again from heaven!
7 Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to?
8 He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.
9 What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse?
10 We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.
A big shout out to Brother Brig! I don’t know if he actually knew what he was doing and was good at keeping a secret, or whether God was simply inspiring him to do something he did not comprehend.
I don’t know if brother Brigham was winking at God while having all those revelations added to the D&C or if God was simply winking at future generations while using Brigham Young as a puppet.
But I feel very grateful for the information either way.
I don’t know how inspired section 129 really was. I have gone through it many times and the fact that it points to angels as being resurrected beings does not match up with the scriptural use throughout the standard works.
For that matter, there are other problems with some of the other “revelations” that Brigham Young had Pratt canonize.
Not the least of which is 132
I still maintain that BY was a heretic and that he introduced several heresies into the church.
I am not saying he was generally guided by the spirit of prophecy by any means.
My only point in the post was that I find it remarkable that those six or seven insertions provide essential keys in understanding the true history of mormonism.
I personally would have had a very difficult time in my quest to identify the true prophetic story-line of church history without those revelatory declarations and events being made high profile through canonization.
The question remains, was Brigham Young cognizant of just how significant those insertions were, or was he being guided by an unseen force without realizing what he was doing.
I suppose another theory would be that Orson Pratt was the mastermind begin putting those revelations in the D&C
In a way that is unlikely given the dominance that Young seemed to have over Pratt in both priesthood calling and forceful personality.
On the other hand, Young may have been struggling under failing health or just simply preoccupied with other concerns at the time and decided to just let Orson do what he wanted.
“… my quest to identify the true prophetic story-line of church history …”
Appreciate your work. And how would you summarize what the true prophetic story-line of church history is, especially how it relates to this post on Elijah? Thank you.
You can see a summary of my interpretation of the secret history of mormonism at the following links
Hi Watcher, I’m from Brazil and this is my firt comment. Thanks for this blog.
Well, I think section 85 response some questions.
The Lord “rejected the Church with your deads” (DC 124). After the martyrdom, Brigham tried to “steady the ark” by maintaining the church, the temples and their ordinances, building Zion, and teaching the saints that all is well in Zion.
In canonizing the mentioned sections, BY demonstrated knowledge of his mistakes and tried to leave that revelations to his successors. But the brethren continue to steady the ark…
Soon the Lord will send the One Mighty and Strong to set in order His house.
Thank you for your response ForeignerBR and welcome to the blog
It is very possible that Brigham Young had an epiphany shortly before he died and realized what had really happened.
He very well may have realized that the ingrained worldview that the saints had acquired, (largely created by him) could not be changed at that point, so he canonized the revelations that would be necessary for future generations to be able to discern the true history of Mormonism and how the final work would finally begin.