Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 47 (D&C 133–134)
This revelation was given through the Prophet, at Hiram, Ohio, on November 3, 1831. Prefacing this revelation, Joseph Smith’s history states, “At this time there were many things which the Elders desired to know relative to preaching the Gospel to the inhabitants of the earth, and concerning the gathering; and in order to walk by the true light, and be instructed from on high, on the 3rd of November, 1831, I inquired of the Lord and received the following important revelation.”1 This section was first added to the book of Doctrine and Covenants as an appendix and was subsequently assigned a section number.
EVENTS AT THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
After the nations of the earth have been warned and other signs have been fulfilled, the Lord Jesus Christ will return in glory.
● D&C 133:1–3 The entire world will see His coming. He will “come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you” (v. 2). He will “make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God” (v. 3).
● D&C 133:2 “The Lord . . . shall suddenly come to His temple.” It was unusual for the Lord to say in 1831 that He planned to appear in a temple, because no temple existed in November 1831. The use of the word “shall” in this prophecy indicates that it was yet to be fulfilled. Ten months later, in September 1832, the Lord authorized the Church for the first time to build such a sanctuary. (D&C 84).
Orson Pratt said, “We read in the scriptures of divine truth that the Lord our God is to come to his temple in the last days. . . . It is recorded in the 3rd chapter of Malachi that ‘the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple.’ This had no reference to the first coming of the Messiah, to the day when he appeared in the flesh; but it has reference to that glorious period termed the last days, when the Lord will again have a house, or a temple reared up on the earth to his holy name.”2
Smith and Sjodahl said the promised appearance has more than one fulfillment:
This prediction has in part been fulfilled, for the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple and there ministered to them in 1836; but this prophecy has a broader meaning, and the Lord shall come, without a doubt, to His Temple, where He will sit as “a refiner and purifier of silver,” purging the house of Israel and ministering to His people. This appearing will be separate and distinct from the great coming in the clouds of heaven, when He will appear with power and great glory (Matt. 24:30) with a curse to judgment (v. 2) upon all the nations that forget God. This coming will be for the blessing and benefit of the most faithful of His saints, and when He comes to take final vengeance on the world, He will be preceded by a sign (Matt. 24:30; Sec. 88:93), that all peoples shall see and judgment shall be poured out upon the wicked.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world? . . . The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose . . . It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc.”3
Rebuilding the Temple at Jerusalem
One of the great signs of the last days is that the Jews will rebuild their temple at Jerusalem. The Second Coming will not occur until this has been accomplished.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance.”4
President John Taylor said, “I remember, some time ago, having a conversation with Baron Rothschild, a Jew. I was showing him the Temple here, and said he—’Elder Taylor, what do you mean by this Temple? What is the object of it? Why are you building it?’ Said I, . . . ‘You will build a Temple, for the Lord has shown us, among other things, that you Jews have quite a role to perform in the latter days, and that all the things spoken by your old prophets will be fulfilled, that you will be gathered to old Jerusalem, and that you will build a Temple there; and when you build that Temple, and the time has arrived, ‘the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to this temple.’”5
In our own generation, the idea of rebuilding the Jerusalem temple has again come to life among some Jews at Jerusalem. They see the building of a new “Third Temple” as a key element in their vision of a Zion to which the Messiah may come. “The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement, under the leadership of Gershon Salomon, is one of the most active of these groups. They believe that God ‘expects Israel to re-liberate the Temple Mount from the pagan Arab worshipers.’ Their goal is ‘the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in our lifetime.’ They vow that ‘we shall do everything to save the Temple Mount from the terrible abomination which is done today by foreigners and enemies [Arabs] and to purify the Temple Mount . . . exactly as our forefathers did when they liberated the Temple Mount from foreign occupation and abomination.’”6
● D&C 133:4 The Saints are commanded to prepare for the Second Coming by gathering themselves together and sanctifying themselves.
● D&C 133:5–7 The Saints are commanded to “go ye out from Babylon,” which means to abandon the practices of the wicked. He says, “be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (v. 5). They are also to gather together in “solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord.” (v. 6). This gathering together is to be “from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (v. 7).
● D&C 133:8–9 The Saints are “send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews” (v. 8). The commandment they are to give to the nations of the earth must be “Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about” (v. 9).
This message was essential in the early days of the Church when all converts were encouraged to gather with the Saints in America. This was changed in the mid-twentieth century to encourage converts to stay in the native countries and build up the Church around the world.
● D&C 133:10–11 In a reference to the parable of the ten virgins, the Lord commands, “Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord” (v. 10). And until that day comes we are to “watch . . . ye know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 11).
● D&C 133:12–13 The Lord will govern from two capital cities. Church members are urged today to remain where they reside, but the day will come when some of the Saints will be called upon to help prepare two holy capital cities from which the Lord will govern the earth, and to which many of the Saints will ultimately congregate. “Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion. And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord’s house.” These two authorized gathering places well be the New Jerusalem, to be built in Independence, Missouri, and Old Jerusalem, which is in Israel.
● D&C 133:20–22 The Savior’s coming will be seen and heard by all people on earth. Though He will “stand upon the mount of Olivet,” it will appear as if He were standing “upon the mighty ocean, even the great deep, and upon the islands of the sea, and upon the land of Zion” (v. 20). “And he shall utter his voice out of Zion, and he shall speak from Jerusalem, and his voice shall be heard among all people” (v. 21). “And it shall be a voice as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, which shall break down the mountains, and the valleys shall not be found” (v. 22).
● D&C 133:25; 45:59 The Savior will reign on the earth. “The Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh” (v. 25). “His glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver” (D&C 45:59).
— Zeph. 3:14–17 “The Lord is in the midst of thee.” The prophet Zephaniah wrote, “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. . . . The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
● D&C 133:41–43 The Lord will come down in vengeance upon the wicked. This is why His return is referred to as the “terrible day of the Lord”—for the wicked.
— D&C 29:9, 17 The wicked will be burned up like dry stubble. “I will take vengeance upon the wicked, for they will not repent” (v. 17). “The hour is nigh and the day soon at hand when the earth is ripe; and all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the earth” (v. 9).
— “When the earth is ripe” for destruction refers to circumstances where there is no righteousness to be found anywhere, and therefore there is no agency. In such a society, a newborn child has no chance whatsoever to hear the truth and to choose between good and evil. When this occurs, the Lord removes that wicked society from the earth. This occurred before the flood in the days of Noah. It occurred in Israel prior to their captivity. It occurred among the Nephites twice—just before the Lord’s visit among them and again in 400 AD. It will occur once more in our day, just prior to the Second Coming of our Lord.
● D&C 133:41–44 The wicked will be overcome with fear. The scriptures say that “the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil” (v. 41) and “the mountains [to] flow down at [His] presence” (v. 44). The wicked will tremble with fear when they see these horrible things, which they did not expect would ever happen (vv. 42–43).
● D&C 133:44–45 At the same time, it will be the “great day of the Lord, for the righteous, who will inherit unexpectedly great rewards. While the wicked will tremble, those “who rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, who remembereth thee in thy ways” will meet the Lord (v. 44) and experience great rewards. The greatness of these blessings, “since the beginning of the world have not [been] heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath any eye seen,” except for God Himself, “how great things thou hast prepared for him that waiteth for thee” (v. 45).
— 1 Corinthians 2:9 The apostle Paul confirmed that the “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
— D&C 78:17–18 We are not capable of fully understanding the magnitude of these blessings. They are beyond our comprehension. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.”
— D&C 88:107 The Saints will be filled with God’s glory and “be made equal with him.” “And then shall the angels be crowned with the glory of his might, and the Saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him.
● D&C 133:49 The brightness of His coming. “So great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places.”
● D&C 133:46–48 The Lord will appear in red-dyed garments. When the inhabitants of the earth shall say, “Who is this that cometh down from God in heaven with dyed garments; yea, from the regions which are not known, clothed in his glorious apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?” (v. 46), the Lord will answer, “I am he who spake in righteousness, mighty to save” (v. 47). “And the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine–vat” (v. 48).
● D&C 133:50–51 Why His garments will be red. The Lord will explain, “I have trodden the wine–press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me; And I have trampled them in my fury, and I did tread upon them in mine anger, and their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments, and stained all my raiment; for this was the day of vengeance which was in my heart.” This will not be an act of hatred but rather of the purification of the earth that will attend His coming. The Lord’s vengeance will fall upon the unrepentant—those who would not hear the Lord. Only these will have cause to fear the Lord’s punishment at His coming.
● D&C 133:56 The redeemed shall stand on the right hand of the Savior. “The graves of the saints shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right hand of the Lamb when he shall stand upon Mount Zion, and upon the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of the Lamb, day and night forever and ever.
GOVERNMENTS AND LAWS OF MEN
Section 134 is not identified as a “revelation,” but as “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general.” It was prepared for the First Presidency by Oliver Cowdery and was read at a general assembly of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, on August 17, 1835. It was adopted by unanimous vote at that assembly. Though it is not a revelation, the principles of this section are binding upon the members of the Church as part of the Doctrine and Covenants, and it should be considered an inspired document
This declaration was given a preamble by those who sustained it on that occasion. The preamble states the reason for its adoption: “That our belief with regard to earthly governments and laws, in general, may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood, we have thought proper to present at the close of this volume our opinion concerning the same.”7
The apostle Paul reminded the Saints of his day that they should be subject to governments and the law (Titus 3:1). And in our own day, the Prophet Joseph Smith included this statement in Article of Faith 12: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Elder James E. Talmage said, “Governments are essential to human existence; they are recognized, given indeed, of the Lord; and His people are in duty bound to sustain them.”8
Duties of Governments and Their Citizens
● D&C 134:1-2 Governments were instituted by God for the blessing of man. God “holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society” (v. 1). We also believe that “no government can exist in peace [unless its] laws are framed and held inviolate” (v. 2). Such laws must secure the following for each individual: (v. 2).
— The free exercise of conscience.
— The right to own and control property.
— The protection of life.
● D&C 134:3 Responsibilities of civil officers and magistrates. “We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.”
● D&C 134:8 Following the law. The “public peace and tranquility” requires all citizens to be in subjection to the law. Thus, this verse concludes that:
— Civil officers should enforce laws.
— Civil officers should administer laws in equity.
— Civil officers should punish crime.
— Citizens should “step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.”
● D&C 134:5-6, 11 Citizens should “sustain and uphold” the governments under which they live “while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments” (v. 5). Accordingly, these verses conclude that:
— Sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly” (v. 5).
— All governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience (v. 5).
— Government leaders “should be honored in [their] station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty” (v. 6).
— All men should show “respect and deference” to the laws, “as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror” (v. 6).
— Men “should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, . . . where such laws exist as will protect the same” (v. 11).
— Men “are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments” (v. 11).
The Relationship Between Church and State
● D&C 134:4, 6–7, 9 “We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it” (v. 4). Thus, these verses conclude that:
— Men are not accountable to God, not civil law, for their religious practices unless those practices constitute a violation of the law or infringe on the rights of others (v. 4).
— Government should never prescribe public of private acts of worship (v. 4).
— Government should never seek to control conscience nor seek to suppress the freedom of men’s souls (v. 4).
— Human laws are “instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man” (v. 6).
— Divine laws “given of heaven . . . prescrib[e] . . . rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker (v. 6).
— Governments “have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief” (v. 7).
— Governments do not “have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as . . . such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy” (v. 7).
— “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied” (v. 9).
The First Presidency said, “The Church stands for the separation of church and state. The Church has no civil political functions. As the Church may not assume the functions of the state, so the state may not assume the functions of the Church. . . . The state is responsible for the civil control of its citizens or subjects, for their political welfare, and for the carrying forward of political policies, domestic and foreign, of the body politic. For these policies, their success or failure, the state is alone responsible, and it must carry its burdens. All these matters involve and directly affect Church members because they are part of the body politic, and members must give allegiance to their sovereign and render it loyal service when called thereto.”9
Restrictions on the Civil Power of Religious Groups
● D&C 134:10 Religious groups can only exercise rights of membership over their members.” Thus, this verse suggests the following:
— Religious groups cannot take away life or property (v. 9).
— Religious societies” have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, . . . provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing” (v. 10).
— Religious societies do not have the authority “to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them” (v. 10).
— Religious societies “can only excommunicate [members] from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship” (v. 10).
● D&C 134:11–12 Men are justified in defending themselves and their property.
● D&C 134:12 Religious groups may “preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world.”
● D&C 134:12 Religious groups should not interfere with slavery.
— “We do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters” (v. 12).
— We do not believe it right to “meddle with or influence [bond-servants] in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life,” because this will be “unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude” (v. 12).
This seems troubling to many of us today because of our disapproval of racial slavery in the United States. However, the Church’s mission is not to take a stand on civil matters; it is to preach the gospel to all the world, bond and free. For this reason, for example, the Church teaches the gospel to those who have come to America by unlawful means. We teach and baptize them. We teach them English. And we love them as God’s children, never forgetting that at one point in our history the Church members were refugees from a vengeful United States military. We can seek to change government policy as citizens, but we cannot expect the Church to take sides in these political matters.
President David O. McKay said, “Force and compulsion will never establish the ideal society. This can come only by a transformation within the individual soul—a life redeemed from sin and brought in harmony with the divine will. Instead of selfishness, men must be willing to dedicate their ability, their possessions, their lives, if necessary, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for the alleviation of the ills of mankind. Hate must be supplanted by sympathy and forbearance. Peace and true prosperity can come only by conforming our lives to the law of love, the law of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A mere appreciation of the social ethics of Jesus is not sufficient—men’s hearts must be changed!”10
1. Preface to Section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
2. In Journal of Discourses, 14:274.
3. History of the Church, 5:423–24.
4. History of the Church, 5:337.
5. In Journal of Discourses, 18:199–200.
6. “Higher Things—Efforts to Rebuild the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem,” article by William J. Hamblin and Daniel C. Peterson published by FARMS, the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, on LDSWorld–Gems , October 18, LDSWorld–Gems@lists.mstar.net.
7. Preface to Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
8. The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. , 421.
9. “Message of the First Presidency,” in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 92.
10. In Conference Report, Oct. 1962, 7–8; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1962, 903.