Joseph Smith Prophesied of Today’s Hastening of the Work

Contributed By Larry Barkdull, Church News contributor

  • 30 December 2014

Statue of the Prophet Joseph Smith during the Sunday morning session of the 184th Annual General Conference on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Nearly 200 years ago, Joseph Smith prophesied of the hastening of the Lord’s work that is occurring today.  Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith a hastening of His work; today it is being realized.

“Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” —D&C 88:73

Two days after Christmas, December 27, 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation that he called “The Olive Leaf.” The revelation became section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

The revelation begins with the promise of eternal life to the 10 individuals who had assembled (D&C 88:1–4). Among other things, they desired to know the Lord’s will concerning “the upbuilding of Zion.” Frederick G. Williams gave an account:

“Brother Joseph arose and said, to receive revelation and the blessings of heaven it was necessary to have our minds on God and exercise faith and become of one heart and of one mind therefore he recommended all present to pray separately and vocally to the Lord for to reveal his will unto us concerning the upbuilding of Zion, & for the benefit of the saints and for the duty and employment of the Elders. Accordingly we all bowed down before the Lord, after which each one arose and spoke in his turn his feelings, and determination to keep the commandments of God” (Kirtland Council Minute Book, 3–4).

Thick with doctrine, the “Olive Leaf” referenced the building of a temple (see D&C 88:119) in which a solemn assembly would be held (see D&C 88:70). The Lord invited the brethren to sanctify themselves with the promise that they could qualify to come into the Lord’s presence (see D&C 88:68)—the ultimate state of Zion people (see Moses 7:16, 21). The School of the Prophets was mandated to instruct the brethren “more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand” (D&C 88:78).

Then the Lord gave a prophecy, which was quoted infrequently until President Thomas S. Monson announced that younger men and women could serve missions. D&C 88:73 reads: “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” Notice that the Lord says “my work” not “the work,” as some people are wont to say.

What is the Lord’s work that He intends to hasten? Latter-day Saints know because it was revealed to them in the restored vision of Moses: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

The definition of eternal life, or eternal lives, is “to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent” (D&C 132:24). To know God at such an elevated level is the promise that begins the “Olive Leaf” revelation: “This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom” (D&C 88:4).

Young elders studying at the missionary training center in Mexico City, Mexico, practice teaching the discussions in Spanish. The Lord's hastening of His work has prompted tens of thousands to answer mission calls. Photo by Jason Swensen.

To truly know the Father and the Son is to return to Them and become like Them. To know Them is to be endowed with the key to the knowledge of God, the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the power of godliness, which combined, open the door to seeing “the face of God, even the Father, and live” (D&C 84:19–22). The Lord calls this supernal privilege “the great and last promise” (D&C 88:69, 75). Thus, He instructs us:

“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (D&C 88:68).

The Lord mentions the great and last promise twice in the “Olive Leaf” revelation—verses 69 and 75. These two references form bookends around the prophecy of the Lord’s hastening His work (verse 73). The strategic grouping of the two references to the great and last promise and the hastening prophecy carries profound implications. Is Zion (its purest definition) at the heart of the Lord’s hastening effort? Does hastening have a destination?

However we choose to answer these questions, we cannot escape the fact that the Lord’s hastening includes an individual call to increase our commitment and become more pure in heart. While we are keenly aware of Churchwide efforts to ramp up, are we aware of the Lord’s personal invitation to move a little faster toward a goal that He desires for us?

“Prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean. That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood and sins of this wicked generation; that I may fulfill this promise, this great and last promise, which I made unto you, when I will” (D&C 88:75).

Would we not want to hasten toward that invitation and the long-awaited establishment of Zion?

Larry Barkdull is a businessman and writer who is a frequent instructor at BYU Campus Education Week. He lives in Orem, Utah.