Unit 18: Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 87

“Unit 18: Day 4, Doctrine and Covenants 87,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)


Introduction

Throughout 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church members likely learned through newspaper reports of distresses sweeping the earth. Near the end of that year, the Prophet said, “Appearances of troubles among the nations became more visible this season than they had previously been since the Church began her journey out of the wilderness” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 249). On December 25, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87, which includes prophecies about the wars and judgments that would be poured out upon all nations in the last days.

Doctrine and Covenants 87

Joseph Smith prophesies that war will be poured out upon all nations.

A prophecy is a declaration by a true prophet of a future sign or event as revealed by the Holy Ghost.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4, and identify a prophecy given by Joseph Smith. As you study these verses, it may be helpful to know that South Carolina is a state in the southern United States.

map, North America

One of the principles we can learn from Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4 is that in our day, just as in days of old, the Lord can reveal the future to us through His prophets.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. How can knowing that the Lord reveals future events through His prophets be a blessing to the Church?

    2. How can knowing this be a blessing to you and your family?

Read the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 87. Look for the date this revelation was given and the issue Joseph Smith was reflecting on at this time.

Joseph Smith had learned about a political conflict between the state of South Carolina and the federal government of the United States over tariffs. (A tariff is a tax on imports.) Because residents of South Carolina relied more on imported manufactured products than did people in the northern states, they felt that federal tariffs were unfair and that they had been purposely levied at the expense of the South. Government leaders in South Carolina adopted an ordinance invalidating, or nullifying, the federal laws, and many South Carolinians began to prepare for military action against the federal government. The president of the United States asserted that he would maintain the laws of the United States by force.

In December 1832, newspapers throughout the United States were reporting on this conflict. It was at this time that Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 87 prophesying that “wars … will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina” (D&C 87:1). In early 1833, not long after this prophecy was given, the United States government peacefully settled the issue with the state of South Carolina. Some may have believed the crisis had passed and that the prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4 would not be fulfilled, but the crisis had been only temporarily halted, and South Carolina would still rebel.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: How would you respond if the words of a prophet were not fulfilled in the way or during the time period you expected?

You may want to mark the cross-reference in Doctrine and Covenants 87:1 footnote c. Read Doctrine and Covenants 130:12–13. What did the Prophet Joseph Smith reaffirm in these verses?

Refer to the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 130, and identify the year Joseph Smith gave this reaffirmation of the prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 87.

What can the Prophet Joseph Smith’s reaffirmation of the prophecy he had received 10 years earlier teach you about his faith?

The Prophet Joseph Smith

The crisis between the United States government and South Carolina had been resolved 10 years earlier, in 1833. The Prophet Joseph Smith continued to maintain faith in the prophecy the Lord had revealed through him, even though many people refused to believe that a civil war would take place in the United States.

Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

In 1861, Southern warships began firing on United States federal soldiers who were stationed at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Other Southern states joined South Carolina in a civil war against the Northern states. In time, the Southern states called on Great Britain for aid. Additionally, many who had been slaves in the South joined the army of the North and fought against their former masters. The American Civil War lasted until 1865 and resulted in the death of approximately 620,000 soldiers.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. How do these events help us know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet?

    2. Why is it important for you to know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet?

Every prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 87 has been or will be fulfilled.

In addition to the events revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4, Joseph Smith prophesied of other things that would happen. Verse 5 mentions that “the remnants who are left of the land will … vex the Gentiles.”

“The word remnant is often used in the scriptures to refer to a segment of the house of Israel (see Topical Guide, “remnant,” 419). Because the Savior made specific promises about the remnants of the Nephites and Lamanites (see 3 Nephi 20:10, 16; 21:2, 4), many have assumed that this verse refers to the Lamanite peoples who would at some point arise and ‘vex the Gentiles’ (D&C 87:5).

“President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: ‘The history of this American continent … gives evidence that the Lamanites have risen up in their anger and vexed the Gentiles. This warfare may not be over. It has been the fault of people in the United States to think that this prophetic saying has reference to the Indians in the United States, but we must remember that there are millions of the “remnant” in Mexico, Central and South America. It was during our Civil War that the Indians in Mexico rose up and gained their freedom from the tyranny which Napoleon endeavored to inflict upon them contrary to the prediction of Jacob in the Book of Mormon, that there should be no kings among the Gentiles on this land. The independence of Mexico and other nations to the south has been accomplished by the uprising of the “remnant” upon the land. However, let us not think that this prophecy has completely been fulfilled.’ (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:363.)” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 195).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 87:6–7, and identify other events that Joseph Smith prophesied would occur in the last days.

The “chastening hand” of God refers to the fact that the Lord uses His judgments to prompt His children to repent of their sins. In addition, some of the judgments described in these verses will occur as the Lord punishes the wicked for their unjust treatment of the righteous.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 to learn what the Lord directs us to do so that we will be prepared for the wars and disasters that will be upon the earth in the last days. A principle we learn from this verse is that we are to stand in holy places and be not moved until the Lord comes.

Holy places are locations where we can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost, which helps us draw near to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and to learn of Them. Standing in holy places often has more to do with how we live than where we live. If you live worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, then you stand in a holy place. Strive to make your heart a holy place filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, list a few places you consider holy. Then choose one of the places you identified and describe how being in that holy place has helped you to draw near to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. How can you strive to make your home a holy place? If the prophet were to see where you live, your room, your locker, or places you frequent, would he view it as a holy place?

  2. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. What do you think it means to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved” (D&C 87:8)?

    2. How might a person be moved from holy places?

    3. What is something you will do to stand in holy places more faithfully and not be moved from them?

  3. journal iconWrite the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 87 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: