Disobedience plagued LDS settlers in Missouri

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.

And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still. - D&C 88:33-35

The importance of obedience to the laws of God is emphasized frequently in the Doctrine and Covenants. Many times, this emphasis is coupled with references to the abundance of blessings associated with keeping the law.

One such emphasis is Section 88, known as the "Olive Leaf." A copy of this section was sent by the Prophet to members in Missouri who were being troubled by some of the very problems of obedience that the revelation addressed.

Writing in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Clark V. Johnson noted: "The year 1833 [immediately following the reception of the Olive Leaf revelationT brought numerous new challenges to the Church in Jackson County. Some members circumvented appointed leaders and ignored their authority to preside. Others tried to obtain property through means other than the revealed laws. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had visited the area in the spring of 1832, but now there arose a general concern among Missouri Latter-day Saints that their Prophet should move permanently from Ohio to the new Zion. Additionally, there were petty jealousies, covetousness, and general neglect in keeping the commandments. None of this helped the newcomers to cope with the worst problem - increasing hostility with the `old settlers' of Jackson County."

Failing in obedience, the members had no claim on the promised blessings. As Daniel H. Ludlow explained: "Every blessing is predicated upon obedience to a law and the blessing of joy. . . .

"If laws did not have definite and definable consequences, then it would be impossible to predict or determine what would happen if the law were were either obeyed or disobeyed. In such a situation, chaos would prevail. However, inasmuch as laws do have definite consequences that can and have been determined, these consequences can be predicted and order results." (A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 2, p 163.)

The consequences of disobedience regarding the settlement of Missouri, had, in fact, been spelled out earlier by the Lord:

"Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?

"Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?

"I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.

"Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above." (D&C 58: 30-33.)

Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by John L. Hart, Julie A. Dockstader and R. Scott Lloyd.

Sources: Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2; A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Daniel H. Ludlow, Vol. 2; "Missouri's Impact on the Church," Max H. Parkin, Ensign, April 1979; Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball; Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie.

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