By Marvin W. Cowan
Joseph Smith said Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 125 was a revelation given to him in March of 1841. Since there are only four verses we will quote the entire text so that it may be seen in context. A question is raised in verse 1 “What is the will of the Lord concerning the saints in the Territory of Iowa?” The answer begins in verse 2 “Verily, thus saith the Lord, I say unto you, if those who call themselves by my name and are essaying to be my saints, if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them gather themselves together unto the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come. v. 3 Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. v. 4 And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville (in Lee County Iowa), or in the city of Nauvoo, and in all the stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord.”
In this revelation “the Lord” said it was His will for Iowa LDS to gather together in the places He reveals through Joseph Smith. He said that the LDS were to build up the cities of Zarahemla and Nashville, which were small towns in Iowa across the Mississippi River west of Nauvoo, IL. The Lord also said all LDS who had the desire should take up their inheritance in those towns, which sounds like He was speaking of a permanent home. But the last part of v. 2 says “that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come.” On p. 312 of the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (used by LDS Seminaries and Institutes of Religion) it says that meant that the LDS in Iowa were to be ready to help the Nauvoo Mormons when they left for Utah. Since the LDS in those two tiny Iowa towns went west with the Nauvoo Mormons when they left, any help they gave the Nauvoo LDS had to be brief and minimal. Smith’s revelations often refer to the soon coming of Christ (as in D. & C. 128:24) which may be what he really had in mind in this revelation. Smith’s only prophecy about the LDS going to the Rocky Mountains is recorded in the History of the Church, vol. 5, pp. 85-86 and is dated August 6, 1842 which is a year and a half after D. & C. 125 was given, so it is doubtful that he had the LDS exodus in mind. Other LDS wrote about Smith’s Rocky Mountains prophecy but gave different dates for it and mention people who weren’t there, which raises questions about the whole prophecy. It would be contradictory for the Lord to tell the LDSin Iowa to “build cities” and claim their “inheritance” in them if He planned to move them to Utah within five years. On August 7, 1841 the “city” of Zarahemla, Iowa had a population of 326 while Nashville was even smaller, so were they really “cities”? When the Nauvoo Mormons left for Utah, all the LDS in Zarahemla and Nashville went with them and those towns ceased to exist. Did the Iowa LDS do anything that this revelation said should be done?
On September 1, 1842 Joseph Smith wrote an epistle to Mormons which became D. & C. 127, so it is LDS scripture. In the first two verses Smith said that his enemies had persecuted him in Missouri and were now persecuting him in Illinois. At the end of verse two he said, “I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.” Smith was not writing about the persecution of the LDS Church, but about being persecuted himself. He said that God has “delivered me” out of all tribulation “and will deliver me from henceforth.” Yet, less than two years later, his enemies killed him, so did the Lord really tell Smith that He would deliver him from henceforth and that Smith would triumph over all his enemies?
Verse four begins “And again, verily thus saith the Lord: Let the work of my temple, and all the works which I have appointed unto you be continued on and not cease.” Verse six says, “When any of you are baptized for your dead, let there be a recorder” who was to witness the event and record it. Verse nine goes on to say “And again, let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my holy temple, to be held in remembrance from generation to generation, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Even though Smith wrote this epistle he claimed “The Lord” revealed its message. The temple Smith wrote about was the Nauvoo Temple which was under construction in 1842 but still wasn’t completely finished when the Mormons left Nauvoo in 1846. Yet, the Lord said the LDS records of their baptisms for the dead were to “be put in the archives of my holy temple, to be held in remembrance from generation to generation.” But the Nauvoo Temple caught fire in February 1846 and in September that year a mob entered it and desecrated much of the interior. On November 19, 1849 it was set on fire and everything burned except the exterior stone walls and only six months later those walls were knocked down by a tornado on May 27, 1850. All that remained of the Nauvoo Temple were scattered, scorched stones, so no archives existed where the records of baptisms for the dead could be kept. Therefore, the LDS records of baptisms for the dead were “not put in the archives of my holy (Nauvoo) temple, to be held in remembrance from generation to generation” as “the Lord of Hosts” said. Did the Lord make a mistake or did Smith’s revelation come from some source other than the Lord?