Modern-day Revelation
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accept Joseph Smith as a modern-day prophet, just as Abraham and Moses were ancient prophets. The primary responsibility of prophets is to receive the word of God by revelation, and then communicate it to the people. The Prophet Joseph Smith lived from 1805 until his martyrdom in 1844. Many of the revelations he received from God were recorded in a book known today as the Doctrine and Covenants.
These revelations were received in many different locations, which are shown in the following photographs. Accompanying scripture selections are excerpts from revelations received by Joseph Smith and several of his successors at or near these places. Each location also includes a summary of important events, and statements made by prophets regarding the doctrines taught in the revelations.
Near the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania ". . . the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated.
"And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.
"And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.
"And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them.
". . . the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear;
"Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
"Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.
"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled. . ."
Doctrine and Covenants 1:2-5, 11, 24, 37-38
Key Events
In the summer of 1830, Joseph Smith began preparations to eventually publish many of the revelations he had received.
A Church conference was held in Hiram, Ohio in November 1831. A decision was made during that conference to publish the revelations as the Book of Commandments. More than 60 revelations had been received by that time.
The Book of Commandments was to be printed at the Church press in Independence, Missouri. Mob violence prevented publication. Some of the printed pages were saved from destruction, and bound as an incomplete Book of Commandments.
The Prophet established and directed a committee that expanded the compilation of revelations, which were published in Kirtland, Ohio in 1835 as the Doctrine and Covenants.
The first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants contained 102 revelations, plus a series of lessons called the Lectures on Faith. This compilation was presented to the Church and accepted as one of the standard works.
Several editions have subsequently been published. Each edition included additional revelations and official declarations.
By 1876, the Doctrine and Covenants contained 136 Sections. The 1921 edition included the same 136 Sections, the Manifesto (Official Declaration 1), and eliminated the Lectures on Faith, which were deemed as important teachings, but not revelations. The 1981 edition added sections 137 and 138, and the revelation on priesthood (Official Declaration 2).
John Johnson Farm, Ohio
Why study the Doctrine and Covenants?
Words of Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth President of the Church
"In my judgment there is no book on earth yet come to man as important as the book known as the Doctrine and Covenants, with all due respect to the Book of Mormon, and the Bible, and the Pearl of Great Price, which we say are our standards in doctrine. The book of Doctrine and Covenants to us stands in a peculiar position above them all. I am going to tell you why. When I say that, do not for a moment think I do not value the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Pearl of Great Price, just as much as any man that lives; I think I do. I do not know of anybody who has read them more, and I appreciate them; they are wonderful; they contain doctrine and revelation and commandments that we should heed; but the Bible is a history containing the doctrine and commandments given to the people anciently. That applies also to the Book of Mormon. It is the doctrine and the history and the commandments of the people who dwelt upon this continent anciently. But this Doctrine and Covenants contains the word of God to those who dwell here now. It is our book. It belongs to the Latter-day Saints. More precious than gold, the Prophet says we should treasure it more than the riches of the whole earth. I wonder if we do? If we value it, understand it, and know what it contains, we will value it more than wealth; it is worth more to us than the riches of the earth." (Doctrines of Salvation 3:198-199)
The Sacred Grove, New York
What are the benefits of visiting and learning about the revelation sites?
Words of M. Russell Ballard, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
"Sister Ballard and I had the opportunity to travel to Church historic sites in Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo . . . our tour of these locations filled our souls with an ever greater love and respect for the Prophet Joseph Smith, for his family, and for the stalwarts who first embraced the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What an extraordinary experience it was to teach my family from the Doctrine and Covenants while standing on the very ground where many of those revelations and instructions were received. Visiting those inspirational sites and immersing ourselves as a family in the events of the Restoration reminded me again of the marvelous privilege we have to live in a day when we have such clear doctrinal understanding of our Heavenly Father's plan for the salvation and exaltation of his children. The clarity of our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ and his restored church is precious, empowering knowledge for each one of us. I thank God that in these difficult days of moral decay and departure from sound values, we have no shortage of revealed truth to guide our lives." (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 6)
Reconstructed Nauvoo Temple, Illinois
Text and photography for Doctrine and Covenants Revelation Sites by Steve Mortensen.
High-resolution versions of photographs on this website, plus hundreds of additional Church history photographs, are available on CD-ROM as a teaching and gospel study resource. Click here for details.
This is not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the author alone is responsible for the accuracy of the content.
Copyright 2005 Steve Mortensen. All rights reserved.