Come Follow Me: D&C 10-11
Many of the earliest revelations were given at the request of others. Joseph Smith Senior, Oliver Cowdery and many others went to Joseph for heavenly guidance. In these early days, when the Book of Mormon was still being translated, most followers had not been baptized and none had received the gift of the Holy Ghost. They relied upon Joseph to receive revelation from God. How different it is for us today, as we receive encouragement from Pres Nelson to seek out personal revelation. As prophet of a worldwide Church, he does not have the time Joseph had to give personal revelations.
Hyrum came to Joseph for guidance, wanting to go out and preach the gospel and the Book of Mormon. Here was guidance that applies to all of us.
In many of the early revelations, the Lord opened them with the following teaching:
"A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my word.
Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.
Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God." D&C 11:1-4
Most Christian churches of the day were focused on developing a congregation here or there, often satisfied to have a local impact. Here the translation of the Book of Mormon is not finished and the Lord proclaimed, "a great and marvelous work is about to come forth..."!
Imagine the audacity to make such statements! Most churches failed within a few years, or at the death of its founder. Of those that survived, most of those churches remained local with no real impact in the world. When Joseph was called to translate the Book of Mormon, he must have imagined starting a congregation, but could he truly imagine that his work for God would become a global power, truly a marvelous work?
The early teachings of the Church were establishing the basics of the gospel. For Oliver (in sections 6-9), it was to teach him (and us) the proper forms of receiving personal revelation from God. For many, it was to let them know that the most important thing they could do is to preach the gospel of Christ to the world. Yet, could followers actively preach without having been baptized or receive the Holy Ghost? Hyrum was eager to preach the gospel. He saw the Lord tell others the field was white, and he was very eager to share the amazing restoration events he experienced over the previous 9 years.
Yet, even as the Lord says to "thrust in [one's] sickle", he will give Hyrum some important guidance in regards to preparation and the focus of his own calling.
"Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion." D&C 11:5-6
We are to ask, so that the Lord can open doors to us. Hyrum asked the Lord through Joseph, which was a very common practice in the earliest days of the Church. Believers saw that Joseph saw angels and God, and could receive revelations for individuals. Others were infants when it came to receiving revelation. Here, it seems the Lord is telling Hyrum that he should ask and knock for himself in the future. In this instance, however, since he asked through Joseph, he was told 2 key things: keep the commandments and to bring forth Zion.
Missionary work is one part of bringing forth Zion. Hyrum's life will have moments of missionary work in it, but much of the work he will do will be towards the members of the Church, especially as a counselor and guide to his younger brother, Joseph. He would become the Patriarch of the Church after the death of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Assistant President after Oliver Cowdery's excommunication. Assistant President was higher than a counselor to the President (as was Sidney Rigdon). It would place Hyrum in position to be the next prophet, had he survived Joseph. Hyrum's focus would be to build Zion, whether in Kirtland Ohio, Independence Missouri, or Nauvoo Illinois. He would be Joseph's closest ally and colleague, being with him in Liberty and Carthage Jails. He would support Joseph in life, even as other leaders (Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, etc) fell away from the Church. He would be with Joseph in death, at Carthage and as their bodies were prepared for burial together.
"Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich." (v 7)
This revelation was given in May 1829, while the Book of Mormon was still being translated. It is possible the Aaronic Priesthood had not been restored to Joseph and Oliver by John the Baptist yet. The Melchizedek Priesthood's restoration by Peter, James and John was still a month away.
Could Hyrum have imagined the mysteries that would come forth: the priesthood, the gift of the Holy Ghost, concept of the Godhead, the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, the establishment of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, establishing a literal Zion in Missouri, temples, eternal marriage, baptism for the dead, the three degrees of glory, the premortal existence, man's ability to become gods through Christ, and so many other amazing mysteries!
"Behold, thou hast a gift, or thou shalt have a gift if thou wilt desire of me in faith, with an honest heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ, or in my power which speaketh unto thee;
For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.
And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;
And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive." (vv10-14)
What would this gift be that Hyrum would receive? He was commanded to "seek wisdom" and then he would have the Spirit, "which shall enlighten your mind". This is very important for someone who would become the Patriarch of the Church. A patriarch's responsibility is to receive revelation for the individual. As Joseph was receiving a personal revelation for Hyrum in D&C 11, so Hyrum would receive personal revelations for the members in Nauvoo.
Interestingly, while his younger brother, Samuel Harrison Smith, would leave a year later on a mission to spread the Book of Mormon around, while Hyrum was told to wait. It was important that he first gain the word of God.
"Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine." (v 16)
Not only would he wait for the Book of Mormon to be published in May 1830, but also the creation of the formal church on April 6, 1830, and the establishment of the priesthood and basic ordinances (see D&C 20).
"Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.
But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto." (vv 21-22)
Hyrum's responsibility was to study the word which already had "gone forth among the children of men" or the Bible, and to also to study that word which was to come forth soon, the Book of Mormon. Even though the "field is white, ready for harvest", the workers were not ready. They needed to know the Bible and Book of Mormon, in order to know what things they preached. This is a key reason why the Church today focuses so much training on the youth of the Church: seminary, institute, youth programs, etc. All of the preparation is to ensure they are ready to go forth into the world and cry repentance.
As future Patriarch of the Church, he would do for many what Joseph did for him: receive a personal revelation for others. Through him, members in Nauvoo could discover their spiritual inheritance from a tribe of Israel, and inspired guidance for their walk in this life.
"But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen" (v 30)
Hyrum could not imagine in May of 1829 just what this last statement and promise really meant. His understanding then meant that people could become sons of God, but not in the literal sense. They would be in heaven as servants of God, singing hymns to him eternally. By 1844 at the end of his life, he would know that being a "son of God" was a literal thing. One would, through Christ, become a literal son and heir of all God has. A son of God would become part of the divine council and be a king and a priest unto God and Christ forever.
Hyrum's door to heavenly wisdom and mysteries was just opening.