Come Follow Me: D&C 27-28
Joseph went to find wine for a Sacrament service. Along the way, he was stopped and told that wine was not necessary, but water could be used instead. The little church had a growing list of enemies, to obtain wine for the service from a trustworthy source was becoming more and more difficult.. Here we see that the Lord is a pragmatic God. If something isn't available, the Lord will often make allowances.
In the early days of Nauvoo, the saints were allowed to do baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi River. The Word of Wisdom was initially given as guidance, and not a commandment. When Joseph lost the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, the Lord had him translate Nephi's record instead.
What we find in all of these instances is that God will work with us, according to our need and diligence. Can't use the wine? Then use water. No temple baptismal font? Use the river until you can finish the temple.
Elder Ezra Taft Benson was sent by the Church to oversee the relief effort in Europe after World War II. He noted later:
"The Saints in Europe taught me a new appreciation for the priesthood of God. I heard them bear testimony of their gratitude for the priesthood in their homes. Many families who had been isolated from other representatives of the priesthood during the bombing and during sickness told of their gratitude that they had in their homes the authority and the power to lay their hands upon members of their families, and under the inspiration of heaven invoke God's healing power upon them.
My brethren and sisters, this is a priceless blessing. I heard them speak of their gratitude that in their homes while isolated from the rest of the members of the mission, they were able to administer the sacred emblems. Yes even at times when they did not have bread, they used potatoes or potato peelings as the emblem but had the sacrament administered to members of their own household." (Ezra Taft Benson, "The Aftermath of War")
The Lord is pragmatic, and will work with his children. If they can't use wine, there is water. If bread is not available, potato peelings are acceptable as an alternative in time of need.
Sadly, the Church seems to continually go through periods where false revelation and pretenders step up to challenge the prophet. We read about it in the Book of Mormon with false prophets like Korihor and Nehor. We learn about it frequently in the early Church with Hiram Page's seer stone, in Kirtland - where an early member thought the Spirit was having him act like a baboon. Upon the death of Joseph and Hyrum, several people, including William Smith, Sidney Rigdon and others would step forward to proclaim leadership. When Wilford Woodruff ended plural marriage, new apostates would step forward with their own claims. Today, we see people leave the Church and follow apostates like Denver Snuffer, as they disagree with modern prophets.
On this first event, already occurring in 1830 when the Church was just a few months old, so many people were sucked into Hiram Page's revelations that it even drew in Oliver Cowdery. How was Joseph to resolve this without having a mass revolt? In the Lord's wisdom, the revelation is directed to Oliver. It would be Oliver who would go to Hiram and the church members with the new revelation, and explain that while all members may receive personal revelation, only the Prophet can receive revelation for the entire Church.
Joseph Smith also had seer stones: one brown, one white, one green. He primarily used the chocolate brown one for translating the Book of Mormon. Joseph saw in vision how to find these stones.
So, what was the difference between Joseph's stones and Hiram's stone? Was it the stone that made the difference? Was one from God and the other from a different source that caused one to receive God's revelations and the other receive revelation from the devil?
I'm of the opinion that Hiram's stone could have received personal revelation from God. However, Hiram allowed his own pride to corrupt the stone and its source. In the Book of Mormon, we read regarding the Interpreters that they can reveal many things, and can be dangerous if a person looks for things they ought not (Mosiah 8:13). Hiram looked where he should not have, and it corrupted him.
We see the same thing in fiction and in modern life.
In Lord of the Rings, the white sorcerer Saruman was corrupted by looking into the Palantir (a crystal ball), and looked for things he should not.
In today's world, many of us have a technological seer stone connected to the Internet. Our phones, tablets and computers all give us the ability of learning great knowledge about the kingdom of God and his creations. The Internet can also be a great danger to those who look where they ought not look. In looking at things God would forbid us see, many good people have been deceived and corrupted by pornography, conspiracy theories, and false ideas.
In our own seer stones today, we can find both God and the devil. It is up to each of us to decide which we will follow. Who is our prophet? Who is our God?