Come Follow Me: D&C 77-80
This revelation was given as part of Joseph and Sidney's work on translating the Bible. As mentioned before, Joseph didn't actually translate the Bible, as he never used ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. Instead, he used an English Bible purchased at the E. B. Grandin printing press shop. He possibly also used other materials available, such as a commentary, to go through the .Bible. Much of the process, rather than a translation process, was revelatory. The Bible and exercise, as with translating other documents, were catalysts for inspiration and revelation. This is evidenced by the fact that there are no examples of some writings in Joseph's translation of the Bible, such as writings on Moses, Adam, Enoch (Book of Moses), Melchizedek, Joseph of Egypt, etc. These writing do not exist anywhere, except in Joseph's translation of the Bible.
In translating the Book of Rev elation, Joseph had questions regarding some of the beings and events in the book.
The earth will be a sea of glass.
Joseph would expound further on this in D&C 130. We will find that the earth will become a giant Urim and Thummim, which will reveal the truths, facts, and information of the lower kingdoms. This suggests that all the kingdoms of heaven are in the same place, just not visible to one another, per se. In this way, telestial people could learn all the truths of the telestial kingdom, and those in the terrestrial world could learn the truths of both the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms. D&C 130 then notes that those in the Celestial realm will be able to view the truths of the lower kingdoms through the earth. Then, each will receive a personal seer stone, through which they will be able to see the higher things of the celestial realms.
The four beasts
Joseph is shown these and other beings as figurative. They are described in ways that are reminiscent of the Creation: heaven, paradise, both the spiritual and temporal creations, the goal of eternal happiness for humans and animals.
In this description, we learn that animals have spirits. They are eternal beings, just like humans. Many Christians do not think animals have a spirit, and so can be used however we choose to use them. However, LDS scripture often tells us that when we eat animals, it is to be done with thanksgiving and prudence (D&C 59; 89). How often, when we eat a hamburger or chicken fingers, do we think about the life of the animal we are consuming? Are we eating with thanksgiving for the sacrifice of God's creatures, so that we may live? How should such consideration guide us in our actions towards our pets, hunting for sport, farm animals, etc?
Again, we see something figurative. Sealed books are normal events in Latter-day Saint history. They represent the concept that not all things are made known to us yet. Some things are yet to be revealed in greater detail, especially when the events are ready to occur. Sealed books give us a glimpse to what has been and what will be.
The seven thousand years is approximate. There is no celestial clock ticking away the precise moments when things occur. Scripture shows that things often overlap between the opening and closings of seals. For example, when the seventh seal is opened, Jesus does not come in glory immediately. Instead, there are still many things to occur that tie in directly to the ending of the sixth seal.
Among those events that slop over into the Millennial period is what we call Adam-ondi-Ahman. Anciently, Adam in his old age gathered his faithful followers together and prophesied. Yahweh appeared and blessed him. (D&C 107). In Revelation, we find that 144 thousand high priests will be set apart for a mission. Even as we now send out young people on missions today, there will come a day when high priests will be sent forth for a final pruning. There is some evidence in the D&C that they may be sent to the "pagan nations" - India, China, Arab nations, etc., places that have not had a major missionary push previous to this time. They will be called out of Babylon and brought to Zion. These high priests may be the prophets that bring them across the ice and waters to the Americas (D&C 133). All this in preparation for Armageddon and the 2nd Coming of Christ.
This is one of the important revelations regarding consecration and the United Order. It would be started here in Kirtland and Independence, but would end only 1 1/2 years later, because the saints found it too hard to live. It would be replaced by tithing, a terrestrial law created to prepare people to live the Celestial law.
"For a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto my church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven;
"That you may be in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.
"For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be in obtaining heavenly things" (vs 4-6)
The United Order, a form of the law of consecration, is an everlasting order. We give all our possessions to the Lord via his bishop, who then gives us a stewardship in return. The excess is used in the bishop's storehouse to take care of the poor and needy.
In a world of capitalism, greed, and personal luxuries, we are commanded to be equal with those around us. We are a long way from there. For those not paying a full tithe, they have even further to travel on the path of change. In the Celestial Kingdom are many mansions, but they are all equal. On earth, we must be ready to do the same. I do not know if having a big mansion and expensive cars here on earth is a sin or not. It may depend on the person and his/her needs. However, I am certain God will ask us what we have done with our excess: have we used it for good, or have we used it to lavish ourselves with all the world would offer us?
When the young rich man spoke with Jesus on how to obtain eternal life, he congratulated himself on keeping the Ten Commandments. Jesus beheld him, loved him, but then challenged him with a higher law: sell all you have, give it to the poor, and "Come Follow Me."
Perhaps this is the difference between being honorable and valiant (D&C 76), terrestrial and celestial.
"And he who breaketh it shall lose his office and standing in the church, and shall beover to the of Satan until the day of redemption." (vs 12)
Over the following years, many members in Kirtland and Independence would break their covenants and lose their office: Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Thomas Marsh, etc. Because they failed to live consecrated lives, they could not muster up enough righteousness and heaven-sent power to rescue Zion and Kirtland from mobs. The saints would suffer the "buffetings of Satan" here on earth.
"Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss." (vs 3)
Often we want God to command us in all things. Ever seek a priesthood blessing, wishing it would tell you exactly what you should do in the situation you find yourself in, but instead get blessed in other ways? It is often because God wants us to seek out the direction we go. Often, it "mattereth not" to God what we do. When it does matter, he still gives us agency to make our own choices.
That we are to preach the gospel, share the light of Christ, and invite others to Come unto Christ, is an eternal principle for all the saints. It often doesn't matter which road we go down, as long as we are active in seeking the humble and meek in spirit.
These missionaries could not go amiss, because their hearts and desires were in the right place. God will occasionally give us greater detail, or specific places to go, but often he leaves it up to us. Be ready for the times when God gives specific inspiration, but also be ready to do good works of your own accord.
In preparing for the last days and the Millennium, we need to prepare ourselves, so that we are always ready to speak and do the things the Holy Spirit directs. This is part of the covenant of consecration we make. We are to help others be equal to us in heavenly things, by sharing those heavenly things and inviting them to receive them.
It may be that we, our children, or friends may be called on full time missions right now. However, we are all called on eternal missions to help God save and exalt his children through Jesus Christ. In consecrating ourselves, we become equal with others - the rich voluntarily debase themselves, while the poor are blessed to be raised up by the charity of others. We share our temporal blessings, as well as our spiritual blessings, so that all may be equally blessed under God's hand in Zion.