Section 88 is named the “Olive Leaf.” To “extend the olive branch” means to seek for or offer peace. Over the centuries the olive tree has become a symbol of peace.
During 1832 a spirit of contention developed between some of the brethren in Missouri and some living in Ohio. Some of the former even challenged Joseph Smith's right to preside over them.
On January 14, 1833, the Prophet wrote to W.W. Phelps in Missouri, enclosing a copy of section 88, “the Olive Leaf” whose lofty concepts would bear testimony of the Prophet's inspiration and would help the Saints overcome their differences and again enjoy a spirit of peace.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“I send you the 'olive leaf' which we have plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord's message of peace to us; for though our brethren in Zion indulge in feelings towards us, which are not according to the requirements of the new covenant, yet, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the Lord approves of us, and has accepted us, and established His name in Kirtland for the salvation of the nations; for the Lord will have a place whence His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity....
“The brethren in Kirtland pray for you unceasingly, for, knowing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear for you. You will see that the Lord commanded us, in Kirtland, to build a house of God, and establish a school for the Prophets, this is the word of the Lord to us, and we must, yea, the Lord helping us, we will obey: as on conditions of our obedience.
“He has promised us great things; yea, even a visit from the heavens to honor us with His own presence.... [Signed] JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.
“P.S.—I am not in the habit of crying peace, when there is no peace; and, knowing the threatened judgments of God, I say, Wo unto them who are at ease in Zion; fearfulness will speedily lay hold of the hypocrite. I did not suspect you had lost the commandments, but thought from your letters you had neglected to read them, otherwise you would not have written as you did ” ( History of the Church, 1:316–317).
The Olive Leaf Revelation
Some Eternal Truths
D&C 88:1–5 The Holy Spirit of Promise. Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost who places the stamp of approval upon every ordinance: baptism, confirmation, ordination, marriage. The promise is that the blessings will be received through faithfulness. If a person violates a covenant, whether it be of baptism, ordination, marriage or anything else, the Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval, and the blessings will not be received ” ( Doctrines of Salvation, 1:45).
D&C 88:6–13 The Light or Spirit of Christ is the power by which the world was made and which gives light and life to all things. It also enlightens the mind and enables us to distinguish between truth and error. These verses testify of the closeness of God's Spirit to his children.
D&C 88:17-39; see particularly 13, 34, 38 The law of God. God's law not only governs, but it is the means by which we may be preserved, perfected, and sanctified. In this orderly system each kingdom is governed by its particular law; therefore, those who live the celestial law are assured that they will inherit that glory.
D&C 88:15–16 The body and the spirit constitute the soul of man. Thus, the resurrection in which the body and the spirit are inseparably connected is the “redemption of the soul.” (Compare with D&C 93:33).
D&C 88:17–32 The Resurrection. Each person will be restored to that glory and kingdom whose laws they have lived.
D&C 88:63–68 Our Relationship to the Savior
— v. 63 The reciprocal relationship promised to those who draw near the Lord.
— v. 63 We must “seek diligently” not casually if we expect answers to prayer.
— vv. 64–65 We will receive that which is “expedient” for us; asking for that which is not expedient will turn to our condemnation.
— v. 68 The Lord instructs those who would draw near unto him to “sanctify themselves. To “sanctify” means to cleanse or to free from sin. We “sanctify” ourselves by following the Lord's teachings.
— v. 68 If we do these things, we have the promise that at some future point (when it is expedient for us) “you shall see him.”
D&C 88:70, 74, 117 A Solemn Assembly. The Lord instructs the elders to call a “solemn assembly” and to sanctify and purify themselves, that they might receive knowledge. This is the nature of the “School of the Prophets” the Lord wants to establish among them.
What We Should Study and Learn
D&C 88:77–79 “The doctrine of the Kingdom.” Gordon B. Hinckley quoted Matt. 11:29 (“learn of me”), then said: “I should like to suggest that you follow that injunction given by the Son of God. With all of your learning, learn of him. With all of your study, seek knowledge of the Master. That knowledge will complement in a wonderful way the secular training you receive and give a fulness to your life and character that can come in no other way ” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1964, 118; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1964, 1092).
Thomas S. Monson said: “A... hallmark of a happy home is discovered when home is a library of learning....The Lord counseled, `Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith' (D&C 88:118). The standard works offer the library of learning of which I speak. We must be careful not to underestimate the capacity of children to read and to understand the word of God ” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 81–82; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 70).
D&C 90:15 Other branches of knowledge are also important—astronomy, geology, history, culture, foreign affairs, and more (see also D&C 93:53).
Why We Should Study and Learn (D&C 88:80–82)
To magnify our callings , especially in missionary work but also as parents, in church callings, and in service to our fellow men. We are to seek seriously, through study and faith, to be “prepared in all things.”
To go forth and preach —warn the people, that they might be left without excuse. Brigham Young said: “Our education should be such as to improve our minds and fit us for increased usefulness; to make us of greater service to the human family ” ( Discourses of Brigham Young, 255). Russell M. Nelson said: “Because of our sacred regard for each human intellect, we consider the obtaining of an education to be a religious responsibility.... Our Creator expects His children everywhere to educate themselves ” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 6).
Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“It is so important that you young men and you young women get all of the education that you can. The Lord has said very plainly that His people are to gain knowledge of countries and kingdoms and of things of the world through the process of education, even by study and by faith. Education is the key which will unlock the door of opportunity for you. It is worth sacrificing for It is worth working at, and if you educate your mind and your hands, you will be able to make a great contribution to the society of which you are a part, and you will be able to reflect honorably on the Church of which you are a member.