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.
My dear young brothers and sisters, take advantage of every educational opportunity that you can possibly afford, and you fathers and mothers, encourage your [children] to gain an education which will bless their lives. ”
(“Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, June 1999, 4).
How We Should Learn (D&C 88:118)
By study and faith. Both are required in order to learn. Learning by faith is based on the premise that God knows all things and will reveal eternal truths to his children if they diligently seek them. Marion G. Romney said: “I believe in study. I believe that men learn much through study…. I also believe, however, and know, that learning by study is greatly accelerated by faith ” ( Learning for the Eternities, 72). Harold B. Lee said: “Learning by faith requires the bending of the whole soul through worthy living to become attuned to the Holy Spirit of the Lord ” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 94).
Through consistent and diligent effort. There is a real difference between mere reading and a diligent, systematic study effort.
Out of the best books. The Lord wants us to read good literature. John Taylor said: “We ought to foster education and intelligence of every kind; cultivate literary tastes, and men of literary and scientific talent should. improve that talent; and all should magnify the gifts which God has given unto them…. If there is anything good and praiseworthy in morals, religion, science, or anything calculated to exalt and ennoble man, we are after it. But with all our getting, we want to get understanding, and that understanding which flows from God ” ( The Gospel Kingdom, 277).
Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“You know that your children will read. They will read books and they will read magazines and newspapers. Cultivate within them a taste for the best. While they are very young, read to them the great stories which have become immortal because of the virtues they teach. Expose them to good books. Let there be a corner somewhere in your house, be it ever so small, where they will see at least a few books of the kind upon which great minds have been nourished.
“Let there be good magazines about the house, those which are produced by the Church and by others, which will stimulate their thoughts to ennobling concepts. Let them read a good family newspaper that they may know what Is going on in the world without being exposed to the debasing advertising and writing so widely found ” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1975, 57–58).
Ezra Taft Benson said:
“Today, with the abundance of books available, it is the mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read…. Feed only on the best. As John Wesley’s mother counseled him: ‘Avoid whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things,… increases the authority of the body over the mind.’ ” (“In His Steps,” in 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year , 61).
D&C 88:122 How the gospel should be taught. Rather than lectures or sermons, gospel teaching should be collaborative—“that all may be edified of all.”
The School of the Prophets
Patterns of Preparation
D&C 88:119–120 “Establish a house.” This was fulfilled with the erection of the Kirtland Temple. These qualities, however, can also be applied to our present meetinghouses and even to our homes. John A. Widtsoe said: “The temple is a place of instruction. Here the principles of the gospel are reviewed and pro-found truths of the kingdom of God are unfolded. If we enter the temple in the right spirit and are attentive, we go out enriched in gospel knowledge and wisdom ” (“Looking toward the Temple,” Ensign, Jan. 1972, 56–57).
Boyd K. Packer said:
“The temple is a great school. It is a house of learning. In the temples the atmosphere is maintained so that it is ideal for instruction in matters that are deeply spiritual….
“The temple ceremony will not be fully understood at first experience. It will only be partly understood. Return again and again and again. Return to learn. Things that have troubled you or things that have been puzzling or things that have been mysterious will become known to you. Many of them will be the quiet, personal things that you really cannot explain to anyone else. But to you they are things known….
“So look toward the temple. Point your children toward the temple. From the days of their infancy, direct their attention to it, and begin their preparation for the day when they may enter the holy temple. In the meantime, be teachable yourself, be reverent. Drink deeply from the teachings—the symbolic, deeply spiritual teachings—available only in the temple ” ( The Holy Temple [pamphlet, 1982], 6–8).
Ezra Taft Benson asked: “Do we return to the temple often to receive the personal blessings that come from regular temple worship? Prayers are answered, revelation occurs, and instruction by the Spirit takes place in the holy temples of the Lord ” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 98; or Ensign, May 1988, 85).
D&C 88:121, 123–126 Personal preparation. The members of this school are instructed to prepare themselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for participation in these classes.
D&C 88:127–131 Teacher preparation. This advice applies to gospel teachers in all settings.
How the School of the Prophets Functioned
D&C 88:132–137 A specific greeting ritual and covenant was used in the original school.
The School of the Prophets was organized 22 January 1833, less than four weeks after section 88 had directed its establishment. In accordance with the instructions in this revelation, all who participated in the school were admitted by receiving the ordinance of the washing of feet, symbolizing their being clean from the sins of the world (D&C 88:74, 138–139; History of the Church, 1:323).
Setting for the School. According to Brigham Young, the school of the prophets met in a small room, about ten by fourteen feet, situated above Joseph Smith’s kitchen at the back of Newel K. Whitney’s store. (Journal of Discourses, 12:157).
Sessions began about sunrise and continued until about 4:00 M. Those attending were instructed to bathe, put on clean linen, and come to school fasting.
In this school, the leaders of the Church were instructed in gospel doctrine, the affairs of the Church, and other matters. They were to prepare for Church leadership and missionary service.
Significant spiritual manifestations blessed meetings of the School of the Prophets. The following occurred when the First presidency was organized during one of the school’s sessions:
The Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“March 18.—Great joy and satisfaction continually beamed in the countenances of the School of the Prophets, and the Saints, on account of the things revealed, and our progress in the knowledge of God. The High Priests assembled in the school room of the Prophets, and were organized according to revelation….
“Elder Rigdon expressed a desire that himself and Brother Frederick G. Williams should be ordained to the offices to which they had been called, viz.
, those of Presidents of the High Priesthood, and to be equal in holding the keys of the kingdom with Brother Joseph Smith, Jun., according to the revelation given on the 8th of March, 1833 [D&C 90:6]. Accordingly I laid my hands on Brothers Sidney and Frederick, and ordained them to take part with me in holding the keys of this last kingdom, and to assist in the Presidency of the High Priesthood, as my Counselors; after which I exhorted the brethren to faithfulness and diligence in keeping the commandments of God, and gave much instruction for the benefit of the Saints, with a promise that the pure in heart should see a heavenly vision; and after remaining a short time in secret prayer, the promise was verified; for many present had the eyes of their understanding, opened by the Spirit of God, so as to behold many things. I then blessed the bread and wine, and distributed a portion to each. Many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the Savior, and concourses of angels, and many other things, of which each one has a record of what he saw ” ( History of the Church, 1:334–335).
Gospel Study Today
Church Education System classes —Seminary, Institute, and Adult Education. Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“Our great program of Church education moves forward. The work of training students through the seminary and institute program is constantly being enlarged…. We urge all for whom it is available to take advantage of it. We do not hesitate to promise that your knowledge of the gospel will be increased, your faith will be strengthened, and you will develop wonderful associations and friendships ” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 69; or Ensign, May 1984, 47).
Wilford Woodruff said: “Do not be discouraged because you cannot learn all at once; learn one thing at a time, learn it well, and treasure it up, then learn another truth and treasure that up, and in a few years you will have a great store of useful knowledge which will not only be a great blessing to yourselves and your children, but to your fellow men ” ( The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 269).