On Sunday, 8 July 1838, JS dictated five revelations, each of which concerned church leadership or finance; one of these revelations regarded the disposition of property donated to the church. The management of such property had evolved over the years. Initially, the disposition of property was within the purview of the church’s . Then, from 1832 to 1834 the managed church assets. In the mid-1830s, after and were established in and , they also became involved in overseeing the use of church assets. In 1837 and , counselors in the presidency, began making significant financial decisions without the input of the high council or the . High council members in particular resented the exclusion, and council members compelled Phelps and Whitmer to include the council and bishopric in future financial decisions.
The 8 July 1838 revelation regarding the management of donated property was the fourth of the five revelations from that day that copied into JS’s journal. JS apparently dictated these revelations in a leadership meeting held in the morning before the day’s worship services, and at some point in July, Robinson copied the revelations into JS’s journal as part of the entry for 8 July. This entry, which consists almost entirely of revelation transcripts, appears in a gap in regular journal keeping. Robinson apparently did not resume making regular journal entries until late July, suggesting that he may not have copied the revelations into the journal before then.
The third revelation directed the to surplus property to the church as “the beginning of the tithing of my people” and then to donate one-tenth of their interest annually. ’s headnote for the fourth revelation, featured here, states that it was given in reference to “the disposition of the properties tithed, as named in the preceeding revelation.” This short revelation directed that the donated property be managed by a council consisting of the , Bishop and his counselors in the bishopric, and the Zion high council—all acting together under the inspiration of God. Whereas the first three 8 July revelations included in the journal entry for that day were read to the congregation of Saints at the worship service later in the day, it is unclear whether this fourth revelation was also read at that time. On 26 July 1838, the council that was called for in this revelation met as directed.
Making known the disposition of the properties tithed, as named in the preceeding revelation—
Verrily thus saith the Lord, the time has now come that it shall be disposed of, by a council composed of the of my and of the and his council and by <my> , and <by> mine own voice unto them saith the Lord, even so Amen. [p. 57]
Another early manuscript copy of the revelation, in unidentified handwriting, also begins with the heading “Revelation given the same day.” However, that copy has a different secondary headnote—“On the disposeal of the property of the Church”—which the unidentified scribe apparently inserted after copying the revelation. This difference suggests that Robinson added the headnote in the featured copy when he inscribed it in JS’s journal—a practice he apparently followed with the other 8 July revelations when he copied them into the journal. (Revelation, 8 July 1838–D, copy, Revelations Collection, CHL.)
Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.
It is unclear whether the high council included the pro tempore Zionpresidency at Far West, which ordinarily presided over the council,a or whether the First Presidency was to preside directly over the body of twelve counselors, as the presidency had in Kirtland.b When the Zion high council met on 31 August 1838, Sidney Rigdon and Hyrum Smith presided directly over the twelve counselors; the Zion presidency was apparently not present. This was the last high council meeting recorded before JS was taken prisoner by Missouri officials in November 1838.c