The Priesthood of Aaron
“Lesson 37: The Priesthood of Aaron,” Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, 132
Each young man will better understand his calling by learning of the source and importance of his priesthood authority.
1. Materials needed:
2. Have a young man prepare to read paragraphs five through seven of the account by Oliver Cowdery contained in the footnotes at the end of Joseph Smith—History, and express his feelings about the experience.
3. Invite a young man and his father to share a special experience that they have had with the power of the priesthood. Have them explain what that experience meant to them then and what the priesthood means in their lives now.
SUGGESTED LESSON DEVELOPMENT
Aaron First Called
Picture and discussion
Display the picture of Moses ordaining Aaron (picture 13 at the back of the manual). Identify for the young men who Moses and Aaron are.
• What is happening in the picture? (Moses is ordaining Aaron to the priesthood.)
• What do you know about Aaron? (He was Moses’ brother and was called to assist and speak for Moses.)
• Why is Aaron important to us? (The Aaronic Priesthood was given Aaron’s name. We hold the Priesthood of Aaron.)
Scripture and discussion
Have a young man read Hebrews 5:4 while the others follow in their Bibles.
• According to this scripture, how do we receive the priesthood? (We must be called of God as was Aaron.)
Have the young men mark this scripture. Ask them to use the footnotes or cross-references to find another scripture that clarifies how Aaron was called to the priesthood.
If the young men have problems finding the right scripture, tell them to turn to Exodus 28:1. Have a young man read this scripture while the others follow along.
Help the young men understand that Aaron was called by God through Moses to receive the priesthood. Explain further that after a man has been called by God to receive the priesthood, he must be ordained by the laying on of hands.
Have a young man read Numbers 27:18–20, 22–23.
Help the young men understand that they were called the same way as Aaron, Joshua, and all others who have received the priesthood. Aaronic Priesthood holders are called by God through the bishop. They are presented to the congregation and then ordained by the laying on of hands by those in authority.
Explain that Aaron was eighty-three years old when he received his priesthood call and became the presiding priest or the head of the Aaronic Priesthood. This was approximately 3,500 years ago, or 1,500 years before Christ’s birth.
Explain that Aaron and his sons were given special assignments or ordinances to perform. In Moses’ day, members of the Aaronic Priesthood had to be at least thirty years old. Following Judah’s return to Jerusalem from Babylon, the age was changed to twenty years and older. (See Numbers 4:43; Ezra 3:8.)
Explain that in ancient days, a man had to be a direct descendant of Aaron to hold the Aaronic Priesthood. John the Baptist was a descendant of Aaron through a long line of ancestors.
John the Baptist
Scripture, quotation, and discussion
Have a young man read Doctrine and Covenants 84:28.
Explain that Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented on this verse as follows:
“Naming of children and circumcision of male members of the house of Israel took place on this [eighth] day. In the case of John, he ‘was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old’—not to the Aaronic Priesthood, for such would come later, after his baptism and other preparation, but—‘unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power.’ (D&C 84:28.) That is, at this solemn eighth day ceremony, an angel, presumably Gabriel, gave the Lord’s Elias the divine commission to serve as the greatest forerunner of all the ages” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966–73], 1:89).
Help the young men understand how important John the Baptist’s mission was. Explain that this also shows how important the Aaronic Priesthood is.
Have a young man read the first part of Luke 7:28.
• From what you know about John the Baptist, what made him such a great prophet? (He baptized Jesus, and he prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.)
Read the following explanation by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“How is it that John was considered one of the greatest prophets? …
“First. He was entrusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.
“Secondly. He was entrusted with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize the Son of Man. …
“Thirdly. John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey his instructions or be damned, by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law. … The son of Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven, and these three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], pp. 275–76).
Help the young men develop a feeling for John the Baptist’s fearlessness in fulfilling his duties. He called the Jews to repentance and challenged them to give up their traditions. He testified of the coming Messiah, who could save them if they would accept him and be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost.
Explain that another example of John’s courage was his fearless denunciation of Herod’s sin in taking Herodias, his brother’s wife, for his own. Of course, Herod and Herodias did not like John denouncing their sinful relationship. Undoubtedly, Herod would have liked to put John the Baptist to death, but he feared John and his many friends. Therefore, Herod had John put in prison instead.
About two years later, at Herod’s birthday celebration, Salome, Herodias’s daughter, danced for Herod and pleased him so much he promised to give her whatever she wanted. Salome asked her mother, Herodias, what to ask for and was told to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Although Herod was reluctant, he fulfilled his promise and had John beheaded. (See Matthew 14:3–11.)
Help the young men bring out the following points:
1. John was dedicated to the Lord and served the Lord at all costs. He did what he was commanded to do in spite of what others said or did.
2. John exercised his priesthood worthily.
3. John opposed evil with courage.
Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood
Scripture and discussion
Explain that after the death of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles, the priesthood was lost from the earth. The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood approximately eighteen hundred years after John the Baptist’s death was one of the most important events of our modern times.
Have a young man read Joseph Smith—History 1:68, while the others follow in their scriptures.
• How did Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receive the Aaronic Priesthood? (By the laying on of hands from one having the proper authority.)
To help the young men understand this event better, have another young man read Joseph Smith—History 1:69–72. Suggest that the young men mark these verses.
• Why was John the Baptist sent back to restore the Aaronic Priesthood? (He held the keys of this priesthood.)
Explain that the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood was one of the first steps in the restoration of the full gospel.
Help the young men memorize Joseph Smith—History 1:69.
Put the following key words on the chalkboard while the young men read the passage silently. After three or four minutes, have the young men close their scriptures and try filling in the blanks from memory.
Upon you ________________, in the name ________________, I confer ________________, which holds the keys ________________, and of the gospel ________________, and of baptism ________________; and this shall never be ________________ until the sons ________________ ________________ unto the ________________.
As the young men commit the different lines to memory, erase parts of the key words until they can repeat the passage from memory.
To see how Oliver Cowdery felt about receiving the Aaronic Priesthood, have the assigned young man read the account at the end of Joseph Smith—History, while the others follow in their scriptures (see “Preparation”). Encourage the young man to express his feelings about the experience.
• How did Oliver Cowdery feel? (Peaceful, happy, full of joy, awed, privileged to have such a blessing.)
Experience of father and son
Have the assigned young man and his father share their experience with the power of the priesthood and express what the priesthood means to them.
Bear testimony of the sacred nature of the Aaronic Priesthood. Emphasize that the young men hold the same priesthood that John the Baptist restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Challenge each young man to ponder the sacred calling he has as a bearer of the Aaronic Priesthood. Challenge each young man to follow the great example of those who have gone before us and to more fully magnify his sacred calling in the priesthood.^ Back to top