Following the loss of the 116 manuscript pages, the Prophet lost the power to translate. Following a period of humble prayer and repentance, the plates and the Urim and Thummim were returned to Joseph. The Lord commanded Joseph not to retranslate the portion of the plates corresponding to the lost 116 pages, and He revealed Satan’s plot to destroy the work of God. The Lord then commanded Joseph Smith to translate the small plates of Nephi. He also explained the purpose of the Book of Mormon and its role in establishing His Church.
Ask students to briefly review what they learned from the previous lesson about the loss of the 116 manuscript pages (see D&C 3). Remind students that because of the Prophet’s repeated requests to allow Martin Harris to take the manuscript pages and the subsequent loss of those pages, Moroni took the gold plates and the Urim and Thummim from Joseph Smith.
Moroni later returned the plates and the Urim and Thummim. Sometime after their return, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 10. In this revelation, the Lord instructed Joseph regarding what to do with the portion of the plates from which the lost manuscript came. (See Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley , 133–36.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 10:1–2 by explaining that the Lord reminded Joseph why the power to translate had been taken from him and what happened as a result of his mistake. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:3–4. Ask the class to follow along, looking for counsel the Lord gave as Joseph Smith began to translate again. Ask students to report what they find.
Why do you think Joseph Smith needed to be counseled not to labor or to translate more than he had strength?
How can the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 10:4 guide us as we serve the Lord?
Display a snare or trap (or draw a picture of one on the board).
How could a device like this represent Satan’s intentions toward us?
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:5 aloud. Invite the class to look for what the Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith to do in order to escape Satan.
What can we learn from this verse? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize that as we pray always, we will have power to overcome Satan and those who serve him. Consider writing this principle on the board.)
How can prayer help us to “conquer Satan, and … escape [those who] uphold his work”?
Invite a few students to share examples of how prayer has helped them resist Satan’s temptations. (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.)
Explain that the Lord warned Joseph of a trap Satan had set to try to destroy the Prophet and the work of God. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 10:8–19. Ask the class to follow along and identify the plan of the wicked individuals who were then in possession of the manuscript.
What was the plan of the wicked individuals who had the manuscript? (To discredit the Prophet and the work of the Lord by altering the words of the manuscript. If Joseph had translated the same material again, they would have said that he was unable to do it the same way twice and therefore had no gift.)
Hold up the trap or snare you displayed previously (or refer to the drawing on the board). Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 10:20–29 the Lord speaks about Satan’s influence on the wicked people who obtained the 116 pages of manuscript and how Satan accomplishes his wicked purposes. Divide the class into pairs. Ask one student in each pair to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:20–29 silently, looking for what these verses teach about Satan’s aims. Ask the other student to read the same verses, looking for the strategies Satan uses to accomplish his aims. After sufficient time, invite students to share what they have discovered with their partners.
What do we learn from these verses about Satan’s purposes? (Students may discover a variety of principles, but be sure they identify the following truth: Satan desires to destroy the work of the Lord and our souls. You may want to write this truth on the board. You might also suggest that students mark the words and phrases that teach this truth in verses 22–23 and 27.)
From what you read in these verses, how does Satan seek to destroy the work of the Lord and our souls?
To help students understand and feel the importance of this truth, ask the following questions. Invite the pairs to discuss their answers.
What evidence have you seen that Satan uses deception, anger, flattery, and lying to destroy the work of the Lord and our souls?
How can being aware of Satan’s intentions and methods help us avoid and escape his traps?
Invite students to spend a few minutes writing in their class notebooks or scripture study journals about methods of the adversary listed in Doctrine and Covenants 10:20–29 that they have felt or seen. Also ask them to write about what they can do to avoid or escape Satan’s traps.
After students have had sufficient time to write, summarize Doctrine and Covenants 10:30–37 by explaining that because of wicked people’s plans to destroy the work of God and Joseph Smith’s reputation, the Lord commanded Joseph not to retranslate the portion of the plates from which the lost 116 pages had been translated.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 10:38–42. Ask the class to look for what the Lord commanded Joseph to translate instead of having him retranslate the portion of the plates from which the lost 116 pages had been translated.
What did the Lord command Joseph to translate? Why?
Help students understand how the Lord had prepared for the loss of the 116 manuscript pages. Explain that the lost document contained the translation of the book of Lehi, which was in Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi. Mormon had been inspired to attach the small plates of Nephi to his record for “a wise purpose,” which at the time he did not understand (see Words of Mormon 1:3–7). The small plates of Nephi covered approximately the same time period as the book of Lehi. After the loss of the 116 pages, the Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith to translate the material from the small plates of Nephi.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:43 silently and look for an important truth the Lord wanted Joseph Smith to understand. (As students share their ideas, write the following truth on the board: The wisdom of God is greater than the cunning of the devil. You may need to explain that cunning refers to the use of tricks to deceive people.)
How does the Lord’s plan to replace the lost manuscript illustrate this truth?
According to Doctrine and Covenants 10:44–45, why are the small plates of Nephi of greater worth than what was lost with the 116 manuscript pages?
How does knowing that God prepared a way to compensate for the 116 lost manuscript pages help you more fully trust Him?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 10:46–61 by explaining that in these verses the Lord testified that He answered the prayers of His Nephite disciples by preserving and bringing forth the Book of Mormon in our day.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:62–63 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said that the Book of Mormon would bring to light.
What will the Book of Mormon bring to light? (The true points of Jesus Christ’s doctrine.)
According to verse 63, how will the Lord use the true points of His doctrine to overcome the work of Satan?
Invite a student to read aloud the Lord’s concluding promise in Doctrine and Covenants 10:67, 69–70. Ask students to follow along and note phrases that are meaningful to them in light of what they have learned today. Invite students to share which phrases are meaningful to them and why. Conclude with your testimony.