Lesson 9

Joseph Smith—History 1:27–54; Doctrine and Covenants 2

“Lesson 9: Joseph Smith—History 1:27–54; Doctrine and Covenants 2,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)


Introduction

Young Joseph Smith continued to affirm that he had seen a vision, and he continued to be persecuted for it. He later said that during this time, he “fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth” (Joseph Smith—History 1:28). One evening when he was 17 years old, he prayed for forgiveness and asked to know his standing before God. An angel named Moroni appeared and declared that God had a work for Joseph to do, including the translation of an ancient record written on gold plates. While explaining Joseph’s role in the Restoration of the gospel, Moroni quoted a number of prophecies from the Bible, including Malachi’s prophecy about the return of Elijah. The next day, Joseph Smith went to the hill where Moroni had said the gold plates were buried. There he received further instruction from Moroni.

Suggestions for Teaching

Joseph Smith—History 1:27–29

Joseph Smith prays for forgiveness

Invite students to think about what they have learned from Joseph Smith’s example as a young man. You might ask a few students to briefly share a principle they have learned that has impacted them. Then ask a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:27–29 aloud. Before he or she reads, point out that the events described in these verses occurred when Joseph was between the ages of 14 and 17. Invite students to liken these verses to themselves, identifying experiences Joseph Smith had that are similar to experiences they have had.

  • What are some experiences Joseph Smith had as a youth that you can relate to? (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.)

  • According to the end of Joseph Smith—History 1:28, what did Joseph say about the temptations and errors he fell into? (He was not guilty of any great sins, but he sometimes felt that he did not act as one who had been called of God should act.)

  • What did Joseph Smith do about the guilt he felt for his sins? (He prayed for forgiveness and asked to know of his standing before God.)

  • What truths can we learn from Joseph Smith’s example?

As students discuss their insights, help them identify the following truths:

As we recognize our sins and feel sorrow for them, we can pray to Heavenly Father for forgiveness.

We can pray to know of our standing before God.

  • What do you think it means to know your standing before God? (You may need to explain that to know our standing before God means to know if God is pleased with us.)

  • Why might it be important for us to know our standing before God?

Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Explain that Elder Andersen’s counsel can help us know how we can learn our standing before God.

Elder Neil L. Andersen

“[We can] humbly petition the Lord: ‘Father, what wouldst Thou have me do?’ The answers come. We feel the changes we need to make. The Lord tells us in our mind and in our heart” (“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 41).

Share your testimony of the truths students have discussed. Assure students that Heavenly Father is willing to forgive us as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and do all that is necessary to repent of our sins.

Joseph Smith—History 1:30–35

The angel Moroni appears to Joseph Smith

Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith in His Room

Invite students to read Joseph Smith—History 1:30 silently, looking for what occurred as Joseph Smith prayed for forgiveness. Ask them to report what they discover. Display the picture Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith in His Room (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 91; see also LDS.org).

Ask a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:32–33 aloud, and invite the class to look for Moroni’s first message to Joseph Smith.

  • What did Moroni say about Joseph Smith’s future? (Students should express that God had a work for Joseph Smith to do.)

  • Moroni said that Joseph Smith’s name would “be had for good and evil among all nations.” When have you seen examples of this?

Ask a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:34–35 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, identifying what Moroni taught about the work Joseph would perform.

  • How would the book be translated? (By using special stones, called the Urim and Thummim, that God had prepared.)

Explain that in coming lessons, students will learn about Joseph Smith’s efforts to translate and publish the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith—History 1:36–49; Doctrine and Covenants 2

Moroni instructs Joseph Smith

Summarize Joseph Smith—History 1:36–42 by explaining that Moroni quoted prophecies from the Bible to explain Joseph Smith’s role in bringing about the Restoration of the gospel. (Consider suggesting that students mark the scripture references mentioned in these verses. For example, in verse 40, students could mark the phrase “the eleventh chapter of Isaiah.”)

Point out that the words in the prophecy quoted in Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39 also appear in Doctrine and Covenants 2. This is one of the earliest revelations in this dispensation, having been given to Joseph Smith when he was 17 years old.

You might also mention that this prophecy is of such importance that it also appears in the Old Testament (see Malachi 4:5–6), the New Testament (see Luke 1:17), and the Book of Mormon (see 3 Nephi 25:5–6).

handout iconBefore class, make copies of the following chart. Cut it into three separate handouts. Divide the class into three groups, and give each group one of the handouts. Ask each group to study their assigned verse and the prophetic explanation that follows it. In addition, ask each group to summarize the message of their assigned verse in their own words and to answer the question or questions on their handouts.

Group 1

Doctrine and Covenants 2:1—Who is Elijah? What priesthood power did Moroni say Elijah would restore?

President Henry B. Eyring

“Elijah was a great prophet with great power given him by God. He held the greatest power God gives to His children: he held the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it bound in heaven” (President Henry B. Eyring, “Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 78).

Group 2

Doctrine and Covenants 2:2—Who are the fathers and the children referred to in this verse?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

In the prophecy that “he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers,” the phrase “the fathers” refers to “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the promises were made. What are the promises? They are the promises of a continuation of the family unit in eternity” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah [1982], 267).

President Joseph Fielding Smith

In the prophecy that “the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers,” the phrase “their fathers” refers to “our dead ancestors who died without the privilege of receiving the gospel, but who received the promise that the time would come when that privilege would be granted them. The children are those now living who are preparing genealogical data and who are performing the vicarious ordinances in the temples” (President Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:127).

Group 3

Doctrine and Covenants 2:3—Why would the earth be utterly wasted if the sealing power had not been restored?

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“Why would the earth be wasted? Simply because if there is not a welding link between the fathers and the children—which is the work for the dead—then we will all stand rejected; the whole work of God will fail and be utterly wasted” (President Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:122).

After the groups have had sufficient time to prepare, invite students from the groups to report their summaries and answers to the class. Students’ responses should reflect the following truths:

Doctrine and Covenants 2:1God would send Elijah to restore the sealing power to the earth before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 2:2Our hearts can be turned to our ancestors, and we can perform ordinances for them in temples.

Doctrine and Covenants 2:3Without the power to unite families for eternity, the earth would be destroyed at Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.

If you have been sealed in the temple, you may want to display a picture of your family. If you have not yet been sealed, tell about your excitement to be sealed. Briefly explain that when students study Doctrine and Covenants 110, they will learn about Elijah bestowing the sealing power upon the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Direct students’ attention back to the narrative in Joseph Smith—History by explaining that after Moroni quoted the prophecy about the return of Elijah, he quoted other prophecies about the Restoration. Then he provided further instructions about the gold plates and departed (see Joseph Smith—History 1:42–43). Invite a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:44–45 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify what happened after Moroni’s departure. Once students recognize that Moroni returned that night and repeated the same message, invite them to scan Joseph Smith—History 1:46–49 and look for the number of times Moroni delivered basically the same message to Joseph Smith.

  • How many times did Moroni deliver the message to Joseph Smith? (Four times.)

  • What are some messages that have been repeated in the scriptures, in Church lessons, and in general conference talks?

  • In what ways do we benefit when the Lord and His servants repeat their messages?

Encourage students to look for repeated teachings as they study the scriptures on their own and to consider the importance of those teachings.

Joseph Smith–History 1:50–54

Joseph goes to the hill and uncovers the record, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate

Summarize Joseph Smith—History 1:50–51 by explaining that Joseph obeyed Moroni’s command and told his father about his experience the previous night. His father believed him and counseled him to do what Moroni had told him to do. So Joseph went to the hill where the gold plates were buried. Ask three students to take turns reading aloud from Joseph Smith—History 1:52–54 while the class follows along. To make sure students clearly understand the events described in these verses, ask a student to restate what happened in his or her own words. Inform students that in the next lesson they will discuss the events surrounding the time when Joseph was allowed to obtain the plates.

You may want to conclude by testifying of the truths you have discussed in this lesson and by inviting students to act on any promptings they have received to apply these truths in their lives.

Commentary and Background Information

Joseph Smith—History 1:33. “My name … should be both good and evil spoken of among all people”

Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy told of an experience in which he saw a fulfillment of Moroni’s prophecy in Joseph Smith—History 1:33. While serving as a missionary in the South Pacific, Elder Groberg visited a remote island named Tafahi, which had only 18 homes and no electricity or running water. He wrote:

Elder John H. Groberg

“At the last home, a strange thought occurred to me, ‘Why don’t you test the prophecy that the name of Joseph Smith should be known for good and evil throughout the world?’ I don’t know why the thought came, but it did.”

He asked the family living in this home if they had ever heard of the president of the United States. They responded, “Who’s he?” and “Where’s the United States?” Elder Groberg reported:

“I tried to explain where it was, but they couldn’t understand. They asked how big an island it was. I replied that it was a very big island, thousands of miles away with millions of people living on it. I told them that many people there had never even seen the ocean and that many people didn’t know one another. They couldn’t comprehend that.”

He then asked them about the leaders of Russia and France, but they could not answer his questions.

“Next,” he said, “I asked about some sports figures, some movie stars, famous business people, about the Depression, the Korean War, and other things. …

“There was not a member of the Church living on this island, although there were two other churches there. I took a deep breath and said, ‘Have you ever heard of Joseph Smith?’

“Immediately their faces lit up. Everyone looked at me, and the father said, ‘Don’t talk to us about that false prophet! Not in our home! We know all about him. Our minister has told us!’ I could hardly believe what I was hearing. The scripture … sounded in my mind that Joseph’s name ‘should be had for good and evil among all nations’ (JS—H 1:33). To me this was a direct fulfillment of prophecy.

“I am convinced that you could hardly get a place more remote, more out of touch with modern civilization, than the little island of Tafahi. The people there knew nothing of the great leaders of the day—political, economic, or otherwise—but they knew the name Joseph Smith. In this case they knew it for ill, at least to begin with. I spent the next few days explaining more of the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and before we left, a few of them knew his name for good” (In the Eye of the Storm [1993], 104–6).