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.
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.
“[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.
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 , 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.
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).
Before 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.
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 2:1—God would send Elijah to restore the sealing power to the earth before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Doctrine and Covenants 2:2—Our hearts can be turned to our ancestors, and we can perform ordinances for them in temples.
Doctrine and Covenants 2:3—Without 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.
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.