Lesson 32: Doctrine and Covenants 25

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

Persecution against the Prophet Joseph Smith and members of the Church of Jesus Christ continued during the summer of 1830. Joseph’s wife Emma was baptized on June 28, but persecution of the members delayed her confirmation until August 1830. In late June, between Emma’s baptism and confirmation, Joseph received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 25. In it, the Lord provided Emma words of comfort as well as instructions regarding her family and Church responsibilities.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 25:1–3

The Lord addresses Emma Smith as an elect lady

Before class, invite three students to familiarize themselves with the following summaries of the life and character of Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph. Begin class by inviting these three students to tell the class what they have learned about Emma Smith. You may want to display a picture of Emma Smith (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 88; see also LDS.org).

Emma Smith
  1. 1.

    Emma assisted Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon.

    Shortly after Emma Hale married Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni told Joseph that the time had come for him to receive the gold plates. Early in the morning on September 22, 1827, Joseph and Emma rode together in a wagon to the Hill Cumorah, where Joseph received the plates. Because of persecution in New York, Joseph and Emma then moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where they eventually purchased land from Emma’s parents. There in Harmony, the Prophet began to translate the plates. For a time, Emma acted as scribe while Joseph translated. Up to this point, Joseph had been commanded that he should show the plates to no one, not even Emma. Although Emma observed the plates lying on the table covered by a linen cloth, she never lifted the cloth to look at them.

  2. 2.

    Emma experienced tragedy, heartache, and persecution.

    While living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Emma gave birth to a son named Alvin who did not long survive. Emma herself became critically ill, and Joseph feared she would not live. When she recovered, she heard the devastating news that the 116 translated pages of manuscript had been lost by Joseph’s friend Martin Harris. Even in her frail health, Emma consoled her heartbroken husband, who had lost the power to translate. Together, they awaited the Lord’s will for the translation of the plates. She was later forced to leave her home in Harmony because of threats from malicious people.

  3. 3.

    The day Emma was baptized, Joseph was arrested.

    In June 1830, Joseph and a small group of believers built a dam in a stream near Colesville, New York, to create a pool deep enough to perform baptisms. However, a mob tore down the dam before any baptisms could be performed. The next day, the Saints rebuilt the dam and performed baptisms for 13 people, including Emma Smith. That night, just before the confirmations were to be performed, Joseph was arrested on charges of “being a disorderly person” (History of the Church, 1:88). He was tried and acquitted, but immediately after the trial he was arrested again on the same charge by a constable from a neighboring county. He was again released. Because of continuous opposition to their missionary efforts, Church members had to delay their confirmation meetings. Emma wasn’t confirmed a member of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost until early August. In late June, between her baptism and confirmation, Joseph received a revelation directed to Emma, which is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 25.

  • What impressed you about Emma Smith as you learned about some of her experiences?

Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 25:1–3 silently, looking for words and phrases that may have been comforting to Emma. Invite a few students to report what they found and explain why they think those words or phrases may have been comforting to her.

  • How does knowing that you are a son or daughter in the Lord’s kingdom help you during difficult times?

  • What did the Lord promise Emma if she would be faithful and “walk in the paths of virtue”?

  • What do you think it means to “walk in the paths of virtue”? How might a person be protected by walking in paths of virtue?

Draw students’ attention to the phrase “elect lady” in Doctrine and Covenants 25:3. You may want to suggest that they mark this phrase. Explain that when the Relief Society was organized in 1842 (more than a decade after this revelation was given), Emma Smith was called to be the organization’s first president. On that occasion, the Prophet Joseph Smith read the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 25. He then explained that Emma was “elect” because she had been “elected to a certain work … and that the revelation was then fulfilled by [her] election to the Presidency of the Society, she having previously been ordained to expound the Scriptures” (in History of the Church, 4:552–53).

Doctrine and Covenants 25:4–16

Emma Smith receives counsel regarding her family and Church duties

Write the following words on the board and invite students to copy them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

Counsel

Calling

Promise

   

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 25:4–16 silently and look for phrases or ideas that are related to the three categories written on the board. (They could do this individually or with a partner.) Ask them to write what they find under the appropriate category. (For example, in verse four, the Lord’s instruction for Emma to “murmur not” because she had not seen the plates could be categorized as counsel.) After sufficient time, assign students to discuss the following questions in small groups. You could write the questions on the board or prepare them on handouts for each group. You might also want to assign a discussion leader in each group to ask the questions and encourage each student’s participation.

  • Which of the phrases or ideas you identified show that the Lord knew and loved Emma Smith? Explain how each phrase or idea is evidence of the Lord’s love.

  • Doctrine and Covenants 25:16 contains the Lord’s declaration that He intended the counsel and promises in this section to also apply to us. What are some lessons you learn from the Lord’s words to Emma? (As you identify these truths, write them down.)

After the groups discuss their answers to these questions, ask them to report to the class the principles they identified in Doctrine and Covenants 25:4–16. Their responses might include some or all of the following (although they may be worded differently):

We are to lay aside the things of the world and seek for that which is eternal.

As we worship the Lord through righteous music, He will bless us.

We can find joy and comfort in cleaving to the covenants we have made with God.

If we will keep God’s commandments continually, we will receive a crown of righteousness.

As students report the truths they identified, discuss their answers with the class. Follow the direction of the Spirit as you invite students to explain what they have found and share insights and examples. The questions and instructions below may be helpful as you lead this discussion.

We are to lay aside the things of the world and seek for that which is eternal (see D&C 25:10).

  • How do you think the counsel to put eternal things before the things of this world might have been helpful to Emma, especially as Joseph Smith’s wife? (It might be helpful to explain that Emma Hale was raised in a prosperous home but, after marrying, often lived in very poor conditions.)

  • How is the counsel to put eternal things before the things of the world helpful to us today?

  • What are some things of the world that people tend to place ahead of God?

  • What can we do to seek for things that are eternal?

Invite students to ponder whether they are putting any worldly things before God.

As we worship the Lord through righteous music, He will bless us (see D&C 25:12).

  • According to this verse, what is one thing the Lord delights in? What does He say about the blessings that come through “the song of the righteous”?

  • What blessings have you received as a result of worshipping the Lord through appropriate music?

Consider inviting students to set a goal to listen to worthy and appropriate music. Encourage them to watch for the blessings that will come as they pursue this goal.

We can find joy and comfort in cleaving to the covenants we have made with God (see D&C 25:13).

You may want to explain that the phrase “cleave unto the covenants” means to adhere closely or cling to the promises we have made with God.

Think of someone you know who has remained faithful to his or her covenants, even during difficult times.

  • How has that faithfulness been a blessing to him or her?

  • When have you been blessed because you have been faithful to the covenants you have made?

Invite students to think about how they might lift up their hearts and stay true to their covenants.

If we will keep God’s commandments continually, we will receive a crown of righteousness (see D&C 25:15).

Explain that the phrase “a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive” refers to receiving exaltation in the celestial kingdom (see also D&C 29:13).

  • How might this promise help someone who has been through or is going through hard times?

  • Why is it important to be obedient continually and not just periodically?

Invite students to ponder how they can improve in being continually obedient. You may want to ask them to write their thoughts in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

After you have discussed these truths from Doctrine and Covenants 25 with the class, invite students to prayerfully consider and write down what they feel the Lord would have them do based on what they learned in class today. Encourage them to act on these impressions.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 25:13

To help students memorize Doctrine and Covenants 25:13, ask them to copy the words of this verse on a piece of paper or card. Invite them to carry the paper or card with them throughout the day, think about the words, and try to memorize them. During the next class, ask them to practice reciting the verse to another student and then explain what the passage means.

Note: You could use this teaching idea during the lesson as you discuss the scripture mastery passage, or you could use it at the end of the lesson.

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Doctrine and Covenants 25. Invite guests to class

To include the testimonies and experiences of adult women in this lesson, consider using the following teaching idea:

With the permission of priesthood leaders responsible for seminary in your area, invite a few respected sisters from your branch, ward, or stake to attend class and present the summaries about Emma Smith at the beginning of the lesson. You may also want to consider other ways to involve them throughout the lesson. For instance, you could ask them to share their testimonies of principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 25.

Doctrine and Covenants 25. Video presentation—“Emma Smith Follows the Lord’s Counsel”

To help students understand the context of the Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 25 and to show her response to it, show students the video “Emma Smith Follows the Lord’s Counsel.” The video could be used to replace the summaries about Emma found at the beginning of the lesson. Or, to emphasize the personal nature of the Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith, you could show this video after students have read Doctrine and Covenants 25:4–16. This video can be found on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs and on LDS.org.

Doctrine and Covenants 25:1–3. Video presentation—“An Elect Lady”

To provide students with a summary of Emma Smith’s life and to illustrate her fortitude, show students the video “An Elect Lady.” You could use this video after students have studied and discussed Doctrine and Covenants 25:1–3. Before you show this video, invite students to ponder how the “elect” women they know have influenced their lives. You might also encourage them to consider how the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 25 might have brought comfort to Emma Smith during the difficulties she experienced. This video can be found on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs and on LDS.org.

Lucy Mack Smith’s tribute to Emma Smith

Consider concluding class by reading the following summary of some of Emma Smith’s trials as well as Lucy Mack Smith’s tribute to her:

Over the years, Emma Smith lost six children to death and endured relentless persecution with her husband. Her house was broken in to, she was left homeless several times, and she often had to rely on the kindness of others to obtain the necessities of life. Eventually, even her beloved Joseph was taken from her and violently murdered. (For more information on Emma’s children, visit the Joseph Smith Papers website: http://josephsmithpapers.org/back/joseph-smith-pedigree-chart).

Emma Smith’s mother-in-law, Lucy Mack Smith, wrote the following about her:

“I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done; for I know that which she has had to endure—she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty—she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman. It may be, that many may yet have to encounter the same—I pray God, that this may not be the case; but, should it be, may they have grace given them according to their day, even as has been the case with her” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley [1958], 190–91).