Lesson 43: Doctrine and Covenants 38:17–42

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


The previous lesson covered the first 16 verses of Doctrine and Covenants 38. This lesson covers the remainder of the section. In response to the Saints’ desire to know more about the commandment to gather to Ohio, the Lord revealed some blessings that will come to the righteous during the Millennium. He then instructed the Saints to be unified and explained why He commanded them to gather to Ohio. Finally, the Lord gave commandments to help the Saints know how to begin the gathering.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 38:17–22

The Lord reveals some blessings that will come to the righteous now and during the Millennium

Ask students what an inheritance is and who usually receives one.

  • Why would you want an inheritance?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 38:17–22. Ask the class to follow along and identify the inheritance the Lord promised to give His people.

  • What did the Lord say His people would need to do in order to receive the inheritance spoken of in these verses? (Seek it with all their hearts [see D&C 38:19]; hear His voice and follow Him [see D&C 38:22].)

Invite a student to recount the background of Doctrine and Covenants 38 that they learned during the previous lesson. If needed, remind students that some of the Saints in New York had requested more information regarding the Lord’s commandment to move to Ohio.

  • How do you think teaching the Saints about their eternal inheritance might have influenced their feelings about the command to move to Ohio?

Encourage students to look for additional reasons why the Lord gave the commandment for the Saints to gather to Ohio as they study the remainder of Doctrine and Covenants 38.

Doctrine and Covenants 38:23–27

The Lord commands the Saints to be unified

Before class, draw on the board a simple sketch of the outside of a building found in your area. Or draw a simple picture of a house, as illustrated here. Include essential elements of the building, including an entrance, a window, walls, and a roof. Ask students which part of the building is the most essential. As students respond, help them see that each part of the building serves a needed purpose.

house outline
  • How can the parts of a building be compared to the people in a family or to the people in a ward or branch? (Just as each part of a building is important, each person in a family or ward or branch is valuable and can serve a vital role.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:23–25 silently and look for a phrase that teaches how we are to view other people. Ask students to report what they learn.

  • What do you think it means for a person to “esteem his brother as himself”? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: We are to value others as much as we value ourselves.)

To help students remember this principle, write the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on the board. You might want to suggest that students copy it in their scriptures, class notebooks, or scripture study journals. (The statement is found in “The Weak and the Simple of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 7.)

“There is a unique equality among members [of the Church]. No one of us is to consider himself of more value than the other (see D&C 38:24–25)” (President Boyd K. Packer).

  • What happens when people think they are of more value, or better, than others?

  • How is the Church blessed when we do not consider ourselves to be of more value than others?

Tell students that the Savior taught a parable illustrating why we should esteem others as ourselves. Invite a student to read this parable aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 38:26. Ask the class to follow along and look for how the man in this parable treated his sons.

  • How would you feel if you were the son who received rags in this parable?

  • What could the son who received robes do to improve this situation?

  • What do you think is the Lord’s message to us in this parable?

Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:27 silently and look for a principle the Lord wants us to understand from this parable. (Students may use different words, but they should express something like the following: If we are not one, we cannot be the Lord’s people. Write this principle on the board near the first principle you wrote. You may also want to suggest that students mark the words in their scriptures that teach this principle.)

  • In the context of verse 27, what does it mean to “be one”? (To be unified with others and with the Lord in righteousness.)

  • How might valuing others as much as we value ourselves help us become one with each other? How might this help us become one with the Lord?

  • Why do you think we cannot be the Lord’s people if we are not one?

Explain that the early Church members who were called to gather to Ohio came from varying backgrounds. Some owned successful farms and were respected in their communities, while others had little property and were considered to be of a lower social status.

  • How might the principles on the board have blessed the Saints as they gathered with other members of the Church in Ohio?

Before class, you may want to prepare a handout for each student that contains the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Invite a student to read the statement aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for ways the commandment to be one relates to God’s commandment for His people to gather together.

President Henry B. Eyring

“We know from experience that joy comes when we are blessed with unity. … [Our Heavenly Father’s] desire is to grant us that sacred wish for unity out of His love for us.

“He cannot grant it to us as individuals. The joy of unity He wants so much to give us is not solitary. We must seek it and qualify for it with others. It is not surprising then that God urges us to gather so that He can bless us. He wants us to gather into families. He has established classes, wards, and branches and commanded us to meet together often. In those gatherings, which God has designed for us, lies our great opportunity. We can pray and work for the unity that will bring us joy and multiply our power to serve” (“Our Hearts Knit as One,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 69).

  • According to President Eyring, why does the Lord want us to gather together? (So He can bless us and help us work toward unity.) What are the blessings of unity? (Joy and the multiplication of our power to serve.)

  • How does President Eyring’s statement help us understand why we gather together as families? As Church members? As a seminary class?

  • When have you experienced the blessings that come from gathering together with others?

Invite students to spend a few minutes writing in their class notebooks or scripture study journals about what they can do to be one with their families, with the young men and young women in their quorums and classes at church, and with the Lord. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share what they have written.

Doctrine and Covenants 38:28–33

The Lord explains why He commanded His Church to gather to Ohio

Explain that the Lord revealed other reasons why He commanded the Saints to leave New York and gather to Ohio. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:28–30 aloud, and ask the class to look for other reasons the Saints were commanded to gather to Ohio.

  • What did the Lord warn the Saints about?

  • According to verse 30, what can the Lord’s people do in order to not fear their enemies? (You may want to suggest that students mark the words that teach the following principle: If we are prepared, we shall not fear.)

To help students understand and apply the truth they just identified, divide them into pairs and invite each pair to discuss answers to the following questions. (You may want to write these questions on the board.)

  • Why do you think preparation gives us confidence in the face of opposition or danger?

  • What can we do to be prepared against the adversary’s efforts to harm us?

Remind students that in 1831, some of the Saints in New York questioned why they were commanded to go to Ohio. Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:31–33 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and identify ways the Saints would be blessed if they obeyed the commandment to gather to Ohio. Students should identify four blessings: (1) they “might escape the power of the enemy”; (2) they would “be gathered unto [God] a righteous people”; (3) they would receive God’s law; and (4) they would “be endowed with power from on high.”

Write the following principle on the board: The Lord gathers His people to protect them and to strengthen them spiritually.

  • How does gathering with those who share your standards help you feel protected from the power of Satan?

  • How does receiving God’s laws help strengthen us spiritually?

Doctrine and Covenants 38:34–42

The Church is given commandments regarding the gathering to Ohio

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 38:34–42 by explaining that the Lord provided some commandments and counsel to the Saints that would assist them in their relocation to Ohio. Also explain that for many of the Saints, their only source of livelihood was their farms. With so many members of the Church selling their property at the same time, many of the Saints faced the prospect of losing money on their farms or not being able to sell them at all. The abundant supply of land for sale would drive prices down and allow buyers to purchase the Saints’ farms at a steep discount.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:37, 39 silently and look for the Lord’s counsel regarding the Saints’ farms and riches. Invite students to report what they have found.

  • How does knowing the eternal promises the Lord has given you help you obey His commandments?

Explain that some of the Saints did have difficulty selling their farms after this commandment was given. Some sold their farms at a loss; others could not sell their property at all. Some faithful members simply left their unsold homes and property and went to Ohio anyway.

You may want to conclude class by sharing your testimony of the truths identified in this lesson. Invite students to act on the things they felt and recorded during the lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 38:24–25. “Let every man esteem his brother as himself”

President Boyd K. Packer shared a story that illustrates the Lord’s teachings in Doctrine and Covenants 38:24–25:

“When I was a young man, I was a home teacher to a very old sister. She taught me from her life experience.

“When she was a little girl, President Brigham Young came to Brigham City, a great event in the town named after him. To honor him, the Primary children, all dressed in white, were lined up along the road coming into town, each with a basket of flowers to spread before the carriage of the President of the Church.

“Something displeased her. Instead of throwing her blossoms, she kicked a rock in front of the carriage, saying, ‘He ain’t one bit better than my Grandpa Lovelund.’ That was overheard, and she was severely scolded.

“I am very sure that President Brigham Young would be the first to agree with little Janie Steed. He would not consider himself to be worth more than Grandpa Lovelund or any other worthy member of the Church” (“The Weak and the Simple of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 7).

Doctrine and Covenants 38:27, 34–36. Take care of the poor and be united

In this revelation, the Lord commanded the Saints to be unified and to take care of the poor. These are two of the fundamental commandments of the law of consecration. These two commandments are also emphasized in Moses 7:18 and 4 Nephi 1:2–3. When the Saints attempted to live the law of consecration in Missouri, they were unsuccessful because they “[did] not impart of their substance … to the poor” and they were “not united” (D&C 105:3–5).