As the Saints gathered in Kirtland, many false newspaper accounts and rumors misrepresented and maligned the Church. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45, the Lord began revealing details about a designated gathering place of peace and safety in the last days that had been promised in the Book of Mormon and first mentioned in an 1830 revelation (see D&C 28). The Lord described details about this land of gathering, known as the New Jerusalem, or Zion. The Lord also directed Joseph Smith to begin focusing his Bible translation efforts on the New Testament in order to prepare the Saints for things to come.
Ask students if any of them can recite the eighth article of faith. If they need help, ask a student to turn to the Articles of Faith and read the eighth one aloud.
What does the phrase “as far as it is translated correctly” suggest about the Bible?
Remind students that Joseph loved studying the Bible and found great comfort in its words. However, as he studied it, he noticed errors and felt that some information was missing or incomplete. Invite a student to read aloud the following statements by the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the Bible. Ask the class to listen for what caused the problems Joseph noticed:
“It was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 217).
He also stated: “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 207).
According to Joseph Smith, what are at least three reasons the Bible has errors in it?
Remind students that in the lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 45:16–59, they studied what Jesus Christ told His disciples about His Second Coming. The revelation recounts much of what is recorded in Matthew 24. When this revelation was dictated in 1831, Joseph Smith was working on inspired revisions of the Old Testament. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:60–61 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord wanted the Prophet to turn his attention to.
How did the Lord say the translation of the New Testament would bless the Saints? (It would reveal more of God’s will to prepare the Saints.)
Ask a student to summarize the following information for the class. (To allow the student time to prepare, give him or her the information before class.) You may wish to fill in details not conveyed by the student.
Around the fall of 1830, Joseph Smith was commanded by the Lord to translate the Bible. He did not translate the Bible from one language to another; nor did he have an original biblical manuscript to work from. Instead, Joseph would read and study passages from the King James Version of the Bible and then make corrections and additions as inspired by the Holy Ghost. Thus, the translation was more of an inspired revision than a traditional translation.
The Joseph Smith Translation is estimated to have affected at least 3,400 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. These differences include additions (to clarify meaning or context), deletions, rearranged verses, and complete restructurings of certain chapters. The Joseph Smith Translation clarified doctrinal content, especially the mission of Jesus Christ, the nature of God, the nature of man, the Abrahamic covenant, the priesthood, and the Restoration of the gospel.
The Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible printed after 1979 includes more than 600 changes from the Joseph Smith Translation. Short changes are noted in the footnotes, and larger selections are found in the Bible appendix.
Invite students to locate Joseph Smith—Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price. Explain that this portion of the Joseph Smith Translation contains more information from Matthew 24 about the Lord’s Second Coming and is the fulfillment of Doctrine and Covenants 45:60–61.
You may want to ask a student to restate aloud what he or she understands the Joseph Smith Translation to be. If your students have the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, you might show them examples of Joseph Smith Translation footnotes in the New Testament or larger selections in the Bible appendix. For example, Matthew 4:1, footnote b states that Jesus went “to be with God” rather than “to be tempted of the devil.” After showing students some examples, ask them how the Joseph Smith Translation might help their study and understanding of the Bible.
Explain that the Lord directed the early Saints to move westward, “out from the eastern lands” (D&C 45:64). To help students visualize the westward movement members of the Church at the time this revelation was given would make (from New York to Ohio), you might ask them to turn to Map 3 (“The New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Area of the USA”) in the Church History Maps section of their scriptures. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:62–64 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify why the Lord commanded the Saints to gather toward “the western countries” (D&C 45:64).
What did the Lord say was “even at your doors”? What do you think this imagery implies?
Explain that in 1861, nearly 17 years after Joseph Smith’s death, a Civil War began in the United States. It is estimated that this war caused more than 1 million casualties, as well as much destruction of property, bringing hardship to families and communities across the country. Those Saints who continued to follow the Lord’s counsel to gather from the east were blessed with relative peace and security in Utah.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:65 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord wanted the Saints to do as they assembled together into the western countries.
Why were they to gather their riches? (To purchase land where the Saints could live in unity, peace, and safety. Explain that inheritance refers to land upon which the Saints could dwell and worship the Lord.)
Ask students to consider the following question:
If you could choose anywhere in the world to live, where would it be? Why would you want to live there?
Invite a few students to respond. As they do, draw a line down the middle of the board, creating two columns. At the top of one column, write the names of a few of the locations that students mention. In the same column, underneath the names, list their reasons for wanting to live in those locations.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:66–67 silently, looking for the name of the Saints’ land of inheritance and reasons why it would be a desirable place for them to live. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.
What will the Saints’ land of inheritance be called? (The New Jerusalem, or Zion. Write this at the top of the second column on the board.)
Explain that in the scriptures, the word Zion is sometimes used to mean slightly different things. Sometimes the word refers to the people of Zion and describes them as “the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21). Elsewhere Zion refers to the entire Church and its stakes all over the world (see D&C 82:14). The word Zion can also refer to specific geographic locations. In this revelation, Zion referred to a physical city that the Saints would establish and gather to.
How did the Lord describe the New Jerusalem, or Zion? (List students’ answers in the second column on the board. They may use different words, but they should identify the following doctrine: The New Jerusalem would be a place of peace and safety, and the glory of the Lord would be there.)
Invite students to compare the locations they selected for their ideal homes with the description of Zion.
Based on the Lord’s description of Zion, why might you want to be a part of this city?
Where have you experienced peace and safety? Why is it important to have places where you can be safe and have peace?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:68–71 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional reasons they might like to live in the New Jerusalem. You might want to suggest that they mark what they find. Ask them to report what they have found, and add their responses to the second column on the board.
How will the wicked feel about Zion?
According to verse 71, where will the righteous people of Zion come from? (If it has not already been identified, write the following doctrine in the second column on the board: Righteous people from all nations will gather to Zion. You may want to explain that this was true for the Zion referred to in this revelation and is true for the stakes of Zion that are established throughout the world today.)
Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the subject of Zion:
“Zion … is a place of righteousness, and all who build thereon are to worship the true and living God, and all believe in one doctrine, even the doctrine of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (in History of the Church, 2:254).
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:72–73 silently, looking for what the Lord cautioned the Saints not to do. Then summarize the last two verses of this revelation by explaining that the Lord reminded the Saints that His Second Coming would be terrible for their enemies.
You may want to remind students that the Lord urged the early Saints and us to “hearken” to His voice in this revelation. Invite students to look back through Doctrine and Covenants 45 and review what the Lord revealed to the Saints about His Second Coming and the New Jerusalem. You might encourage them to complete the following statement in their class notebooks or scripture study journals: “Because of what I learned in Doctrine and Covenants 45, I will prepare for things to come by …” Conclude by encouraging students to discuss what they learned in today’s lesson with a family member.