Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 64 on September 11, 1831. Doctrine and Covenants 64:20–43 contains the Lord’s teachings about the sacrifices He required of the Saints and about the establishment of Zion in the latter days.
Note: This lesson provides an opportunity for two students to teach. Provide these students with copies of the material in advance so they have sufficient time to prepare. As an alternative, you might decide to teach the entire lesson yourself.
Ask students to think of times when they have made sacrifices to follow the Lord’s commandments. (To get them thinking, you might share an example such as refraining from participating in a sporting event or a similar activity on the Sabbath.) Invite a few students to describe their experiences and share how they felt they were blessed for making these sacrifices.
Explain that in their study of Doctrine and Covenants 64:20–43, students will learn more about sacrifices the Lord requires of us. Display the following chart. (You may want to copy the chart on the board before class.)
Explain that Isaac Morley owned a large farm in Kirtland, Ohio. He generously invited many Church members, including Joseph Smith and his family, to live on the property. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord instructed Isaac Morley to do with his farm.
What did the Lord command Isaac Morley to do with his farm? (After students respond, write Sell his farm on the chart to show the commandment the Lord gave to Isaac Morley.)
Point out that the Lord commanded Isaac Morley to make a great sacrifice. Most of the money from the sale of his farm would be used to buy land for other Church members in Independence, Missouri.
What blessing did the Lord promise to give Isaac Morley if he sold his farm? (The Lord promised that if Isaac sold his farm, he would “not be tempted above that which he [was] able to bear.”)
What principle does this promise teach us about avoiding temptation? (Students’ answers should reflect the following principle: If we follow the Lord’s will for us, we will not be tempted above that which we can bear.)
Explain that Isaac Morley followed the Lord’s commandment to sell his farm. He was one of the first Saints to settle in Independence, Missouri, where he sought to establish Zion. He served the Lord faithfully throughout his life. In the chart on the board, write He obeyed as Isaac’s response. Write He was blessed as the result of his action.
What are some examples of how we can avoid temptation by following the Lord’s commandments and standards? (Consider sharing some examples from the For the Strength of Youth booklet.)
Point out that another man, Frederick G. Williams, also owned a large farm in Kirtland. Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:21 silently, looking for the commandment the Lord gave Frederick G. Williams.
What did the Lord command Frederick G. Williams to do with his farm? (After students respond, write Do not sell his farm in the appropriate place on the chart.)
Invite a student to read the following paragraph, explaining what Frederick G. Williams did with his farm:
Although Frederick G. Williams was not asked to sell his farm, he still demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice. He told Joseph Smith that his farm could be used to house and feed Church members in need. Later, Frederick consecrated his entire farm to the Church without receiving any payment in return. Through the sacrifices of Frederick G. Williams and other faithful Saints in Ohio, the Lord retained “a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five years” (D&C 64:21). During these years, the Saints built the Kirtland Temple, which was a source of great blessings to the Saints, including Brother Williams.
In the chart on the board, complete the column for Frederick G. Williams by writing He obeyed and He was blessed in the appropriate places.
What can we learn about obedience and sacrifice from the examples of Isaac Morley and Frederick G. Williams? (Summarize students’ responses by writing the following principle on the board: We are blessed as we obey the Lord and offer the sacrifices He asks of us.)
Explain that the sacrifices Isaac Morley and Frederick G. Williams made regarding their farms illustrate another sacrifice the Lord required of them and that He requires of us today. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:22 aloud. Ask the class to look for the sacrifice the Lord requires of us.
According to verse 22, what does the Lord require of us? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The Lord requires our hearts. You may want to suggest that students mark this truth in their scriptures.)
What do you think it means that the Lord requires our hearts?
How did Isaac Morley and Frederick G. Williams show that they were willing to give their hearts to the Lord? Who are some other examples of people who have given their hearts to the Lord? (You may want to point out that students can share examples from the scriptures or from the lives of people they know.)
How can we show the Lord that we are willing to give our hearts to Him?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:23–25 aloud, and ask the class to identify a commandment we can keep to show that we have given our hearts to the Lord.
What did the Lord command His people to do? (Pay tithing. You may want to explain that when the Lord gave this revelation, the Saints used the word tithing to refer to all their contributions to the Church. About seven years later, the Lord revealed that tithing was to be “one-tenth of all [our] interest annually” [D&C 119:4].) How can paying tithing show that we have given our hearts to the Lord?
According to verse 23, what promise does the Lord extend to those who pay tithing?
Explain that while the blessing specified in verse 23 applies to the future, the Lord also blesses us now for paying tithing. You may want to ask students to share experiences they have had when they or their families have been blessed as a result of paying tithing.
To give an overview of Doctrine and Covenants 64:26–43, explain that in these verses we read the Lord’s instructions for the establishment of Zion. The rest of this lesson is designed to be taught by students. Invite the first student teacher to come to the front of the class to teach.
Note: After these students have taught their portions of the lesson, thank them for their work. Testify that the promised blessings are worth the obedience and sacrifices the Lord asks of us. Ask a student to summarize what the class has learned today and to explain how he or she will act on those principles.