In April 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and others traveled to Independence, Missouri, obeying the Lord’s command to establish an organization to build up Zion and care for the poor (see D&C 78, including the section introduction). On April 26, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 82 during a council of high priests and elders of the Church in Independence. In this revelation the Lord forgave the brethren their trespasses and warned them to refrain from further sin. The Lord also instructed these brethren on how to manage the temporal affairs of Zion. Four days later, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 83, in which the Lord instructed Church leaders on how to care for widows and orphans.
Before class, gather several large pieces of paper and markers. (Later in the lesson, students will use these to make lists that can be displayed for the rest of the class to see.)
Begin the lesson by asking students to think of a time when they had a disagreement with a friend or family member that was eventually resolved.
How did you feel when you resolved your disagreement?
Inform students that for several months unkind feelings had developed between Sidney Rigdon in Ohio and Bishop Edward Partridge in Missouri. In April 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders traveled to Missouri in obedience to the Lord’s command that they “sit in council with the saints which are in Zion” (D&C 78:9). Upon their arrival, a council of high priests of the Church was held. Between the morning and afternoon sessions of the conference, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge resolved their differences. The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 82 was received during the afternoon session.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord told Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge about resolving their differences.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:2 aloud, and ask the class to look for the warning the Lord gave the Saints.
What did the Lord say would come upon those who did not “refrain from sin”?
To help students understand some of the sins the Lord may have been referring to, explain that as Church members moved to Missouri, many of them failed to obey the counsel of Church leaders and some refused to live the law of consecration. As a result, some of these Church members were guilty of jealousy, covetousness, and a neglect of duty.
In what ways did these Saints qualify as people who had received “the greater light”?
What did the Lord teach in these verses about our accountability for what He has given us? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: The Lord requires much of those to whom He has given much. You may want to suggest that students mark this principle in their scriptures).
Why do you think those who have received more from the Lord would also have more required of them?
Divide students into small groups. Give each group a large piece of paper and a marker. Invite them to list as many of the blessings they have received from the Lord as they can in two minutes. Encourage them to include blessings that have come to them as members of the Church. When they have finished, display the lists at the front of the classroom and ask the following questions:
Why do you think we qualify as people “unto whom much is given”?
Since the Lord has given us so much, what are some things He requires of us?
To help students apply the principle from verse 3, ask them to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals one of the blessings they have received from the Lord. Next, ask them to write what they feel the Lord expects them to do because they have received that blessing. Finally, invite them to write down a goal of what they can start doing to fulfill that expectation.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 82:5–6 by explaining that the Lord warned the Saints that the dominion and power of Satan over the earth was increasing. Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:7 aloud, and invite the class to look for an additional warning the Lord gave about sin.
According to verse 7, why is it important for those who repent to forsake sin? (When we knowingly turn from righteousness to sin, our “former sins return.”)
Why do you think our former sins return if we intentionally sin after having sought the Lord’s forgiveness? (Help students understand that to fully repent and be forgiven, we must forsake our sins.)
Organize students in pairs. Ask each pair to think of two situations in which a young man or woman might need assurance that God keeps His promises. (For example, a young woman has a close relationship with her grandmother who is suffering from a terminal illness. This young woman may need reassurance about the promises of eternal families and the Resurrection.) Ask students to share a few of their scenarios with the class.
Explain that during the council of high priests in Missouri, the Lord gave a reassuring promise to those who obey His commandments. Encourage students to look for truths that could offer assurance to those in the situations they discussed as they continue to study Doctrine and Covenants 82.
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:8–9 silently and look for what the Lord said He was going to give the Saints during this council.
According to verse 8, what did the Lord say He would give those assembled in this council?
From what you read in verses 8–9, what were His reasons for giving them this new commandment? (Write students’ responses on the board.)
How do these reasons apply to every commandment the Lord gives us?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for a principle that can give us confidence as we strive to obey the Lord’s commandments.
What principle did you find that can give you confidence as you strive to obey the Lord? (Students may use other words, but their answers should reflect the following principle: If we will obey the Lord, He will always keep His promises to bless us.)
Invite students to ponder experiences they have had that have shown them that this principle is true. Give them time to write about one of these experiences in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class. You may also want to share an experience from your life that has confirmed this principle.
Remind students that when they studied Doctrine and Covenants 78 they learned how the Lord commanded Church leaders in Kirtland, Ohio, to form a firm to govern the Church’s storehouses and publication endeavors. Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 82:11, 15–17 by informing students that in this revelation the Lord directed the actual organization of the firm—known as the United Firm—and appointed its members.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:12 silently and look for the purpose of the United Firm. As they read, it might be helpful to remind them that one of the duties of a bishop is to assist with the temporal needs of Church members.
According to verse 12, what was the purpose of the United Firm?
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:14, 18–19 silently, looking for words and phrases that further explain why the Lord commanded the formation of the United Firm.
Why would it have been important for the Saints to develop the perspective referred to in verse 19?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 82:20–24 by explaining that the Lord ended this revelation by warning Church leaders to be faithful to the covenant they would make as members of the United Firm.
Inform students that four days after receiving the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 82, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation about how to address the difficult challenge of caring for the temporal needs of the Saints. Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 83:1 silently and look for whose needs were addressed by this revelation.
Whose needs were addressed in this revelation?
Remind students that many of the Saints were living the law of consecration and had received an “inheritance,” or property from the Church. In this revelation the Lord revealed what should happen to a family’s inheritance if a husband or father died.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 83:2–3 silently and look for the Lord’s instructions on caring for women who had lost their husbands.
If a man died and his wife remained faithful, what blessing did she receive?
Explain that at the time this revelation was given, most women relied on their husbands for their temporal support. To “have fellowship in the church” meant that, since the wife’s provider was gone, the Church would assist her as she assumed the role of sole provider. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 83:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Church can assist orphans and widows.
What do these verses teach you about how the Lord feels about widows, orphans, and all those in need?
Encourage students to be more aware of the needs of those around them and look for ways to apply the Lord’s counsel to seek the interest of their neighbors (see D&C 82:19). As guided by the Spirit, conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths taught in these revelations.