Lesson 90: Doctrine and Covenants 87

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

Throughout 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church members likely learned through newspaper reports of distresses sweeping the earth. For example, they were aware of disputes about slavery in the United States, and they also knew about the nullification of federal tariffs in the state of South Carolina. The Prophet stated, “Appearances of troubles among the nations became more visible this season than they had previously been since the Church began her journey out of the wilderness” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 249). On December 25, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87, which includes prophecies about the wars and judgments that would be poured out upon all nations in the last days.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–8

Through Joseph Smith, the Lord prophesies that war will be poured out upon all nations

    Begin class by asking the following question:
  • What is the difference between a prediction and a prophecy? (A prediction is an opinion about what might happen in the future. In contrast, a prophecy is a declaration of a future sign or event as revealed by the Holy Ghost.)

Write the following names on the board: Noah, Joseph of Egypt, Lehi, Samuel the Lamanite. (You may also want to display illustrations of these prophets.) Invite students to state a prophecy spoken by each of these ancient prophets. (Answers might include the following: Noah prophesied of the flood; Joseph of Egypt prophesied that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine; Lehi prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed; and Samuel the Lamanite prophesied of the signs and events that would accompany the birth and death of Jesus Christ.)

After students have responded, write Joseph Smith on the board. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4 silently and look for a prophecy revealed to Joseph Smith.

  • What did the Lord say would “shortly come to pass”? (Wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would bring death and misery to many souls.)

  • What do we learn about the Lord from verses 1–4? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: The Lord can reveal the future to us through His prophets.)

  • How can knowing that the Lord reveals the future through prophets be a blessing to the Church? How can this be a blessing to you and your family?

Ask students to scan the introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 87, looking for the date this revelation was given. Then summarize the following paragraph, or invite a student to read it aloud:

Joseph Smith had learned about a political conflict between the state of South Carolina and the federal government of the United States over tariffs. (A tariff is a tax on imports.) Because residents of South Carolina relied more on imported manufactured products than did people in the northern states, they felt that federal tariffs were unfair and that they had been purposely levied at the expense of the South. Government leaders in South Carolina adopted an ordinance invalidating, or nullifying, the federal laws, and many South Carolinians began to prepare for military action against the federal government. The president of the United States asserted that he would maintain the laws of the United States by force. In December 1832, newspapers throughout the United States were reporting on this conflict. It was at this time that Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 87 prophesying that “wars … will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina” (D&C 87:1). In early 1833, not long after this prophecy was given, the United States government peacefully settled the issue with the state of South Carolina. Some may have believed the crisis had passed, but it had been only temporarily halted and South Carolina would still rebel.

  • How would you respond if the words of a prophet were not fulfilled in the way you expected?

Point out the cross-reference in Doctrine and Covenants 87:1, footnote c. You may want to suggest that students mark this footnote. Invite students to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 130:12–13, and ask a student to read these verses aloud.

  • What did Joseph Smith reaffirm in this prophecy? (That wars would begin in South Carolina.)

Invite students to refer to the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 130 and identify the year in which Joseph Smith gave this reaffirmation of the prophecy in section 87.

  • In what year did Joseph Smith reaffirm the prophecy in section 87? (1843.)

Remind students that the crisis between the United States government and South Carolina had been resolved 10 years earlier, in 1833.

  • What can Joseph Smith’s reaffirmation of the prophecy he had received 10 years earlier teach you about his faith? (Although some people claimed Joseph Smith was a false prophet, he continued to maintain faith in the prophecy the Lord had revealed through him.)

Read the following paragraph or ask a student to read it aloud. (You might want to make copies of it for students to place in their scriptures.)

In 1861, Southern warships began firing on United States federal soldiers who were stationed at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Other Southern states joined South Carolina in a civil war against the northern states. In time, the Southern states called on Great Britain for aid. Additionally, many who had been slaves in the South joined the army of the North and fought against their former masters. The American Civil War lasted until 1865 and resulted in the death of approximately 620,000 soldiers (some historians estimate as many as 750,000).

  • What can the fulfillment of the prophecies in Doctrine and Covenants 87 teach us about Joseph Smith? (Answers may include that Joseph Smith’s prophecies are true and that he is a prophet of God. After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: Joseph Smith is a true prophet of the Lord.)

You may want to testify that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. Then explain that in addition to the events revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4, the Lord prophesied through Joseph Smith of other things that would happen.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 87:6–7 on their own and identify other events that the Lord said would occur in the last days.

  • What events did the Lord say would occur in the last days?

  • According to verses 6 and 7, what are some reasons these things will occur?

Help students understand that the “chastening hand” of God refers to the fact that the Lord uses His judgments to prompt His children to repent of their sins (see Helaman 12:3). In addition, some of the judgments described in these verses will occur as the Lord punishes the wicked for their unjust treatment of the righteous.

Affirm that every prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 87 has been or will be fulfilled. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 to learn what the Lord directs us to do so that we will be prepared for the wars and disasters that will be upon the earth in the last days.

  • What does the Lord command us to do? (Students should identify the following principle: We are to stand in holy places and be not moved until the Lord comes. Write this principle on the board.)

  • What are some holy places that can provide us with peace and safety? (You may want to invite students to list their answers on the board. Answers may include homes, churches, temples, and seminary classrooms.)

Point out that holy places are locations where we can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost, which helps us draw near to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and to learn of Them.

  • What do you think it means to stand in holy places and “be not moved” (D&C 87:8)?

  • How might a person be moved from these holy places?

  • How have you felt blessed with peace or safety by standing in one of these holy places?

Explain that in addition to physical locations that are holy, “holy places” may have more to do with how we live than where we live. If we live worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, then we stand in holy places. Encourage students to make their hearts holy places filled with the Spirit of the Lord. As they invite the Spirit into their lives, they can allow Him to influence their homes and make them holy places.

  • How can you strive to make your heart a holy place?

  • What are some ways that you can help make your home a holy place? (Answers may include supporting family prayer and scripture study and being kind to family members.)

  • If the prophet were to see your room, would he view it as a holy place? Do you?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals something they will do to stand in holy places more faithfully and not be moved from them. After students have finished writing, you might want to invite a few of them to share their goals with the class. Encourage all students to follow through with the goals they have set. You could then conclude by testifying of the truths discussed in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 87:3. Southern states will call on Great Britain

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote:

“While no open alliance between the Southern States and the English government was effected, British influence gave indirect assistance and substantial encouragement to the South, and this in such a way as to produce serious international complications. Vessels were built and equipped at British ports in the interests of the Confederacy; and the results of this violation of the laws of neutrality cost Great Britain fifteen and a half millions of dollars, which sum was awarded the United States at the Geneva arbitration in settlement of the Alabama claims. The Confederacy appointed commissioners to Great Britain and France; these appointees were forcibly taken by United States officers from the British steamer on which they had embarked. This act, which the United States government had to admit as overt, threatened for a time to precipitate a war between this nation and Great Britain” (The Articles of Faith, 49th ed. [1968], 25–26; see also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 194).

Doctrine and Covenants 87:3–4. Further fulfillment of the prophecy

The following chart highlights additional details of the prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 87 and some ways these have been fulfilled:

Prophecy

Some ways this prophecy has been fulfilled

D&C 87:3

“Other nations, even the nation of Great Britain … shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations”

World War I and World War II occurred as nations called on other nations to help them defend themselves. In both of these wars, Great Britain called upon other nations for help.

D&C 87:4

“After many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters”

When this revelation was given, slavery existed not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world. Slaves, or those in bondage, in the 19th and 20th centuries rose up against their masters and fought for their freedom.

Doctrine and Covenants 87:8. “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught about a few ways that we can stand in holy places:

“Are we following the Lord’s command, ‘Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly’? (D&C 87:8). What are those ‘holy places’? Surely they include the temple and its covenants faithfully kept. Surely they include a home where children are treasured and parents are respected. Surely the holy places include our posts of duty assigned by priesthood authority, including missions and callings faithfully fulfilled in branches, wards, and stakes” (“Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 10).

Sister Sharon G. Larsen of the Young Women general presidency commented on what it means to stand in holy places:

“Standing in holy places is all about being in good company, whether you are alone or with others. It’s being where the Holy Ghost is our companion—alone or in a crowd. When we determine within ourselves that we will control our thoughts and our actions and be the best we can possibly be, the best of life will come to us. …

“… Regardless of what is going on around you, you can practice creating an environment of your own, filled with the Spirit of the Lord. …

“Holy places can be wherever you are—alone, in a crowd, with strangers, with friends. … There are things you can do to bring holiness to ordinary places” (“Standing in Holy Places,” Ensign, May 2002, 91, 92).