Lesson 99: Doctrine and Covenants 94–96

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

The Lord revealed the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 94 on August 2, 1833, and directed the Saints to lay out the city of Kirtland similar to how He had instructed them to lay out the city of Zion in Missouri. The Lord also commanded the Saints to build a house for the presidency (a Church administration building) and a house for printing in addition to the temple, which He had previously commanded the Saints to build. Two months earlier, on June 1, 1833, Joseph Smith received the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 95, in which the Lord chastened the Saints for delaying construction of the temple. Doctrine and Covenants 96 contains the Lord’s instruction to appoint Newel K. Whitney to “take charge of” (D&C 96:2) the property on which the temple in Kirtland would be built.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 94

The Lord commands the Saints to construct two houses and reaffirms the need to build the temple

Ask students to imagine they have the opportunity to travel through a country with many cities. As they travel, they notice that there is a sports arena at the center of every city.

  • What might this suggest about the people of this country?

  • If you were going to design a large city, what would you place at the center of the city? Why?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 94:1, 3, 10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify the three buildings the Lord commanded the Saints to construct in Kirtland, Ohio. Invite students to report what they found.

Kirtland plat

Selection from a plat of Kirtland, Ohio, about August 1833. The three buildings on the right represent the Kirtland Temple, a house in which the Presidency could do their work, and a printing office.

  • These three buildings show that what things are important to the Lord? (Temple ordinances, the work of the First Presidency in obtaining revelation and ministering to the Church, and the printing of scriptures and other works the Lord commands.)

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 94:13–17 by explaining that the Lord instructed Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter to form a building committee for the buildings mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 94.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 94:16 silently to find what the Lord told the Saints concerning the construction of the buildings for the presidency and for printing. Ask students to report what they found.

  • Why do you think it was important for the temple to be built before the other two buildings? What can this teach us about the importance of temples? (You may want to inform students that the two other buildings were never constructed.)

Doctrine and Covenants 95

The Lord chastens the Saints for delaying construction of the temple

Remind students that the Lord first issued the commandment to build the Kirtland Temple in Doctrine and Covenants 88:119, which was recorded on December 27 and 28, 1832. (Write this date on the board.) Invite students to search the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 95 for the date that this revelation was given. Ask them to calculate approximately how much time passed between these two dates. Explain that during this time Church leaders acquired property in Kirtland on which to build the temple. However, by June 1, 1833, the Saints had not begun constructing the temple or even preparing the foundation.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to identify what the Lord told the Saints concerning their delay in building the temple. Invite students to report what they found.

  • What does the Lord do for those He loves? (Students should identify the following truth: God chastens those He loves. You may want to suggest that students mark the words that teach this truth in their scriptures.)

  • What does it mean to chasten? (To discipline or correct.) According to these verses, why does God chasten those He loves?

Ask students to consider how they tend to respond when they are chastened or corrected by someone else. Invite a student to read the following narrative aloud. Ask the class to listen for ways some of the Saints responded to the Lord’s chastening:

After Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 95, Church leaders held a conference to discuss the construction of the temple. “Some were in favor of building a frame house, but others were of a mind to put up a log house. Joseph reminded them that they were not building a house for a man, but for God; ‘and shall we, brethren,’ said he, ‘build a house for our God, of logs? No, I have a better plan than that. I have a plan of the house of the Lord, given by himself.’” After Joseph explained the full pattern of the temple, all the brethren were excited. They traveled to the building site, removed a fence, and leveled a field of wheat that had previously been planted by the Smith family. After the grain was cleared, Hyrum Smith “commenced digging a trench for the wall.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley [1958], 230, 231.)

  • What can we learn from these Saints about how to respond to chastisement?

Point out that in verse 3 the Lord described the Saints’ delay in building the temple as “a very grievous sin.” Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 95:5–6 to see what the Lord compared very grievous sins to. Ask them to report what they learned.

  • How might ignoring the Lord’s commandment to build a temple be like “walking in darkness at noon-day”? How might we be “walking in darkness at noon-day” if we choose to ignore other commandments?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:4, 8–9 with a partner. Ask them to identify reasons why the Lord commanded the Saints to build the Kirtland Temple. (You may want to explain that the phrase “that I may bring to pass my strange act” [verse 4] could refer to how people who do not believe in revelation, heavenly visitations, and other spiritual matters might view the Restoration of the gospel as strange.)

  • What can we learn from these verses about why the Lord has commanded us to build temples? (After students respond, you may want to write the following principle on the board: In temples, the Lord prepares His servants to do His work and endows them with power.)

Explain that endow means to provide someone with a gift. To be endowed in the temple means to receive spiritual power and knowledge. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:

President Thomas S. Monson

“Until you have entered the house of the Lord and have received all the blessings which await you there, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer. The all-important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 93).

  • What are two saving ordinances that we can receive only in the temples of God? (The temple endowment and the marriage sealing.)

  • What are some things you can do now to prepare to receive these ordinances and blessings in the temple? (Answers may include being faithful to the ordinances and covenants they have already received and always living worthy of a temple recommend.)

Explain that building the Kirtland Temple was an enormous task for the Saints. In the early part of 1833, there were fewer than 200 members of the Church in Ohio, and most of them were poor. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised if the Saints would keep His commandments.

  • What did the Lord promise if the Saints would keep His commandments?

Inform the class that the Saints in Ohio proceeded with faith in the Lord’s promise and constructed the temple.

  • What principle can we learn from verse 11? (Students should identify the following principle: If we keep the commandments, we will have power to do what the Lord asks us to do.)

  • What are some situations you might face in which this principle could apply? When have you felt that you received the Lord’s help to do something because you kept the commandments?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 95:13–17 by explaining that the Lord gave instructions on the dimensions and the functions of specific rooms of the Kirtland Temple. Invite a student to read verse 14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for one way the Lord indicated He would fulfill His promise to give them power to build the temple. Invite students to report what they found. (You might want to point out that the Lord promised to show three people how the temple should be built. These three were the First Presidency.)

To help students see how this promise was fulfilled, invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:

Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams prayed together and saw the temple in vision. After viewing the exterior in detail, “the building seemed to come right over [them]” and they saw the interior of the building as if they were actually inside the building (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 271). Later, when the temple was nearing completion, Frederick G. Williams said it looked like the model he had seen in vision to the smallest detail, and he could not tell the difference between it and the temple as built.

  • In this example, how did the Lord give the Saints power to do what He had asked them to do?

Doctrine and Covenants 96

Newel K. Whitney is designated to take charge of all the property held by the Church

Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 96, the Lord instructed that Bishop Newel K. Whitney should take charge of the property held by the Church. The temple would be built on the place designated by the Lord, and Bishop Whitney would divide the remainder of the property into lots for those who would seek an inheritance. Some of these lots were designated for Church leaders responsible for the publication of the revelations. Receiving this inheritance would help them devote their time to doing the work of the Lord, which included publishing the word of God. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 96:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify how publishing the word of God would help the Saints. Invite students to report what they learned.

Explain that in this revelation the Lord also directed that John Johnson should be admitted as a member of the United Firm, which oversaw the Church’s financial, publishing, and mercantile operations.

Invite a few students to summarize what they have learned from this lesson. Encourage them to act on the truths they have learned.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 95:1–2. “Whom I love I also chasten”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how God’s chastening is evidence of His love:

“God’s love is so perfect that He lovingly requires us to obey His commandments because He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is” (“Love and Law,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 27).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Though it is often difficult to endure, truly we ought to rejoice that God considers us worth the time and trouble to correct.

“Divine chastening has at least three purposes: (1) to persuade us to repent, (2) to refine and sanctify us, and (3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path. …

“Let us pray for His love-inspired correction” (“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 98, 100).

Doctrine and Covenants 95:4. “My strange act”

The phrase “my strange act” comes from Isaiah 28:21, where the Lord said He would correct a people who did not believe they had any need to repent. The Restoration of the gospel and the establishment of the true Church upon the earth is a strange occurrence to people who consider belief in revelation, heavenly visitations, and other spiritual matters to be foolishness. The message of the Restoration of the gospel is preached to many who believe they already have the truth. Some of these people may consider our efforts strange.

Doctrine and Covenants 95:8–9. What is an endowment “with power from on high”?

“An endowment is a gift or a bequest. In the Church it usually refers to a temple ordinance in which members make certain promises and receive a gift of knowledge and spiritual power in return. The endowment spoken of here, however, is not the same as the ceremony administered in later temples. Priesthood members in Kirtland did participate in a ‘partial endowment, the full ordinance being reserved for a future performance when a temple designed for ordinance work itself should be built’ (Bruce R. McConkie, ‘A New Commandment: Save Thyself and Thy Kindred!’ Ensign, Aug. 1976, p. 10). The first complete endowment in this dispensation was given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo on 4 May 1842.

“The endowment received in Kirtland included washings and anointings, as well as the washing of feet for official priesthood brethren. The Lord also poured out His Spirit, or in other words endowed them with spiritual power, and many received revelations or other gifts (see History of the Church, 2:308–10)” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 226).