Lesson 101

Doctrine and Covenants 98:1–22

“Lesson 101: Doctrine and Covenants 98:1–22,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)


On July 20, 1833, a group of 400–500 Missourians demanded that no more Saints move to Jackson County and that those already living there must leave. Before the Saints in Missouri could respond, a mob began destroying their property and threatening their lives. On August 6, 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 98, in which the Lord instructed the Saints about how to respond to persecution. Although some news of the trouble in Missouri had probably reached the Prophet in Kirtland, Ohio, about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) away, he could have understood the seriousness of the situation only through revelation. In this revelation, the Lord acknowledged the Saints’ afflictions in Missouri and Ohio. He counseled them to follow the constitutional law of the land and to keep their covenants.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 98:1–3

The Lord reassures the Saints during their afflictions

Before class begins, write the following question on the board: How would you feel?

Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud. Ask the class to think about how they would feel if they were in this situation.

On Saturday, July 20, 1833, between 400 and 500 angry Missouri citizens met at the courthouse in Independence, Missouri. They chose a committee to draft a document outlining their demands of the Mormons. They demanded that no more Latter-day Saints be allowed to move to Jackson County and said that those already living there must pledge to leave as soon as possible. In addition, they demanded that the Church newspaper stop publication. When these demands were presented to the Church leaders in Missouri, the Church leaders were startled and asked for three months to consider the proposition and to consult with Church leaders in Ohio. The group of Missouri citizens presenting the demands denied the Church leaders’ request. The Saints then asked for 10 days, but they were allowed only 15 minutes to respond. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 132–33.)

Refer students to the question on the board, and ask the following question:

  • How would you feel if you were one of the Saints living in Independence, Missouri, at this time?

After students respond, invite another student to read the following paragraph aloud:

The Missourians at the meeting in the Independence courthouse quickly turned into a mob and decided to destroy the printing office and the press. They broke into the printing office, threw the furniture into the street and garden, broke the press, scattered the type, and destroyed nearly all the printed work, including most of the unbound sheets of the Book of Commandments. The mob next went to destroy the Gilbert and Whitney Store. However, Sidney Gilbert met the mob before they could carry out their plan and promised that he would pack the goods and leave in three days. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, 133.)

Ask students to share their responses to the question on the board in relation to this account. After students share their thoughts, invite a third student to read the following paragraph:

Three days later, on July 23, a mob appeared again in Jackson County, Missouri, this time armed with rifles, pistols, whips, and clubs. They set fire to haystacks and grain fields and destroyed several homes, barns, and businesses. They eventually confronted six Church leaders who, seeing that the property and lives of the Saints were in jeopardy, offered their lives as a ransom. Rejecting this offer, the mob leaders threatened that every man, woman, and child would be whipped unless they consented to leave the county. Under pressure, the brethren signed an agreement to leave Jackson County. Half of the Church members and most of the leaders would leave by January 1, 1834, and the rest would leave by April 1, 1834. The mob allowed John Corrill and Sidney Gilbert to remain to sell the property of the Saints who had been driven out. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, 134.)

Invite a student to read aloud the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 98. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what prompted this revelation. Invite students to report their answers.

  • According to the section introduction, what is remarkable about the timing of this revelation?

Explain that the Saints in Ohio were also experiencing persecution during this time. The principles in this revelation applied to them, and they can also apply to us. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 98:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to look for the counsel the Lord gave the Saints. (It may be helpful to explain that Sabaoth, in verse 2, is a Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies.” Its use here implies that the Lord commands angelic armies, or hosts, and the armies of Israel, or the Saints. [See Bible Dictionary, “Sabaoth.”])

  • What counsel did the Lord give the Saints? (Write students’ responses on the board.)

  • Why is it important for the Saints to give thanks during difficult times?

  • What do you think it means to wait patiently on the Lord?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what it means to wait patiently on the Lord.

Elder Robert D. Hales

“What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end” (“Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 72).

  • Why would the counsel to wait patiently on the Lord have been important for the Saints in Missouri?

  • What words of comfort do you see in verse 2?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we give thanks in all things and wait patiently on the Lord, then …

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 98:3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised the Saints if they would obey His counsel.

  • How would you complete the principle on the board based on verse 3? (The following is one way students might complete the principle: If we give thanks in all things and wait patiently on the Lord, then the Lord can make our afflictions work together for our good.)

Invite students to think about someone they know who has waited patiently on the Lord during difficult times and has found reasons to be grateful.

  • In what ways did afflictions bring about good in that person’s life?

Doctrine and Covenants 98:4–10

The Lord counsels the Saints to befriend the law of the land

Explain that in addition to counseling the Saints to wait patiently, the Lord told them to obey all of His commandments (see D&C 98:4) and said that they were justified “in befriending [or supporting] that law which is the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6). He explained that the constitutional law of the land supported “that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges” and belonged “to all mankind” (D&C 98:5).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 98:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about government leaders. Invite students to report their findings.

Doctrine and Covenants 98:11–18

The Lord instructs the Saints to keep their covenants, even during difficult times

Ask students to ponder the following question:

  • What reward comes to those who lay down their lives for Jesus Christ’s cause and His name?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 98:11–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the answer to that question and what the Lord told the Saints about being tested or proved.

  • What commandment did the Lord give the Saints? (See D&C 98:11–12.)

  • According to verses 13–15, what is one reason the Lord tests us? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: The Lord tests us to see if we will keep our covenants even when it is difficult to do so.)

  • Why might it have been important for the Saints living in Missouri in 1833 to know this truth? Why might this truth be important for us to remember today?

Ask students to think of someone they know who is a good example of keeping covenants during difficult times. Invite a few students to share their responses with the class.

Invite students to consider what they will do to stay strong and keep their covenants even when it is difficult to do so.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 98:16–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the Saints to do. Invite students to report their findings.

Doctrine and Covenants 98:19–22

The Lord tells the Saints in Kirtland to repent

Explain that at the time the Lord gave this revelation, the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, were also experiencing difficulties. In Doctrine and Covenants 98:19–22, we read the Lord’s message for them.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 98:19–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about the Saints in Kirtland. Invite students to report what they find.

  • How do the Lord’s words about the Saints in Kirtland relate to what He told the Saints in Missouri? (See D&C 98:11.)

  • How could the Lord’s message in verse 11 apply to us? (Help students understand that to “cleave unto” good is to unwaveringly commit to it.)

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the doctrines and principles discussed today. Encourage students to forsake their sins and cleave unto good.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 98. Causes of the conflict in Jackson County

“The original inhabitants of the area became increasingly suspicious as the number of Church members in Jackson County grew rapidly. Many people feared they would soon be outnumbered by the new religiously motivated pilgrims from the East. The ‘old settlers’ were from a different background than the incoming Latter-day Saints, and it was natural that cultural, political, religious, and economic differences arose.

“Jackson County’s residents were a rough-and-ready group who had come from the mountainous regions of several southern states to the western edge of the United States to find freedom from societal restraints. Most of them were uneducated and lacked the cultural refinement that was more common in New England and the East. Many of them indulged in profanity, Sabbath-breaking, horse-racing, cock-fighting, idleness, drunkenness, gambling, and violence. …

“The old settlers viewed the growing body of Saints as a political threat, even though members of the Church did not run for office or vote as a bloc during their short stay in Jackson County. By July 1833 the Mormon population in the county was almost twelve hundred, with more arriving each month. Some members boasted that thousands more were coming to live in the county. … Local citizens were naturally apprehensive of a religious zeal that predicted that all ‘Gentiles’ (non-Mormons) would be cut off when the millennial kingdom was established in Jackson County.

“Protestant ministers also resented the Mormon intrusion into the county. Latter-day Saints were labeled fanatics and knaves and were denounced as gullible and ignorant because they believed in and frequently experienced miracles, prophecy, healings, revelations, and speaking in tongues. Jealousy and fear of losing some from their flocks added to the antagonism of the ministers. …

“In addition, Mormon merchants and tradesmen successfully took over a portion of the lucrative Santa Fe Trail trade previously dominated by the Missourians. Some of the old settlers feared that the Church members were determined to take over their lands and businesses. Moreover, the Saints ‘did not purchase goods from the local merchants, as they had no money, but traded among themselves at the Church storehouse. … Some of the old settlers were selling their property to the Mormons and moving away. This meant fewer and fewer customers in the stores, and future financial ruin’ for the remaining old settlers [T. Edgar Lyon, “Independence, Missouri, and the Mormons, 1827–1833,” BYU Studies, autumn 1972, 17–18].

“To complicate matters, in the spring of 1833 the Missouri flooded, destroyed the landing at Independence, and shifted the channel of the river away from the community. A new town, Westport, with a better landing, was established farther upstream, and the business in Independence declined. Entrepreneurs in Independence blamed the Mormons for this situation. Foreseeing what the future might bring, some of the old settlers offered to sell out to the Saints. Members of the Church wanted to buy the farms and possessions, but did not have enough capital to do so. This exasperated the Missourians, and soon they were spreading tales of how poverty-stricken the Mormons were.

“The Missouri frontiersmen feared and hated the Indians. Their antipathy increased in the 1830s as the government began to resettle eastern tribes on lands just west of Independence. After the 1832 Black Hawk War, citizens of western Missouri petitioned Congress to establish a line of military posts for their protection. The first Mormon missionaries came into this tense atmosphere declaring the prophetic destiny of the native Americans. The old settlers were afraid the Saints would use the Indians to help them conquer the area for their New Jerusalem. Matters were further complicated by Protestant ministers who were jealous of Latter-day Saint proselyting efforts among the Indians.

“The conflict between the Saints and the old settlers came to a head over the slavery issue. Missouri had come into the Union as a slave state under the famous Compromise of 1820. Slaveholding was limited, however. The old settlers prized their right to hold slaves and despised abolitionism. Some of the Saints brought abolitionist sentiments from the North and East, and the possibility of a black rebellion was a fear throughout the South at this time. In 1831 Nat Turner’s slave uprising in Virginia had resulted in the death of over seventy whites and one hundred slaves. An irrational fear of revolts swept over the slave states. Therefore, Missourians were highly aroused early in 1832 by rumors that the Saints were trying to persuade slaves to disobey their masters or run away.

“To squelch the rumors, the July 1833 Evening and Morning Star ran an article cautioning the missionaries about proselyting among slaves and among former slaves, known as ‘free people of color.’ Unfortunately the local Missourians misinterpreted this advice to mean that Brother Phelps was inviting free blacks to join the Mormons in Jackson County. The article caused such a furor that Phelps issued an ‘Extra’ explaining that the Church had no intention of inviting free blacks to Missouri, but his denials were to no avail” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 130–32).