On November 25, 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 106. In this revelation, the Lord called Warren A. Cowdery, an older brother of Oliver Cowdery, to preside over the Church in Freedom, New York, and the surrounding communities. Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 about April 1835, as all the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were preparing to serve missions in the eastern United States. In a written statement, the Twelve said: “The time when we are about to separate is near; and when we shall meet again, God only knows; we therefore feel to ask of him whom we have acknowledged to be our Prophet and Seer, that he inquire of God for us, and obtain a revelation, … that we may look upon it when we are separated, that our hearts may be comforted” (in History of the Church, 2:209–10). The revelation was recorded in 1835, but “the historical records affirm that most of verses 60 through 100 incorporate a revelation given through Joseph Smith on November 11, 1831” (introduction to D&C 107). This is the first of three lessons in this manual on Doctrine and Covenants 107.
Ask students to think of a time when they have sustained a new bishop or branch president.
How do you think that person felt as he was sustained?
Explain that in 1834 the Church experienced significant growth in Freedom, New York, a little less than 200 miles (about 320 kilometers) from Kirtland, Ohio. The Lord called a priesthood leader to preside over the members there. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 106:1–3 silently.
What did the Lord instruct Warren Cowdery to do?
Explain that Brother Cowdery’s feelings might have been similar to those of a new bishop or branch president today. The Lord shared comforting words as Brother Cowdery accepted his new calling. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 106:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and discover why the Lord was pleased with Brother Cowdery.
What do you think the phrase “bowed to my scepter” means? (To help students answer this question, you may want to explain that a scepter is a staff carried by kings and queens. It is a symbol of authority.)
What do you think the phrase “separated himself from the crafts of men” means?
On the board, write If , then . Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 106:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, searching for the Lord’s counsel and promises to Brother Cowdery. Invite students to write what they discover by writing an “if–then” principle in their scriptures. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share the principles they have identified. (Students may use different words, but they should express the following principle: If we humble ourselves before the Lord, then He will have mercy on us, lift us up, and give us grace and assurance.)
In what ways does the Lord lift up those who humble themselves before Him?
Testify that we can receive the blessings promised to Warren Cowdery if we humble ourselves before the Lord.
Explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 107 helped clarify the organization and responsibilities of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Quorum of the Seventy.
Read the following description of an Old Testament prophet. Invite students to guess who they think you are describing.
This prophet “was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire” (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:26 [in the Bible appendix]). As king of Salem, he “did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace” (Alma 13:18). The prophet Abraham paid tithes to him (see Alma 13:15).
After a few students attempt to guess the name of this prophet, write Melchizedek on the board. Ask students to search Doctrine and Covenants 107:1–4 silently, looking for what these verses teach about Melchizedek.
What was the Melchizedek Priesthood called before Melchizedek’s day? Why is it now called the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Write the following principle on the board: The Melchizedek Priesthood is after the order of the Son of God. You may want to suggest that students mark this phrase in verse 3.
What does this principle suggest about how priesthood holders should fulfill their responsibilities?
As part of this discussion, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
List the following organizations of the Church on the board: Relief Society, Sunday School, Young Men, Young Women, and Primary. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:5, 8–9 silently, looking for words or phrases that teach how these organizations relate to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Ask students to report what they find.
What is an appendage? (A part of a body, such as an arm or leg.)
According to verse 8, what right and authority does the Melchizedek Priesthood hold? (As students answer, you may want to write the following truth on the board: The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, power, and authority over all the offices in the Church, and the authority to administer in spiritual things. Explain that “administer[ing] in spiritual things” includes administering blessings, ordinances, and covenants.)
Explain that the presidency mentioned in verse 9 is the First Presidency. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:10 aloud, and ask the class to look for who else has the right to officiate under the direction of the First Presidency. As students report what they learn, help them understand that stake presidencies and bishoprics are examples of high priests officiating in their own standing under the direction of the First Presidency.
Refer to the names of organizations that you have written on the board. To help students understand the relationship between these organizations and stake and ward priesthood leaders, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith:
“There is no government in the Church of Jesus Christ separate and apart, above, or outside of the holy Priesthood or its authority. … [Auxiliary organizations] are not outside of, nor above it, nor beyond its reach. They acknowledge the principle of the Priesthood. Wherever they are they always exist with the view of accomplishing some good; some soul’s salvation, temporal or spiritual” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 341–42).
Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 107:18–19 silently to discover what additional authority the Melchizedek Priesthood holds.
According to verse 18, what authority does the Melchizedek Priesthood hold? (Write the following truth on the board as students identify it: The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church.)
To help students understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask the class to listen for spiritual blessings that come through the Melchizedek Priesthood.
“[The Melchizedek Priesthood] is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation, and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (in History of the Church, 4:207).
Which spiritual blessings described in verse 19 stand out to you? Why?
Help students understand that those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood are to use it to help other people receive blessings, such as the gift of the Holy Ghost and the blessings of the temple.
What are some blessings you have received through the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Explain that the Lord also described revealed truths about the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. Invite three students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 107:13–14, 20. Ask the class to follow along and identify the authority the Aaronic Priesthood holds.
What authority does the Aaronic Priesthood hold? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels and administering in outward ordinances.)
What are some blessings you have received through the Aaronic Priesthood?
Write the following as headings on the board:
Before class, write the following priesthood offices on separate pieces of paper: deacon, teacher, priest, bishop, elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, Apostle. Place the papers in a container in random order.
At this point in the lesson, divide the papers among a few students. Invite students to come to the board and place each office under the correct heading.
Some students may say that the office of bishop is a Melchizedek Priesthood office. If they do, invite one of them to read Doctrine and Covenants 107:13, 15 aloud. Ask students to use these verses to determine where they should place the office of bishop on the board. Explain that the office of bishop is an office in the Aaronic Priesthood. A bishop is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood and the presiding high priest in his ward. (Note that the calling of literal descendants of Aaron, as mentioned in verses 16–17, is addressed in Doctrine and Covenants 68:15–21 and lesson 74.)
Make sure the offices are placed correctly on the board. (The Melchizedek Priesthood offices are elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, and Apostle. The Aaronic Priesthood offices are deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop.) Explain that these lists will prepare students for the next two lessons, in which they will learn more about priesthood offices.
Conclude by inviting students to share their testimonies about what they have learned and felt in class today.