When the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124 on January 19, 1841, the Saints had been in Nauvoo, Illinois, for nearly two years. After the persecutions and hardships they had experienced, the Saints now had a place where they could gather and build up a city in peace. Doctrine and Covenants 124 is the first revelation Joseph Smith received in Nauvoo that would be canonized. This section will be divided among three lessons. This lesson discusses verses 1–21. In these verses, the Lord commanded that a proclamation be sent to the rulers of the earth regarding the Restoration of the gospel and the stake of Zion in Nauvoo. He also praised and gave counsel to early Church leaders.
Write the word Strong on the board. Ask students what kind of person, according to worldly standards, is typically considered to be strong. As students respond, write their answers on the board under Strong. Write the word Weak on the board. Ask students what characteristics, according to worldly standards, are typically associated with being weak.
In what ways does the world try to make a young man or young woman feel weak according to its standards?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:1 silently, looking for whom the Lord described as weak. Invite students to report what they discovered.
In what ways might Joseph Smith have been weak when he was called to restore the gospel? According to verse 1, why would the Lord call the weak to do His work? (As students respond, summarize their answers by writing a principle similar to the following on the board: The Lord shows forth His wisdom through the weak things of the earth.)
In what ways did the Lord show forth His wisdom through the Prophet Joseph Smith?
How did the Lord magnify Joseph Smith’s abilities?
Ask students to name some of the callings or assignments they might receive while they are still in their youth. (Answers might include home teacher, member of a class or quorum presidency, missionary, speaking in sacrament meeting, or fellowshipping someone in their ward or branch.)
Refer to the principle written on the board, and ask the following questions:
How could remembering this truth help us as we receive various calls and assignments to serve in the Church?
How have you been blessed by those who have faithfully served the Lord even though they may have been seen as weak in the eyes of the world?
Remind students that during the winter of 1838–39, the Saints fled Missouri and settled in Illinois on the Mississippi River. There the Saints began to build up the city of Nauvoo. After having endured persecution and many hardships, the Saints finally had a place where they could gather and build up a city in peace. In December 1840, the Illinois state legislature granted a charter to the city of Nauvoo, which allowed the Saints to organize a local government, establish a university, and even form a local militia.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord wanted Joseph Smith to do now that the Saints were settled in Nauvoo. (You may need to explain that the term this stake in verse 2 refers to Nauvoo.)
What did the Lord call Joseph Smith to do? (Make a proclamation of the gospel to the rulers of the earth.)
Invite students to spend a few minutes writing in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they would include in a proclamation of the gospel to the rulers of the earth. To assist students, you may want to ask them to ponder what they know to be true in the gospel, and suggest they include a testimony of those truths in their proclamations. After a few minutes, invite a few students to share with the class what they wrote.
Ask students to name the various ways in which we can share the gospel with others. (Examples might include sharing through social media, writing a testimony in a Book of Mormon and then giving it to a friend, and inviting someone to church or to seminary.) List students’ responses on the board.
What have been some of the most effective ways in which you have shared the gospel with others?
Write the following two headings on the board: How? and Why?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:4–8 silently. Ask half of the class to look for how the Lord wanted the proclamation to be written, and ask the other half to look for why the Lord wanted the proclamation to be written. After students have had sufficient time to study the verses, invite a few of them to come to the board and write what they discovered under the appropriate heading.
Invite students to identify a principle from verse 4 that teaches how the Lord wants us to share the gospel with others. (Students may use different words, but they should identify something like the following principle: We are to proclaim the gospel in meekness and by the power of the Holy Ghost.)
What do you think it means to proclaim the gospel in meekness? What do you think it means to proclaim the gospel by the power of the Holy Ghost?
Refer to the list of ways to share the gospel on the board. How can we share the gospel in meekness and by the power of the Holy Ghost using these methods?
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:9 silently and look for what the Lord said He would do as the Saints proclaimed the gospel.
Invite students to identify a doctrine taught in verse 9 concerning what the Lord can do for those who hear the gospel. Students may use different words, but they should identify something similar to the following truth: The Lord can soften the hearts of those who hear the gospel.
How can this doctrine relate to the truth about how we should proclaim the gospel in meekness and by the power of the Holy Ghost?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 124:10–14 by explaining that the Lord said He would call the rulers of the earth to provide assistance to the Saints as the Saints proclaimed the gospel to them. In addition, the Lord commanded Robert B. Thompson to help Joseph Smith write the proclamation of the gospel.
Explain that although the work of writing this proclamation began soon after the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124 was received, several factors prevented it from being completed and published until several years later. Robert B. Thompson died seven months after the writing began. His death, the time devoted to building the Nauvoo Temple, and other obligations prevented the completion of the proclamation before the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The proclamation was finally completed by Parley P. Pratt and published as a pamphlet in New York City on April 6, 1845, and by the Millennial Star on October 22, 1845. (See Ezra Taft Benson, “A Message to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 32–34.)
Ask students to think of a time when someone gave them a sincere compliment. Invite a few students to share their experiences and why these compliments were meaningful to them.
Explain that the Lord addressed several individuals in this revelation and commended them by pointing out their strengths and contributions. Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 124:15–20 silently and look for what the Lord said about these individuals. You might want to suggest that they mark phrases that stand out to them. After sufficient time, invite students to turn to a partner and share what they discovered, including which statements stood out to them and why.
You may want to point out that in Doctrine and Covenants 124:19 the Lord declared that three faithful men who had recently died (David W. Patten, Edward Partridge, and Joseph Smith Sr., the Prophet’s father) had been received into the presence of the Lord.
Invite students to review what the Lord said about Hyrum Smith and George Miller in Doctrine and Covenants 124:15, 20.
How does the Lord feel about those who have integrity? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: The Lord loves and trusts those who have integrity of heart. You may want to suggest that students mark the words that teach this principle in verses 15 and 20.)
How would you define integrity of heart?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“To me, integrity means always doing what is right and good, regardless of the immediate consequences. It means being righteous from the very depth of our soul, not only in our actions but, more importantly, in our thoughts and in our hearts. Personal integrity implies such trustworthiness and incorruptibility that we are incapable of being false to a trust or covenant” (“Personal Integrity,” Ensign, May 1990, 30).
Based on Elder Wirthlin’s definition, why do you think the Lord loves those who have integrity of heart?
Invite students to ponder an aspect of their lives in which they could have more integrity. Encourage them to set a personal goal to improve their integrity in that area.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths students learned today.