Doctrine and Covenants 123

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 205–7


The Prophet Joseph Smith was still in Liberty Jail when Doctrine and Covenants 123 was written (see the introduction to sections 121–22 [p. 201]).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the Church to record the wrongs committed against them in order to seek justice from earthly governments and from God (see D&C 123:1–11; see also D&C 101:85–92).

  • Many throughout the earth are deceived by the craftiness of men but would accept the truth if they knew where to find it (see D&C 123:12–17; see also D&C 76:75).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 204–9.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 302–3.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 123:1–11. The Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the Church to record the wrongs committed against them in order to seek justice from earthly governments and from God.

(35–40 minutes)

Have students read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 123, including the verse summaries, and identify what counsel the Prophet Joseph Smith gave the Saints in this section. Divide the class into two groups. Invite one group to read verses 1–5 and list on the board what facts the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the Saints to gather. Have the second group study verses 6–12 and list on the board why these facts were to be gathered. The lists might include the following:

Facts to Be Collected

Explain that the Saints were obedient to the Prophet’s counsel and collected numerous accounts of their persecutions. Invite three students to share the following statements collected about these persecutions:

“General Clark came to Caldwell with his troops. I was living about two miles from Far West near to Mr. Gad Yale. A number of General Clark’s troops came to Mr. Yale’s house and stopped there for about two days and destroyed considerable property. They tore up both the floors of the house, destroyed their poultry and hogs, and set fire to a haystack … which was entirely destroyed. They took what corn they wanted for their horses from Mr. Yale, and I believe he had about ten acres destroyed. … Some of the hogs which they shot down were left to rot on the ground. I also saw some of the militia go into Mr. Cyrus Daniel’s house, which they plundered. I saw them carry out one bed and bedding and some clothing” (Mary K. Miles, in Clark V. Johnson, ed., Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict [1992], 496–97; spelling and grammar standardized).

“I, Delia Reed, moved to Missouri in the year 1836. My husband died soon after we arrived and left me with seven small children. I then moved to Caldwell County, made an improvement, [and] continued on said farm until the autumn of 1838. When the troubles came on between the inhabitants and the Mormons, I, with the rest of our society, was obliged to leave the state. … I was obliged to sacrifice … most of my property so that my family became scattered and I had to gain a daily pittance among strangers” (Delia Reed, in Mormon Redress Petitions, 523).

“I hereby certify that my father stopped at Haun’s Mill and was living in a tent at the time the massacre took place there. I was in the tent when the company rode up. Some of our people hollered to the women and children to leave the tents. I ran into a blacksmith shop where my father was. I crept under the bellows as also did my brother and another boy by the name of Charles Merrick. I was wounded on the hip, my brother had his brains blown out, and the other boy received three wounds and has since died of them. My mother tells me that I was eight years old last month. I saw some of our enemies pull off my father’s boots before he was dead” (Alma Smith, in Mormon Redress Petitions, 537).

Ask: How do these accounts help you better understand the persecutions of the Saints? Ask students if they know what resulted from the collection of this information. Share the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“In vain have we sought for redress of grievances and a restoration to our rights in the courts and legislature of Missouri. In vain have we sought for our rights and the remuneration for our property in the halls of Congress and at the hands of the President. The only consolation yet experienced from these highest tribunals and mercy-seats of our bleeding country is that our cause is just, but the Government has no power to redress us” (History of the Church, 6:89).

Help students understand that we cannot always have justice in mortality, but that eventually the Lord will make all things right. After the Saints were driven from New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, they settled in the Rocky Mountains, far from the eastern states. Ask students what dramatic event these states experienced shortly after the Saints left. (The United States Civil War.)

Relate the following incident to students. While the Prophet Joseph Smith was being held in Liberty Jail, a man offered the Prophet’s lawyer, Alexander Doniphan, a tract of land in Jackson County in payment of a debt. When the man left, the Prophet told Mr. Doniphan:

“I advise you not to take Jackson county land in payment of the debt. God’s wrath hangs over Jackson county. God’s people have been ruthlessly driven from it, and you will live to see the day when it will be visited by fire and sword. The Lord of Hosts will sweep it with the besom of destruction. The fields and farms and houses will be destroyed, and only the chimneys will be left to mark the desolation” (in B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:538).

Alexander Doniphan later remarked that he was reminded of this prophecy when Jackson County was devastated during the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States during the Civil War, wrote:

“Whereas when our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous, and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before him and to pray for his mercy—to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved” (“Proclamation of a National Fast Day, Aug. 12, 1861,” in The Speeches of Abraham Lincoln [1908], 339–40).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 123:6 and ask:

  • What part of this verse was fulfilled in the Civil War?

  • How did the Saints’ record of their persecutions relate to this war? (see D&C 87:2–3, 7; 123:6, 15).

  • Read verse 17. How could this verse bring hope to Saints who have been persecuted?

Doctrine and Covenants 123:12–1 7. Many throughout the earth are deceived by the craftiness of men but would accept the truth if they knew where to find it.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever heard people tell lies about the Church or seen them hand out anti-Mormon literature. Ask:

  • How did it make you feel?

  • How do you think anti-Mormon literature or lies about the Church affect those not of our faith?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 123:12–15 and look for answers to the following questions:

  • How did false teaching about the Church affect people at that time?

  • What should we do to promote the truth about the Church throughout the world?

  • Why is it important to bring “hidden things of darkness” to light? (v. 13).

  • According to these verses, how much effort should we give to this cause?

Read verses 16–17 and ask:

  • What small object makes a big difference to a ship in a storm?

  • What is a helm? (A lever or wheel that controls a ship’s rudder.) How does it affect a ship?

  • If we do all we can, what will the Lord do?

Share the following accounts. President Harold B. Lee said:

“I was at Manti, Utah, some years ago. As we came out of the Saturday night leadership meeting, there was a heavy snowstorm. As we drove to the home of the stake president, he stopped his car and turned back to the temple hill. There the lighted temple was standing majestically. We sat there in silence for a few moments, inspired by the sight of that beautiful, sacred place. He said, ‘You know, Brother Lee, that temple is never more beautiful than in times of a dense fog or in times of a heavy, severe storm.’

“Just so, never is the gospel of Jesus Christ more beautiful than in times of intense need, or in times of a severe storm within us as individuals, or in times of confusion and turmoil” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1972, 175; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 133).

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said:

“A few months ago word reached some of our missionaries in a remote South Pacific island that I would soon be visiting there for two or three days. When I arrived, the missionaries were waiting anxiously to share with me some anti-Mormon literature that was being circulated in their area. They were disturbed by the accusations and were eager to plan retaliation.

“The elders sat on the edge of their chairs as I read the slander and false declarations issued by a minister who apparently felt threatened by their presence and successes. As I read the pamphlet containing the malicious and ridiculous statements, I actually smiled, much to the surprise of my young associates. When I finished, they asked, ‘What do we do now? How can we best counteract such lies?’

“I answered, ‘To the author of these words, we do nothing. We have no time for contention. We only have time to be about our Father’s business. Contend with no man. Conduct yourselves as gentlemen with calmness and conviction and I promise you success.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 9; or Ensign, May 1978, 7).


  • How should we react to anti-Mormon material?

  • Read 2 Nephi 32:5; Moroni 10:5. How do these verses help answer this question?

  • How should the counsel of current Church leaders affect our decision of how to react?