Shortly after revealing the place for the city of Zion (see D&C 57:1–3) and instructing the Prophet to purchase land for the gathering of the Saints to Zion (see D&C 58:44–58), the Lord revealed section 59, which includes many of the commandments the Saints must live to build Zion. To those who obeyed these commandments, the Lord promised “the good things of the earth” (v. 3; see vv. 16–20); “revelations in their time” (v. 4); the ability to be “unspotted from the world” (v. 9); and “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (v. 23).
Today we continue to build on the foundation laid by the early members of the Church. President Gordon B. Hinckley testified:
“I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 94; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Those who obey the Lord’s commandments receive temporal and spiritual blessings in this life and eternal life in the world to come (see D&C 59:1–8, 15–20, 23; see also Psalm 37:9; Mosiah 2:41; D&C 14:7).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 105–7.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 124–29.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video presentation 9, “Upon My Holy Day” (17:47), can be used in teaching Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–20 (see Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide for teaching suggestions).
Doctrine and Covenants 59. Those who obey the Lord’s commandments receive temporal and spiritual blessings in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
Have a student share the following story by Sister Patricia P. Pinegar, then general president of the Primary. A little boy went to the park with his father to fly a kite.
“The boy was very young. It was his first experience with kite flying. His father helped him, and after several attempts the kite was in the air. The boy ran and let out more string, and soon the kite was flying high. The little boy was so excited; the kite was beautiful. Eventually there was no more string left to allow the kite to go higher. The boy said to his father, ‘Daddy, let’s cut the string and let the kite go; I want to see it go higher and higher.’
“His father said, ‘Son, the kite won’t go higher if we cut the string.’
“‘Yes, it will,’ responded the little boy. ‘The string is holding the kite down; I can feel it.’ The father handed a pocketknife to his son. The boy cut the string. In a matter of seconds the kite was out of control. It darted here and there and finally landed in a broken heap. That was difficult for the boy to understand. He felt certain the string was holding the kite down” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 84; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 67–68).
How are the commandments like a kite string?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:4. What does the Lord promise to give the faithful?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 130:21. How would receiving more commandments be a blessing?
How are God’s commandments evidence of His love for us?
Read the following counsel from the First Presidency:
“God’s commandments (standards) are constant, unwavering, and dependable. As you adhere to them, you will receive countless blessings from heaven—including the gift of eternal life” (For the Strength of Youth [pamphlet, 1990], 6).
Write on the board the headings Commandments and Consequences. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 59:5–13 and highlight the phrase thou shalt every time it appears. Write these commandments on the board under the appropriate heading. Read verse 8 and ask:
What does it mean to have a “broken heart” and a “contrite spirit”? (See the word helps for D&C 20 in the student study guide; see also the statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for D&C 59:8 in the student study guide.)
Why do you think it is important to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit?
Discuss each of the commandments on the board and how your community might be different if people followed it.
Have students read verses 14–24 and highlight consequences of keeping or not keeping commandments. List their findings under Consequences on the board. Ask: Which of these consequences would be most important to you? Why?
Read verse 23 and ask:
What does it mean to have “peace in this world”?
How important would having peace in this life be to you?
Why is it important to receive “eternal life in the world to come”?
Invite one or two students to tell about a time that keeping the commandments brought peace in their life, or share an example from your life. Share this testimony by Elder Richard G. Scott: “The power of God will come into your life because of your faithful obedience to His commandments” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 1990, 96; or Ensign, May 1990, 74).
Doctrine and Covenants 59:7–21. God is pleased when we express our gratitude to Him and obey His commandments.
Give each student a small piece of candy and tell them not to eat it until you give permission. After each student has received one, go around the room again and give a second piece of candy to those who expressed appreciation for the gift. Ask students: Why did some get a second piece of candy? Read together Doctrine and Covenants 59:7, 21, and ask:
Why is it important to be thankful?
What should we be thankful for?
According to these verses, how does God feel about ingratitude?
Have students read Mosiah 2:20–22 and tell what gifts we receive from God that we often take for granted. Ask: What does God ask from us in return for all He does for us?
Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 59:7–19 looking for a commandment that is discussed in more detail than the others. Discuss the following questions:
How can our attitudes about and actions on the Sabbath show gratitude to the Lord?
What Sabbath activities show a lack of gratitude to the Lord?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79. How can we “remember” the Lord each Sabbath day?
Conclude by reading this statement by Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, then a member of the Seventy: “How we observe the Sabbath indicates our feelings toward our Father in Heaven” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 14; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 13).
Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–14 (Scripture Mastery, Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–10). The Sabbath is a day of rest and worship. Keeping the Sabbath day holy helps us overcome sin and resist temptation.
Write the following questions on the board. Give students a few minutes to respond on paper (tell them not to write their names), and then collect the papers.
What is the purpose of the Sabbath day?
What activities do you think are appropriate for the Sabbath?
What activities do you think are inappropriate?
Have students search Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–14 and mark words or phrases that show the purpose of the Sabbath. Read some of the responses from the papers, and have students judge if each response is in harmony with section 59.
Read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“The Sabbath of the Lord is becoming the play day of the people. It is a day of golf and football on television, of buying and selling in our stores and markets. Are we moving to mainstream America as some observers believe? In this I fear we are. What a telling thing it is to see the parking lots of the markets filled on Sunday in communities that are predominately LDS.
“Our strength for the future, our resolution to grow the Church across the world, will be weakened if we violate the will of the Lord in this important matter. He has so very clearly spoken anciently and again in modern revelation. We cannot disregard with impunity that which He has said” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69).
Discuss the following questions:
What do you think it means to be “unspotted from the world”? (v. 9).
In what ways can keeping the Sabbath day holy keep you unspotted from the world?
How might keeping the Sabbath holy help “grow the Church across the world”?
Share and discuss the following counsel from the First Presidency:
“The Lord has given the Sabbath day for your benefit and has commanded you to keep it holy. On this sacred, holy day, worship the Lord, strengthen family relationships, help others, and draw close to the Lord. Your dress before and after meetings should reflect your respect for the Sabbath.
“Many activities are appropriate for the Sabbath; however, it is not a holiday. You should avoid seeking entertainment or spending money on this day.
“When seeking a job, you may wish to share with your potential employer your desire to attend your Sunday meetings and keep the Sabbath holy. Many employers value employees with these personal convictions. Try to choose a job that doesn’t require you to work on Sunday” (For the Strength of Youth , 16–17).