Young Joseph Smith continued to affirm that he had seen a vision, and he continued to be persecuted for it. When he was 17 years old, one evening as Joseph was praying, an angel named Moroni appeared and declared that God had a work for Joseph to do, including the translation of an ancient record written on gold plates. While explaining Joseph’s role in the Restoration of the gospel, Moroni quoted a number of prophecies from the Bible, including Malachi’s prophecy about the return of Elijah. The next day, Joseph Smith went to the hill where Moroni had said the gold plates were buried. There he received further instruction from Moroni.
During today’s lesson you will learn more about young Joseph Smith. Read Joseph Smith—History 1:27–29, and liken these verses to yourself.
Ponder the situations and feelings Joseph Smith experienced as a youth. How are they similar to those you face?
In Joseph Smith—History 1:28, Joseph wrote that while he was not guilty of any great sins, he did not always act as one who had been called of God should act. We can learn important lessons from what Joseph Smith did in response to what he did wrong.
Review the end of Joseph Smith—History 1:28, and then write in your scripture study journal what Joseph Smith did in response to what he did wrong. In addition, list one or two principles you learn from Joseph’s example.
Some truths we can learn from Joseph Smith—History 1:28 are: As we recognize our sins and feel sorrow for them, we can pray to Heavenly Father for forgiveness. We can pray to know of our standing before God.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How could praying to know of your standing before God help you?
Read the following instruction from Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to better understand how prayer can help us know of our standing before God and recognize changes He might have us make:
“How do we decide where our repentance should be focused? … [We can] humbly petition the Lord: ‘Father, what wouldst Thou have me do?’ The answers come. We feel the changes we need to make. The Lord tells us in our mind and in our heart.
“We then are allowed to choose: will we repent, or will we pull the shades down over our open window into heaven?” (“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 41).
Remember that Heavenly Father is willing to forgive us as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and do what is necessary to repent of our sins.
Read Joseph Smith—History 1:33, and find Moroni’s message to Joseph Smith. You may want to mark words or phrases that indicate that God had a work for Joseph Smith to do. Ponder what Joseph might have felt as he learned of what the Lord would do through him.
Moroni prophesied that Joseph Smith’s name would be “both good and evil spoken of among all people” (Joseph Smith—History 1:33). In your scripture study journal, write about evidence you have witnessed that shows this prophecy is being fulfilled.
Moroni also taught Joseph Smith about the work he would perform. Read Joseph Smith—History 1:34–35, and identify what that work would be.
In Joseph Smith—History 1:36–42 we read that Moroni quoted many prophecies from the Bible to explain that the Restoration of the gospel was about to commence. As you read these verses, you may want to mark the references to the scripture passages that are mentioned.
Read Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39. In 1876 Brigham Young directed that Moroni’s words in these verses be added to the Doctrine and Covenants as section 2. This prophecy of Elijah’s return was one of the earliest revelations given in this dispensation, and it is of such importance that it also appears in the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5–6), New Testament (Luke 1:17), and Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 25:5–6). You may want to write these cross-references next to Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39 and Doctrine and Covenants 2.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said the following about Elijah and the priesthood power he would restore: “It is important to know why the Lord promised to send Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet with great power given him by God. He held the greatest power God gives to His children: he held the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it bound in heaven” (“Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign, May 2005, 78).
Using President Eyring’s explanation to help you, summarize the meaning of Doctrine and Covenants 2:1 in your own words:
Doctrine and Covenants 2:2 refers to promises made to the fathers. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified who these fathers are and what promises were made to them: “Who are the fathers? They are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the promises were made. What are the promises? They are the promises of a continuation of the family unit in eternity” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 267).
In addition to referring to the Old Testament prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “the fathers” refers to others, as President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “The fathers are our dead ancestors who died without the privilege of receiving the gospel, but who received the promise that the time would come when that privilege would be granted them. The children are those now living who are preparing genealogical data and who are performing the vicarious ordinances in the temples” (Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:127).
Using the explanations given above, summarize the meaning of Doctrine and Covenants 2:2 in your own words:
Doctrine and Covenants 2:3 states that the earth would be utterly wasted if Elijah did not come. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained why this would occur: “Why would the earth be wasted? Simply because if there is not a welding link between the fathers and the children—which is the work for the dead—then we will all stand rejected; the whole work of God will fail and be utterly wasted” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:122; see also D&C 128:17–18).
Using this explanation, summarize the meaning of Doctrine and Covenants 2:3 in your own words:
The following are some examples of truths you may have identified in Doctrine and Covenants 2:1–3. Match the truth with the appropriate verse where it is taught.
____ 1. God would send Elijah to restore the sealing power to the earth before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
____ 2. Our hearts can be turned to our family members, and we can perform ordinances that unite us with them eternally.
____ 3. If families are not united through the sealing power, the earth would be wasted at Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.
Based on what you have learned from Doctrine and Covenants 2, record in your scripture study journal a few sentences explaining your feelings about the importance of Elijah’s return.
In your study of Doctrine and Covenants 110 later this year, you will learn how this prophecy was fulfilled as Elijah returned and bestowed the sealing power upon the Prophet Joseph Smith.
After Moroni taught Joseph Smith about the return of Elijah, quoted other prophecies of the Restoration, and provided further instructions about the gold plates, he departed (see Joseph Smith—History 1:42–43). Read Joseph Smith—History 1:44–45, and identify what happened following Moroni’s departure.
Read Joseph Smith—History 1:46–49, and look for the number of times Moroni repeated his message to Joseph Smith. In total, how many times did Moroni deliver his message to Joseph Smith?
One truth we learn from this is that the Lord and His servants often repeat important teachings.
Consider the sacrament prayers. Why are they repeated each week word for word? Think about teachings that you have heard repeated in the scriptures and during general conferences.
In your scripture study journal, list some examples of teachings you have heard repeated, and then explain why you think the Lord and his servants often repeat teachings. Be sure to describe how you might apply this truth this year.
Joseph Smith—History 1:50–51 explains that after he told his father about the visits from Moroni, Joseph went to the hill where the gold plates were buried.
Imagine how you would feel if you were Moroni and were visiting with Joseph Smith after waiting more than 1,400 years for the plates to be uncovered and translated. As you imagine this, read Joseph Smith—History 1:52–54, and then write in your scripture study journal about how you might have felt during this experience.
In the next lesson you will discover what occurred at the end of the four-year waiting period.