Persecution against the Prophet Joseph Smith and Church members had become intense by the summer of 1830. During this trying time the Lord strengthened and instructed Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, and other Church leaders through the revelations contained in Doctrine and Covenants 24–26.
Think about one of the most difficult or frustrating days or weeks you have ever had. How did you deal with the difficulties you experienced?
The Prophet Joseph Smith experienced many difficult periods in his life. One such period was the summer of 1830. In June 1830, Joseph Smith and a few colleagues went to Colesville, New York, to visit people who were interested in being baptized. A stream was dammed to prepare for baptisms the next day (Sunday), but a hostile mob destroyed the dam during the night.
Early Monday morning, the dam was rebuilt and 13 people were baptized, including Emma Smith. By the time the baptisms were completed, however, a mob of nearly 50 men had gathered, insulting and threatening to harm the Saints.
That evening the Saints met to confirm those who had been baptized earlier that day, but before the confirmations could be performed, Joseph was arrested on charges of “being a disorderly person, of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 1:88).
En route to his trial, Joseph escaped a mob with the help of the sympathetic constable. After standing trial and being acquitted of the charges, Joseph was immediately arrested again in a different county. That night Joseph was ridiculed and abused by “a number of men, who used every means to abuse, ridicule and insult” him (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 1:91). The next morning Joseph stood trial, and he was again acquitted of the charges and escaped another mob as he traveled home.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery made another attempt to unite with the recently baptized members in Colesville, but a mob gathered shortly after they arrived. Joseph and Oliver were forced to flee and barely escaped as the mob pursued them throughout the night.
Joseph said of this trying time, “Notwithstanding all the rage of our enemies, we had much consolation, and many things occurred to strengthen our faith and cheer our hearts” (in History of the Church, 1:101; for Joseph Smith’s account of these events in Colesville, see History of the Church, 1:86–97, 101).
Complete both of the following exercises in your scripture study journal:
Make two columns in your scripture study journal. Label the first column with the heading Strengthen and Encourage; label the second column with the heading Instruct. Study Doctrine and Covenants 24:1–12, and list phrases that could strengthen and encourage or instruct Joseph and Oliver in the appropriate column.
Select one phrase that is meaningful to you from one of the columns. Write two to three sentences explaining how that specific encouragement or instruction from the Lord might help someone going through a difficult experience.
One significant statement of encouragement and instruction from the Lord is found in Doctrine and Covenants 24:8. In your own words, write a principle taught in this verse:
An affliction is a cause or condition of pain, distress, or suffering. What do you think it means to “be patient in afflictions” and “endure them”? Being patient and enduring our afflictions is not always easy, but the Lord promises that He is with us throughout our afflictions.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you seen someone exercise patience and remain faithful while enduring afflictions?
What did the person say or what did you see that showed the Lord was with this person?
How can having faith that the Lord will be with you in times of trial help you have the courage and the strength to do hard things?
In Doctrine and Covenants 24:13–19 the Lord gave additional instruction to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery regarding how to fulfill their callings and what would happen to those who rejected and opposed them.
As previously mentioned, Emma Smith was part of the group that was baptized in Colesville, New York, in June 1830, but due to mob persecution she was unable to be confirmed until early August (see History of the Church, 1:106, 108). Sometime between Emma’s baptism and confirmation, the Prophet Joseph received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 25. In this revelation the Lord gave comfort and instruction for Emma, who would experience trials and make great sacrifices throughout her life.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 25. Then think about the comfort and counsel given to Emma in this revelation as you read the following details about her life:
Emma Hale Smith was raised in a prosperous home but, after marrying, often lived in very poor conditions. She acted as scribe while Joseph translated the gold plates during the early days of translation. Although she often saw the plates lying on the table, covered by a linen cloth, she never uncovered them to look at them.
Joseph and Emma’s first three children died shortly after their birth. Throughout her life she would endure the deaths of five of her biological children and an adopted child. In addition, she and her husband would go through relentless persecution. Throughout their marriage Joseph and Emma were forced to leave their homes because of the threat of mobs. Emma’s house would be broken into; she would often have to move out of her own home and live with others, relying on their kindness for a temporary place to live; and eventually her beloved Joseph would be taken from her and murdered.
The Lord told Emma Smith to “make a selection of sacred hymns … to be had in my church” (D&C 25:11). Review Doctrine and Covenants 25:12, and answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do you think the phrase “the song of the heart” means?
How can “the song of the righteous” be like a prayer?
Read the following statement:
“Music can enrich your life. It can edify and inspire you and help you draw closer to Heavenly Father. Music has a profound effect on your mind, spirit, and behavior.
“Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Some music can carry evil and destructive messages. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices. Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity” (For the Strength of Youth [pamphlet, 2011], 22).
What can you do to surround yourself with worthy music?
According to Doctrine and Covenants 25:16, the counsel and promises given to Emma Smith in this revelation also apply to each of us. Complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
From what you read in Doctrine and Covenants 25, write at least four principles you learned from the counsel given to Emma. (For example, if we keep God’s commandments continually, we will receive a crown of righteousness [verse 15], which is symbolic of receiving celestial glory in the kingdom of God.)
Choose one of the principles you listed that you feel is applicable to you and write how you can apply this principle in your life now.
The Lord said that Emma Smith was “an elect lady” (D&C 25:3). The Prophet Joseph Smith later taught that “elect meant to be elected to a certain work” (in History of the Church, 4:552). Review Doctrine and Covenants 25, looking for what Emma Smith was elected (chosen, or called) to do at this time and what she would be “ordained” (given authority) to do (D&C 25:7).
Nearly 12 years later, President John Taylor, acting under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, set apart Emma to serve as the general Relief Society president of the Church. Recalling that experience, President Taylor said: “At that meeting the Prophet called Sister Emma to be an elect lady. That means that she was called to a certain work; and that was in fulfillment of a certain revelation [D&C 25] concerning her. She was elected to preside over the Relief Society, and she was ordained to expound the Scriptures. In compliance with [Brother] Joseph’s request I set her apart. … Sister Emma was elected to expound the Scriptures, and to preside over the Relief Society” (“Discourse by President John Taylor,” Deseret News, Mar. 9, 1881, 83).
Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, gave the following tribute to her daughter-in-law Emma: “I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done; for I know that which she has had to endure—she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty—she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley , 190–91).
Doctrine and Covenants 25:13 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it easily later. The phrase “cleave unto the covenants” means to follow closely or cling to the covenants we have made with God. You may want to write this definition in the margin near that verse.
In your scripture study journal, explain what Doctrine and Covenants 25:13 means to you.
To help you remember the Lord’s admonition to cleave unto the covenants we have made, write the words of Doctrine and Covenants 25:13 on a small piece of paper or card. Carry the paper with you for a few days, think about the words, and try to memorize them. You may want to recite and explain the meaning of this verse to a friend or family member once you have it memorized.
In Doctrine and Covenants 26:1 the Lord instructed Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer regarding the spiritual and physical labors they were to perform. The Lord then taught them an important principle about governing the Church.
Imagine that a friend of another faith is with you in a meeting when many Church officers are sustained in their callings (such as a ward or branch conference or a stake conference). Think about how you would explain the practice of sustaining the various Church officers to your friend.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 26:2, and look for a phrase relating to the practice of sustaining. You might want to mark the principle all things are to be done by common consent in the Church.
What do you think “common consent” means?
“Common consent” refers to the practice of Church members sustaining those called to serve in the Church, as well as sustaining other Church decisions requiring support of the membership. This is usually shown by raising the right hand.
There is a difference between sustaining by expressing common consent and voting. In the Lord’s kingdom, the Lord inspires His appointed leaders, who then make decisions by the authority He entrusts to them. The leaders then seek the Lord’s confirmation of their decisions. The raising of the right hand is not a way for members to cast a vote; it is a way to signify their consent (or opposition) to a decision that has already been made.
In addition to expressing their consent, or approval, when raising their right hand, members also signify their willingness to support the person or the action being presented. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “The procedure of sustaining is much more than a ritualistic raising of the hand. It is a commitment to uphold, to support, to assist those who have been selected” (“This Work Is Concerned with People,” Ensign, May 1995, 51).
Consider what you can do to better fulfill your commitment to support someone who has been called and sustained to serve you in your ward or branch.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 24–26 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: