“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” begins with this statement: “We, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim …” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Prophets in every dispensation have a responsibility to declare the will of the Lord and to warn of the consequences of sin. This lesson will help students to understand prophets’ role as watchmen who warn us of foreseen calamities.
Show students the picture of a watchtower, and ask them if they can identify the structure in the image. Explain that the structure is a replica of an ancient watchtower. (As an alternative approach, if available in your language, show the first minute of the video “Watchman on the Tower,” lds.org/media-library.) Ask students what kinds of things watchmen might look for and why it is important for them to perform their duties.
Invite students to read Ezekiel 33:1–3 and identify a watchman’s responsibility.
What is the responsibility of the watchman? (To warn people of approaching danger.)
Ask a student to read Ezekiel 33:4–7 aloud.
What duty did the Lord assign to Ezekiel?
How are prophets like watchmen on a tower? (It may be helpful for students to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:4–5, 11, 14 to help them understand that modern prophets serve as watchmen. You might suggest that students cross-reference these verses to Ezekiel 33:4–7. Consider pointing out that Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, “As Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our duty to be watchmen on the tower” [“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 62].)
Testify of the following doctrine: Heavenly Father has called latter-day prophets to warn us of approaching danger.
To reinforce this doctrine, display the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, and have a student read it aloud:
“There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. And those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets, whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety” (“Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 24).
When have you felt protected by following prophetic counsel?
What counsel have you heard from modern apostles and prophets that can bring spiritual protection to families?
In what ways is the family proclamation a voice of warning from our Father in Heaven?
Share the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to look for ways in which prophets become aware of dangers in today’s world.
“I have heard that some people think the Church leaders live in a ‘bubble.’ What they forget is that we are men and women of experience, and we have lived our lives in so many places and worked with many people from different backgrounds. Our current assignments literally take us around the globe, where we meet the political, religious, business, and humanitarian leaders of the world. Although we have visited [leaders in] the White House in Washington, D.C., and leaders of nations [and religions] throughout the world, we have also visited the most humble [families and people] on earth. …
“When you thoughtfully consider our lives and ministry, you will most likely agree that we see and experience the world in ways few others do. You will realize that we live less in a ‘bubble’ than most people. …
“… There is something about the individual and combined wisdom of the [Church leaders] that should provide some comfort. We have experienced it all, including the consequences of different public laws and policies, disappointments, tragedies, and deaths in our own families. We are not out of touch with your lives” (“Stay in the Boat and Hold On!” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 90).
How might Church leaders’ vast experiences help them in their role as watchmen?
Explain that prophets have access to something far more important than life experience to help them fulfill their divinely given duties. Ask a student to read Amos 3:6–7 aloud. Point out to students that the Joseph Smith Translation changes the word “done” to “known” in verse 6 and the word “but” to “until” in verse 7 (see the footnotes to these two verses). This discussion may be an excellent opportunity for you to encourage students to use the footnotes during their personal scripture study.
What does Amos 3:6–7 teach about prophets?
Share the following definition with the students: A prophet is “a person who has been called by and speaks for God. As a messenger of God, a prophet receives commandments, prophecies, and revelations from God. … A prophet denounces sin and foretells its consequences” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Prophet,” scriptures.lds.org).
Copy the following diagram onto the board:
Allow students a few moments to ponder and discuss the diagram. You may want to explain that the diagram illustrates how God’s perspective on the family encompasses premortal, mortal, and postmortal life. Through revelation, prophets receive a wider perspective, and they in turn help us increase our perspective and understanding.
How does this diagram illustrate why we would be wise to study the family proclamation? (Write the following on the board: By studying the family proclamation, we can learn Heavenly Father’s perspective on the family.)
Ask students to take out their copies of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Emphasize the opening phrase: “We, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim. …” Give students a few minutes to search the family proclamation, looking for evidence that God’s perspective on marriage and family is different from the world’s. Invite students to share what they found, and list student responses on the board.
Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 90:1–3 to identify what the Lord had given to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
What did the Lord give to Joseph Smith? (The keys of the kingdom, which represent the rights of presidency, or the authority to direct God’s kingdom on the earth.)
Who holds those same keys today? (Each member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 90:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord promised would come to the Church through the Prophet. (The Lord said the Church would receive “oracles.” Tell students that “oracles” means “revelations.”)
What warning did the Lord give the Saints in verse 5?
What principle can we learn from this warning? (Responses should show understanding of the following principle: If we treat lightly the revelations God gives us through His prophets, we will stumble and fall. Consider writing this principle on the board.)
Display the following statements by Sister Carol F. McConkie of the Young Women general presidency and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“We may choose to ignore, trifle with, trample upon, or rebel against the words of Christ spoken by His ordained servants. But the Savior taught that those who do so will be cut off from His covenant people [see 3 Nephi 20:23]” (Carol F. McConkie, “Live according to the Words of the Prophets,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 79).
“I have discovered in my ministry that those who have become lost [and] confused are typically those who have most often … forgotten that when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice, it is the voice of the Lord for that time. The Lord reminds us, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ [D&C 1:38]” (M. Russell Ballard, “Stay in the Boat and Hold On!” 90).
What might be some indications that someone is treating lightly the counsel found in the family proclamation?
What blessings have you or others received by heeding the counsel in the family proclamation?
What thoughts and feelings do you have regarding latter-day prophets that you could share with the class?
Testify that the family proclamation is an inspired declaration from the united voice of fifteen prophets, seers, and revelators. Encourage students to take the opportunity throughout this course to pray for a deeper testimony of the truths contained in the family proclamation.