Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events
In New Testament times Satan and his followers used lies, violence, hatred, betrayal, and sin in efforts to overcome the righteous. This ushered in the period of the Great Apostasy (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–11; see also Matthew 24:4–5, 9–13; John 15:18–20; Acts 20:29–30; 2 Peter 2:1–3, 12–15).
Jesus Christ warned His disciples in Jerusalem of the impending destruction of that city so they could prepare both spiritually and temporally (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:11–18; see also Matthew 24:15–21; D&C 87:8; 101:22–23).
The destruction of the temple by the Romans in A.D. 70 and the scattering of the Jews was just the beginning of the persecution that has been brought against the Jews (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:19; see also Matthew 24:8; 1 Nephi 19:13–14; 2 Nephi 6:10; 10:3–6; 25:9–15).
Because of the covenant God made with the house of Israel, Jesus said that God would not allow the wicked to completely destroy the Jews (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:20; see also Matthew 24:22; 1 Nephi 19:15–17; 2 Nephi 6:11, 14; 2 Nephi 10:7; 25:16–18; 3 Nephi 20:29–31).
Suggestions for Teaching
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2, 4. The Disciples’ Questions
Have students identify what the disciples asked Jesus in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2, 4. Tell students that the prophecies in this chapter are Jesus’ answers to His disciples’ questions.
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–11. Jesus Prophesied of the Apostasy in New Testament Times
Have students find and mark in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5–10the ways Church members in New Testament times would be overcome and fall away from the truth. (Note especially the word deceivein vv. 5, 6, 9; see also vv. 22, 37.) Read verse 11 and ask students what we can do to remain “steadfast” against these obstacles. Read and discuss this quotation from the First Presidency:
“In the providence of the Almighty persecution serves a most useful purpose. Every faithful Saint must perceive and acknowledge this. Each one feels its effect upon himself; he sees its effect upon his friends and neighbors. Persecution develops character. Under its influence we all know ourselves better than we did before we felt its pressure; and we discover traits in our brethren and sisters of the existence of which, perhaps, we were in entire ignorance” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,6 vols. [1965–75], 3:48).
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12–19. Holy Places
Have students read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12; Doctrine and Covenants 45:32; 87:8; 101:22–23and tell what they think it means to “stand in holy places.” Share this quotation from Elder Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “As one studies the commandments of God, it seems to be made crystal clear that the all-important thing is not where we live but whether or not our hearts are pure” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1968, 62). Ask students to summarize the counsel Jesus gave His disciples in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:13–17. Compare what the Lord said in these verses to Doctrine and Covenants 133:7–15. Invite students to suggest ways they could prepare both spiritually and temporally for the coming of the Lord.
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:19–20. According to the Covenant
Read the commentary for Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:19in the student manual (p. 45). Tell students that the Lord prophesied in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:19–20that the Jews would suffer great persecutions, but that some would survive. Have students read 1 Nephi 15:19–20; 19:15; 2 Nephi 6:11, 14; 10:7; 29:4–5; 30:2–7; 3 Nephi 29:8–9and summarize the prophetic destiny of the Jews who come unto Christ in the latter days.