“Lesson 32: Doctrine and Covenants 25,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 32,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
Persecution against the Prophet Joseph Smith and members of the Church of Jesus Christ continued during the summer of 1830. Joseph’s wife Emma was baptized on June 28, but persecution of the members delayed her confirmation until August 1830. In late June, between Emma’s baptism and confirmation, Joseph received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 25. In it, the Lord provided Emma words of comfort as well as instructions regarding her family and Church responsibilities.
Before class, invite three students to familiarize themselves with the following summaries of the life and character of Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph. Begin class by inviting these three students to tell the class what they have learned about Emma Smith. You may want to display a picture of Emma Smith (Gospel Art Book , no. 88; see also LDS.org).
Emma assisted Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon.
Shortly after Emma Hale married Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni told Joseph that the time had come for him to receive the gold plates. Early in the morning on September 22, 1827, Joseph and Emma rode together in a wagon to the Hill Cumorah, where Joseph received the plates. Because of persecution in New York, Joseph and Emma then moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where they eventually purchased land from Emma’s parents. There in Harmony, the Prophet began to translate the plates. For a time, Emma acted as scribe while Joseph translated. Up to this point, Joseph had been commanded that he should show the plates to no one, not even Emma. Although Emma observed the plates lying on the table covered by a linen cloth, she never lifted the cloth to look at them.
Emma experienced tragedy, heartache, and persecution.
While living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Emma gave birth to a son named Alvin who did not long survive. Emma herself became critically ill, and Joseph feared she would not live. When she recovered, she heard the devastating news that the 116 translated pages of manuscript had been lost by Joseph’s friend Martin Harris. Even in her frail health, Emma consoled her heartbroken husband, who had lost the power to translate. Together, they awaited the Lord’s will for the translation of the plates. She was later forced to leave her home in Harmony because of threats from malicious people.
The day Emma was baptized, Joseph was arrested.
In June 1830, Joseph and a small group of believers built a dam in a stream near Colesville, New York, to create a pool deep enough to perform baptisms. However, a mob tore down the dam before any baptisms could be performed. The next day, the Saints rebuilt the dam and performed baptisms for 13 people, including Emma Smith. That night, just before the confirmations were to be performed, Joseph was arrested on charges of “being a disorderly person” (History of the Church, 1:88). He was tried and acquitted, but immediately after the trial he was arrested again on the same charge by a constable from a neighboring county. He was again released. Because of continuous opposition to their missionary efforts, Church members had to delay their confirmation meetings. Emma wasn’t confirmed a member of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost until early August. In late June, between her baptism and confirmation, Joseph received a revelation directed to Emma, which is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 25.
What impressed you about Emma Smith as you learned about some of her experiences?
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 25:1–3 silently, looking for words and phrases that may have been comforting to Emma. Invite a few students to report what they found and explain why they think those words or phrases may have been comforting to her.
How does knowing that you are a son or daughter in the Lord’s kingdom help you during difficult times?
What did the Lord promise Emma if she would be faithful and “walk in the paths of virtue”?
What do you think it means to “walk in the paths of virtue”? How might a person be protected by walking in paths of virtue?
Draw students’ attention to the phrase “elect lady” in Doctrine and Covenants 25:3. You may want to suggest that they mark this phrase. Explain that when the Relief Society was organized in 1842 (more than a decade after this revelation was given), Emma Smith was called to be the organization’s first president. On that occasion, the Prophet Joseph Smith read the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 25. He then explained that Emma was “elect” because she had been “elected to a certain work … and that the revelation was then fulfilled by [her] election to the Presidency of the Society, she having previously been ordained to expound the Scriptures” (in History of the Church, 4:552–53).
Write the following words on the board and invite students to copy them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 25:4–16 silently and look for phrases or ideas that are related to the three categories written on the board. (They could do this individually or with a partner.) Ask them to write what they find under the appropriate category. (For example, in verse four, the Lord’s instruction for Emma to “murmur not” because she had not seen the plates could be categorized as counsel.) After sufficient time, assign students to discuss the following questions in small groups. You could write the questions on the board or prepare them on handouts for each group. You might also want to assign a discussion leader in each group to ask the questions and encourage each student’s participation.
Which of the phrases or ideas you identified show that the Lord knew and loved Emma Smith? Explain how each phrase or idea is evidence of the Lord’s love.
Doctrine and Covenants 25:16 contains the Lord’s declaration that He intended the counsel and promises in this section to also apply to us. What are some lessons you learn from the Lord’s words to Emma? (As you identify these truths, write them down.)
After the groups discuss their answers to these questions, ask them to report to the class the principles they identified in Doctrine and Covenants 25:4–16. Their responses might include some or all of the following (although they may be worded differently):
We are to lay aside the things of the world and seek for that which is eternal.
As we worship the Lord through righteous music, He will bless us.
We can find joy and comfort in cleaving to the covenants we have made with God.
If we will keep God’s commandments continually, we will receive a crown of righteousness.
As students report the truths they identified, discuss their answers with the class. Follow the direction of the Spirit as you invite students to explain what they have found and share insights and examples. The questions and instructions below may be helpful as you lead this discussion.
We are to lay aside the things of the world and seek for that which is eternal (see D&C 25:10).
How do you think the counsel to put eternal things before the things of this world might have been helpful to Emma, especially as Joseph Smith’s wife? (It might be helpful to explain that Emma Hale was raised in a prosperous home but, after marrying, often lived in very poor conditions.)
How is the counsel to put eternal things before the things of the world helpful to us today?
What are some things of the world that people tend to place ahead of God?
What can we do to seek for things that are eternal?
Invite students to ponder whether they are putting any worldly things before God.
As we worship the Lord through righteous music, He will bless us (see D&C 25:12).
According to this verse, what is one thing the Lord delights in? What does He say about the blessings that come through “the song of the righteous”?
What blessings have you received as a result of worshipping the Lord through appropriate music?
Consider inviting students to set a goal to listen to worthy and appropriate music. Encourage them to watch for the blessings that will come as they pursue this goal.
We can find joy and comfort in cleaving to the covenants we have made with God (see D&C 25:13).
You may want to explain that the phrase “cleave unto the covenants” means to adhere closely or cling to the promises we have made with God.
Think of someone you know who has remained faithful to his or her covenants, even during difficult times.
How has that faithfulness been a blessing to him or her?
When have you been blessed because you have been faithful to the covenants you have made?
Invite students to think about how they might lift up their hearts and stay true to their covenants.
If we will keep God’s commandments continually, we will receive a crown of righteousness (see D&C 25:15).
Explain that the phrase “a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive” refers to receiving exaltation in the celestial kingdom (see also D&C 29:13).
How might this promise help someone who has been through or is going through hard times?
Why is it important to be obedient continually and not just periodically?
Invite students to ponder how they can improve in being continually obedient. You may want to ask them to write their thoughts in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.
After you have discussed these truths from Doctrine and Covenants 25 with the class, invite students to prayerfully consider and write down what they feel the Lord would have them do based on what they learned in class today. Encourage them to act on these impressions.