“Lesson 39: Doctrine and Covenants 33–34,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 39,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
In October 1830 the Lord called Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet to proclaim the gospel. This revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 33, includes instructions on how these men were to teach the gospel. Shortly thereafter, in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 34, the Lord commended Orson Pratt for his faith and also commanded him to preach the gospel.
Before class write the following on the board: trumpet, mouth, ear, a field ready to be harvested. (If possible, display pictures of these things.) At the beginning of class, ask the following question:
How could these things relate to missionary work?
To help students understand the context for Doctrine and Covenants 33, explain that Ezra Thayre lived near the family of Joseph Smith Sr. He had come to know members of the Smith family through work they had done for him at various times. In October 1830, Ezra Thayre and another resident of Palmyra, Northrop Sweet, were baptized into the Church. Shortly thereafter, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation addressed to these two men, which is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 33.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 33:1–2 silently, looking for words and phrases that relate to the drawings (or words) on the board. (The image of the mouth will be addressed later in this lesson.) After students report what they find, ask the following questions:
What do you think it means to “open … your ears and hearken to the voice of … God”? How can we show the Lord that our ears are open to hearing His voice?
What do you think it means to declare the gospel “as with the sound of a trump”?
Explain that the Lord often uses familiar objects, such as the trumpet, as symbols to teach His gospel and to help us understand eternal truths. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 33:3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional symbols the Lord used in this revelation.
What do you think the Lord’s vineyard represents? (The world.)
Who might the laborers in the Lord’s vineyard represent? (Members of the Lord’s Church.)
What do you think the phrase “it is the eleventh hour” means? (This is the final dispensation of the gospel and the last time the Lord will set up His kingdom on earth before His Second Coming.)
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 33:4 silently, looking for how the Lord described the condition of the world in 1830.
Which phrases in this verse stand out to you? Why? What can we do to strengthen ourselves against the corrupt influences of the world?
Write the following on the board: The Lord has and is .
Give students a few moments to ponder what the Lord has done or is doing to help strengthen them against the corruption of the world. Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 33:5–6, the Lord declared something He has done and one thing He is doing to help strengthen us against the corruption of the world. Invite a student to read these verses aloud. Invite the class to follow along, and identify what the Lord has done and will do to strengthen us.
According to these verses, what is something God has done and something He is now doing that can help strengthen us against the corruption of the world? (As students respond, invite a student to fill in the blanks in the statement on the board. Students’ answers should reflect the following principle: The Lord has established His Church and is gathering His elect in the last days.)
To help students further understand this truth and feel its importance, assign them to work in pairs and discuss their answers to the following questions. You could read these questions aloud, write them on the board, or distribute them on a handout. (Do not include the answer in parentheses.)
Refer to the drawing of a mouth (or to the word mouth) on the board. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 33:7–10 silently, looking for what the Lord taught Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet they were to do. Ask students to report what they learned.
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we open our mouths to declare the gospel …
Ask students to use what they have learned from Doctrine and Covenants 33:7–10 to complete this statement. You may want to invite a student to come to the board to finish writing the principle. It could be written as follows: If we open our mouths to declare the gospel, the Lord will inspire us with what to say.
What are some situations in which we might be reluctant to open our mouths about the gospel?
When have you decided to open your mouth to speak about the gospel and felt inspired to know what to say? When have you seen someone else share the gospel and felt that they were inspired in what they said?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 33:11–15 by explaining that in these verses, the Lord instructed Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet to preach the first principles and ordinances of the gospel—faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Refer again to the principle written on the board. Ask students to ponder what we need to do, in addition to opening our mouths, so the Lord can inspire us to know what to say as we share the gospel with others. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 33:16–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify specific counsel the Lord gave Ezra and Northrop that would help them know what to say as missionaries.
What counsel did the Lord give Ezra and Northrop that could help them know what to say as missionaries? (Consider writing students’ answers on the board.)
What do you think is the meaning of the Lord’s counsel to have “your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you”? (D&C 33:17). (To be spiritually prepared and ready at all times for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This verse relates to the parable of the ten virgins, found in Matthew 25:1–13 and mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 45:56–57.)
How can the Lord’s counsel in these verses help us be ready to open our mouths to share the gospel at any moment and in any situation?
Invite students to look in the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 34 to find an example of someone who was blessed when another person opened his mouth to share the gospel.
Who was blessed in this example? How old was Orson Pratt when he was baptized? How did he learn about the gospel?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 34:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord referred to Orson. Invite students to report what they find. Then ask the class to read Doctrine and Covenants 34:2–3 silently to discover why the Lord called him “My son.”
Why did the Lord call Orson His son? (Because of Orson’s belief in the Lord.)
According to Doctrine and Covenants 34:3, what did the Lord do for “as many as” believe in Him? (To help students understand that the truth in this verse applies equally to women, you may want to suggest that they read Doctrine and Covenants 25:1.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 34:4–6 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Orson would bring more blessings into his life.
Why do you think we are “more blessed” when we teach the gospel to others?
Invite another student to read Doctrine and Covenants 34:10–11 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for blessings given to those who diligently share the gospel with others.
What blessings are given to those who diligently teach the gospel? (As students respond, you may want to write the following principle on the board: Those who diligently teach the gospel will do so by the power of the Holy Ghost.)
What blessing is promised to those who are faithful? (You might also want to write this principle on the board: If we are faithful, the Lord will be with us.)
How might the truth in Doctrine and Covenants 34:11 help you in a time of discouragement?
You may want to conclude by sharing about a time when you have felt the Lord with you as you have been faithful to Him. You may also want to testify of the truths discussed in this lesson.