“Unit 9: Day 4, At the Ohio,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 9: Day 4,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
By the end of January 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his wife, Emma, Sidney Rigdon, and Edward Partridge left New York for Ohio. Most of the other Church members in New York followed during the next five months.
Those Saints who gathered in Ohio were greatly blessed. Continuous revelations through the Prophet Joseph Smith led them to further understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, they received the blessings that came from building a temple and from preaching the gospel. While the Church grew in numbers and spiritual strength in Ohio, severe opposition also increased against the Church and its leaders. Eventually, in January of 1838, many Church members had to flee Ohio and join the Saints who were living in Missouri. This lesson will give you an overview of the Saints’ experiences in Ohio. You will learn more details regarding these events and teachings in future lessons.
Have you or anyone in your family ever moved to a new home? What were some of the challenges experienced in the move? What blessings have come as a result of the move?
Although the reasons they move may vary, people often make a sacrifice to move somewhere because they believe that life will be better for them in the new place.
Recall from your study of Doctrine and Covenants 37–38 the events surrounding the Lord’s commandment for the Saints to leave New York and move to Ohio. When the Lord commanded them to gather to Ohio, He also promised that they would receive specific blessings there.
- Copy the following chart into your scripture study journal:
Read Doctrine and Covenants 38:31–32, and list the four things the Lord said the Saints would receive when they arrived in Ohio in the “Promises” column as answers to a through d.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 38:33, and list where the Lord said He would send missionaries as the answer to e on the chart.
Shortly after Joseph Smith arrived in Ohio, he received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 42. Scan Doctrine and Covenants 42:61, and identify the additional promise the Lord gave. Write “receive revelation upon revelation” as the answer to f on the chart.
The next four sections of this lesson will help you learn more about how the Lord fulfilled these promises as His people gathered to Ohio from 1831 to 1838.
The Lord promised that He would give the Saints His law when they gathered to Ohio. Why are laws important? Why do you think laws are important in the Lord’s Church?
Read the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 42. After the Saints arrived in Ohio in 1831, the Lord fulfilled His promise and gave a revelation referred to as the law of the Church. This law includes commandments and instructions that guide the functions of the Church.
Read the section summary of Doctrine and Covenants 42, looking for some of the laws and commandments the Lord gave to the Saints. (The section summary is located before the first verse. It gives the verse numbers and a brief summary of those verses.) As you read, you may want to mark the phrase “Laws governing the consecration of properties are set forth.”
In this revelation, the Lord gave the law of consecration. This law is “a divine principle whereby men and women voluntarily dedicate their time, talents, and material wealth to the establishment and building up of God’s kingdom” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Consecrate, Law of Consecration,” scriptures.lds.org). Church leaders were commanded to establish the United Firm (also called the United Order) to manage the Church’s temporal or business interests, assist the poor, and help eliminate greed from among the Saints. This was a blessing to the Saints at this time because many of the Saints who came from New York were required to leave behind their homes and property. The United Firm also provided money to finance various Church undertakings, such as missionary work and publishing the revelations. You will learn more about the law of consecration and its effect on the Saints in future lessons.
The Lord also promised to endow the Saints “with power from on high” when they arrived in Ohio (D&C 38:32). An endowment is a gift. Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:119, looking for the commandment the Lord gave to the Saints in Ohio. The “house” referred to in this verse was a temple. The Kirtland Temple, in Kirtland, Ohio, was the first temple built in this dispensation. Read Doctrine and Covenants 95:8, looking for what the Lord said He would endow them with in the temple.
The Kirtland Temple took about three years to build. After it was dedicated in 1836, the Lord began to fulfill His promise to endow the Saints with power, and they experienced marvelous spiritual blessings. For example, the Lord sent three heavenly messengers to the Kirtland Temple—Moses, Elias, and Elijah—to restore vital priesthood keys to the earth. These keys would give the Saints the authority to perform temple ordinances and to seal families of both the living and the dead for eternity. In addition, “the keys of the gathering of Israel” were restored at this time (D&C 110:11). Through these keys, missionaries are given power to teach the gospel throughout the earth.
Once the Kirtland Temple had been dedicated and the keys for the gathering of Israel had been restored, the gospel of Jesus Christ began to be preached in more places. Turn to Map 3, “The New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Area of the USA,” in the Church history maps located in the back of your triple combination. Notice that Kirtland, Ohio, was ideally located to begin to send missionaries throughout the world to teach the gospel “among all nations” (D&C 38:33). Kirtland was near several main transportation routes in the United States. From Kirtland, missionaries only had to travel short distances to access steamboats on America’s major rivers and Lake Erie. They also had access to a national road system to the south and the canal system to the north. Because of this, Kirtland was the point of departure for missions to Canada, other parts of the United States, and Great Britain.
Because of missionary work during this time, the membership in the Church throughout the world increased by thousands. In 1837, Elders Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, along with five others, were called on a mission to Great Britain, where they baptized around 2,000 people. By 1838, when the Saints left Kirtland because of persecution, there were about 2,000 Church members living in Kirtland of the nearly 18,000 Church members worldwide.
Turn to the chronological order of contents of the Doctrine and Covenants (located after the introduction) and notice the place where most of the revelations were received.
As you can observe, more revelations were received in Ohio than in any other place. The Lord’s promise that the Saints would receive revelation upon revelation as they gathered to Ohio was fulfilled.
- Read the section introduction and the section summary to each of the following sections. Then, in your scripture study journal, write a few words summarizing what the revelation is about and a sentence or two describing how the revelation has blessed the Church and your own life.
While the Saints were in Ohio, the Lord also instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith to organize the Church leadership. The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Quorum of the Seventy were officially organized during that time. During this same time period, Joseph Smith also continued his work on the translation of the Bible.
Even as the Lord was blessing the Saints in Ohio, opposition against the Church was also increasing. As soon as the Saints arrived in Kirtland, anti-Mormon critics began to attack the Church. Many of the attacks came in the form of defaming newspaper stories and articles.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said the following regarding these publications: “Many false reports, lies, and foolish stories, were published in the newspapers, and circulated in every direction, to prevent people from investigating the work, or embracing the faith” (in History of the Church, 1:158).
In spite of these and other difficulties, the Saints continued to gather in Kirtland, particularly during the years 1836–38. In 1836, Joseph Smith felt the burden of debt due to construction costs of the Kirtland Temple. Although the Church owned considerable amounts of land, it also needed cash to repay outstanding loans. Because of the credit needs of the Church and the growing population in Kirtland, Church leaders planned to charter a local bank. Their request to charter a bank was denied by the state of Ohio legislature. Instead of chartering a bank, the Saints formed a company called the Kirtland Safety Society, which functioned as a bank.
In 1837 an economic panic swept through the United States. The whole country felt the effects of the panic and several banks failed. In addition, some of those who were involved with managing the Kirtland Safety Society were not honest in their dealings. The Kirtland Safety Society was also forced to close, and hundreds of individuals who had invested in it lost nearly everything they had invested. Joseph Smith’s losses were greater than anyone else’s. Many Saints accused the Prophet of being responsible for their financial problems, and a number of lawsuits followed. The leaders of the Church who helped create the Kirtland Safety Society had wrongly assumed that individuals had a legal right to organize a private company that engaged in banking activities, and a judgment of $1,000 was assessed against them for violating Ohio banking laws.
These difficult events led some members of the Church to apostatize. Persecution became so intense during the winter of 1837 and spring of 1838 that most of the Saints were compelled to leave Ohio. Some Church leaders, including Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Brigham Young, had to flee Kirtland for the safety of their lives.
- Based on what you learned in this lesson, write a few sentences in your scripture study journal about how you think you would have felt living in Ohio during this time of Church history. Include what things you would have liked to have been a part of and what things you think would have been a challenge for you.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied the “At the Ohio” lesson and completed it on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: