“Unit 18: Day 1, Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–42,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 18: Day 1,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
In September 1832, missionaries returned to Kirtland, Ohio, after preaching the gospel in the eastern United States. During their joyful reunion, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. He received the revelation over the course of two days: September 22 and 23. (There is some historical evidence that verses 1–41 were received on September 22 and that verses 42–120 were received on September 23.) Your study of Doctrine and Covenants 84 is divided into two lessons. This first lesson focuses on the Lord’s instructions about the priesthood and how the priesthood can prepare us to receive all that Heavenly Father has.
Think of a temple you have visited or would like to visit. How would you explain to a friend of another faith the differences between the temple and another building in the community?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:2–5, and mark words or phrases the Lord used to help the Saints understand the importance of building a temple.
These verses repeat the prophecy that the city New Jerusalem and a temple will be built in Jackson County, Missouri. Later, however, in 1841 the Lord told the Saints that they were not required at that time to build the city or the temple in Missouri because of severe persecution from the enemies of the Church (see D&C 124:49). The phrase “this generation” in Doctrine and Covenants 84:5 refers to the prophecy concerning the building of New Jerusalem and the temple—that it will still occur and will be fulfilled at some time in the future (see Moses 7:62).
Doctrine and Covenants 84 provides an opportunity to learn about the important blessings you can receive in the temple. Before continuing your study of this section, it will be helpful to review some key terms related to the principles the Lord taught in this revelation. In the following chart, carefully read the doctrinal definitions on the right. Match each one with the appropriate term on the left.
____ 1. Covenant
____ 2. Saving ordinance
____ 3. Melchizedek Priesthood
____ 4. Aaronic Priesthood
(See the answers for the matching activity at the end of this lesson.)
Read the following list of priesthood ordinances and blessings, and put a check mark in the column next to those that would be considered saving ordinances:
The naming and blessing of children
Conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men)
Administering to the sick
The temple endowment
The marriage sealing
Each of the items in the list, except for the naming and blessing of children and administering to the sick, is a saving ordinance. The priesthood ordinances of naming and blessing children and administering to the sick bless the lives of those who receive them, but they are not essential for salvation.
In Doctrine and Covenants 84:6–19, we learn that Moses held the Melchizedek Priesthood, or the “greater priesthood” (D&C 84:19). He could trace his priesthood authority back to God. As a righteous priesthood holder, Moses’s desire was to help other people draw nearer to God through the saving ordinances of the priesthood.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–22, looking for the blessings we can receive through the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Notice in verse 20 that in the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest. Except for baptism, each of the ordinances in the preceding chart must be administered by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. How do you feel the power of godliness is manifest in these ordinances?
Two of the saving ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood—the temple endowment and the marriage sealing—can only be received in the temple. According to Doctrine and Covenants 84:22, why is it important that we receive the saving ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Verse 22 can refer to seeing God in this life, but ultimately it refers to our ability to dwell in Heavenly Father’s presence for eternity. You may want to write the following principle in the margin of your scriptures next to verses 21–22: To become like God and dwell in His presence, we must receive the saving ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- In your scripture study journal, write about how the principles you have learned in your study of Doctrine and Covenants 84 so far have helped you understand the importance of the priesthood and the importance of temples.
As you read the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, think of why it is important for you to receive all the saving ordinances of the gospel—including those available only in the temple: “The temple is the object of every activity, every lesson, every progressive step in the Church. All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. Ordinances of the temple are absolutely crucial. We cannot return to God’s glory without them” (“Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2010, 41).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:23 to discover something Moses sought to do. Remember that the word sanctify means to cleanse and make holy. Next, read Doctrine and Covenants 84:24–25, and identify how the children of Israel responded to Moses’s efforts to teach them. What were the consequences of their actions?
As you discovered, the children of Israel lost the opportunity to receive the saving ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood. However, the Lord did not stop trying to help them progress. He allowed the lesser priesthood, or the Aaronic Priesthood, to continue with them. Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:26–28, and identify how the Lord continued to bless the children of Israel. As you study, you may want to mark the blessings we can receive through the Aaronic Priesthood.
It may be helpful to understand that in verse 28 the phrase “he was baptized while yet in his childhood” refers to John’s baptism at age eight. The phrase “ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old” means that John was set apart “to make straight the way of the Lord [and] to prepare [the people] for the coming of the Lord.” It does not refer to the time when John received the Aaronic Priesthood. John’s ordination to the Aaronic priesthood came after his baptism. (See Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:384–85.)
The Aaronic Priesthood prepares us to receive the ordinances and blessings of the Melchizedek Priesthood. For example, after baptism, which is an ordinance of the Aaronic Priesthood, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost through the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. As we partake of the sacrament, an ordinance of the Aaronic Priesthood, we renew covenants that help sanctify us and receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and help us prepare to receive ordinances and make covenants in the temple. A young man’s service as an Aaronic Priesthood holder prepares him to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What can you do now to prepare to receive all of the saving ordinances of the gospel?
As you study about the oath and covenant of the priesthood, keep in mind that “an oath is a sworn affirmation to be true and faithful to one’s promises. A covenant is a solemn promise between two parties. The Aaronic Priesthood is received by covenant alone. Melchizedek Priesthood holders receive the priesthood by unspoken oath as well as by covenant. As priesthood holders are faithful and magnify their callings as God directs, he blesses them. Those who are faithful to the end and do all he asks of them will receive all that the Father has (D&C 84:33–39)” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,” scriptures.lds.org). The “covenant” is man’s agreement with God, and the “oath” is God’s solemn promises to those who keep the covenant.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:31–32 teaches that priesthood holders in the last days (“the sons of Moses and of Aaron”) will labor in the house of the Lord (the temple) and be filled with the glory of the Lord. Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44 contains the oath and covenant of the priesthood. From it we learn this principle: If those who receive the priesthood magnify their callings, God will sanctify them and give them all that He has.
- Write the following in your scripture study journal: The Lord promises to … Then study Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44, and identify at least five promises the Lord gives to those who enter into the oath and covenant of the priesthood. (You can check your answers with those at the end of this lesson.)
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught the following about priesthood holders magnifying their calling:
“We magnify our priesthood and enlarge our calling when we serve with diligence and enthusiasm in those responsibilities to which we are called by proper authority. …
“We magnify our calling, we enlarge the potential of our priesthood when we reach out to those in distress and give strength to those who falter. …
“We magnify our calling when we walk with honesty and integrity” (“Magnify Your Calling,” Ensign, May 1989, 48–49).
All Church members who receive callings and are set apart receive blessings through the Melchizedek Priesthood to magnify their Church callings. President Thomas S. Monson gave a simple explanation about how each of us can magnify our callings: “How does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it” (“Priesthood Power,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 51).
- In your scripture study journal, answer the following questions about what it means to magnify a calling:
How does a priesthood holder magnify his calling in the priesthood?
How have you been blessed because someone has magnified his or her calling?
The duty of all priesthood holders is to prepare themselves and others to receive the saving ordinances of the gospel and live the associated covenants so they can receive eternal life with Heavenly Father.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–42 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: