“Lesson 29: Doctrine and Covenants 77–80,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 29,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
In March 1832 Joseph Smith continued his translation of the New Testament. As the Prophet studied the book of Revelation, the Lord revealed the meaning of some of the symbols and events described by the Apostle John. This revelation is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 77.
On March 1, 1832, in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 78, the Lord directed the Prophet to organize a firm (later known as the United Firm) to manage the Church’s storehouses and publishing efforts. The Lord also described the blessings the Saints would receive if they obeyed the commandment to organize this firm. Later in March, the Prophet received the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 79–80, in which the Lord called Jared Carter, Stephen Burnett, and Eden Smith to proclaim the gospel.
- February–March, 1832
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon continued the inspired revision of the New Testament.
- March 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 77 was received.
- March 1, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 78 was received.
- March 7, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 80 was received.
- March 8, 1832
Joseph Smith appointed Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon as his counselors in the Presidency of the High Priesthood.
- March 12, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 79 was received.
- March 24–25, 1832
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were violently beaten and tarred and feathered by a mob in Hiram, Ohio.
- March 29, 1832
Joseph Murdock Smith, adopted son of Joseph and Emma Smith, died.
Before class, write the following statements on the board:
When class begins, explain that some people make these and other similar claims. Ask students how they would respond to these statements.
Invite two students to take turns reading aloud from paragraphs 1 and 3 of the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Doctrine and Covenants helps respond to these claims.
What words or phrases did you find that show the errors of the claims on the board?
Based on paragraphs 1 and 3, why is it important for us to study latter-day revelation found in the Doctrine and Covenants?
Invite a student to read aloud the first sentence of paragraph 6 of the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants. Ask the class to look for the circumstances that often led to the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.
What often led to the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants?
Display the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“There is a lesson to be learned from the study of the Doctrine and Covenants. Revelations are generally answers to questions. The Lord did not come and tap Joseph on the shoulder and say, ‘I have a revelation for you.’ But instead Joseph went to the Lord and asked to receive an answer. Time after time Joseph tells us how he would ask and how, in response, the revelation would come. Elder Russell Nelson recently expanded on this important principle. He said, ‘The Lord can only teach an inquiring mind’” (M. Russell Ballard, “What Came from Kirtland” [Brigham Young University fireside, Nov. 6, 1994], 8, speeches.byu.edu).
Why do you think one needs an inquiring mind to receive truth and revelation from the Lord?
Explain that this course will address Doctrine and Covenants 77–138 and Official Declarations 1 and 2. Encourage students to set a goal to study the scripture text for this course. Invite them to look in the scriptures they study for examples of the Lord giving revelation in answer to sincere questions, and encourage students to find truths in those revelations that will help answer their own questions.
Explain that in March 1832 the Prophet was living at the home of John and Alice (Elsa) Johnson in Hiram, Ohio, about 30 miles south of Kirtland. At this time, most Saints lived in Ohio and in Jackson County, Missouri, where the Lord had revealed the city of Zion would be built. In February and March 1832, the Prophet continued his inspired translation of the King James Version of the Bible, now known as the Joseph Smith Translation. As Joseph Smith worked on the Revelation of St. John the Divine (commonly known as the book of Revelation), the Lord revealed the meaning of some of the symbols and events described by the Apostle John. This revelation is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 77.
Divide students into pairs. Write the following scripture passages on the board, and assign each pair one of the following reading assignments:
Ask students to first read with their partner their assigned verses in the book of Revelation, looking for the symbols or events John described. Then ask students to read with their partner their assigned verses from Doctrine and Covenants 77, looking for how the Lord’s explanations help clarify the meaning of the symbols and events described in the book of Revelation. Ask a few students to report insights they gained.
What can we learn from Doctrine and Covenants 77 about a prophet’s role in helping us understand the meaning of scripture? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: The Lord reveals the interpretation of scripture through His prophets.)
Why do you think it is important to understand that the Lord reveals the interpretation of scripture through His prophets, seers, and revelators?
How can we liken what Joseph Smith did to understand the scriptures to our own personal scripture study? (Although students may use different words, they should identify a principle similar to the following: As we inquire of God, He will help us understand the scriptures.)
To help students understand this principle, display the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“What makes us different from most other Christians in the way we read and use the Bible and other scriptures is our belief in continuing revelation. For us, the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge, but what precedes the ultimate source. The ultimate knowledge comes by revelation. …
“The word of the Lord in the scriptures is like a lamp to guide our feet (see Ps. 119:105), and revelation is like a mighty force that increases the lamp’s illumination manyfold. We encourage everyone to make careful study of the scriptures and of the prophetic teachings concerning them and to prayerfully seek personal revelation to know their meaning for themselves” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 7).
Why do you think it is important to carefully study the scriptures along with “prophetic teachings concerning them” as you prayerfully seek personal understanding? (Point out that the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2017] contains many teachings of latter-day prophets that can help students better understand the truths taught in the Doctrine and Covenants.)
Ask students to think about a time when God has helped them better understand the scriptures through prophetic teachings or personal revelation that came after prayer. Invite a few students to share their experiences if they feel comfortable doing so. You may also want to share an experience of your own.
Encourage students to read daily from the Doctrine and Covenants and to seek greater understanding of the doctrine and principles therein by studying prophetic teachings and inquiring of God in prayer.
Explain that in addition to receiving revelation about the meaning of scriptures, the Prophet Joseph Smith also received revelation regarding the temporal affairs of the Church. Invite a student to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 78 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the Prophet to organize in order to help manage Church funds. Ask students to report what they find.
Explain that the mercantile endeavors that the United Firm would oversee referred to the Lord’s storehouse in Kirtland, Ohio, operated by Newel K. Whitney, and the Lord’s storehouse in Independence, Missouri, operated by Sidney Gilbert. These storehouses were to supply the Saints with necessary goods as well as generate funds to buy land and to finance the publication of the Lord’s revelations to Joseph Smith.
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 78:3–6 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what else this firm would help the Saints to do.
According to verses 3–4, how would the United Firm benefit and bless the Saints?
According to verses 5–6, why did the Lord command the Saints to help the poor?
What do you think the phrase “if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things” in verse 6 means?
Explain that in an earlier revelation the Lord defined equality in terms of families having sufficient means to meet their needs and wants according to their individual circumstances (see D&C 51:3). Thus, being equal in earthly things does not mean that everyone will have the same amount of resources.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 78:7 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord said would happen to the Saints if they were obedient to His commandment to be equal in earthly things. Ask students to report what they find.
Based on what the Lord taught in verse 7, what principle can we learn about what obedience to the Lord’s commands will help us prepare for? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: Obedience to the Lord’s commandments prepares us for a place in the celestial kingdom.)
Ask students to think about some of the Lord’s commandments. Invite them to explain how these commandments, including the commandment to assist the poor, will help prepare us for the celestial kingdom (see D&C 105:3–5).
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 78:8–16 by explaining that the Lord appointed Joseph Smith, Newel K. Whitney, and Sidney Rigdon to organize the United Firm (see D&C 82). Members of the firm were to bind themselves by covenant to manage the Church’s mercantile and publishing efforts. By following the Lord’s instructions, the Church would stand independent of all other earthly entities.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 78:17–20 silently, looking for additional counsel the Lord gave to Church leaders.
How might the Lord’s message in verses 17–18 have been both humbling and comforting to these Church leaders?
Ask students to ponder the blessings of the Lord’s kingdom and the riches of eternity that they have received. Invite a few students to share how these have blessed their lives.
What did the Lord counsel Church leaders to do in verse 19?
Based on verse 19, what will happen to us if we receive all things with thankfulness? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we receive all things with thankfulness, we will be made glorious, and the Lord will multiply our blessings. Explain that to “be made glorious” ultimately refers to receiving exaltation.)
What does it mean to you to receive all things with thankfulness?
Why do you think all things we receive from God, especially His commandments, should be received with thankfulness?
Give students one minute to make a list of things they are thankful for. Invite students to plan what they will do to more fully receive all things from God with thankfulness.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 79–80 by explaining that the Lord called Jared Carter, Stephen Burnett, and Eden Smith to serve missions. The Lord promised Jared Carter that the Comforter would teach him the truth and direct him where to go (see D&C 79:2). The Lord told Stephen Burnett and Eden Smith to declare the things they have heard, believe, and know to be true (see D&C 80:4).
Close by testifying of the truths taught in this lesson.