“Lesson 32: Doctrine and Covenants 85–87,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 32,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
In late November 1832, some of the Saints who had moved to Zion had not consecrated their properties as the Lord had commanded. Because of this, they had not received an inheritance of land according to the laws of the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith addressed this issue in an inspired letter to William W. Phelps, dated November 27, 1832, a portion of which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 85.
On December 6, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 86 as he was working on the inspired translation of the Bible. This revelation provided further explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares and the role of the priesthood in helping the Lord gather the righteous in the last days.
Throughout 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church members likely learned through newspaper reports of troubles sweeping the earth. For example, they were aware of disputes over slavery in the United States, and they also knew about the nullification of federal tariffs in the state of South Carolina. On December 25, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87, which includes prophecies about the wars and judgments that would be “poured out upon all nations” (D&C 87:3) in the last days.
- November 6, 1832
Emma Smith gave birth to Joseph Smith III.
- November 6, 1832
Joseph Smith returned from preaching in the eastern United States.
- November 8, 1832
Joseph Smith met Brigham Young for the first time.
- November 27, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 85 was written (extract from a letter written by Joseph Smith to William W. Phelps).
- December 6, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 86 was received.
- December 25, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 87 was received.
Invite students to imagine that they are part of a sports team that has team rules designed to help them succeed.
What might happen if someone on the team decided not to follow the team rules?
Explain that a similar situation arose in 1832 as a growing number of Saints arrived in Missouri. Some of these Saints did not follow the laws the Lord had given for building Zion. Earlier revelations stipulated that Church members were not to settle in Zion unless they received a certificate from Church leaders. Once they arrived, they were to consecrate all their money and property to the Church and receive an inheritance from the bishop. In addition, they were to keep all of God’s commandments. (See D&C 64:34–35; 72:15–19, 24–26.) Doctrine and Covenants 85 is an extract from a letter the Prophet wrote to William W. Phelps, a Church leader in Missouri, explaining what to do about those members who did not follow the Lord’s laws.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 85:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the clerk in Missouri was told to record.
What was the clerk instructed to record?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 85:3, 5, 9, 11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Prophet told Church leaders in Missouri to do regarding those who did not live the laws that the Lord had outlined for establishing Zion. Invite a few students to report what they found.
What can we learn from the Prophet’s instruction concerning those who did not follow God’s laws?
Inform students that on December 6, 1832, while working on the inspired translation of the Bible, Joseph Smith received the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 86, which expands on the explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares given in the Bible.
Invite a student to read aloud the parable as found in Matthew 13:24–30. As the student reads, write the following words on the board: wheat, tares, the field, sowers of the seed, the enemy.
What do the wheat and tares represent? (If necessary, explain that the wheat symbolizes the righteous and the tares symbolize the wicked [see Matthew 13:38].)
Why did the man in the parable want to wait to have the tares pulled out?
Display a picture of wheat and tares. Explain that tares are a type of poisonous weed. Wheat and tares are almost identical when they sprout, but they can be distinguished once they mature. If a reaper tried to pull out the tares before the wheat and tares were mature, he or she would likely destroy much of the wheat as well.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 86:1–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the meaning of the field, the sowers, and the enemy. Invite students to report what they learned.
Based on the Lord’s explanation of these symbols, how would you summarize the meaning of this parable?
If necessary, explain that this parable represents the time of the early Christian Church, when the Savior’s original Apostles were alive, up until the end of the world. The phrases “he [Satan] soweth the tares” and “the tares … drive the church into the wilderness” in verse 3 refer to the Great Apostasy, and the phrase “the blade is springing up” in verse 4 refers to the Restoration of the gospel.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 86:7 silently, looking for what else the Lord taught about the parable of the wheat and the tares.
What do we learn from verse 7 about the order of the gathering in the last days?
What does this teach about what will happen to the righteous and the wicked in the last days? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: The Lord will gather the righteous during the last days and then destroy the wicked at His Second Coming.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 86:8–10 by explaining that after revealing the meaning of this parable, the Lord called the members of the Church “lawful heirs” (verse 9). This means that Church members are part of the covenant made with Abraham, through which Abraham was promised that his descendants would enjoy the blessings of the priesthood and would share those blessings with others (see Abraham 2:9–11).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 86:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how we can share the blessings of the priesthood with others.
How can we share the blessings of the priesthood with others? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: As we continue in the Lord’s goodness, we can be a light to the world and a savior to others by helping them receive the blessings available through the priesthood.)
What do you think it means to “continue in [the Lord’s] goodness” (verse 11)?
How does the principle on the board relate to the parable of the wheat and the tares? (As part of the covenant of Abraham, we have the responsibility to help gather the righteous in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.)
In what ways does this principle relate to family history and temple service as well as missionary work?
Ask students to think of a time when someone was a light to them, or to someone they know, and helped lead them to receive priesthood ordinances. Ask a few students to share their experiences with the class. Invite students to think of what they can do to continue in the Lord’s goodness and be a light to those around them as well as a savior to others, including their ancestors.
Ask students to think about a time when they encountered someone who was critical of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Explain that on December 25, 1832, the Lord revealed a prophecy to Joseph Smith that caused some people to criticize the Prophet.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 87:1–4. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the prophecy the Lord gave to Joseph Smith. Invite students to report what they found.
Explain that Joseph Smith had learned about a political conflict between the state of South Carolina and the United States government over tariffs (taxes on imported goods). Because residents of South Carolina relied more heavily on imported manufactured products than did people in the Northern states, they felt that federal tariffs were unfair and had been purposely levied at the expense of the South. Government leaders in South Carolina adopted an ordinance nullifying the federal laws, and many South Carolinians began to prepare for military action against the federal government. The president of the United States asserted that he would maintain the laws of the United States by force. In December 1832, newspapers throughout the United States reported about this conflict. It was at this time that Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 87. In early 1833, not long after this prophecy was given, the United States government settled the issue with the state of South Carolina.
How might some people have used these events to cast doubt on Joseph Smith as a prophet?
Inform students that although the matter appeared to be resolved, in 1843 Joseph Smith reaffirmed the prophecy that wars would begin in South Carolina over the issue of slavery (see D&C 130:12–13). It was not until 1861 that, because of disagreements over slavery, Southern warships fired on United States federal soldiers stationed at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Other Southern states joined in a civil war against the Northern states. In time, the Southern states called on Great Britain for aid. Additionally, many who had been slaves in the South joined the army of the North and fought against their former masters. The American Civil War lasted until 1865 and resulted in the deaths of approximately 620,000–750,000 soldiers. Other portions of this prophecy are yet to be fulfilled and refer to great calamities and wars that will bring an end of all nations.
What doctrine can we learn from this account about the prophecies of the Lord’s prophets? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: The prophecies of the Lord’s prophets will all be fulfilled.)
What other examples can you give that show that the prophecies of the Lord’s prophets have been fulfilled?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 87:5–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said would occur in the last days. Invite students to report what they found.
According to verses 6–7, what are some reasons the Lord gave for these tragic events? (The phrase “chastening hand” of God in verse 6 refers to the fact that the Lord uses His judgments to prompt people to repent and to punish the wicked.)
According to verse 8, what does the Lord command us to do so that we can be prepared for the wars and disasters that will occur in the last days? (Help students identify the following truth: The Lord commands us to stand in holy places and be not moved.)
What do you think it means for us to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved” (verse 8)?
What are some holy places that can provide us with peace and safety?
Invite students to share experiences in which they felt blessed with peace or safety by standing in a holy place. Invite students to set a goal to stand in these holy places more often and to strengthen their efforts to not be moved from them.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths identified in today’s lesson.