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Lesson 13: Doctrine and Covenants 30–34
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“Lesson 13: Doctrine and Covenants 30–34,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 13,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 13

Doctrine and Covenants 30–34

Introduction and Timeline

Immediately after the second Church conference, held in late September of 1830 in Fayette, New York, the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelations for David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and John Whitmer. These revelations are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 30. At about the same time, the Lord also called Thomas B. Marsh to preach the gospel and to help establish the Church. This call, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 31, also included promises and counsel to guide him as a missionary and in his personal life.

In October 1830, the Prophet received the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 32, in which the Lord called Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson to join Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer Jr. on a mission to the Lamanites in western Missouri. In another revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 33, the Lord called Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet to proclaim the gospel.

The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 34 was given in November 1830. In it, the Lord commended Orson Pratt for his faith and commanded him to preach the gospel in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Summer 1830

Parley P. Pratt read the Book of Mormon and was baptized.

September 1830

Thomas B. Marsh and his family moved from near Boston, Massachusetts, to Palmyra, New York, and he was baptized.

September 19, 1830

Orson Pratt was baptized by his older brother Parley.

September 26–28, 1830

The second conference of the Church was held in Fayette, New York.

Late September 1830

Doctrine and Covenants 30–31 were received.

October 1830

Doctrine and Covenants 32–33 were received.

October 1830

Oliver Cowdery and his companions departed on a mission to the Lamanites.

November 4, 1830

Doctrine and Covenants 34 was received.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 30

The Lord teaches David, Peter Jr., and John Whitmer concerning their missionary service

Invite students to think of an issue on which popular opinion is contrary to the teachings of the Lord and His prophets. Ask students to ponder whether they, or someone they know, have struggled to know or to do what is right regarding this issue.

As students study Doctrine and Covenants 30 today, encourage them to look for principles that can guide them in these situations.

Invite a student to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 30 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for whom the Lord addressed in this revelation and when it was given.

Explain that although David Whitmer was one of the Three Witnesses and had been faithful in many ways, he had been deceived by his brother-in-law Hiram Page’s false claims of revelation through a stone and had for a short time been one of Hiram’s principal supporters. The matter of Hiram Page’s false revelations had been addressed by the Lord (see D&C 28) and discussed during the conference that had just concluded. Hiram Page and his supporters, including David Whitmer, humbly acknowledged their errors and renounced the stone and the spurious revelations.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said to David Whitmer following the conference.

  • According to verses 1–2, why did the Lord chasten David Whitmer?

Invite students to reread verse 3 silently, looking for the consequences David experienced because of his errors.

  • What do you think it means that David was “left to inquire for [him]self”?

  • How would you summarize the Lord’s chastisement of David Whitmer in verses 1–3 as a statement of principle? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we value others’ opinions and the things of the world above the guidance of the Spirit and of the Lord’s servants, we will be left to inquire for ourselves. Using students’ own words, write this principle on the board.)

  • What are some examples of ways we might rely on those whom God has not chosen rather than heeding the Lord’s servants and the guidance of the Spirit? (Examples might include relying on popular opinion, untrustworthy information on the internet, the viewpoints of family and friends, or our own learning and intelligence.)

  • How could this make us open to deception, as it did David Whitmer?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:5–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord counseled David’s brother Peter Whitmer Jr. to do. Ask a few students to report what they find.

  • According to verse 8, what did the Lord promise Peter Whitmer Jr. if he would fear not, heed Oliver Cowdery’s counsel, and diligently keep the commandments?

  • Based on these verses, what will the Lord bless us with if we heed His words given through His servants and diligently keep the commandments? (Help students identify the following principle: As we heed the Lord’s words given through His servants and diligently keep His commandments, we will be blessed with eternal life.)

  • How does this principle relate to the truth we identified in verses 1–3?

  • In what ways do you think heeding the Lord’s words given through His servants will help us obtain eternal life?

Invite students to consider how well they are heeding the words of the Lord’s servants. Invite them to decide what they can do to better heed their words.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:9–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the counsel the Lord gave John Whitmer. Invite a few students to report what they find.

Doctrine and Covenants 31–32

The Lord calls Thomas B. Marsh, Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson to preach the gospel

Invite students to think of a time when they, or someone they know, have made sacrifices to serve the Lord, possibly as a missionary or in another Church calling. Ask students to ponder the ways this service may have blessed their family. As students study Doctrine and Covenants 31, invite them to look for a principle that will help them understand how our family members can be blessed as we serve the Lord.

Explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 31 was given to a new convert named Thomas B. Marsh following the Church conference held in September 1830. Thomas B. Marsh had learned about the Restoration of the gospel and the Book of Mormon in 1829 when he traveled through Palmyra, New York. After the Church was organized, he moved his wife and small children from near Boston, Massachusetts, to Palmyra, where he was baptized and ordained an elder by Oliver Cowdery in September 1830.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 31:1–6 aloud, and ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told this newly baptized member.

  • What did the Lord call Thomas B. Marsh to do?

  • Why might having small children at home make it difficult for someone like Thomas to follow the Lord’s call to serve a mission?

  • According to verse 2, what blessing did the Lord promise Thomas regarding his family?

  • Based on what the Lord promised Thomas B. Marsh, what can we expect the Lord to do for our families as we faithfully serve Him? (Students may identify several principles, but ensure they identify that as we faithfully serve the Lord, our family members can be blessed.)

Remind students that the Lord may bless His servants’ families in different ways. In some cases, the service and example of a faithful Latter-day Saint can help family members receive the blessings of the gospel, as was promised would happen for Thomas B. Marsh’s family. However, because the Lord honors His children’s agency, He will not compel anyone to believe His gospel. Nevertheless, He will bless the family members of those who serve Him with every opportunity to open their hearts to the gospel.

  • How have you and your family been blessed because a member of your family faithfully served the Lord?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 31:7–13 by explaining that in these verses, the Lord promised to be with Brother Marsh as he preached the gospel. The Lord also counseled him to be patient in afflictions, to go where the Comforter directed him, and to pray always.

Inform students that a month after receiving this revelation, Joseph Smith received the revelation now contained in Doctrine and Covenants 32. In this revelation, the Lord called Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson to join Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer Jr. on a mission to the Lamanites in western Missouri. The Lord also promised to be with these men in their missionary labors.

Doctrine and Covenants 33–34

The Lord calls Ezra Thayre, Northrup Sweet, and Orson Pratt to declare the gospel

Explain that in October 1830, Joseph Smith also received the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 33, wherein the Lord called Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet to proclaim the gospel. In this revelation, the Lord taught these men why they were called to preach the gospel and how they were to do it.

Divide the class in half. Invite half of the class to read Doctrine and Covenants 33:1–6 silently, looking for reasons why the Lord wanted Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet to share the gospel. Invite the other half to read Doctrine and Covenants 33:7–12 silently, looking for how Ezra and Northrop were to preach the gospel.

  • Why were Ezra and Northrop commanded to preach the gospel?

  • What instructions did the Lord give these men about how to preach the gospel?

Invite students to summarize the Lord’s repeated counsel and promise to Ezra and Northrup recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 33:8–10 as a statement of principle. (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: As we open our mouths to share the gospel, we will be inspired by the Holy Ghost to know what we should say.)

  • Why is it important for us to believe this promise as we seek to share the gospel with others?

Ask students to reflect on a time when the Lord inspired them to know what to say as they opened their mouths to share the gospel. Invite a few students to share their experiences.

  • How has your life been blessed because someone had the courage to open his or her mouth and share the truths of the restored gospel with you?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 33:12–18 by explaining that the Lord told Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet that they should remember to keep their covenants and that the scriptures were given to them to instruct them. The Lord also counseled them to be faithful and to be prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Invite a student to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 34 aloud, and ask the class to follow along, looking for who was blessed when another person opened his mouth to share the gospel.

Explain that due to the meager circumstances of Orson Pratt’s family, his parents sent him at age 11 to work in other farmers’ fields in exchange for room and board. For nearly nine years, Orson worked as a hired hand for several different farmers. In the fall of 1829, Orson began to pray earnestly for spiritual direction. When others slept, he would go to the fields or the woods and pray for hours to know the Lord’s will for him. He persisted in his prayers until September 1830, when his newly converted brother Parley traveled east to share his new faith with his family. Orson immediately believed the message of the Restoration and was baptized. Within a few weeks, he traveled 200 miles to Fayette, New York, seeking to know the Lord’s will through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 34:1–4 silently, looking for how the Lord referred to Orson Pratt.

  • Why do you think the Lord referred to Orson Pratt in such a tender way?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 34:5–11 by explaining that the Lord called Orson Pratt to preach the gospel to help prepare the way for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Conclude the lesson by bearing testimony of the truths taught in this lesson.