Institute
Lesson 15: Doctrine and Covenants 37–38; 41
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“Lesson 15: Doctrine and Covenants 37–38; 41,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 15,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 15

Doctrine and Covenants 37–38; 41

Introduction and Timeline

In late December 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith continued working on his inspired translation of the Bible. During this time, Joseph received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 37. In this revelation, the Lord commanded the Prophet to temporarily lay aside the Bible translation and to preach the gospel and strengthen the Church. He also commanded the Saints to gather to Ohio.

At a Church conference held on January 2, 1831, Joseph Smith announced the Lord’s commandment for the Saints to gather to Ohio. Many of the Saints desired to know more about the commandment, so the Prophet inquired of the Lord during the conference. Joseph received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 38 in the presence of the congregation. In this revelation, the Lord revealed His reasons for commanding the Saints to gather to Ohio and explained the promised blessings for doing so.

Most of the Saints accepted the commandment and began preparations to move to Ohio. Near the end of January 1831, the Prophet Joseph, his wife, Emma, and others traveled by sleigh from New York to Ohio and arrived in Kirtland in the early part of February. On February 4, Joseph received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 41, in which the Lord instructed the Prophet and other Church leaders to pray to receive His law. In addition, the Lord called Edward Partridge as the first bishop of the Church.

December 1830

Sidney Rigdon began acting as a scribe for Joseph Smith during the inspired revision of the Bible.

December 1830

While translating the Bible, Joseph Smith received part of the ancient record of Enoch (Moses 7).

December 1830

Doctrine and Covenants 37 was received.

January 2, 1831

During the third conference of the Church, Joseph Smith announced that the Saints were to gather to Ohio.

January 2, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 38 was received.

January–February 1831

Joseph and Emma Smith moved to Kirtland, Ohio, and arrived in early February.

February 4, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 41 was received.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 37

The Lord commands His Church to gather to Ohio

Invite students to think of some commandments they feel are easy to obey. Then ask them to consider commandments they feel are difficult to obey.

Invite students to look for truths as they study Doctrine and Covenants 37–38 that will help them find the strength to obey God’s commandments even when doing so might be difficult.

Explain that after meeting the Prophet in early December 1830, Sidney Rigdon remained in Fayette and, under the Lord’s direction, became Joseph Smith’s confidant and scribe as Joseph worked on the translation of the Bible. Later that month, the Lord gave Joseph Smith the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 37.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 37:1–4 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith to do.

  • What was Joseph instructed to do?

  • Why do you think the Lord told Joseph to especially strengthen the Saints in Colesville? (If necessary, remind students that the Saints in Colesville had been subjected to increasing persecution.)

  • What commandment did the Lord give the Saints in verse 3?

  • How might the Saints have responded to the Lord’s command to move approximately 300 miles without knowing exactly why?

Doctrine and Covenants 38:1–22

The Lord declares His omniscience and assures the Saints that He is in their midst

Explain that on January 2, 1831, shortly after Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 37, the Saints met together in Fayette, New York, for the third conference of the Church. In this conference, Church members and leaders discussed the Lord’s commandment to gather to Ohio. Several Church members expressed their concern about the commandment during the conference.

  • What concerns do you think some of these Saints might have had?

Explain that because those present at the conference were concerned and desired to know more about the command to gather to Ohio, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord. In the presence of the Saints, Joseph received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 38.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 38:1–7. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord told the Saints that might have strengthened their faith and trust in Him and in His commandment to gather to Ohio. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What did the Lord reveal about Himself in verses 2 and 7 that can help strengthen our trust and faith in Him? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: Because Jesus Christ knows all things and sees all things, we can have faith and trust in Him.)

  • How might this doctrine have helped the Saints respond to the difficult command to move?

  • How might this doctrine help us when the Lord requires something difficult from us?

Point out the phrase “I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom” in verse 4, and explain that prior to receiving this revelation, Joseph Smith had been working on the inspired translation of the Bible and had recorded what is now Moses 6–7 in the Pearl of Great Price. These chapters give an account of the prophet Enoch and his people. Because of their righteousness and unity, the Lord called these people Zion. As the Lord prepared the Saints in Joseph Smith’s day to establish Zion, He taught them concerning Enoch and the people of Zion anciently. The principles of unity, righteousness, and caring for the poor, which the saints learned about from the account of Enoch’s people in Moses 7, were reiterated by the Lord in section 38 as the principles upon which the Zion of the latter-days would be built.

  • Why do you think the Lord might have used the example of Enoch and his people to help the New York Saints have faith and trust in Him?

Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 38:8–12 the Lord warned the Saints about the powers of darkness upon the earth. He then delivered a specific warning concerning the danger that the Saints in New York faced. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:13–16 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior said about the danger the Saints were in.

  • According to verse 13, what did the Lord tell the Saints about the intention of their enemies?

  • How does the Lord’s warning in verse 13 illustrate why we can have faith and trust in Him?

  • According to verse 16, why did the Lord give the Saints the commandment to move to Ohio?

Testify that because He knows all things, the Lord can warn us of dangers and give commandments for our salvation.

Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 38:17–22, the Savior told the Saints that He created the earth and He desires to bless and prosper His people.

  • How might these promises from the Lord have helped ease the Saints’ concerns about leaving their homes and farms to move to Ohio?

Doctrine and Covenants 38:23–42

The Lord commands the Saints to be one and explains why He called them to gather to Ohio

Explain that in addition to telling the Saints about the intentions of their enemies, the Lord also taught them what He required of them as His people. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:24–27 silently, looking for what the Lord required of the Saints.

  • Why do you think the Lord commands us to esteem, or value, other people as much as we esteem ourselves?

  • What principle can we learn from the Lord’s parable and explanation in verses 26–27? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we are not one, we cannot be the Lord’s people.)

To help students understand what it means to “be one,” ask them to silently read the Lord’s description of the people of Zion in Moses 7:18.

  • According to this verse, what does it mean to be one?

  • How might this principle have helped the Saints as they moved to Ohio?

  • What blessings have you seen in your family or in the Church from living this principle?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:28–33 silently, looking for the reasons why the Lord commanded the Saints to gather to Ohio.

  • According to these verses, what are some reasons why the Lord commanded the Saints to gather to Ohio?

  • What truth can we learn from these verses about why the Lord gathers His people? (Make sure students identify a truth similar to the following: The Lord gathers His people to protect them and to strengthen them spiritually.)

Explain that at certain times, the Lord has commanded His people to physically gather to one place. In our day, the Lord has commanded us to spiritually gather to the wards, stakes, and temples wherever we live.

  • How does gathering together in wards, stakes, and temples help protect and strengthen us?

Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 38:34–42 the Lord provided commandments and counsel to the Saints that would help them in their effort to relocate to Ohio. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:37, 39 aloud, and ask the class to look for the Lord’s counsel and promise.

  • What did the Lord counsel the Saints to do, and what did He promise them?

  • What difference do you think these promises made to the Saints who were asked to move?

  • How do these promises increase your desire to obey the Lord’s commandments?

Testify of the blessings that come to us as we do what the Lord commands just as the Saints were promised blessings for gathering in Ohio.

Invite students to think again about a commandment they might have difficulty keeping.

Invite students to make a commitment to keep the commandments even when it might seem difficult to do so.

Tell students that after the Church conference, the Saints fasted and prayed to know the Lord’s will. After receiving a spiritual confirmation of the commandment, many of them made great sacrifices to gather with the Saints in Ohio.

Doctrine and Covenants 41

The Lord teaches that true disciples will keep His law

Explain that in January 1831, Joseph Smith and his wife, Emma, who was six months pregnant, moved from New York to Ohio and arrived in Kirtland at the beginning of February. When the Prophet arrived, the Church members “were striving to do the will of God, so far as they knew it; though some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among them” (Joseph Smith, Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, p. 93, josephsmithpapers.org). Upon his arrival, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 41.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 41:1–6 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Lord told the Prophet when he arrived in Kirtland.

  • What did the Lord command the elders of the Church to do?

  • According to verse 5, whom does the Lord consider to be His disciples? (Help students identify the following doctrine: Those who receive and obey the Lord’s law are true disciples of Jesus Christ.)

  • How might this truth have helped those Saints in Kirtland who were giving heed to false spirits and strange religious notions? How might it help us?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 41:7–12 by explaining that in the remainder of this revelation the Lord told the Saints to build a house for Joseph to live and translate in and that He called Edward Partridge as the first bishop of the Church.

Conclude by testifying of the truths taught in this lesson.