“Lesson 22: Doctrine and Covenants 59–62,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 22,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
On Sunday, August 7, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 59 while in Jackson County, Missouri. In this revelation the Lord set forth His expectations for the Saints who had recently arrived in Zion, including proper Sabbath day observance. The Lord also confirmed that those who keep His commandments will receive temporal and spiritual blessings.
The following day Joseph Smith and several elders prepared to leave Independence, Missouri, and return to Ohio. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 60, the Lord instructed the elders to preach the gospel as they traveled. On the third day of their journey, the company experienced danger on the Missouri River. During the next two days, August 12 and 13, the Prophet received two revelations, which are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 61 and 62. They include words of instruction, warning, comfort, and encouragement.
- August 2–3, 1831
Land in Jackson County, Missouri, was dedicated for the establishment of Zion, and a site for the temple was dedicated in Independence, Missouri.
- August 4, 1831
A Church conference was held in Jackson County, Missouri.
- August 7, 1831
After falling ill while traveling from Ohio to Missouri with the Colesville Saints, Polly Knight, the wife of Joseph Knight Sr., died in Jackson County, Missouri.
- August 7, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 59 was received.
- August 8, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 60 was received.
- August 9, 1831
Joseph Smith and ten elders left Missouri for Kirtland, Ohio, traveling by way of the Missouri River.
- August 12–13, 1831
- August 27, 1831
Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio.
Before class, draw two columns on the board, and write The World above the first column. When class begins, ask students to write in the first column several words that describe the wickedness of the world. Ask students to ponder the following questions:
How can we avoid being overcome by the wickedness around us?
What can we do to have peace in a troubled world?
Explain that as Church members settled in Jackson County, Missouri, in the summer of 1831, they encountered a frontier community where gambling, drunkenness, violence, and Sabbath-breaking were prevalent. In this difficult environment, the Lord taught the Saints how to conduct themselves in their new home. His instructions are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 59. As students study this revelation, invite them to look for principles that can help them avoid being overcome by the wickedness of the world and know how to find peace.
Ask students to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 59 silently, looking for further historical context for this revelation. Invite a student to summarize what he or she discovered. Explain that Polly Knight journeyed to Missouri with her husband, Joseph Knight Sr., and the Colesville Saints. Along the way she fell gravely ill but refused to stop traveling because “her only, or her greatest desire, was to set her feet upon the land of Zion” (Scraps of Biography , 70).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the promise the Lord gave to faithful Saints in Zion.
What did the Lord promise faithful Saints in Zion?
Why would the Lord include commandments in this list of gifts He would bestow upon the faithful?
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:5 aloud. Encourage the class to follow along, looking for the commandment that the Lord reiterated to the Saints.
How would you explain in your own words what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and strength?
Invite students to silently read Doctrine and Covenants 59:6–8, looking for additional commandments that the Lord gave the Saints.
How do these commandments relate to the commandment to love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength?
Explain that in this revelation, the Lord emphasized a commandment that would help the Saints demonstrate and deepen their love for the Lord. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for an additional commandment the Lord taught. Ask students to report what they find. Write Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy above the other column on the board.
To help students understand these verses, explain that the term “house of prayer” in verse 9 refers to a building used for Church meetings on the Sabbath and that “sacraments” here refers to acts of devotion or ordinances that unite us with God.
According to verse 9, how will we be blessed for keeping the Sabbath day holy? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: As we keep the Sabbath day holy, we will more fully keep ourselves unspotted from the world.)
What does it mean to “more fully keep [ourselves] unspotted from the world”? (To strive to be free from worldliness, sin, and unrighteousness.)
Ask students to ponder why it is important to become more unspotted from the world. Invite a few students to share their thoughts with the class.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–15 with a partner, looking for instructions the Lord gave the Saints regarding His holy day. Encourage students to use the footnotes to better understand these verses. After sufficient time, invite a few students to explain some ways to keep the Sabbath day holy based on what they learned. (You may want to explain that the phrase “pay thy devotions” in verse 10 means to worship or to demonstrate love and loyalty.) Write students’ responses on the board under the heading Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.
How can keeping the Sabbath day holy in these ways help us become more unspotted from the world?
Invite students to ponder what they currently do to keep the Sabbath day holy. Ask them to write a goal describing what they will do to better keep this commandment.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 59:16–19 by explaining that in addition to spiritual blessings, the Lord promised great temporal blessings for those who keep the Sabbath day holy.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:20–24 aloud. Ask the class follow along, looking for how God feels about bestowing these blessings.
According to verse 20, how does God feel about blessing us?
Based on verse 21, how might we offend God? (We offend God when we do not confess His hand in all things and obey His commandments. Invite students to consider marking this truth in their scriptures.)
What does it mean to confess God’s hand in all things?
Explain that our ingratitude and disobedience offends, or displeases, God because such attitudes and actions distance us from Him and His blessings.
According to verse 23, what does the Lord promise to those who keep His commandments? (Invite students to consider marking this promise in their scriptures.)
Invite students to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 60, looking for the reason this revelation was given. Summarize this section by explaining that the Lord was not pleased with some of the elders because they did not “open their mouths” (verse 2) and share the gospel while traveling to Missouri. The Lord commanded the missionaries to “not idle away [their] time” (verse 13) but to return to Ohio and proclaim the gospel as they traveled. Explain that the phrase “it mattereth not unto me” in verse 5 means that the elders were to use their agency and decide whether to buy or build boats for their journey on the Missouri River.
Invite students to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 61 silently, looking for what happened as Joseph Smith and ten elders traveled back to Kirtland, Ohio. Ask students to report what they discover. Explain that some disagreements had developed among some of the elders. They resolved their disagreements the evening of August 11, 1831, and the following morning, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 61.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 61 by explaining that the Lord taught that He is merciful and forgiving to “those who confess their sins with humble hearts” (verse 2). He told the elders that it was not necessary to travel on the river, as there were people living on both sides of the river to whom they should preach the gospel. The Lord taught that “many destructions” would occur on the waters in the last days but promised to preserve the lives of the faithful elders (see D&C 61:5–6, 14–15).
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 61:22 silently. Point out that the Lord again told the elders, “It mattereth not unto me” (verse 22) concerning how they chose to travel. They could use their own judgment as long as they fulfilled their mission to preach the gospel.
Display the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:
“The most demanding judgments we ever make are seldom between good or bad or between attractive and unattractive alternatives. Usually, our toughest choices are between good and good” (David A. Bednar, “The Scriptures: A Reservoir of Living Water” [Brigham Young University fireside, Feb. 4, 2007], 6, speeches.byu.edu).
What kinds of decisions have you faced that illustrate this teaching by Elder Bednar?
Explain that in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 62, the Lord taught principles that can guide us when making decisions. Explain that on August 13, 1831, Joseph Smith and the group of elders traveling to Ohio met a group of elders who were still traveling to Missouri. The Prophet received a revelation that provided instruction to these missionaries.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 62:1–3 by explaining that the Lord told the elders that He knows how to succor His people in their temptations and commended them for the testimonies they had borne.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 62:4–8 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord taught the elders about the decisions they had to make.
Which decisions mattered to the Lord, and which did not matter to Him?
What truth can we learn from verse 8 to help us when making decisions? (When making decisions, the Lord desires that we use our judgment and the direction of the Spirit.)
Why do you think using both our own judgment and the direction of the Spirit are important when making decisions?
When has using sound judgment and the promptings of the Spirit helped you make a decision?
Display the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:
“A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable.
“We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 13–14).
How do Elder Oaks’s teachings help you better understand the truths in Doctrine and Covenants 62:4–8?
Close by testifying of the importance of using both judgment and the direction of the Spirit when making decisions.