“Lesson 3: Doctrine and Covenants 3; 10,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 3,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
In the summer of 1828, Martin Harris left Harmony, Pennsylvania, with 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to show to members of his family living in Palmyra, New York. When Martin did not return to Harmony at the appointed time, Joseph Smith traveled to his parents’ home in Manchester, New York, where he learned that Martin had lost the manuscript pages. Joseph was distraught and left the next day for his home in Harmony. After arriving there in July 1828, he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 3. In this revelation the Lord rebuked Joseph and told him that he had lost the privilege of translating for a season, but the Lord also reassured him, saying, “Thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work” (D&C 3:10). Further, the Lord explained His purpose for bringing forth the Book of Mormon and declared that His work would prevail despite the wickedness of men.
After Joseph Smith went through a “season” of repentance (D&C 3:14), the plates, which Moroni had taken from him at the time the manuscript was lost, were returned to him and he was again given the gift to translate. After resuming the translation, Joseph received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 10 (a portion of this revelation may have been received as early as the summer of 1828). In this revelation, the Lord commanded that Joseph not retranslate the lost manuscript pages. The Prophet learned that inspired preparations had been made anciently to compensate for the lost manuscript and to preserve the message of the Book of Mormon.
- June 14, 1828
Martin Harris took the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Palmyra, New York.
- July 1828
Joseph Smith traveled to Manchester, New York, and learned that the manuscript had been lost.
- July 1828
Joseph Smith returned to Harmony, Pennsylvania, and received Doctrine and Covenants 3.
- September 22, 1828
Having lost the golden plates and Urim and Thummim after his transgression involving the manuscript, Joseph Smith received them again from Moroni.
- April 5, 1829
Oliver Cowdery arrived in Harmony to assist with the Book of Mormon translation.
- April 1829
Doctrine and Covenants 10 was received (a portion may have been received in summer 1828).
Invite students to think of a time when someone tried to persuade them to act contrary to God’s commandments.
Why can it be difficult at times to resist social pressure to do something wrong?
Explain that while translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith faced pressure to set aside God’s counsel. Invite students to look for truths as they study Doctrine and Covenants 3 and 10 that can help them resist pressure from others to act contrary to the counsel of God.
Invite students to explain what they know about the loss of the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. As needed, add the following details to students’ answers:
From April to June 1828, the Prophet translated the plates at his home in Harmony, Pennsylvania, with Martin Harris, a prosperous farmer, acting as his scribe. Martin was 22 years older than Joseph, had provided financial assistance to Joseph and Emma in their move to Harmony (where Emma’s family lived), and assisted the Prophet while he was translating. Martin’s wife, Lucy, became increasingly concerned about Martin’s interest and financial involvement in Joseph’s work. She and others pressed Martin for evidence of the plates’ existence. To ease their concerns, Martin requested that Joseph ask the Lord for permission to take the 116 pages of manuscript they had completed to show as evidence.
Why might this request have put the Prophet in a difficult position?
Invite a student to read the following account by Joseph Smith aloud:
“I did inquire, and the answer was that he must not [take the manuscript]. However, he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should inquire again. I did so, and the answer was as before. Still he could not be contented, but insisted that I should inquire once more” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 62).
Why do you think Joseph persisted in asking God the same question even after receiving a clear answer?
Invite another student to read the following additional historical details:
After much pleading from Martin, Joseph asked the Lord a third time, and the Lord gave permission for Martin to take the manuscript “on certain conditions” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 62). Martin covenanted that he would show the manuscript only to his wife and a few other specific family members. Martin returned to New York with the manuscript but after several weeks did not return or send word as he and the Prophet had agreed upon. Finally, Joseph traveled to his parents’ home and sent for Martin to find the reason for his absence. After taking all morning to arrive, Martin sat down to eat with the Smiths but immediately dropped his utensils. When asked if he was all right, he cried out, “I have lost my soul!” and eventually admitted that he had lost the 116 pages of manuscript (see Lucy Mack Smith, “Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845,” 130–31, josephsmithpapers.org).
What thoughts, feelings, and concerns might you have had if you were in Joseph’s position at this time?
Ask a student to read aloud Joseph’s words upon learning that the manuscript was missing:
“All is lost! [A]ll is lost! [W]hat shall I do? I have sinned; it is I who tempted the wrath of God; for I should have been satisfied with the first answer, which I received from the Lord—for he told me that it was not safe to let the writing go out of my possession” (Joseph Smith, in Lucy Mack Smith, “Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845,” 131, josephsmithpapers.org).
Explain that because Joseph had “wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris take the writings” (Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, p. 10, josephsmithpapers.org), Moroni took the plates and the Urim and Thummim, and Joseph lost the gift to translate. However, Moroni had promised that Joseph could receive them again if he would be humble and repentant. After Joseph returned to Harmony and pleaded with the Lord for forgiveness, Moroni temporarily returned the Urim and Thummim, through which Joseph received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 3.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord wanted Joseph to understand.
What truth did the Lord teach Joseph Smith about His work? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: The work of God cannot be frustrated.)
How might knowing this truth have helped Joseph Smith during this difficult time?
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 3:4–11. Ask the class to look for the counsel and correction the Lord gave Joseph Smith concerning his role in the loss of the manuscript.
In what way had Joseph “gone on in the persuasions of men” and “feared man more than God” (D&C 3:6–7)?
What can we learn from these events about what can happen when we fear man more than God?
According to verse 8, what principle can we identify about what the Lord will do for us if we are faithful to Him? (If we are faithful to the Lord, He will support us against the fiery darts of the adversary and be with us in times of trouble.)
How can pressure from others to do wrong be likened to the fiery darts of the adversary?
Ask students to think about a time when they chose to be faithful to the Lord rather than give in to pressure from other people. Invite a few students to share about the ways the Lord has supported them in their trials because of their obedience.
Encourage students to determine now to remain faithful to the Lord and not give in to pressures around them.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 3:12–20 by explaining that the Lord reminded Joseph that he lost the privilege of translating for a time because he did not trust the Lord’s counsel. However, the Lord reassured him that His work would go forth and that through the Book of Mormon, the Lord’s people would come to know the Savior.
Explain that after receiving the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 3, Joseph Smith continued to humble himself before God and eventually regained the gift to translate the Book of Mormon in September 1828. By April 1829 he had also received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 10, although he may have received portions of this revelation as early as the previous summer. Invite a student to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 10 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord told the Prophet concerning the lost 116 manuscript pages.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:1–7 aloud, and ask the class to look for the counsel the Lord gave Joseph as he began to translate again. Invite a few students to report what they find.
What principle can we learn from the Lord’s counsel to Joseph in verse 5? (Students may use different words, but help them identify the following principle: If we pray always, we can conquer Satan and those who uphold his work.)
How can prayer help us to conquer Satan, and escape those who uphold his work?
Invite a few students to share examples of how prayer has helped them resist Satan’s temptations. (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 10:8–19 by explaining that the Lord warned Joseph about Satan’s evil plan to discredit the work that would come to pass if Joseph retranslated the lost 116 manuscript pages.
Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 10:20–29, the Lord spoke about the influence of Satan on the people who obtained the 116 manuscript pages and how he accomplishes his wicked purposes. Draw two columns on the board. Label one column Satan’s aims and the other column Satan’s strategies. Divide the class into two groups. Ask one group to read Doctrine and Covenants 10:20–29 silently and look for what these verses teach about Satan’s aims. Ask the other group to read the same verses and look for the strategies Satan uses to accomplish his aims. After sufficient time, invite students to report what they have discovered and record their responses in the appropriate column on the board.
What do we learn from these verses about Satan’s purposes? (As students share the principles they have identified, emphasize the following truth: Satan desires to destroy our souls and the work of God. Consider writing this truth on the board. You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases that teach this truth in verses 22–23 and 27.)
How can being aware of Satan’s aims and strategies help us avoid and escape his traps?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 10:30–45 by explaining that the Lord commanded that Joseph Smith not retranslate the portion of the plates from which the 116 pages had been translated. Instead, the Lord commanded the Prophet to translate the record contained on the small plates of Nephi. Because of His omniscience, the Lord inspired Mormon to include in his record the small plates of Nephi, which covered approximately the same time period as the lost pages. Invite a student to read verses 44–45 aloud, and ask the class to notice what the Lord says about the record that had been lost compared to the record contained on the small plates of Nephi.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 10:46–70 by explaining that the Lord also instructed Joseph about the role of the Book of Mormon in establishing His doctrine.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the doctrine and principles taught in these revelations.