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Lesson 48: Doctrine and Covenants 124
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“Lesson 48: Doctrine and Covenants 124,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 48,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 48

Doctrine and Covenants 124

Introduction and Timeline

When Church members were driven from Missouri in the winter of 1838–1839, they found refuge in Illinois and Iowa Territory. After being allowed to escape captivity in April 1839, the Prophet Joseph Smith joined the Saints in Quincy, Illinois, and helped establish a new gathering place in Commerce, Illinois, which was later renamed Nauvoo. Nearly two years later, on January 19, 1841, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124, in which the Lord commanded him to write “a solemn proclamation of [His] gospel” to the leaders of “all the nations of the earth” (D&C 124:2–3) and instructed the Saints to build a boarding house for visitors and a temple in Nauvoo. He also counseled individual Church members and appointed brethren to serve in priesthood leadership positions.

Winter 1838–1839

Church members were driven from Missouri and took refuge in Illinois and Iowa Territory.

April 16, 1839

While being transported to Columbia, Missouri, for trial, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions were allowed to escape captivity.

April–May 1839

Church members purchased land in Commerce, Illinois—later renamed Nauvoo—and established it as a gathering place.

August 15, 1840

The Prophet Joseph Smith delivered his first public discourse on baptism for the dead.

December 16, 1840

The state of Illinois granted an official charter to the city of Nauvoo.

January 19, 1841

Doctrine and Covenants 124 was received.

April 6, 1841

The cornerstones of the Nauvoo Temple were laid.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 124:1–21

The Lord commands the Prophet Joseph Smith to send a “proclamation of [the] gospel … to all the nations of the earth” and counsels individual Church members

Write the following questions on the board: What is the greatest compliment you could receive from another person? Why?

Invite a few students to share their responses with the class. Then write the following questions on the board: What compliment would you like to receive from the Lord? Why?

Invite students to ponder these questions. Encourage them as they study Doctrine and Covenants 124 to look for the attributes the Lord values in His servants.

Remind students that when Church members were expelled from Missouri during the winter of 1838–1839, many of them settled in small communities in Illinois and Iowa along the banks of the Mississippi River. The kind citizens in these communities did what they could to help the Saints but often struggled to find adequate food and shelter for the large number of refugees.

Display the following paragraph, and invite a student to read it aloud:

In April 1839, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners were allowed to escape captivity and fled to Quincy, Illinois, where they rejoined their families. After his arrival in Quincy, the Prophet and others purchased land in Illinois and Iowa Territory for the Saints to settle. Commerce, Illinois, became their new headquarters, which they renamed Nauvoo, Hebrew for “beautiful.” However, establishing their city required many months of difficult labor as the Saints—many of whom were destitute after fleeing their settlements in Missouri—focused their efforts on clearing the land and building new homes and livelihoods. By the following winter, they had made enough progress that Church leaders could turn to reorganizing Church leadership, which had been depleted due to apostasy and death during the Church’s turbulent era in Missouri. On January 19, 1841, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124, in which the Lord named Nauvoo as “a cornerstone of Zion” (D&C 124:2) and the headquarters of the Church at that time, and appointed brethren to serve in Church leadership positions.

Explain that as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124:1–22, the Lord praised and counseled various Church leaders in Nauvoo. Write the following scripture references and names on the board:

Doctrine and Covenants 124:1–3—Joseph Smith

Doctrine and Covenants 124:12–14—Robert B. Thompson

Doctrine and Covenants 124:15—Hyrum Smith

Doctrine and Covenants 124:16–17—John C. Bennett

Doctrine and Covenants 124:18–19—Lyman Wight

Doctrine and Covenants 124:20–21—George Miller

Assign each student one of these references, and invite students to read their assigned verses silently, looking for what the Lord said about these individuals. Invite students to report what they find. As they report, write their responses on the board next to the corresponding scripture references and names.

  • Which of these compliments would you like to receive from the Lord? Why?

Invite students to quickly review the compliments the Lord gave Hyrum Smith and George Miller in verses 15 and 20.

  • Based on what the Lord said about these two men, how does He feel about those who have integrity? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: The Lord loves and trusts those who have integrity of heart.)

Point out that the Lord loves all people. However, the Lord’s expressions of love for Hyrum Smith and George Miller in verses 15 and 20 indicate His approval of their lives because of their integrity, meaning their purity, honesty, and uprightness.

Display the following statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read the statement aloud, and ask the class to follow along, looking for what Elder Wirthlin said about the meaning of integrity.

“To me, integrity means always doing what is right and good, regardless of the immediate consequences. It means being righteous from the very depth of our soul, not only in our actions but, more importantly, in our thoughts and in our hearts. Personal integrity implies such trustworthiness and incorruptibility that we are incapable of being false to a trust or covenant” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Personal Integrity,” Ensign, May 1990, 30).

  • What are some situations that could test a person’s integrity?

  • What are some things we can do that can help us keep our integrity even when it is difficult to do so?

Invite students to think of someone they know who has integrity. Ask a few students to share with the class why the person they thought of is an example of integrity.

Encourage students to write down what they will do to strive to have integrity in their thoughts, words, and actions.

Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–83

The Lord commands Church members to build a house for visitors and a temple in Nauvoo

Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–83, the Lord gave specific commandments to Church members. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–27, 56, 60. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the Saints to do.

  • What did the Lord tell the Saints to build in Nauvoo? (A boardinghouse, which they were to name the Nauvoo House, and a temple.)

  • According to verses 23, 60, why were the Saints commanded to build the Nauvoo House?

Display a picture of the Nauvoo Temple.

Nauvoo Illinois Temple

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo.

  • Why did the Lord command the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo?

Explain that the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the “fulness of the priesthood” is obtained by receiving the ordinances of the temple and keeping the associated covenants (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 419). Although priesthood keys had been restored in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, not all temple ordinances were revealed at that time. For example, on August 15, 1840, six months before the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124 was received, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught for the first time the doctrine of redemption of the dead through proxy baptism. Thereafter, many baptisms for the dead were performed in the Mississippi River and in nearby streams.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 124:29–34. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the Saints about baptisms for the dead.

  • Where did the Lord say baptisms for the dead had to be performed?

  • According to verse 30, why had the Lord allowed the Saints to perform baptisms for the dead in places other than a temple?

  • What did the Lord say would happen if the Saints performed baptisms for the dead outside of the temple after the appointed time for completing the temple?

Explain that proxy baptisms in the Mississippi River were discontinued on October 3, 1841, when the Prophet announced, “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House. … For thus saith the Lord!” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 469). In November 1841, after a baptismal font had been built and dedicated in the basement of the partially completed Nauvoo Temple, baptisms for the dead resumed.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 124:37–41. Ask the class to follow along, looking for another reason the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo.

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: The temple is the only place where …

  • Based on what the Lord taught as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124:28–42, how would you complete the statement on the board? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board as follows: The temple is the only place where we can obtain all of the priesthood ordinances necessary for the salvation of the living and the dead.)

  • How might this doctrine have motivated the Saints to make any sacrifice necessary to build the Nauvoo Temple?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 124:41–83 by explaining that the Lord promised Church members that if they built the temple they would be blessed. If not, they would be cursed. The Lord also promised that He would hold the Church’s enemies accountable for the Saints’ failure to build a temple in Jackson County, Missouri. In addition, the Lord gave the Saints directions concerning the building of the Nauvoo House.

Doctrine and Covenants 124:84–145

The Lord names those who are to serve in priesthood leadership positions

Remind students that the difficulties in Missouri had taken a toll on the leadership of the Church. During that time, some leaders left the Church, and others had died or been killed. After the Saints were expelled from Missouri in the winter of 1838–1839, Church leaders spent most of their efforts preparing places for the Saints to gather in Illinois and Iowa. By the winter of 1840–1841, the Church’s leadership could finally turn their attention to filling vacant Church positions. Doctrine and Covenants 124:84–145 contains the names of the men called to serve in the Church, along with the Lord’s promises and warnings to them.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 124:91–95. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the changes the Lord made to the Church leadership.

  • What calling did William Law receive?

  • What calling did Hyrum Smith receive?

You may want to explain that when Hyrum Smith was called to be the Patriarch to the Church, only one patriarch served the entire Church. As more stakes were organized, patriarchs were ordained in each stake.

  • What blessings were promised to Hyrum Smith as part of his new calling? (Hyrum was given blessings that were once promised to Oliver Cowdery, who had been excommunicated for rebellion in 1838 [see verse 95].)

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 124:103–42 by explaining that the Lord called Sidney Rigdon to continue to serve as a counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord also acknowledged Joseph Smith as the Prophet and President of the Church and Brigham Young as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and listed the members of that quorum. In addition, the Lord named the members of the high council, the president of the high priests (the stake president), the president of the elders quorum, the Presidents of the Quorums of the Seventies, and the bishopric.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:143 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord established these “offices” and “keys” of the priesthood.

  • According to verse 143, why did the Lord establish priesthood keys and offices to organize and direct His work? (The Lord established priesthood keys and offices to organize and direct His work in order to perfect His Saints.)

Conclude by testifying of this principle and the other truths identified in this lesson. Invite students to apply these truths in their lives.