“Lesson 12 Teacher Material: Establishing the Cause of Zion,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)
“Lesson 12 Teacher Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material
Ask students to think about how many times they have prayed to Heavenly Father asking for help to know what He would have them do in their lives.
Explain that in the spring of 1829, even before the Church was organized, Joseph Smith received revelations on behalf of Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, and Joseph Knight. Each of these men desired to know what the Lord would have them do. Write the following scripture references on the board: Doctrine and Covenants 6:6; 11:6; 12:6.
Invite students to read the verses silently, looking for what the Lord told each of these men.
What do you think it means to “bring forth and establish the cause of Zion”? (Doctrine and Covenants 6:6).
Invite a student to read aloud the statement by Joseph Smith in section 1 of the preparation material. Or you might show the video “Teachings of Joseph Smith: Preparing for Zion” (1:42). Ask the class to look for what Joseph Smith taught about Zion.
Why do you think Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age? (Invite students to recall what they learned in their preparation material.)
Write the following incomplete phrase on the board: We can build up Zion by …
Explain that in November and December of 1830, as Joseph Smith worked on his inspired translation of the Bible, he received revelations about the ancient prophet Enoch and his people. Invite one student to read Moses 7:18–19, 21 and another student to read Doctrine and Covenants 97:21. Ask the class to listen for the Lord’s descriptions of Zion.
What can we learn from the Lord’s descriptions of Zion that helps us know how to build Zion in our day? (List students’ responses on the board under the incomplete phrase. Student responses will vary but may include examples like the following: We can build up Zion by becoming one in heart and mind, by living righteously, by caring for the poor and needy, and by striving to be pure in heart.)
What difference could it make in a family, ward, or branch where everyone was of “one heart and one mind”?
Invite students to review the statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in section 1 of the preparation material. Ask students to look for how we might become of one heart and one mind. After they report, you might add placing the Savior at the center of our lives and following Church leaders to the list on the board.
How do you think placing the Savior at the center of our lives and following Church leaders can help us become Zion-like people?
Explain that the Saints learned from Moses 7 that before the Savior’s Second Coming, the Lord’s people would again be gathered together and would build another city of Zion (see Moses 7:62). A few months after receiving the revelation recorded in Moses 7, the Prophet Joseph Smith received another revelation during a Church conference that revealed more concerning this future city of Zion (see Doctrine and Covenants 45).
Invite the class to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:66–71 together, looking for descriptions of the city of Zion.
What effect do you imagine this revelation had on the early Saints?
Remind students that Joseph Smith later learned through revelation that “the center place” for the city of Zion was to be in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri (Doctrine and Covenants 57:3).
What challenges prevented the Saints from building the city of Zion in Jackson County? (Encourage students to recall what they learned from section 2 of the preparation material.)
What questions might the Saints have asked after they were expelled from Jackson County?
Explain that in the months following the Saints’ violent expulsion from Jackson County by Missouri mobs, Joseph Smith struggled with the questions of “why God hath suffered so great calamity to come upon Zion” and “by what means he will return [Zion] back to [its] inheritance” (“Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 10 December 1833,” josephsmithpapers.org). The Lord eventually gave Joseph insight into why the Saints were persecuted and expelled.
Invite half the class to review Doctrine and Covenants 101:2–3, 6–8 and the other half to review Doctrine and Covenants 105:3–6, which are passages they studied in section 3 of the preparation material. Ask students to share their thoughts about the following questions they were invited to ponder:
What prevented the Saints from establishing the cause of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri?
What actions and attitudes does the Lord require of those in the latter days who desire to build Zion? (Add students’ responses to the list on the board under the phrase We can build up Zion by …)
Explain that while Independence, Missouri, is “the center place” of Zion (Doctrine and Covenants 57:3), the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “anyplace where the Saints gather is Zion” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 186). Today, this includes all of the stakes of the Church throughout the world.
Display the following quote by Joseph Smith:
“We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 186).
Based on what you have learned about Zion, why do you think building Zion should be one of our greatest objectives?
Give students time to review what they have learned from the experiences of early Saints and the revelations about building Zion. Invite them to ponder what they can do right now to help establish Zion in their homes, wards, and branches. You might encourage them to record thoughts and impressions they receive. You might also ask several students to share what they will do. Remind them not to share anything too personal.
Explain that to help His Saints establish Zion, the Lord revealed laws of consecration, morality, health, and the Sabbath, among others. Emphasize that students will have the opportunity to study one or more of these topics as they prepare for the next class. Encourage them to come to class next time ready to share something unique they discovered about one or more of these laws.