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Come, Follow Me — D&C Study and Teaching Helps
Lesson 3, January 11-17
Doctrine and Covenants 2; Joseph Smith—History 1:27-65
“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn to Their Fathers”

JS—H 1:27-28 “The Weakness of Youth”

For three and a half years after the First Vision, Satan continued his attempts to derail the Lord’s great latter-day work, as Joseph Smith was “all the time suffering severe persecution,” in addition to other forms of opposition (verses 27-28). Joseph also expressed concerns over his personal weaknesses, being “left to all kinds of temptations” and feeling himself guilty of “foolish errors,” including “levity” (verse 28). Compare Joseph’s confessed weakness to similar expressions by Nephi (2 Nephi 4:17-19) and Enoch (Moses 6:31).

President James E. Faust observed that Joseph Smith “did not claim perfection. If he were intending to fabricate a great falsehood or wanted to perpetrate a fraud or practice deceit, would he have been so truthful about his own humanness? His complete candor in admitting human frailties and in declaring the loving discipline of God offers powerful proof of his honesty” (Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 77). The Lord uses imperfect people to do His work, including each of us!

JS—H 1:29-54 Moroni’s Tutelage

The visitations of Moroni to Joseph Smith deserve our careful study. The first three visits took place in the Smith cabin, where Joseph likely shared a room—and perhaps a bed—with his brothers. Here is a guide to your study:

First Visit (verses 29-43):

  1. Joseph prayed. What does verse 29 say were the specific things he prayed for?
  2. How did Joseph describe the resurrected Moroni? (verses 30-32).
  3. Moroni stated that he was a messenger from God and informed Joseph that his name would be had for good and evil among all people (verse 33).
  4. He told Joseph that there was a book written on gold plates:
    • What did Moroni say the book contained? (verse 34).
    • There was with the book the Urim and Thummim, prepared by God for its translation (verse 35; the Urim and Thummim were attached to a “breastplate”; there is no indication that the sword of Laban nor the Liahona were in the “stone box”).
    • Joseph would obtain the plates but must not show them, except to certain people (verse 42).
    • Joseph saw in vision the nearby place where the plates were deposited (verse 42).

  5. Moroni then quoted (in verses 36-41) the following Bible references. Read them and look for common topics or themes:
    • Malachi 3 (specific verses not designated).
    • Malachi 4:1, 5-6 (with variations in wording from the King James biblical text).
    • Isaiah 11 (apparently the entire chapter, which Moroni stated was “about to be fulfilled”).
    • Acts 3:22-23 (the foretold “prophet” is Jesus Christ).
    • Joel 2:28-32 (“not yet fulfilled,” but “soon to be”).
    • Also quoted “many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations.”
    • What significant messages or themes do you see in these scriptures that Moroni quoted to Joseph Smith?

Second Visit (verses 44-45):

  1. Moroni said the same things he had said during the first visit, “without the least variation.”
  2. What significant prophecies did Moroni then add to his repetition of the first visit? (verse 45).

Third Visit (verse 46):

  1. Moroni again repeated “the same things as before.”
  2. He added a caution concerning Satan’s temptation to use the gold plates to obtain wealth.
  3. He counseled that Joseph must have “no other object in view” except to glorify God and build His kingdom. These two motives must also be our guide in all our work in the Church and in life.

Fourth Visit (verse 49):

  1. In the field, Moroni repeated “all that he had related to me the previous night.”
  2. He commanded Joseph to go to his father and tell him of the visions. Note the significance of Joseph’s immediate reaction to this instruction, being an example for us today: “I obeyed” (verse 50).

Fifth through Ninth Visits (verses 53-54):

  1. At the hill, Moroni forbade Joseph from taking the plates and told him that the time would not come for four more years.
  2. Moroni subsequently met Joseph at the hill on September 22nd of 1824, 1825, 1826, and 1827, imparting “instruction and intelligence” regarding “what the Lord was going to do” and how His kingdom “was to be conducted in the last days.”
    • What do you learn from Moroni’s visits about how the Lord and His leaders prepare and teach us?
    • Consider the importance of submitting ourselves to the Lord’s timing in our lives (see also Jacob 4:8-10; D&C 98:1-2).

D&C 2 The Sealing Keys

Section 2 is the earliest of the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, being a quote from the initial visit of the Angel Moroni to 17 year-old Joseph Smith. These verses are also found in each of the other standard works of the Church (with some variation in the text; see Malachi 4:5-6; 3 Nephi 25:5-6; and JS—H 1:38-39; see also D&C 110:13-16; 128:17).

Note the following helps:

  • In verse 1, I will reveal unto you the priesthood, by the hand of Elijah refers to the priesthood keys of sealing, as committed by the translated prophet Elijah to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 (see D&C 110:13-16).
  • Also in verse 1, the great and dreadful day of the Lord is the Second Coming and its attendant events.
  • In verse 2, the children refers to us, and the fathers are our ancestors.
  • Also in verse 2, the promises [to the fathers] include the gospel being preached to those in the post-mortal spirit world, as well as the vicarious ordinances of salvation to be performed in their behalf in latter-day temples.
  • In verse 3, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his [Christ’s] coming means that without the eternal sealing of couples and families, there would be no family relationships in the life to come.

Consider these questions:

  • What do you feel in your heart, in regard to your parents, grandparents, and other ancestors?
  • What experiences have you had in “turning your heart” to your ancestors?
  • Why do you think Doctrine and Covenants 2 can be considered “the beginning and the end of the gospel”? (as proclaimed by Elder John A. Widtsoe; cited in Conference Report, April 1960, p. 48).

JS—H 1:55-62 Doing the Lord’s Work

Even though Joseph Smith had been called to—and was being prepared for—a high and holy calling, the Lord did not give Joseph nor his family a smooth path toward accomplishment of His purposes. And clearly, Satan never let up in his efforts to thwart the work of God. For example:

  • “We were under the necessity of laboring with our hands, hiring out by day’s work” (verse 55).
  • Joseph’s family “met with a great affliction by the death of my eldest brother, Alvin” (verse 56).
  • Joseph was hired “to dig for the silver mine … without success…. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger” (verse 56).
  • “Persecution still followed me, and my wife’s father’s family were very much opposed to our being married. I was, therefore, under the necessity of taking her elsewhere” (verse 58).
  • In attempts to steal the gold plates from Joseph, “every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to [and] the persecution became more bitter and severe than before” (verse 60).
  • “Rumor with her thousand tongues was all the time employed in circulating falsehoods. [The persecution] became so intolerable that I was under the necessity of leaving Manchester, and going with my wife to Susquehanna county” (verse 61).

Joseph’s experiences can be considered a pattern for us today, as we seek to know and fulfill the roles the Lord would have us do, while laboring through the ups and downs of mortality, including the adversary’s opposition. But we can also see the Lord’s guidance and care:

  • The Smiths “were enabled to get a comfortable [financial] maintenance” (verse 55).
  • Joseph and Emma met and were married (verses 57-58).
  • When Joseph obtained the gold plates, Moroni promised him that if he “would use all [his] endeavors to preserve them … they should be protected” (verse 59).
  • “By the wisdom of God, they [the plates] remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required” (verse 60).
  • “In the midst of our afflictions we found a friend in a gentleman by the name of Martin Harris, who came to us and gave me fifty dollars to assist us” (verse 61).
  • “By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination [and] by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some” (verse 62).

JS—H 1:63-65 Martin Harris and Charles Anthon

Joseph Smith obtained the plates on September 22, 1827, and was able to do some translating from December 1827 until February 1828. Then came the experience of Martin Harris, recounted by Joseph in verses 63-65. Martin’s experience is a fulfillment of Isaiah 29:11-12 and 2 Nephi 27:15-18; Charles Anthon being “the learned” and Joseph Smith being “not learned.”

It was prophesied in 2 Nephi 27:16 that in his encounter with Martin, Professor Anthon’s motivation would be to achieve “the glory of the world and to get gain.” Clearly, we must not and cannot rely on “the world” to answer our spiritual searching, for not only is the world incapable of providing such answers, but also because those we turn to may be self-serving, as was Anthon. Fortunately, Martin Harris came to rely on the witness of God and His Spirit, thus gaining his personal testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and of the reality of Joseph Smith as the prophet of the Restoration.

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