Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 22 (D&C 58–59; Isaiah 58; Exodus 20;31)
LAYING THE FOUNDATION OF ZION
The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded the following after arriving in the land of Missouri: “The meeting of our brethren [Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Ziba Peterson, and Frederick G. Williams, all of whom had gone to Missouri as missionaries], who had long awaited our arrival, was a glorious one, and moistened with many tears. It seemed good and pleasant for brethren to meet together in unity. But our reflections were many, coming as we had from a highly cultivated state of society in the east, and standing now upon the confines or western limits of the United States, and looking into the vast wilderness of those that sat in darkness; how natural it was to observe the degradation, leanness of intellect, ferocity, and jealousy of a people that were nearly a century behind the times, and to feel for those who roamed about without the benefit of civilization, refinement, or religion; yea, and exclaim in the language of the Prophets: ‘When will the wilderness blossom as the rose? When will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will Thy temple stand, unto which all nations shall come in the last days?’ Our anxiety was soon relieved by receiving the following: [D&C 57].”1
● D&C 57:4–7 July & August 1831: The saints are to purchase lands and receive inheritances in that area, but in an orderly way and not in haste. The Lord warned them that failure to do this would lead to bloodshed later on (D&C 58:52–58).
● 1 August 1831: Members of the Colesville Branch and others arrived in Jackson County. That day Joseph Smith received section 58.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The first Sabbath after our arrival in Jackson county, Brother W. W. Phelps preached to a western audience over the boundary of the United States, wherein were present specimens of all the families of the earth; Shem, Ham, and Japheth; several of the Lamanites or Indians—representative of Shem; quite a respectable number of negroes—descendants of Ham; and the balance was made up of citizens of the surrounding country, and fully represented themselves as pioneers of the West. At this meeting, two were baptized, who had previously believed in the fulness of the Gospel. During this week the Colesville branch, . . . Sidney Rigdon, Sidney Gilbert and wife, and Elders Morley and Booth, arrived. I received the following: [D&C 58].”2
● D&C 58:1–5, 44–45 The establishment of Zion will not occur immediately, but later on, after much tribulation (vv. 2–3).
● D&C 58:6–8 Explains why they were there. These Saints were to be “honored in laying the foundation” (v. 7).
● D&C 58:44–45 Much hard work lay ahead and Zion will not be redeemed until after “many years” (vv. 44–45). This helped the Saints to remain faithful through the coming difficulties in Missouri.
● D&C 136:31 The Lord’s people must be tried in all things to become worthy of Zion.
Linda S. Reeves, former member of the Relief Society General Presidency, taught: “The Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones-and maybe our own-figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. . . . He is eager to help us, to comfort us, and to ease our pain as we rely on the power of the Atonement and honor our covenants. The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very things that guide us to come unto Him and cling to our covenants so that we might return to His presence and receive all that the Father hath.”3
● 2 August 1831: The Prophet assisted the Colesville Saints in laying the first log for a house in Kaw Township, 12 miles west of Independence, in what is now Kansas City, Missouri, “as a foundation of Zion.” At the same time, a prayer consecrated and dedicated the land for the gathering of the Saints.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “On the second day of August, I assisted the Colesville branch of the Church . . . to lay the first log, for a house, as a foundation of Zion in Kaw township, 12 miles west of Independence. The log was carried and placed by twelve men, in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. At the same time, through prayer, the land of Zion was consecrated and dedicated by Elder Sidney Rigdon for the gathering of the Saints.”4
● D&C 58:57 Sidney Rigdon dedicated the land of Zion, which included the temple lot, but Joseph Smith later dedicated the actual spot for the temple.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “On the second day of August . . . the land of Zion was consecrated and dedicated by Elder Sidney Rigdon for the gathering of the Saints. . . . On the third day of August, I proceeded to dedicate the spot for the Temple, a little west of Independence. . . .”5
Important Additional Doctrinal Principles
● D&C 58:24–33 Men should use their agency to do good and not always wait to be commanded.
● D&C 58:42–43 When we repent, we are forgiven and the Lord remembers our sin no more.
● D&C 59:1–4 The faithful Saints in Zion will be blessed both temporally and spiritually.
● D&C 59:5-8 The importance of loving and serving God, Christ, and our fellow men.
SACRAMENTS UPON MY HOLY DAY
We might well begin by asking, “How do you feel when you enter a temple?” If we contrast the atmosphere in the temple with the atmosphere in the world, we can easily discern that a temple is different from other places because the Lord has sanctified it (D&C 109:13). It is His house.
Likewise, when the Lord instituted the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1–3), He made it different because He sanctified it. The Sabbath is His day. Thus, we should “enter” each Sabbath day with the same reverence we feel when we enter the temple. If we remember that the Lord has sanctified the Sabbath and that it is our privilege to worship and serve Him on His day, then it can change our entire Sabbath experience.
Elder Mark E. Petersen said, “One of the most glaring of our inconsistencies is our attitude toward the Sabbath day. It is a sacred day. It is holy, and we should not trifle with it.”6
The Lord Established the Sabbath
● Originally, God established the pattern for the Sabbath in commemoration of the Creation. After laboring for six days, He rested on the seventh and sanctified it as a holy day (Genesis 2:2–3). In remembrance of this, the Lord commanded His children to keep the Sabbath day holy (Exodus 20:8–11; Exodus 31:13–17).
● After our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection, His Church began observing the Sabbath on Sunday—“the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7), which was then referred to as “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10). It was now in commemoration of the Atonement.
Elder Mark E. Petersen said, “With this . . . in mind, let us ask ourselves how important the Lord’s atonement is to us. How dear to us is the Lord Jesus Christ? How deeply are we concerned about immortality? Is the resurrection of vital interest to us? We can readily see that observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the depth of our conversion. Our observance or non-observance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward His suffering in Gethsemane, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of His atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us. . . .”7
● In our dispensation, the Lord has again emphasized the importance of the Sabbath (D&C 59:9–13). Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed that on this day we should pay our devotions to Him by attending church, partaking of the sacrament, and resting from our labors.
Worshiping in Sunday Church Meetings
● The Lord has said: “Thou shalt go to the house of prayer (D&C 59:9). . . upon my holy day.” We gather together to partake of the sacrament and to teach and bless one another. We share our spiritual gifts, lift up those who are struggling, and serve one another in many ways. We also read the words of the prophets and strive to become worthy Saints in every sense of the word.
● Our Gospel Doctrine manual lists ways that we can make sacrament meetings and other Sunday meetings more spiritually enriching:
—Coming with an attitude of worship.
—Studying the scheduled lesson material before class.
—Seeking to strengthen others.
—Not criticizing speakers or teachers.
● As we do this, we are spiritually uplifted and refreshed. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Every sacrament meeting ought to be a spiritual feast” and “a time of spiritual refreshment.”8
● Attitude and Effort. Our spiritual refreshment is dependent upon our attitude and effort. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you.”9
● Music is vital to the spirit of our Sunday meetings.10 Each of us should sing the hymns (D&C 25:12) in praise to our Lord. Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “An increasing number of our leaders and members do not sing the congregational songs. . . . We should sing the songs of Zion—they are an essential part of our worship.”11
● Prayer. Participating meaningfully in congregational and personal prayers is also vital to the Spirit of our Sunday meetings. We are commanded to make the Sabbath a day of prayer (D&C 59:14). Both public and personal prayers should be frequent and meaningful on the Sabbath Day.
Reverence in Our Church Meetings
Elder Boyd K. Packer said, [We should be reverent in the chapel so we do not intrude] “when someone is struggling to feel delicate spiritual communications.” [Reverence] “does not equate with absolute silence. We must be tolerant of little babies, even an occasional outburst from a toddler being ushered out.”12
President Gordon B. Hinckley told of an embarrassing incident he experienced as a missionary:
“We held our meetings in the . . . town hall, which we rented. The floors were hard, and . . . every time a chair moved there was a noise. But this was not the worst aspect of the situation. Far worse was the noisy socializing of the members of the branch.
“On one occasion we invited a family whom we had met while tracting. With great expectation. we as missionaries stood by the door to welcome them. There was the usual convivial spirit in the hall, with the members talking noisily one with another. When this family came into the room, they quietly moved toward some chairs, knelt for a moment, and closed their eyes in a word of prayer. They then sat in an attitude of reverence amidst all the commotion.
“Frankly, I was embarrassed. They had come to what they regarded as a worship service, and they behaved themselves accordingly.
“At the close of the meeting they left quietly, and when we next met they spoke of their disappointment in what they had experienced. I have never forgotten that.”13
Partaking of the Sacrament
● The sacrament is the central feature of our Sunday worship. This is the most frequent of all the ordinances of the gospel, occurring weekly in the sanctuary of our chapels. There, kneeling before an altar, priests place us under covenant to remember and obey our Lord, and in return, we are promised His Spirit as our companion during the coming week (D&C 20:77, 79).
● The Lord has commanded us to partake of the sacrament on the Sabbath (D&C 59:9, 12; 3 Nephi 18:6–7). We do this weekly because we need to renew our efforts weekly.
● We must be worthy when we partake of the sacrament (1 Cor. 11:28–29; 3 Nephi 18:29; Mormon 9:29). This is a forward-looking covenant that pertains to the week ahead, not the week behind. Thus, we do not need to be perfect to partake. But we do need to be determined to do better, in a spirit of humility and repentance.
● As we do this, the sacrament can strengthen our commitment to the Savior on the coming days of the week. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “Windows must be washed regularly to clean away dust and dirt. . . . Just as earthly windows need consistent, thorough cleaning, so do the windows of our spirituality. . . . By partaking of the sacrament worthily to renew our baptismal covenants, we clarify our view of life’s eternal purpose and divine priorities. The sacrament prayers invite personal introspection, repentance, and rededication as we pledge our willingness to remember our Savior, Jesus the Christ.”14
● On the Sabbath, we not only partake of the sacrament, but we also should offer our own sacraments and oblations to the Lord (D&C 59:9, 12). This means we should make offerings or sacrifices that show our devotion to Him (D&C 59:8; .D&C 59:12, footnote b; D&C 64:34; D&C 97:8). We pay our tithing. We sacrifice our time to serve others. And we offer up a broken heart and contrite spirit as spiritual sacrifices to our Lord.
Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “After His mortal ministry, . . . Jesus told his Nephite Apostles that He would no longer accept burnt offerings but that His disciples should offer ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit’ (3 Ne. 9:19–20; see also D&C 59:8, 12). Instead of the Lord requiring our animals or grain, now He wants us to give up all that is ungodly. This higher practice of the law of sacrifice reaches into the inner soul of a person. . . . When we overcome our own selfish desires and put God first in our lives and covenant to serve Him regardless of the cost, we are then living the law of sacrifice.”15
Resting from Our Labors on the Sabbath Day
● D&C 59:10-15 Things which are appropriate on the Sabbath Day.
● We are commanded to “rest from [our] labors” on the Sabbath day (D&C 59:10, 13). Thus, we refrain from buying or selling, going to places of amusement, and other worldly interests on the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13). These take away from the spirit of the Sabbath and allow worldly cares to intrude.
H. David Burton said, “Now, I know it’s hard, particularly for our young people, to choose to observe the Sabbath day when athletic teams on which they so much want to participate regularly scheduled games on Sunday. I too know it seems trivial to many who are in need of just a few items on the Sabbath to quickly stop at a convenience store to make a Sunday purchase. But I also know that remembering to keep the Sabbath day holy is one of the most important commandments we can observe in preparing us to be the recipients of the whisperings of the Spirit.”16
Elder Mark E. Petersen said, “If we are to do none other thing on Sunday but to devote the day to holy purposes, what is our situation if we willfully choose to operate our businesses on the Sabbath, or if we patronize such Sunday businesses, or if we go to places of recreation on Sunday?. . . I do not believe we will be saved if we constantly violate the Sabbath and fling our disobedience into the face of the very God we hope will save us.”17
● Resting from our labors does not mean we should be idle. Rather, we should follow the Savior’s example and “do well on the sabbath” (Matthew 12:12;Luke 13:10–17; John 5:1–19).
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and. holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected.”18
● Our Gospel Doctrine manual suggests that our activities are appropriate for the Sabbath if they . . .
—Are spiritually .uplifting.
—Strengthen the family.
—Help or bless others.
—Are set apart from the daily activities of the world.
● Church members should make every effort to choose employment that does not require them to work on Sunday. However, there are many vital activities that require Sunday work. We should be careful not to judge others who find themselves in such circumstances. And those who must work on Sunday should make every effort to find a way to partake of the sacrament and to be with their families in the home.
● The Sabbath is fundamentally a family day—a day on which we should be in our homes, teaching one another the doctrine of the kingdom and finding ways to serve each other and our neighbors. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Let the Latter-day Saints be in their homes, teaching their families, reading the scriptures, doing things that are wholesome and beautiful and communing with the Lord on the Sabbath day.”19 President Kimball further said, “Now I do not want to be prudish. I do not want you to lock your children in the house and read the Bible all afternoon to them. Be wise. Be careful. But make that day a day when you can sit down with your families and talk about sacred and good things.”20
● Sunday meetings should not unnecessarily intrude upon family activities on the Sabbath. The First Presidency said in 1980 when announcing the consolidated Sunday meeting schedule: “A greater responsibility will be placed upon the individual members and families for properly observing the Sabbath day. More time will be available for personal study of the scriptures and family-centered gospel study. . . . It is expected that this new schedule of meetings and activities will result in greater spiritual growth for members of the Church.”21
What are some challenges to making the Sabbath day as meaningful as you would like? How are you working to overcome these challenges? How could careful planning help you eliminate or manage these challenges?
Blessings for Those Who Keep the Sabbath Day Holy (D&C 59:9, 13, 15–17)
● The Sabbath helps us be “unspotted from the world” (D&C 59:9) because it helps us . . .
—Renew our baptismal covenants.
—Focus our thoughts on God and matters of eternal significance rather than on the things of the world.
● The Sabbath helps us receive a fulness of joy (D&C 59:13). Our spirits are lifted. Our faith is renewed. Our friendships are strengthened. Our needs are nurtured. Our confidence waxes stronger in the presence of the Lord (D&C 121:45).
● When we properly observe the Sabbath we will receive “the fulness of the earth” and “the good things . . . of the earth” (D&C 59:16–17; Isaiah 58:14). There is a connection between keeping the Sabbath day holy and the productivity of the land and our lives. God blesses both spiritually and temporally those who honor him.
● The Sabbath will be a day of “rejoicing” (D&C 59:14). Isaiah said that we should “call the sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). We must be careful not to treat the Sabbath as a day of dreary restrictions, but rather as a day of rejoicing and “a delight” in our lives. One way to do this is to focus on what we should do rather than on what we should not do.
The Bible Dictionary concludes: “The importance of a sacred day for man to rest from his temporal labors, contemplate the word of the Lord, and assemble for public worship is a major item in person’s spiritual development. Furthermore, a decay in the national religious life always follows any tendency toward carelessness in the matter of Sabbath observance. The existence of a weekly holy day is a most important safeguard; it leaves a constant reminder to the individual of his need for spiritual sustenance and his duty before God, and serves as a witness to the world that there is such a thing as revealed religion.”22
1. History of the Church, 1:189.
2. History of the Church, 1:190–191.
3. “Claim the Blessings of Your Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 119-20.
4. History of the Church, 1:196.
5. History of the Church, 1:196, 199.
6. In Conference Report, April 1975, 70.
7. Ensign, May 1975, 49.
8. Teachings of President Gordon B. Hinckley , 563, 564.
9. “The Sabbath—A Delight,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 4–5.
10. Hymns, pages ix-x.
11. In Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 29; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 22.
12. In Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 28; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 22.
13. Teachings of President Gordon B. Hinckley , 557.
14. In Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 103; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 77.
15. “The Law of Sacrifice,” Ensign, Oct 1998, 10–11.
16. In Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 9; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 9.
17. Ensign, May 1975, 49.
18. Ensign, Jan. 1978, 4.
19. “Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, July 1996, 73.
20. Teachings of President Gordon B. Hinckley , 559–560.
21. Church News, 2 Feb. 1980, 3.
22. Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Sabbath,” 765.