Recording impressions as you study is one way you can obey God’s counsel to “treasure up wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30).
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To the early Saints, the Church was more than a place to hear some preaching on Sunday. Throughout His revelations to Joseph Smith, the Lord described the Church with words like cause, kingdom, Zion, and, quite often, work. That may have been part of what attracted many early members to the Church. As much as they loved the Church’s restored doctrine, many also wanted something they could dedicate their lives to. Even so, the Lord’s 1830 command to the Saints to gather in Ohio was not easy for some to follow. For people like Phebe Carter, it meant leaving comfortable homes for an unfamiliar frontier (see “Voices of the Restoration” at the end of this outline). Today we can see clearly what those Saints could see only with the eye of faith: the Lord had great blessings waiting for them in Ohio.
The need to gather to Ohio has long since passed, but Saints today still unite around the same cause, the same work: to “bring forth Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:13). Like those early Saints, we forsake “the cares of the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 40:2) because we trust the Lord’s promise: “You shall receive … a blessing so great as you never have known” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:10).
See also Saints, 1:109–11.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Doctrine and Covenants 37:1
What was Joseph Smith translating in 1830?
In this verse, the Lord was referring to Joseph Smith’s work on an inspired revision of the Bible, which was referred to as a “translation.” When Joseph received the revelation recorded in section 37, he had completed a few chapters of the book of Genesis and had just learned about Enoch and his city of Zion (see Genesis 5:18–24; Moses 7). Some of the principles the Lord taught Enoch are similar to those He revealed in section 38.
See also Church History Topics, “Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,” surfacetoairnewyork.com/study/topics.
Joseph Smith works with Sidney Rigdon on an inspired revision of the Bible. Illustration by Annie Henrie Nader
Doctrine and Covenants 38
God gathers us to bless us.The Lord concluded His command to gather to Ohio by saying, “Behold, here is wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 37:4). But not everyone saw the wisdom in it right away. In section 38, the Lord revealed His wisdom in more detail. What do you learn from verses 11–33 about the blessings of gathering? Church members are no longer commanded to gather by moving to one location; in what ways do we gather today? How do these blessings apply to us? (see Russell M. Nelson, “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 79–81).
As you read the rest of this section, look for passages that may have helped the Saints gain the faith they needed to obey God’s commandment to gather in Ohio. Also think about commandments He has given you and the faith you need to obey them. The following questions could guide your study:
What else do you find?
Doctrine and Covenants 38:11–13, 22–32, 41–42
If I am prepared, I need not fear.
The Saints had already faced much opposition, and the Lord knew more was coming (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:11–13, 28–29). To help them not be afraid, He revealed a precious principle: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30). Take a minute to ponder the challenges you face. Then as you study section 38, listen for promptings from the Spirit about ways you can prepare for challenges so that you need not fear.
See also Ronald A. Rasband, “Be Not Troubled,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 18–21.
Doctrine and Covenants 39–40
The cares of the world must not distract me from obeying God’s word.Read sections 39–40, including the historical background in the section headings, and consider ways James Covel’s experience might apply to you. For example, think of times when your “heart … was right before
See also Matthew 13:3–23.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home EveningDoctrine and Covenants 37:3.To help your family understand the sacrifice the Saints made to gather to Ohio, you could refer to the map that accompanies this outline.Doctrine and Covenants 38:22.
How can we make Jesus Christ our family’s “lawgiver”? How does following His laws make us “a free people”?Doctrine and Covenants 38:24–27.
To teach children what it means to “be one,” you could help them count the members of your family and talk about why each person is important to your family. Emphasize that together you are one family. You could help your children draw a large 1 on a poster and decorate it with names and drawings or pictures of each family member. You could also write on the poster things you will do to be more united as a family. You might also watch the video “Love in Our Hearts” (surfacetoairnewyork.com) or read Moses 7:18.
Doctrine and Covenants 38:29–30.
You could discuss recent family or personal experiences that required preparation. How did your preparation affect the experience? What does the Lord want us to prepare for? How can being prepared help us not to be fearful? What can we do to prepare?Doctrine and Covenants 40.
What does the phrase “cares of the world” (verse 2) mean to us? Are there any cares of the world that are preventing us from receiving God’s word “with gladness”? How will we overcome them?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “Jesus Said Love Everyone,” Children’s Songbook, 61.
Among the many Saints who gathered to Ohio in the 1830s was Phebe Carter. She joined the Church in the northeastern United States in her mid twenties, though her parents did not. She later wrote of her decision to move to Ohio to unite with the Saints:
“My friends marveled at my course, as did I, but something within impelled me on. My mother’s grief at my leaving home was almost more than I could bear; and had it not been for the spirit within I should have faltered at the last. My mother told me she would rather see me buried than going thus alone out into the heartless world.
“I answered, ‘yes, mother; I will.’ … My answer relieved her trouble; but it cost us all much sorrow to part. When the time came for my departure I dared not trust myself to say farewell; so I wrote my good-byes to each, and leaving them on my table, ran downstairs and jumped into the carriage. Thus I left the beloved home of my childhood to link my life with the saints of God.”1
In one of those farewell messages, Phebe wrote:
“Beloved Parents—I am now about to leave my paternal roof for a while … I know not how long—but not without grateful feelings for the kindness which I have received from my infancy until the present time—but Providence seems to order it otherwise now than it has been. Let us commit all these things into the hands of Providence and be thankful that we have been permitted to live together so long under so favorable circumstances as we have, believing that all things will work for our good if we love God supremely. Let us realize that we can pray to one God who will hear the sincere prayers of all his creatures and give us that which is best for us. …
“Mother, I believe it is the will of God for me to go to the west and I have been convinced that it has been for a long time. Now the way has opened … ; I believe that it is the spirit of the Lord that has done it which is sufficient for all things. O be not anxious for your child; the Lord will comfort me. I believe that the Lord will take care of me and give me that which is for the best. … I go because my Master calls—he has made my duty plain.”2
In Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom (1877), 412.
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Phebe Carter letter to her parents, no date, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; punctuation modernized. Phebe joined the Church in 1834, moved to Ohio around 1835, and married Wilford Woodruff in 1837.