You could begin class by asking the children to share what they know about the angel Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith.
The children’s appreciation for the Prophet Joseph Smith can deepen as they learn about the work God called him to do.
Scriptural and Historical Accounts
Nearly three and a half years passed between the First Vision, when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, and the angel Moroni’s first visit to Joseph.
It had been about three and a half years since the First Vision. During this time, Joseph worked with his father on the family farm. He helped plant and harvest the crops, clear trees from the land, and tap maple trees to get sap for syrup. Sometimes he did odd jobs for a neighbor named Martin Harris. Joseph maintained his testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, although he was continually persecuted by people who did not believe he had seen a vision.
Joseph said that during this time, he “fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth” (Joseph Smith—History 1:28). He was not guilty of any great sins, but he sometimes felt that he did not act as one who had been called of God should act.
On the night of 21 September 1823, when he was 17 years old, he prayed for forgiveness
and asked to know his standing before God. . A bright light entered his room. It was night, but the room became lighter than when the sun shines. Suddenly, an angel appeared at Joseph’s bedside, standing a little above the floor. Why don’t angels appear to us when we pray? In 1823 the truth was not on the earth and had to be brought back by heavenly messengers. Because we now have the gospel, most of our personal prayers are answered in other ways. Answers to our prayers sometimes come into our minds as we listen to lessons or talks in church, talk to our parents or Church leaders, or read the scriptures.
Have a child read JS—H 1:33. The angel told Joseph that his name was Moroni and explained that he had been sent to tell Joseph that Heavenly Father had a special work for him to do.
What did Moroni say would happen to Joseph Smith’s name?
What are some examples of how Joseph Smith’s name has been “had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues”?
Moroni told Joseph about a wonderful book, a history that had been buried for hundreds of years. The book was written upon thin sheets of gold. This angel was the same Moroni who had buried the plates when he still lived on the earth.
Moroni told Joseph that when the right time came, Joseph would be allowed to take the gold plates from their hiding place in the Hill Cumorah. Moroni also told Joseph many other important things about the gold plates and the special work Joseph was going to be called to do. When Moroni had finished speaking, the light surrounded Moroni and he returned to heaven.
As Joseph lay thinking about what had taken place, the light entered the room again. Moroni appeared a second time and gave Joseph the same message he had given him during the first visit. Then Moroni left the same way as before.
Joseph again lay in his bed trying to understand all that had happened. Then, to Joseph’s great surprise, Moroni appeared by his bed a third time and repeated again the story of the gold plates and Joseph’s special work. Moroni added that Satan would try to tempt Joseph to get the plates for money, but Joseph would be able to get the plates only to do Heavenly Father’s work.
Why do you think the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith three times that night?
Moroni told Joseph many things that night that were very important. He gave his message times so Joseph would learn the message well.
Soon after the angel Moroni left the third time, a rooster crowed, so Joseph knew that it was early morning. Moroni’s three visits had lasted all night. Joseph got out of bed but did not tell anyone what had happened. After breakfast, he went with his father to the field to work. Joseph was so tired from his experience and lack of sleep that he could not work. His father, thinking he was sick, sent him home.
Joseph started wearily for home, but as he was climbing over a fence, he fell to the ground because his strength failed him. After he lay there for a time, he heard a voice calling his name. It was the angel Moroni.
Once again the angel repeated what he had told Joseph the night before. Then the angel told him to go back to his father and tell him all he had seen and heard.
Why do you think Moroni appeared to Joseph four times (three times during the night and once the next morning), giving him the same message each time?
How does it help us to hear or read something important more than once? Why is it helpful to read the scriptures daily throughout our lives?
Have a child read the following paragraph:
Ask if anyone can repeat the message just read. Have the child read the same words two more times, and again ask if anyone can repeat the message. Point out how repetition makes the message easier to remember. The complete message Moroni gave was much longer than the one the children just heard. Moroni repeated the message to help Joseph Smith understand and remember the message.
Scripture Story Continued….
Joseph’s father listened to every word and knew his son was telling the truth. He told Joseph to do exactly as the angel had said because the message was from Heavenly Father. Later that day, Joseph went to the Hill Cumorah to find the buried gold plates. When he got to the hill, he went straight to the place where the plates were buried.
Angel Moroni appeared as Joseph was looking in the stone box. He told Joseph not to remove the plates because the time for Joseph to take them had not yet come.
Moroni told Joseph Smith to return to the Hill Cumorah each year for
years. Joseph did this, and each time he visited there, he found Moroni waiting to teach him what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ wanted him to know.
Why was Joseph forbidden to take the plates with him at this time? Joseph was only seventeen years old and still had much to learn before he was ready to translate the plates.
Finally, after four years, the time came to take the plates out of the box. The cover was taken off the stone box, and the gold plates were placed in Joseph’s hands. Moroni told Joseph Smith to be very careful with them and to guard them with his life.
Why was it important for Joseph to protect the plates? (Because wicked men would try to get them from him and would not do what Heavenly Father wanted done with the plates.)
Urim and Thummim
The writing on the plates was in a language that Joseph could not read. Place in the box was a special tool to help him translate the writing on the plates.
The Urim and Thummim are like special glasses through which Joseph could look to help him translate the ancient writing on the plates. With Heavenly Father’s help and by using the Urim and Thummim.
Learning about the sealing power restored through Joseph Smith could help the children appreciate the blessings of eternal families.
Help the children say the name “Elijah” a few times. Ask them to listen for this name as you read Doctrine and Covenants 2:1. Explain that these are Moroni’s words to Joseph Smith, and they teach that Elijah would come to restore priesthood authority. Elijah later did appear to Joseph in the Kirtland Temple and
gave the Prophet the power to seal families together.
Even small children can become excited about and feel the joy of family history.
If possible, display a picture of your extended family or of an ancestor you can tell the class about.
Have you ever been to a family reunion?
Who was at the reunion? Were any of your grandparents there? your great-grandparents?
Tell the children about a family reunion you attended or about the ancestor whose picture you displayed.
Those who live righteously and receive all the necessary ordinances will have the opportunity to live with their families forever. By making sure ordinances such as baptism are done for all our dead family members, we will help them be able to live with us forever.
Invite the children to share stories they know about their grandparents or other ancestors.
Give each child a copy of the Family Tree
. Read Doctrine and Covenants 2:2, and explain that Elijah came to turn our hearts to our ancestors.
Encourage the children to ask their parents to tell them a story about one of their ancestors or help them prepare an ancestor’s favorite meal and eat it together.
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