The Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation at Kirtland, Ohio, on 16 December 1833. At the time the revelation was given, the Saints in Missouri had been driven from Jackson County to Clay County. Their homes destroyed and their property taken from them by the mobs in Jackson County, the Saints were suffering greatly (see History of the Church, 1:426–38, 458–64).
The Lord, prior to this revelation, had warned the Saints that they must keep His commandments and do His will, or they would suffer affliction, pestilence, plague, sword, vengeance, and devouring fire (see D&C 97:26). Now, in Doctrine and Covenants 101, the Lord explained why the Saints had been driven from Zion.
Anciently the Lord blessed Joseph, the son of Jacob, with the blessings of Abraham, which included a land of promise for his posterity. His descendants were to receive an inheritance in the land of America (see Genesis 49:1–2, 22–26; Deuteronomy 33:13–17; 3 Nephi 15:12–13; 20:10, 14; Richards, Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 63–66.)
Commenting on the rights of heirs, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Every person who embraces the gospel becomes of the house of Israel. In other words, they become members of the chosen lineage, or Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were made. The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph. Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and confirmed they are grafted into the tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges as heirs.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:246.)
The Church, with its large numbers of descendants of Joseph, inherits the blessings promised to Joseph’s posterity (see Abraham 2:9–10; D&C 86:8–9). That is why the Lord has promised the latter-day Church an inheritance in the land promised to Joseph’s posterity, with its “center place” in Missouri (D&C 57:3; see D&C 38:17–20; 52:1–5, 42; 57:1–5).
See Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 60:4.
The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded:
“I cannot learn from any communication by the Spirit to me, that Zion has forfeited her claim to a celestial crown, notwithstanding the Lord has caused her to be thus afflicted, except it may be some individuals, who have walked in disobedience, and forsaken the new covenant; all such will be made manifest by their works in due time. I have always expected that Zion would suffer some affliction, from what I could learn from the commandments which have been given. But I would remind you of a certain clause in one which says, that after much tribulation cometh the blessing. By this, and also others, and also one received of late, I know that Zion, in the due time of the Lord, will be redeemed; but how many will be the days of her purification, tribulation, and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes and when I inquire concerning this subject, the voice of the Lord is: Be still, and know that I am God; all those who suffer for my name shall reign with me, and he that layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again.
“Now, there are two things of which I am ignorant; and the Lord will not show them unto me, perhaps for a wise purpose in Himself—I mean in some respects—and they are these: Why God has suffered so great a calamity to come upon Zion, and what the great moving cause of this great affliction is; and again, by what means He will return her back to her inheritance, with songs of everlasting joy upon her head. These two things, brethren, are in part kept back that they are not plainly shown unto me; but there are some things that are plainly manifest which have incurred the displeasure of the Almighty.” (Teachings, p. 34; see D&C 105:2–4, 6.)
All who desire exaltation must be tested and tried to be proven in all things. President Harold B. Lee said:
“Some of us have been tried and have been tested until our very heart strings would seem to break. I have heard of persons dying with a broken heart, and I thought that was just a sort of a poetic expression, but I learned that it could be a very real experience. I came near to that thing; but when I began to think of my own troubles, I thought of what the apostle Paul said of the Master, ‘Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.’ (Hebrews 5:8, 9.)
“Don’t be afraid of the testing and trials of life. Sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea, for like the experience of the Master himself in the temptation on the mount, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross at Calvary, the scriptures record, ‘And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.’ (Matthew 4:11.) Sometimes that may happen to you in the midst of your trials.” (In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference 1973, p. 114.)
The scriptures teach the following about chastening:
One of the great problems recorded in scripture is mankind’s indifference to God in times of prosperity. Too often they forget their Creator, who is the giver of all good things. In times of trouble, however, they remember God and turn to Him for mercy and help in their afflictions, but He is slow to help them. These verses show that the Saints were guilty of this offense. Therefore, the Lord did not support them in their day of affliction. He will not support any who claim His promises but do not keep their covenants. (See D&C 84:54–59; Mosiah 11:24; 21:15; Helaman 4:11–13; 12:1–6; Judges 10:13–14; Isaiah 26:16.)
The sword, an instrument of war, connotes power and retribution. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “While there was punishment in the suffering the saints had to endure and that because they were slow to hear the Lord, nevertheless the actions of their enemies were not justifiable; and therefore the Lord promised that he would let fall the sword of his indignation in behalf of his people. [D&C 101:11–12.] The sword of indignation commenced to fall upon the enemies of the saints shortly after the saints were driven from Missouri, and from time to time it has fallen, both in this land and in foreign lands.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:460.)
The phrase “without measure” (D&C 101:11) means that the Lord’s wrath will not be restrained but will come with great fury.
The Lord has decreed that Israel will be gathered and the New Jerusalem built in preparation for His Second Coming (see Moses 7:60–62). The tribe of Ephraim has been given this responsibility, and none can stop them.
The Lord has promised the Latter-day Saints that He will help them in the work of preparation and will defend them against their enemies. Though they may experience great difficulty and distress, they must remember that He has all power and will deliver them. He will not allow His people to be overthrown. His counsel is “be still [calm, undisturbed] and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16). Nothing can frustrate His work or defeat His purposes (see 1 Nephi 22:15–17; 2 Nephi 30:10; D&C 35:14).
In ancient Israel walls were built around cities, and towers were erected in key places along the walls. Watchmen, or lookouts, kept watch in these towers day and night to warn the people if an enemy came. A watchman’s responsibility was great, because if he was negligent, his sloth could cost the lives of others. The Greek word most frequently used in the New Testament to convey the idea of watching “means to keep awake, to watch, and so to take heed lest through remissness and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one” (Unger, Bible Dictionary, s.v. “watch”).
The Church today stands in a position to see the enemy and how he works, because they have living prophets who speak for God. They are therefore called by the Savior both to warn the wicked and to protect Zion. Thus the Lord refers to His authorized servants today as watchmen upon the towers (see Isaiah 62:6; Ezekiel 33:2–9).
The phrase “all mine Israel” (D&C 101:12) refers to those who have entered into the gospel covenant and have become heirs to the promises of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Abraham 2:9–11; Romans 9:6–8).
Speaking of the expulsion from Jackson County, Elder James E. Talmage said: “The saints were not permitted to enter into immediate possession of the land, which was promised them as an everlasting inheritance. Even as years elapsed between the time of the Lord’s promise to Israel of old that Canaan should be their inheritance, and the time of their entering into possession thereof—years devoted to the people’s toilsome and sorrowful preparation for the fulfilment—so in these latter days the divine purpose is held in abeyance, while the people are being sanctified for the great gift and for the responsibilities associated with it. In the meantime the honest in heart are gathering to the valleys of the Rocky Mountains [and now to stakes all around the world]; and here, … Temples have been erected, and all nations are flowing unto this region. But Zion shall yet be established on the chosen site; she ‘shall not be moved out of her place,’ and the pure in heart shall return ‘with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion.’” (Articles of Faith, p. 353; see also Notes and Commentary on D&C 29:8.)
Waste means “wild and uninhabited” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. “waste”). Elder Orson Hyde taught: “The scripture says, that in the last days His people will go forth and build up the waste places of Zion. But they must first be made desolate, before they can be called ‘the waste places of Zion.’ Then the hands of the Saints will be required to build them up.” (In Journal of Discourses, 10:376.)
Elder Orson Pratt taught that the Saints would go back to Missouri and possess the properties they had once inhabited in the early days of the Church, after God’s judgments have made the cities desolate: “Now that order of things will continue and will spread forth from that nucleus in Jackson county and the western counties of Missouri and the eastern counties of Kansas, where this people will be located, and it will spread abroad for hundreds and hundreds of miles on the right hand and the left, east, west, north, and south from the great central city, and all the people will be required to execute the law in all their stewardships, and then there will be a oneness and union which will continue and it will spread wider and wider, and become greater and greater, until the desolate cities of the Gentiles will be inhabited by the Saints. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, in which he says, ‘Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited’ [Isaiah 54:3], for God will visit them in judgment, and there will be no owners left to occupy the country. Then the land will be filled up with Saints, those who will keep the celestial law; and they will receive their stewardships according to the appointment of heaven.” (Deseret Evening News, 2 Oct. 1875, p. 265.)
Elder Harold B. Lee wrote:
“In these days of our generation, many are asking: Where is safety?
“The word of the Lord is not silent. He has admonished us: [D&C 45:32].
“The Lord has told us where these ‘holy places’ are: [D&C 45:68].
“Where is Zion?
“During the various periods of time or dispensations, and for specific reasons, the Lord’s prophets, His ‘mouthpieces,’ as it were, have designated gathering places where the Saints were to gather. After designating certain such places in our dispensation, the Lord then declared: [D&C 101:21].
“Thus, the Lord has clearly placed the responsibility of directing the work of gathering in the hands of His divinely appointed leaders. I fervently pray that all Saints and truth seekers everywhere will attune their listening ears to these prophet-leaders instead of to some demagogue who seeks to make capital of social discontent and gain political influence.
“There are several meanings of the word Zion. …
“… There is … [a] most significant use of the term by which the Church of God is called Zion: It comprises, according to the Lord’s own definition, ‘the pure in heart.’ (D&C 97:21.)
“As one studies the Lord’s commandments and the attending promises for compliance therewith, one gets some definite ideas as to how we might ‘stand in holy places,’ as the Lord commands: … [Malachi 3:10; D&C 59:9; Isaiah 58:7, 9; D&C 89:18, 21].
“As one studies the commandments of God, it seems crystal clear that the all-important thing is not where we live, but whether or not our hearts are pure.” (Stand Ye in Holy Places, pp. 21–24.)
Three special signs are associated with the Lord’s return to earth:
“All flesh shall see [Him] together” (D&C 101:23). Elder Orson Pratt said that “the second advent of the Son of God is to be something … accompanied with great power and glory, something that will not be done in a small portion of the earth like Palestine, and seen only by a few; but it will be an event that will be seen by all—all flesh shall see the glory of the Lord; when he reveals himself the second time, every eye, not only those living at that time in the flesh, in mortality on the earth, but also the very dead themselves” (in Journal of Discourses, 18:170).
“Every corruptible thing … shall be consumed” (D&C 101:24). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “Incident to the commencement of the millennial era, the earth (the Lord’s vineyard) will be burned. Every corruptible thing will be consumed. (D. & C. 101:24); all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be burned as stubble (Mal. 4:1; D. & C. 29:9; 64:23–25; 133:63–64); the sinners will be destroyed (Isa. 13:9–14); and there will be an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked. (D. & C. 63:54.) Those only shall be able to abide that day who are worthy to live on a paradisiacal or terrestrial sphere.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 494.)
“All things shall become new” (D&C 101:25; see also D&C 29:23–24). Of this newness Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote: “A new heaven and a new earth are promised by the sacred writers. Or, in other words, the planetary systems are to be changed, purified, refined, exalted and glorified, in the similitude of the resurrection, by which means all physical evil or imperfections will be done away.” (Key to the Science of Theology, p. 61.)
This newness of things is not the same as the “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) that will be part of the earth’s celestialization at the end of the Millennium.
The glory of a celestial being, of which the sun is typical (see D&C 76:70), is so radiant that to bring that glory to the earth will cause great burning. The cleansing of the earth by fire will be caused by the coming of the Savior to earth (see D&C 5:19; McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:368–69; Notes and Commentary for D&C 133:40–49). Those who are not changed to withstand the presence of the Savior will perish by fire.
Five features of the Millennium, the thousand-year personal reign of Christ on earth, are as follows:
“The enmity of all flesh, shall cease” (D&C 101:26). Elder Orson Pratt said that “the enmity of the beasts of the field as well as that of all flesh will cease; no more one beast of prey devouring and feasting upon another that is more harmless in its nature; no more will this enmity be found in the fish of the sea, or in the birds of the air. This change will be wrought upon all flesh when Jesus comes; not a change to immortality, but a change sufficient to alter the ferocious nature of beasts, birds and fishes. … gentleness, will characterize all the wild and ferocious animals, as well as the venomous serpents, so much so that the little child might lead them and play with them, and nothing shall hurt or destroy in all the holy mountain of the Lord, all things becoming, in some measure, as when they were first created.” (Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 20:18.)
“Whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him” (D&C 101:27). People sometimes pray for things they should not have. The Millennium will change that. People will ask only for righteous things, and all requests will be honored by Heavenly Father.
“Satan shall not have power to tempt any man” (v. 28). See Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 43:31 for an explanation of how Satan’s power to tempt will be limited.
“Death will vanish from the earth” (D&C 101:29–31). During the Millennium, death will cease among the righteous inhabitants of the earth. They will live to be very old, and when the time for the change known as death arrives, they will “be changed in the twinkling of an eye” from mortality to immortality and their “rest shall be glorious” (v. 31). Among those that have “kept the faith” (D&C 63:50), there will not be a separation of the spirit and body where the spirit passes into the spirit world and the body is laid in the ground to await the Resurrection. Instead, at the appropriate time, there will be an instantaneous change from a mortal to a resurrected, immortal condition.
“In that day … the Lord … shall reveal all things” (D&C 101:32). The Millennium is the time when the Savior will personally work with the faithful, obedient members of His Church who have lived on the earth since the days of Adam. One can only imagine the blessings that are in store for those who have been faithful. For example, the first ten chapters (about fifteen pages) in the book of Genesis cover approximately two thousand years of history. The amount of knowledge that has been lost concerning just this period is astounding. In the Millennium all that knowledge, and more, will be restored. It is of little wonder, then, that Saints have longed for the day when Christ would be in their midst, a day in which He will make all things known.
The Lord urged the Saints in these verses to place more attention on eternal life than on the pursuits of mortal life. He indicates that those who had lost their lives in Jackson County (there were some), and those who would do so in future persecutions (six thousand lost their lives while crossing the plains to Utah) need not fear. Those who are faithful have the hope of a glorious resurrection and the blessings of eternal life with God.
President Heber C. Kimball said: “Have I not told you often that the separation of body and spirit makes no difference in the moral and intellectual condition of the spirit? When a person, who has always been good and faithful to his God, lays down his body in the dust, his spirit will remain the same in the spirit world. It is not the body that has control over the spirit, as to its disposition, but it is the spirit that controls the body. When the spirit leaves the body the body becomes lifeless. The spirit has not changed one single particle of itself by leaving the body.” (In Journal of Discourses, 3:108.)
“Ye are the salt of the earth,” Jesus told His followers in Palestine, “but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5:13). Men cannot teach and testify to others of the truths of God, if they themselves do not believe and follow them.
Salt is important to the life of humankind. It has been used through the ages as a preservative, as a condiment, and as a religious offering (see Leviticus 2:13). Salt that lost its savor, or its saltiness, would no longer be useful. The same is true of those who embrace the gospel and then lose their faith through sin or slothfulness.
Elder Carlos E. Asay explained the imagery of salt and its savor:
“When the Lord used the expression ‘savor of men,’ he was speaking of those who represent him. He was referring to those who have repented, who have been washed clean in the waters of baptism, and who have covenanted to take upon them his name and his cause. Moreover, he was speaking of those who would share by covenant his priesthood power. He was speaking of you and me.
“A world-renowned chemist told me that salt will not lose its savor with age. Savor is lost through mixture and contamination. Similarly, priesthood power does not dissipate with age; it, too, is lost through mixture and contamination.
“When a young man or older man mixes his thoughts with pornographic literature, he suffers a loss of savor.
“When a priesthood bearer mixes his speech with lies or profanity, he suffers a loss of savor.
“When one of us follows the crowd and becomes involved in immoral acts and the use of drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and other injurious substances, he loses savor.
“Flavor and quality flee a man when he contaminates his mind with unclean thoughts, desecrates his mouth by speaking less than the truth, and misapplies his strength in performing evil acts. King Benjamin cautioned, ‘Watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God’ (Mosiah 4:30).
“I would offer these simple guidelines, especially to the young men, as the means to preserve one’s savor: If it is not clean, do not think it; if it is not true, do not speak it; if it is not good, do not do it (see Marcus Aurelius, ‘The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,’ in The Harvard Classics, Charles W. Eliot, ed., New York: P. F. Collier and Son, 1909, p. 211).” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1980, pp. 60–61; or Ensign, May 1980, pp. 42–43.)
“It would seem that the parable is to be interpreted in this way: the nobleman is the Lord, whose choice land in His vineyard is Zion in Missouri. The places where the Saints live in Zion are the olive trees. The servants are the Latter-day Saint settlers, and the watchmen are their officers in the Church. While yet building in Zion, they become at variance with each other and do not build the tower or Temple whose site had been dedicated as early as August 3, 1831. Had they built it as directed, it would have been a spiritual refuge for them, for from it the Lord’s watchmen could have seen by revelation the movements of the enemy from afar. This foreknowledge would have saved them and their hard work when the enemy made his assault.
“But the Saints in Missouri were slothful, lax, and asleep. The enemy came, and the Missouri persecutions were the result. The Lord’s people were scattered and much of their labors wasted. The Almighty rebuked His people, as we have already seen, but He commanded one of His servants (vs. 55), Joseph Smith (103:21), to gather the ‘strength of Mine house’ and rescue His lands and possessions gathered against them.
“Subsequently, the Prophet and his brethren in the famous Zion’s Camp did go to Missouri in 1834 in an attempt to carry out the terms of the parable. Before they went, additional revelation was received (see 103:21–28) concerning the redemption of Zion. The brethren were instructed to try to buy land in Missouri, not to use force; and if the enemy came against them, they were to bring a curse upon them. Zion was not redeemed at that time but we may look for it in the not-too-distant future. … It will be redeemed when the Lord wills it.” (Sperry, Compendium, pp. 521–22.)
Though Joseph Smith followed the Lord’s instructions to gather together the “strength of my house” (D&C 103:22) by organizing Zion’s Camp to redeem Zion, the Lord’s purpose in sending them and His will concerning the redemption of Zion were not fully understood by His people. The redemption of Zion did not take place at that time. When the servant in the parable asked when the land would be possessed, the Lord responded, “When I will” (D&C 101:60).
The parable further states that all things will be fulfilled “after many days” (v. 62), which indicates that a long period of time would pass before Zion would be redeemed. The redemption of Zion still had not taken place even after the Saints had been expelled from Missouri and from Nauvoo. The Lord then told Brigham Young that “Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time” (D&C 136:18). The redemption of Zion (meaning, the city of New Jerusalem in Missouri) is still future, although it is much closer now than it was when the Saints first sought to regain their inheritance there.
The Lord spoke of two important items having to do with the establishment of Zion: the gathering of the Saints to places appointed, and the purchase of land in the region of Zion. The Lord cautioned in verses 68 and 72 that the work was not to proceed with haste. Part of the difficulty experienced in the original attempt to establish Zion was caused by many Saints’ coming to Zion ill-prepared. They apparently felt that the Lord would care for their needs rather than have them do it themselves. This idea was contrary to the Lord’s counsel from the very beginning of Zion’s founding, for He said, “And let the work of the gathering be not in haste, nor by flight” (D&C 58:56). He warned again: “And now, behold, this is the will of the Lord your God concerning his saints, that they should assemble themselves together unto the land of Zion, not in haste, lest there should be confusion, which bringeth pestilence” (D&C 63:24).
Enrichment B in the Appendix discusses Zion.
See Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 105:28–32.
In the revelation in section 101, given in December 1833, the Lord told His people that if those who called themselves Saints would only follow His counsels, they would have sufficient resources to redeem the land and to establish Zion, “no more to be thrown down” (D&C 101:75). In June 1834 the Lord indicated that Zion might already have been redeemed except for the transgressions of His people (see D&C 105:1–10). It is not the Lord who causes delays in bringing forth Zion. The rate at which His promises are fulfilled is determined by the willingness of His people to respond to His counsel.
President Spencer W. Kimball noted:
“It is estimated that it took 117 years, from 1830 to 1947, to attain one million members. Then it took sixteen years, from 1947 to 1963, to reach the second million members, and then nine years, 1963 to 1972, to attain the third million. It will probably take about four or five years to move up to the four million mark, and then we can guess what the future holds.
“What does this mean to us? It means that if the members of the Church do real proselyting in their home wards that the number of converts could grow to astronomical figures and even hasten the time when the Lord will be returning to the earth in His second advent.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 4.)
One purpose of government is to protect individuals “in their inherent and inalienable rights” (D&C 134:5), including ”the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (v. 2). The Saints in Zion were denied all these rights. The Constitution of the United States guarantees individuals the right to apply for redress when denied their rights. The Lord urged the Saints in Zion “to importune for redress, and redemption” at the hands of the constituted authorities (D&C 101:76).
President Charles W. Penrose explained how the Constitution benefits all people: “In section 101 the Lord speaks about the constitution of this land. He says it was framed by wise men whom he raised up for that very purpose. What for? To maintain the rights and privileges ‘of all flesh.’ Not alone the people of this land. The principles of that great instrument are to go forth to the nations, and the time will come when they will prevail, just as sure as the sun shines even when it appears to be in darkness and the clouds are over it.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1917, p. 20.)
“To me … that statement of the Lord, ‘I have established the Constitution of this land,’ puts the Constitution of the United States in the position in which it would be if it were written in the book of Doctrine and Covenants itself. This makes the Constitution the word of the Lord to us. That it was given, not by oral utterance, but by the operation of his mind and spirit upon the minds of men, inspiring them to the working out of this great document of human government, does not alter its authority.” (J. Reuben Clark Jr., in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, p. 93.)
President Brigham Young spoke of some of these “wise men” raised up by God:
“We believe that the Lord has been preparing that when he should bring forth his work, that, when the set time should fully come, there might be a place upon his footstool where sufficient liberty of conscience should exist, that his Saints might dwell in peace under the broad panoply of constitutional law and equal rights. In this view we consider that the men in the Revolution were inspired by the Almighty, to throw off the shackles of the mother government, with her established religion. For this cause were Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and a host of others inspired to deeds of resistance to the acts of the King of Great Britain, who might also have been led to those aggressive acts, for aught we know, to bring to pass the purposes of God, in thus establishing a new government upon a principle of greater freedom, a basis of self-government allowing the free exercise of religious worship.
“It was the voice of the Lord inspiring all those worthy men who bore influence in those trying times, not only to go forth in battle but to exercise wisdom in council, fortitude, courage, and endurance in the tented field, as well as subsequently to form and adopt those wise and efficient measures which secured to themselves and succeeding generations, the blessings of a free and independent government.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 359–60.)
The Lord repeated the parable in Luke 18:1–8 of the woman who so wearied a judge with her importuning that he finally granted her petition. He then likened the parable to the situation of the Saints. They were to seek redress from the judge through the governor to the president of the United States himself. If the appeals went unheeded, the Lord said that he would rise in anger and mete out justice to those who had dispossessed the Saints, for all men would “be left without excuse” (D&C 101:93). President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
“The saints were also to carry their grievances to the proper tribunals and seek for redress of their wrongs. This was a very necessary step, and when the Saints did this and were denied their civil and religious rights, those officials were left without excuse, and the judgments of the Almighty which later came upon them during the Civil War, were justified. …
“Since there is a just law of retribution, as fixed and eternal as are other laws of the Almighty [D&C 6:33; 2 Corinthians 9:6], the day must come when there shall be adjustments made before a Just Magistrate who will not be cowed by the threats of mobs.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:462, 469.)
The Saints were commanded to “hold claim” upon their Missouri lands even “though they should not be permitted to dwell thereon” (D&C 101:99). In writing to the Saints in Jackson County, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I would inform you that it is not the will of the Lord for you to sell your lands in Zion, if means can possibly be procured for your sustenance without. Every exertion should be made to maintain the cause you have espoused.” (Teachings, p. 31.)
He then went on to say: “Let your sufferings be what they may, it is better in the eyes of God that you should die, than that you should give up the land of Zion, the inheritances which you have purchased with your moneys; for every man that giveth not up his inheritance, though he should die, yet, when the Lord shall come, he shall stand upon it, and with Job, in his flesh he shall see God. Therefore, this is my counsel, that you retain your lands, even unto the uttermost, and employ every lawful means to seek redress of your enemies; and pray to God, day and night, to return you in peace and in safety to the lands of your inheritance: and when the judge fail you, appeal unto the executive; and when the executive fail you, appeal unto the president; and when the president fail you, and all laws fail you, and the humanity of the people fail you, and all things else fail you but God alone, and you continue to weary Him with your importunings, as the poor woman did the unjust judge, He will not fail to execute judgment upon your enemies, and to avenge His own elect that cry unto Him day and night.” (Teachings, pp. 35–36.)
The consecrated lands of the Saints’ inheritances were polluted by the wicked mobs as they burned and pillaged. But for the Saints to consent to this pollution by selling their lands was, in the eyes of the Lord, “a very sore and grievous sin” (D&C 101:98).