“September 13–19. Doctrine and Covenants 102–105: ‘After Much Tribulation … Cometh the Blessing,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“September 13–19. Doctrine and Covenants 102–105,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
The Saints in Kirtland were heartbroken to hear that their brothers and sisters in Jackson County, Missouri, were being driven from their homes. It must have been encouraging, then, when the Lord declared that “the redemption of Zion” would “come by power” (Doctrine and Covenants 103:15). With that promise in their hearts, over 200 men, plus about 25 women and children, enlisted in what they called the Camp of Israel, later known as Zion’s Camp. Its mission was to march to Missouri and redeem Zion.
To the members of the camp, redeeming Zion meant restoring the Saints to their land. But just before the camp arrived in Jackson County, the Lord told Joseph Smith to stop and disband Zion’s Camp. Some members of the camp were confused and upset by this new instruction; to them, it meant the expedition failed and the Lord’s promises were not fulfilled. Others, however, saw it differently. While the exiled Saints never returned to Jackson County, the experience did bring a degree of “redemption” to Zion, and it did “come by power.” Faithful members of Zion’s Camp, many of whom later became leaders of the Church, testified that the experience deepened their faith in God’s power, in Joseph Smith’s divine call, and in Zion—not just Zion the place but Zion the people of God. Rather than questioning the value of this seemingly unsuccessful task, they learned that the real task is to follow the Savior, even when we don’t understand everything. This is how Zion, ultimately, will be redeemed.
Section 102 contains the minutes of the meeting in Kirtland, Ohio, where the first high council of the Church was organized. Verses 12–23 describe procedures high councils follow when holding membership councils for those who have committed serious transgressions.
President M. Russell Ballard taught, “Members sometimes ask why Church [membership] councils are held. The purpose is threefold: to save the soul of the transgressor, to protect the innocent, and to safeguard the Church’s purity, integrity, and good name” (“A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings,” Ensign, Sept. 1990, 15).
See also Gospel Topics, “Church Membership Councils,” topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Why did the Saints lose their promised land in Missouri? And why didn’t the Lord allow Zion’s Camp to restore them to their lands? Certainly the violent actions of Missouri mobs played a role, and the governor of Missouri had pledged support for the Saints but never gave it. But the Lord said that “were it not for the transgressions of my people,” Zion “might have been redeemed” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:2). As you read Doctrine and Covenants 103:1–12, 36; 105:1–19, you may notice some things that hindered the establishment of Zion in Missouri and others that could have helped. What do you learn that can help you establish Zion in your heart and home?
In many ways, participating in Zion’s Camp was a trial of faith. The journey was long, the weather was hot, and food and water were sometimes scarce. And after all they endured, the Saints were still not able to return to their land. Consider how the principles in Doctrine and Covenants 103:12–13 and 105:1–6, 13–19 might have helped members of Zion’s Camp who wondered whether the commandment to organize had really come from God in the first place. How can these principles help you in your own trials of faith?
You could also read about the experiences of members of Zion’s Camp in “Voices of the Restoration” at the end of this outline. What impresses you about their attitudes? What can you learn from their examples?
See also David A. Bednar, “On the Lord’s Side: Lessons from Zion’s Camp,” Ensign, July 2017, 26–35.
In addition to trials in Missouri, in 1834 the Church faced financial difficulties, including heavy debts and expenses. In section 104 the Lord gave counsel on the Church’s financial situation. How can you apply the principles in verses 11–18 and 78–83 to your own financial decisions?
To learn about one of the ways the Lord prepared for the Church to be delivered from the bondage of debt, watch “Treasure in Heaven: The John Tanner Story” (video, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
To learn more about the Lord’s “own way” (verse 16) to provide for His Saints, you might study President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s message “Providing in the Lord’s Way” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 53–56).
- Doctrine and Covenants 103:12, 36; 105:9–13.
Has your family (or one of your ancestors) ever been asked to do something that didn’t turn out the way you expected? What can you learn from the reactions of members of Zion’s Camp when their journey did not turn out as they expected? (see “Voices of the Restoration” at the end of this outline).
- Doctrine and Covenants 104:13–18.
What has the Lord given us? What does He expect us to do with these things?
- Doctrine and Covenants 104:23–46.
Your family could search these verses to find how many times the Lord promises to “multiply blessings” (verse 23) for those who are faithful. Maybe this would be a good time to “count your blessings” (“Count Your Blessings,” Hymns, no. 241) and discuss how doing so could help us during difficult times. Small children might enjoy drawing pictures of blessings they are especially thankful for.
- Doctrine and Covenants 105:38–41.
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “Count Your Blessings,” Hymns, no. 241.
Because Zion’s Camp never restored the Saints to their lands in Jackson County, many people felt that their endeavor was a failure. However, many participants of Zion’s Camp looked back on their experience and saw how the Lord fulfilled a higher purpose in their lives and in His kingdom. Here are some of their testimonies.
Over 40 years after Zion’s Camp, Joseph Young, who had been a member of the camp, reported that Joseph Smith said the following:
“Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight. He could not organize his kingdom with twelve men to open the gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless he took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham.
“Now, the Lord has got his Twelve and his Seventy, and there will be other quorums of Seventies called, who will make the sacrifice, and those who have not made their sacrifices and their offerings now, will make them hereafter.”1
“When we arrived in Missouri the Lord spoke to his servant Joseph and said, ‘I have accepted your offering,’ and we had the privilege to return again. On my return many friends asked me what profit there was in calling men from their labor to go up to Missouri and then return, without apparently accomplishing anything. ‘Who has it benefited?’ asked they. ‘If the Lord did command it to be done, what object had he in view in doing so?’ … I told those brethren that I was well paid—paid with heavy interest—yea that my measure was filled to overflowing with the knowledge that I had received by traveling with the Prophet.”2
“I was in Zion’s Camp with the Prophet of God. I saw the dealings of God with him. I saw the power of God with him. I saw that he was a Prophet. What was manifest to him by the power of God upon that mission was of great value to me and to all who received his instructions.”3
“When the members of Zion’s Camp were called many of us had never beheld each others’ faces; we were strangers to each other and many had never seen the prophet. We had been scattered abroad, like corn sifted in a sieve, throughout the nation. We were young men, and were called upon in that early day to go up and redeem Zion, and what we had to do we had to do by faith. We assembled together from the various States at Kirtland and went up to redeem Zion, in fulfilment of the commandment of God unto us. God accepted our works as He did the works of Abraham. We accomplished a great deal, though apostates and unbelievers many times asked the question ‘what have you done?’ We gained an experience that we never could have gained [in] any other way. We had the privilege of beholding the face of the prophet, and we had the privilege of traveling a thousand miles with him, and seeing the workings of the spirit of God with him, and the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and the fulfilment of those revelations. And he gathered some two hundred elders from throughout the nation in that early day and sent us broadcast into the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Had I not gone up with Zion’s Camp I should not have been here to-day [in Salt Lake City, serving in the Quorum of the Twelve]. … By going there we were thrust into the vineyard to preach the gospel, and the Lord accepted our labors. And in all our labors and persecutions, with our lives often at stake, we have had to work and live by faith.”4
“The experience [we] obtained in travelling in Zion’s Camp was of more worth than gold.”5