1. The Lord is gathering His people.
D&C 45:71 The righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations
‘This revelation was given March 7, 1831. The Church was not then a year old, and but very few had accepted the faith; but the Lord revealed through His servant, the Prophet Joseph, the glory that should come unto Zion, and He told him that the people of Zion should be gathered from every nation. Think of this young man called to lead the Church, then but twenty-five years of age, given this promise that there should be established a Zion to which the people should gather out of all nations! What likelihood was there for him to imagine this himself, when he looked at the small flock around him that believed in his words? But it was not his imaginings; it was the revelation of God unto him that there should be established a Zion to which people should come from out of all nations. It was the fulfillment of the prophecies in the second chapter of Isaiah, and fourth chapter of Micah, in language similarly worded, when they looked down through the vista of time and saw there was to be a gathering, and that the people would go up to the “mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,” in order that they might learn of His ways and walk in His paths. Isaiah prophesied to this effect, and we bear testimony it is coming to pass.’ (Anton H Lund, Conference Report, April 1908, First Day-Morning Session. 11.)
D&C 29:8 They shall be gathered into one place
“The spirit of gathering has been with the Church from the days of that restoration. Those who are of the blood of Israel, have a righteous desire after they are baptized, to gather together with the body of the Saints at the designated place. …
“… The Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well—before the frightening events concerning the fulfilment of all God’s promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1948, p. 55.)
D&C 110:11 Keys of the gathering of Israel
‘Moses, who in the majesty of the Melchizedek Priesthood led enslaved Israel out of Egyptian bondage into their promised Palestine, brings back those very keys….
These keys empower those who hold them to lead all Israel, the ten tribes included, from all the nations of the earth … to the mountains of the Lord’s houses, there to be endowed with power from on high.’ (Bruce R McConkie, “The Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign May, 1983, p. 21-23)
2. The Saints gathered in Ohio.
D&C 37:3 Assemble together at the Ohio
‘Oliver Cowdery had been on a mission to the Lamanites since 15 October 1830 (see D&C 30:5–6; 32:2). This mission took him and his companions on a fourteen-hundred-mile journey through New York and Ohio to Missouri. The Saints were commanded to move to Ohio in preparation to receive further instructions concerning the establishment of Zion after Oliver Cowdery’s return from “the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9).’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)
D&C 38:32 For this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio
As early as January, 1831, at Fayette, New York, looking forward to the erection of a temple unto the Most High in Ohio, and of ordinances to be performed therein, this revealed statement from the Lord concerning the endowment was given to Joseph Smith: “for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law (D&C 42); and there you shall be endowed with power from on high.” ‘
At Kirtland, Ohio, in December of the following year, the Lord gave the commandment to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his followers to “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, (temple) even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119) One of the purposes for the erection of a temple at Kirtland, Ohio, the first in this present dispensation of the gospel, was to bless the faithful saints with the sacred ordinance of the endowment. While the temple was in process of erection, the Lord again refers to the blessing of the endowment: “But inasmuch as there are those who have hearkened unto my words, I have prepared a blessing and an endowment for them, if they continue faithful.” (D&C 105:18)’ (Alvin R. Dyer, Who Am I?, p.376 – 377)
D&C 39:15 I have kept in store a blessing
‘The Lord told us, when we were living in the State of New York, to go to the Ohio; there to build a Temple to the name of the Most High. And there the Lord condescended to bestow upon his servants and people a great endowment, (D&C 38:32) a blessing such as was not known among the children of men.( D&C 39:15) And from thence they should go the nations of the earth and publish these things. (D&C 38:33 D&C 110:7-10) We went to the Ohio; and after we had been sufficiently taught and instructed, the Lord commanded us through Joseph, to build a Temple, (D&C 88:119-136) giving the pattern thereof, and the size thereof, the size of the inner and outer courts, the size of the several rooms and apartments, and the form of the pulpits and everything pertaining to it, was given by the inspiration of the Almighty that rested upon Joseph, and upon those associated with him. (D&C 95:1-17) When the Temple was built, the Lord did not see proper to reveal all the ordinances of the Endowments, such as we now understand. He revealed little by little. No rooms were prepared for washings; no special place prepared for the anointings, such as you understand, and such as you comprehend at the period of the history of the Church! Neither did we know the necessity of the washings, such as we now receive. It is true, our hands were washed, our faces and our feet. The Prophet Joseph was commanded to gird himself with a towel, doing this in the Temple. (John 13:1-17 D&C 88:140-141) What for? That the first Elder might witness to our Father and God, that we were clean from the blood of that wicked generation, (D&C 88:138-139) that then lived. We had gone forth according to our best ability, to publish glad tidings of great joy, for thousands of miles, upon this continent. After this we were called in, and this washing of hands and feet was to testify to God that we were clean from the blood of this generation. (D&C 88:138-139) The holy anointing was placed upon the heads of his servants, but not the full development of the Endowments in the anointing. (D&C 132:41) These administrations in the Kirtland Temple were revealed, little by little, corresponding with what I have already been saying, that the Lord does not give the fullness at once, but imparts to us according to his own will and pleasure. Great were the blessings received. We were commanded to seek to behold the face of the Lord; (Ps. 24:6 1 Chr. 16:11 D&C 101:38) to seek after revelation; (D&C 42:61) to seek after the spirit of prophecy, (Num. 11:29 1 Cor. 14:39) and the gifts of the Spirit; (D&C 46:8) and many testify to what they saw.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)
D&C 95:8 Power from on high
‘An endowment is a gift or a bequest. In the Church it usually refers to a temple ordinance in which members make certain promises and receive a gift of knowledge and spiritual power in return. The endowment spoken of here, however, is not the same as the ceremony administered in later temples. Priesthood members in Kirtland did participate in a “partial endowment,
the full ordinance being reserved for a future performance when a temple designed for ordinance work itself should be built” (Bruce R. McConkie, “A New Commandment: Save Thyself and Thy Kindred!” Ensign, Aug. 1976, p. 10). The first complete endowment in this dispensation was given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo on 4 May 1842.
The endowment received in Kirtland included washings and anointings, as well as the washing of feet for official priesthood brethren. The Lord also poured out His Spirit, or in other words endowed them with spiritual power, and many received revelations or other gifts (see History of the Church, 2:308–10).'(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)
D&C 38:27 Be one
‘Satan would segregate Father’s children into groups with strongly held individual interests. He would encourage a tenacious preservation of those interests regardless of the consequences to others. Father’s plan is expressed in His Son’s words, “Behold, … I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).’ (Richard G Scott, “Removing Barriers to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1998, 86)
D&C 38:39 Pride and riches
“There is something in the human heart of that character that when human beings are prospering they are apt to be lifted up in pride and to forget the cause or the source of their prosperity; they are apt to forget God, who is the fountain of all their blessings, and to give glory to themselves. It requires a constant preaching of the word of God, a constant pleading with the people, a constant outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the people to bring them to a true sense of their real condition. … Is it right that we should be prudent, that we should take care of those gifts and blessings which God has given unto us, that we should husband our resources, that we should be economical, and not extravagant? Certainly; this is right, this is proper, we should be culpable if we were not so. But with this there is also something else required, and that is, to keep constantly in view that the management and care of these things is not the object that God had in sending us here, that is not the object of our probation. … I have been in reduced circumstances; been on missions when I did not know where to get a mouthful to eat; turned away by the people who dare not entertain me because of the anger that was kindled against us. I could stand by and weep, being a boy and away from all my friends. But I, nevertheless, was happy. I never enjoyed myself in my life as I did then. I know that happiness does not consist in the possession of worldly things. Still it is a great relief when people can have the means necessary for the support of themselves and families. If they possess these things and the Spirit of God with them, they are blessed.” (George Q Cannon, In Journal of Discourses, 22:100–101.)
3. The Saints gathered in Missouri.
D&C 57:1-3 Independence
“Independence was then a raw frontier settlement, the final ‘civilized’ stop for Santa Fe traders. One of the elders in Joseph Smith’s party described the village as ‘a new town containing a court-house built of brick, two or three merchants’ stores and 15 or 20 dwelling houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides.’ Both residents and visitors praised the country’s astonishing beauty and productivity. The famous writer Washington Irving passed through Independence the next year and wrote, ‘The soil is like that of a garden [and the] beauty of the forest exceeded anything that I have seen.’
“For the Latter-day Saints, however, both Jackson County’s newness and its fertility were secondary to its sacredness; for in July, the Lord spoke to the Prophet: ‘Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the court-house’ (D&C 57:3)…
“‘Gathering to Zion’ immediately became a topic for Church leaders and missionaries. W. W. Phelps gave the [Evening and Morning Star] a strong ‘last days’ emphasis with articles in every issue about the new revelations, Enoch’s Zion, the Second Coming, or disasters that would befall a wicked world.
“But more than a refuge against calamity, Zion was to become headquarters for the millennial government of Christ, wrote Phelps… Thus, the Saints gathering in Jackson County could rightfully feel the worth of their labors and the immense importance of that location.” (Max H Parkin, “Missouri’s Impact on the Church,” Ensign, Apr. 1979, 59)
D&C 28:9 Zion
‘The Church had its beginning in New York. Persecution came upon the Saints from the beginning, and they were driven out. The Lord gave them a commandment to assemble in Ohio D&C 37:3 They established their headquarters at Kirtland in that state. No doubt they had no intention of leaving, when they first went there, but the Lord revealed to them that there was another place, the place which he called “Zion,” on the borders of the Lamanites D&C 28:9 and so their hearts were turned to that place; however, they never had intended to forsake altogether their headquarters in Kirtland, but persecution came upon them, and they were forced out. With rejoicing they assembled in large measure in Jackson County where it had been made known to them that the great city, the new Jerusalem or Zion would be built D&C 101:70-71 and they rejoiced over it, but they were not privileged to remain there. Their enemies came upon them with hatred and bitterness in their hearts and drove them out. They moved to another part of the state of Missouri and there again intended and tried to establish themselves, but persecution still followed them, and the hatred of the officials in that state resulted in their banishment and an edict coming from the governor of that state that they would have to leave or be exterminated. They went back eastward, crossed the great river, and made their settlement at Nauvoo, in the state of Illinois. For a season they prospered but not without persecution, not without hatred, and finally that hatred reached its peak, and their prophet and his brother, my grandfather, were martyred. Their enemies thought that would be the end of the Church. The papers so declared it. Their enemies rejoiced, but it did not bring the end. Still the Church grew. So also grew the animosity and the hatred of their enemies, and finally the Saints were driven from their homes, robbed of practically all that they possessed and thus set upon their journey to this western land, destitute, in poverty, and the world said they had gone to their destruction, and rejoiced.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, April 1947)
D&C 30:5-6 Take your journey with your brother Oliver
“Oliver (D&C 28), Peter Whitmer, Jr. (D&C 30), and then Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson (D&C 32) were called in October 1830 to go to Missouri as special missionaries to the Lamanite nations.
“Their knapsacks and satchels loaded with copies of the Book of Mormon, the quartet headed west. After a stop at the Cattaragus Indian reservation in western New York, they made a second proselyting stop at the door of Parley’s former pastor, Reverend Sidney Rigdon, at Mentor, Ohio. Sidney listened, let them preach to his congregation, and two weeks later became a Latter-day Saint. His conversion was considered the most effective advertising received by the Church since its inception; and it triggered a chain reaction which resulted in 130 baptisms before the missionaries departed, and hundreds of others later as the new Ohio converts themselves turned into missionaries. (Porter, “A Study of the Origins of the Church,” p. 281-84; Journal History, Oct. 1830.) On the Missouri frontier, however, government agents refused to allow Indian tribes to listen to the missionaries.
“While the Lamanite missionaries worked in the west, new converts Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge traveled east in December, met Joseph Smith, and added their labors to the New York missionary work. Sidney, probably the most culturally eloquent speaker the young Church had, drew crowds in many important towns before he and Joseph journeyed to Kirtland in January.
“Because of the work of these first missionaries, and others whom records do not identify, the six-month-old Church by December 1830 had about 190 members in New York and hundreds more in the Kirtland area. The white field was being harvested, and the Church stepped unhesitatingly into the role it has never since relinquished, that of a missionary Church committed to preaching the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people.” (William G. Hartley, “Every Member WAS a Missionary,” Ensign, Sept. 1978, 24)
D&C 32:1 Be meek and lowly of heart
“Parley P. Pratt was admonished to be meek and lowly of heart. In the year 1837, there were ‘jarrings and discord’ in the Church at Kirtland, and he was overcome with that spirit. He even tried to turn John Taylor from the Prophet by pointing out to him what he regarded as Joseph’s error. Elder Taylor rebuked him as a brother, and Parley P. Pratt went to the Prophet in tears and confessed his sin, whereupon the Prophet frankly forgave him, prayed with him, and blessed him. This was meekness. It was also manliness. Only a really strong character can possess true humility.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, pp. 170–71.)
D&C 52:2-5 Journey to the land of Missouri
“In the same revelation, twenty-six other elders were called to start on missions to the West. They were to travel by twos, preaching the gospel on the way. All were to meet at Independence, Missouri, where the Lord would reveal the location of the New Zion.
“The idea that there would be a New Zion upon the earth in the latter days may be obtained from a reading of the Bible. It was not the study of ancient prophecies, however, which so fired the Saints with a zeal for Zion. To them God had spoken anew. Zion was to be realized.” (William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, 7th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1953], 118.)
D&C 54:8 Unto the land of Missouri
“Revelation given through the Prophet Joseph to Newel Knight sent them ‘westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.’ (D&C 54:8) They arrived in Independence on 25 July 1831 and helped the Prophet ‘lay the first log as a foundation for Zion in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence,’ on 2 August 1831. Newel notes that the first log ‘was carried by twelve men in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel.’ At least five of those twelve were Colesville Saints and members of the Knight family: Joseph Knight, Sr., Aaron Culver, Hezekiah Peck, Ezekial Peck, and Freeborn DeMill. Newel Knight stood with a small group clustered around the Prophet the next day when he dedicated the temple site in Independence.
“Mother Knight had been seriously ill on her journey to Jackson County, but refused to give in to her sickness, even though Newel, deeply concerned, bought lumber to have on hand for her coffin while they travelled. But ‘her greatest desire,’ he says, ‘was to set her feet upon the land of Zion and to have her body intered in that land. … The Lord gave her the desire of her heart.’
“She was the first Latter-day Saint to die in Missouri, and the Prophet preached her funeral sermon on August 7. Father Knight’s record contains a poignant notation: ‘She was Burried in the woods a Spot Chosen out By our selves. I was along By where she was Buried a few Days after and I found the hogs had Began to root where She was Buried. I Being verry unwell But I took my ax the next Day and went and Bilt a pen round it. It was the Last I done for her.’
“She was the first to die but not the last. Her daughter Esther soon followed her, then their uncle Aaron Culver, leaving his wife, Esther, in Newel’s care. Newel’s record shows no complaint. He simply says that the frontier life was ‘new and strange … yet we took hold with cheerful hearts, and a determination to do our best.’ Conferences with the Prophet Joseph left them feeling ‘renewed in spirit.'” (Larry Porter, “The Joseph Knight Family,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 43)
4. The Saints now gather to the stakes of Zion in their own lands.
D&C 115:6 A refuge from the storm
‘The Lord will stand by His Church and people and keep them in safety until His coming. There will be peace in Zion and in her stakes, for He has proclaimed “that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth” (D&C 115:6) (Bruce D Porter, General Conference, April 2013)
The Church stands as a bulwark of safety for its members. Though conditions in the world may become very vexing at times, faithful Latter-day Saints will find sanctuary in the stakes of Zion. The Lord has decreed that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth until it has filled the whole earth (see Daniel 2:31–45 D&C 65:2 And no human power can stay its course, for God is the author of this work and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone.