1. The Saints settle in Jackson County, Missouri, and are later driven out.
D&C 57:2-3 This is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion
‘It is of this city, a city that shall be built before the Second Coming, that the Lord said to Enoch: “I shall prepare, and Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.” (Moses 7:62.) It is in this city, the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, that the house of the Lord unto which all nations shall come in the last days shall be built, “which temple,” the Lord said in September 1832, “shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.” (D&C 84:1-5.)
Because the saints were “hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression,” the Lord withdrew the time limitation (D&C 124:49-54), and the command now in force is: “Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time.” (D&C 136:18.) When that is to be remains to be seen, but that it will surely come to pass, as part of the preparation of the Lord’s people for his glorious return, is as certain as that the sun shines or that the Great God is Lord of all. When the appointed time comes, the Lord will reveal it to his servants who preside over his kingdom from Salt Lake City, and then the great work will go forward. They will direct the work; they hold the keys of temple building; the temple will be built by gathered Israel and particularly by Ephraim, for it is unto Ephraim that the other tribes shall come to receive their temple blessings in due course. Some Lamanites may assist and some Gentiles may bring their wealth to adorn the buildings, but the keys are with Ephraim, and it is Ephraim that is now stepping forth and that yet shall step forth to bless the rest of the house of Israel.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 281.)
D&C 63:24 Not in haste
‘President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that land in Zion was to be purchased. “This fact was taught the early members. They were warned against creating antagonism among their neighbors, many of whom were extremely bitter towards the members of the Church. The Lord said the land could not be obtained by the shedding of blood. Those who had the privilege of assembling there should not go up to Zion in haste, but gradually. The reason for this advice is apparent, for haste would lead to confusion, unsatisfactory conditions and pestilence, and then, also, it creates consternation and fear in the hearts of their enemies and arouses greater opposition. Satan desired to destroy them and in his anger endeavored to stir them up to strife and contention as well as the older settlers in Missouri.” (Church History and Modern Revelation,1:232.)’ Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)
2. The Lord instructs the Saints who were driven from Jackson County.
Watch: The Lord Tests His People President Faust teaches that the Lord tests His people (D&C 101:1-19). (1:23)
D&C 101:2 I, the Lord, have suffered affliction to come upon them
‘The Lord has told us in this book that he would scourge this people, and would not suffer them to go on in wickedness as he does the world. He will make a difference in this respect between those who profess his name and the world. The world may prosper. They have not the religion of Heaven among them; they have no revelators and prophets among them; they have not the baptism of the Holy Ghost, nor the gifts and blessings of God among them, and consequently though they transgress the revealed word of God, he suffers them to go on, apparently without checking them, until they are fully ripened in iniquity, then he sends forth judgment and cuts them off, instead of chastening them from time to time. Not so with the Saints. God has decreed, from the early rise of the Church, that we should be afflicted by our enemies, and by various afflictions, and he would contend with this people and chasten them from time to time until Zion should be clean before him. He has done this, and more especially while we were in the States. We were inexperienced, and did not then understand the necessity of strictly obeying every word spoken by the mouth of God, and we had to suffer because of this.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 15:335)
‘This great tribulation would not have come upon Zion had it not been for rebellion: Firstly, there were rebellions against the one to whom were entrusted the keys, & from thence it has spread down to the lowest & least member! not this alone, but those who were void of understanding were continually telling that which was not true, & putting false coloring to the things of God! I mean those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling! & the church will never have peace while such remain in her, therefore, brethren purge them out, & have no confidence in any except such as will lay down their lives for this sacred cause for none others are worthy of it. It was necessary that these things should come upon us: not only justice demands it, but there was no other way to cleanse the church. (Oliver Cowdery, Letter to Missouri, 10 August 1833; josephsmithpapers.org)
D&C 101:4 They must be chastened and tried
“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.” (Harold B lee, In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference 1973, p. 114.)
3. Zion’s Camp is organized and marches to Missouri.
Read: Joseph Smith and Zion’s Camp (Ensign June 2005) The gospel lessons learned during the two months of Zion’s Camp defined and refined the Prophet Joseph Smith and others as leaders of the Church.
Watch: Zion’s Camp Several events from the march of Zion’s Camp show how it fulfilled the purposes of God.
Read: We also marched – the women and children of Zion’s Camp Much like the women of the Mormon Battalion and other military expeditions, the Zion’s Camp women contributed in various ways to the overall character of the group and its success and helped prepare for later mass migrations to the West. The women helped with the traditional domestic duties of cooking and laundering and caring for children. They also provided a civilizing influence on the camp. This article tells the stories of twelve women and several children known to have traveled with the more than 200 men of Zion’s Camp. Also, a woman (Ruth Vose) made the largest financial contribution to the funding of the march.
‘According to its ostensible purpose, [Zion’s Camp] was a failure. But most of the men who were to lead the Church for the next half-century, including those who would take the Saints across the plains and colonize the Intermountain West, came to know the Prophet Joseph and received their formative leadership training in the march of Zion’s Camp. As Elder Orson F. Whitney said of Zion’s Camp:
“The redemption of Zion is more than the purchase or recovery of lands, the building of cities, or even the founding of nations. It is the conquest of the heart, the subjugation of the soul, the sanctifying of the flesh, the purifying and ennobling of the passions.” (The Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2d ed., Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1945, p. 65.’) [Dallin H Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 61-62]
D&C 103:9 They were set to be a light to the world
‘It is easy to despair when we see about us the moorings of society slipping. We must remember, however, that the Lord sent His Saints into the world “to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men.” (D&C 103:9.) This is a time when “Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” (D&C 82:14.) The contrast between the Church and the world will be increasingly marked in the future, which contrast, we hope, will cause the Church to be more attractive to those in the world who desire to live according to God’s plan for us, His children.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, “May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, May 1978, 33)
4. The Lord reveals that His people must “wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion.”
Watch: Gather in Stakes The Lord has commanded us to gather in stakes (D&C 101:20-22,63-75). (1:17)
D&C 103:7 They shall never cease to prevail
“There cannot be a doubt in any faithful man’s mind concerning the truth of this promise—the promise of victory and deliverance on the one hand, the promise of punishment, disaster and trouble on the other. The Latter-day Saints have in their experience proved fully the truth of these words. They have seen them fulfilled to the very letter. When they have been faithful in keeping the commandments of God they have prospered and they have had deliverance. When they have been unfaithful they met with trouble and serious difficulty. It is necessary that the wicked should have the opportunity to exercise their agency in relation to the work of God; for they have an agency as well as we. It is their privilege to assist in building up the word of God, or they can exercise their agency in fighting the work of God. They have the privilege to do everything in their power to destroy it, and they will be permitted to do this until the cup of their iniquity is full.” (George Q Cannon, In Conference Report, Oct. 1899, p. 48.)
D&C 105:3-4 They have not learned to be obedient
“In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord reveals that Zion cannot be established ‘unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.’…
“The Lord commanded the Saints in 19th-century New York, for example, to make sure that they took care of the poor and unfortunate among them. He also commanded them in the same revelation to be united, for if they were not one they were not his people. He gave these commandments to them as they were preparing to leave New York to go to Ohio in 1831. This was the first step in gathering to Zion in Jackson County, Missouri. Within eight months of these instructions some of these members were already in Independence. Two years later mobs drove them out. Subsequently the Lord explained in a revelation the reason he had allowed this to happen: they had not done as he had instructed-they were not taking care of the unfortunate, and they were not united.
“Thus it would appear that taking care of the unfortunate and being united according to the model of the celestial kingdom are high on the Lord’s list of expectations for his people. When we covenant with him to sacrifice and to consecrate ourselves and all we have to his service, we need to make these covenants manifest in our lives.
“In the revelation explaining why ‘mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion,’ the Lord said it was so that ‘they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.’ Today, nearly 163 years later, we may well ask ourselves if we as individuals and families are preparing more perfectly for the establishment of Zion.” (Robert J. Woodford, “The Remarkable Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 47-48)