“Zion’s camp was formally organized in New Portage, Ohio, on 6 May 1834. It eventually included 207 men, 11 women, and 11 children, whom the Prophet divided into companies of tens and fifties, instructing each group to elect a captain. … For 45 days they marched together to Clay County, Missouri, a distance of over 1,000 miles [over 1,600 kilometers]. They traveled as quickly as possible and under harsh conditions. …
“The camp placed great emphasis on spirituality and obeying the commandments. … The Prophet often taught the doctrines of the kingdom. He said: ‘God was with us, and His angels went before us, and the faith of our little band was unwavering. We know that angels were our companions, for we saw them’ [History of the Church, 2:73]. …
“By 18 June the camp had reached Clay County, Missouri. However, the governor of Missouri, Daniel Dunklin, would not keep his promise to help the army of Saints reinstate the Church members who had been forced from their homes. For some in the camp, the failure of this military objective was the final test of their faith. Disappointed and angry, some openly rebelled. As a result, the Prophet warned them that the Lord would send upon them a devastating scourge. Soon a calamitous epidemic of cholera spread through the camp. Before it ended a third of the camp was afflicted, including Joseph Smith, and thereafter 14 members of the camp died” (Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 27–28). (The Prophet Joseph Smith later told Brigham and Joseph Young: “Brethren, I have seen those men who died of the cholera in our camp; and the Lord knows, if I get a mansion as bright as theirs, I ask no more” [History of the Church, 2:181 n].)
“In early July, the camp members were honorably discharged by the Prophet. The journey had revealed who was on the Lord’s side and who was worthy to serve in positions of leadership. The Prophet later explained the outcome of the march: ‘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’ [in Joseph Young Sr., History of the Organization of the Seventies (1878), 14]” (Our Heritage, 29).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The law of consecration will not be fully implemented in the Church until Zion is redeemed and the New Jerusalem built (see D&C 105:34).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 141–51.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 257–61.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video presentation 15, “Zion’s Camp” (21:56), can be used in teaching Doctrine and Covenants 101–5 (see Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide for teaching suggestions).
Doctrine and Covenants 105. The Lord strengthens the faithful and helps them overcome their enemies through His power. He blesses those who are patient in affliction.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:25–27 and ask:
Why might God choose those the world sees as weak and simple individuals to accomplish His purposes?
How does the story of David and Goliath support this principle? (see 1 Samuel 17:41–47).
Read Judges 7:1–7. What insight do we gain from the story of Gideon’s army?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:30–34. How was the gathering of Zion’s Camp different from the gathering of Gideon’s army?
Share with students the introduction to section 105 above (pp. 179–80), and have students list the Lord’s purposes in organizing Zion’s Camp. (See also the statement by Elder Delbert L. Stapley in the historical background for section 105 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325,
Divide the class into three groups. Give each group one of the following assignments. When they finish, have a member of each group teach the class what they learned.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 105:1–6 and list the reasons the Lord gave for not redeeming Zion at this time. Read Doctrine and Covenants 12:6–9; 14:6–7. What do you think the Lord expects of His Saints today? What blessings will come to those who live celestial laws?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 105:7–13, 16–19 and list the expectations the Lord had for members of His Church. How would meeting these expectations have blessed the members of Zion’s Camp? the Church? Which of these expectations do you believe the Lord has for us?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 105:14, 26–27, 31–41 and list the verses that show that the Lord will eventually redeem Zion. What is expected of us before that time comes? How can we better follow the counsel in these verses?