In a meeting of the Kirtland high council on February 24, 1834, Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight sought direction regarding how the Saints in Missouri could obtain temporal relief and regain possession of their lands in Jackson County. On the same day, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 103, in which the Lord promised that the land of Zion would be redeemed. The Lord directed Church leaders to gather resources and recruits to help the Saints in Missouri. This group came to be known as Zion’s Camp.
Begin class by asking the following question:
What enemies do the righteous have today?
Ask students to think about how the enemies of the Lord are seeking to hinder their spiritual progress.
Why do you think the enemies of the Lord are able to hinder the spiritual progress of some of the Lord’s people?
As students begin today’s study and discussion of Doctrine and Covenants 103, encourage them to look for principles that will help them overcome such enemies.
Invite a student to read aloud the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 103. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight had come to Kirtland, Ohio, from Missouri.
Why had Brother Pratt and Brother Wight come to Kirtland?
Explain that Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 103 on the same day these two leaders met with him and the high council in Kirtland.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to look for two reasons the Lord allowed His enemies to persecute the Saints in Missouri.
According to verses 3–4, what are two reasons the Lord allowed His enemies to persecute the Saints? (One reason was to allow the persecutors to “fill up the measure of their iniquities, that their cup might be full”—in other words, to justify His judgments on the wicked. Another reason was to chasten the disobedient Saints.)
According to verse 4, why did the Saints need to be chastened? What do you think is the meaning of the phrase “they did not hearken altogether”? (They were not completely obedient to the Lord.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:5–7 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord taught the Saints they must do to prevail against His enemies. (You may want to explain that the word prevail means to be stronger than an opponent or to be victorious.)
If the Saints would follow the Lord’s counsel “from [that] very hour,” what blessing would they receive? (They would prevail against the Lord’s enemies “from [that] very hour.”)
What do these verses teach about how we can prevail against the influences of the world? (Students may use different words, but they should express the following principle: When we begin to follow the Lord’s counsel, we receive strength to begin to prevail against the world.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord warned will happen if we choose not to obey His words.
What are some results of choosing not to obey all the Lord’s words? (Students may identify different principles, including the following: If we disobey the Lord’s commandments, the world will prevail against us. If we do not observe all the Lord’s words, we lose the ability to be a light to others.)
Why do you think someone who is disobedient or only partially obedient to the Lord might not be able to prevail against the enemies of the Lord?
What are some examples of how people can gain victory over an enemy of the Lord by striving to obey the Lord’s words? (Examples may include people who, through obedience, have received strength from the Lord to overcome addiction or live the gospel after having lived a worldly lifestyle.)
You may want to explain that while we might not be perfectly obedient to all the Lord’s words, if we diligently strive to obey Him and sincerely repent when we fall short, the Lord will help us prevail against His enemies.
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals one principle they can start following “from this very hour” to better hearken to the Lord’s counsel.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 103:11–20 by explaining that the Lord promised the Saints that after their tribulations, Zion would be redeemed by His power. However, if the Saints polluted their inheritances, they would be removed from them.
Before class, make a sign that reads VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! Display it where students can see it. In addition, prepare the following announcement on a piece of paper:
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:21–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord directed Church leaders to do to redeem the land of Zion. Ask students to report what they find.
Ask a student to stand by the sign that reads VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! Give the student the announcement you prepared before class, and ask him or her to read it aloud. Then ask the class the following questions:
Do you think you would have been willing to go to Jackson County to help the Saints? Why or why not?
Explain that the group of men whom Joseph Smith would lead to Missouri came to be known as Zion’s Camp. (You may need to explain that camp is another word for army [see Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, facsimile of the first edition (1828; repr., 1967), “Camp”].) The members of Zion’s Camp had two main purposes. First, they were to bring resources to the Saints in Missouri to provide relief and enable them to return to their homes and purchase additional land. Second, as authorized by Governor Daniel Dunklin of Missouri, after the Missouri state militia had escorted the Saints back to Jackson County, the members of Zion’s Camp would be left to help maintain order and peace there.
If you had been a member of the Church during this time, what concerns might you have had about volunteering to join Zion’s Camp?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:20 silently.
How would the promise in this verse affect your decision to volunteer?
Explain that joining Zion’s Camp required leaving family and work responsibilities to march about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) through grueling conditions into a hostile and dangerous environment. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:27–28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said to those who would join Zion’s Camp. Ask students to report what they find.
What do you think the phrase “lay down his life for my sake” means?
According to these verses, what does the Lord call someone who is willing to lay down his or her life for the Lord’s sake? (After students respond, write the following on the board: Disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to give their lives for His sake.)
Point out that for the Saints in Zion’s Camp, the possibility of losing their lives was real. While we might not face the same peril, this truth can still apply to us. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for one way we all can give our lives for the Lord’s sake.
“For most of us … what is required is not to die for the Church but to live for it. For many, living a Christlike life every day may be even more difficult than laying down one’s life” (“Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 22).
Why do you think it might be even more difficult to live for the Lord than to die for Him?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:30–34 silently, looking for how many volunteers the Lord desired for Zion’s Camp.
How many volunteers did the Lord desire? (500.) What was the minimum number the Lord required? (100.)
Explain that at the end of the high council meeting in which Church leaders discussed the situation of the Missouri Saints, Joseph Smith said that he would travel to Zion and help redeem it. Approximately 30 or 40 of the men present also volunteered. Then the Lord assigned 8 men to go throughout congregations of the Church to recruit volunteers for Zion’s Camp and to seek contributions of provisions and money for the Saints in Missouri (see D&C 103:37–40). About 200 people went with Zion’s Camp, including some women and children.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 103:35–36 aloud. Ask the class to identify what the Saints needed to do in order to succeed in their efforts to redeem Zion.
Based on the Lord’s promise in these verses, what principle can we learn about how we can obtain all victory and glory? (Students should identify the following principle: All victory and glory is brought to pass unto us through our diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith.)
Testify that we will gain victory over the enemies of the Lord as we strive diligently and faithfully to obey all the Lord’s words. Encourage students to apply what they have written in their class notebooks or scripture study journals “from this very hour.”