In obedience to the Lord’s instructions, the Prophet Joseph Smith and about 200 other volunteers and recruits formed what became known as Zion’s Camp to go to the aid of the Saints who had been exiled from Jackson County, Missouri. On June 22, 1834, while encamped near Fishing River in Missouri, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 105. In this revelation, the Lord informed the Saints that the land of Zion would not be redeemed at that time. The Lord also gave instructions concerning what must happen for Zion to be redeemed at some future time.
Before class, obtain a paper cup, a rubber band, and three pieces of string. The circumference of the rubber band must be smaller than the circumference of the cup. Tie the pieces of string to the rubber band at equal intervals.
Begin the lesson by asking for three volunteers. Place the cup on a flat surface, and instruct the volunteers to pick up the cup using only the rubber band and strings. Tell them that they cannot touch the rubber band; they must hold the pieces of string. (To accomplish this task, students will need to work together and pull simultaneously on each of the strings with equal force in order to expand the rubber band enough to place it around the cup and then to lift it.)
After students have completed this activity, ask the following question:
What role did unity play in accomplishing this task?
Remind students that in February 1834, the Lord directed the Prophet Joseph Smith and others to gather temporal resources and recruit volunteers to assist the Saints who had been driven from Jackson County, Missouri, in reclaiming their land. As students begin today’s discussion of Doctrine and Covenants 105, encourage them to look for the role unity played in the Saints’ attempts to reclaim the land of Zion.
Ask students to recall from their study of Doctrine and Covenants 103 the number of volunteers the Lord desired to take part in Zion’s Camp (500) and the minimum number He required (100). Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud. Ask the class to listen for the number of people who actually volunteered for Zion’s Camp when the group initially departed.
The response to the Prophet Joseph Smith and others’ efforts to recruit volunteers and resources for Zion’s Camp was not as successful as hoped for. By the time the camp, or army, began its march in the beginning of May 1834, only 122 people had volunteered to go. Zion’s Camp recruited additional volunteers along the way to Missouri. When the group that Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight had recruited from Michigan Territory met up with Joseph Smith’s company in early June 1834, Zion’s Camp consisted of just over 200 men, 12 women, and 9 children (see Alexander L. Baugh, “Joseph Smith and Zion’s Camp,” Ensign, June 2005, 45).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 105:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for one reason why some members of the Church chose not to help their fellow Saints in Missouri. Then ask students to report what they have found.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 105:1–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how disobedience and a lack of unity had affected members of the Church. (To help students better understand the meaning of verse 5, it might be helpful to explain that “the law of the celestial kingdom” includes all of the laws and principles we need to obey, the ordinances we need to receive, and the covenants we need to keep to inherit the celestial kingdom.)
In what ways had Church members failed to be united and obedient?
According to these verses, what must we do to help build up Zion? (As students respond, help them identify the following principle: To help build up Zion, we must be united and obedient to all that God asks.)
Why do you think unity and obedience are required for Zion to be built up?
What experiences have helped you understand the importance of Church members being united?
Explain that those who volunteered for Zion’s Camp experienced many challenges and miracles throughout their expedition. Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud. Ask the class to ponder how they might have responded to some of the challenges.
Zion’s Camp marched about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) through 4 states, traveling between 20 and 40 miles (about 30–60 kilometers) a day for 45 days. Camp members experienced blistered feet, hot and humid weather conditions, food shortages, and unhealthy food. On occasion, intense thirst moved some camp members to drink swamp water from which mosquito larvae had been strained out (sometimes using their teeth as strainers) or to drink water out of horse tracks after a rainstorm. Throughout the expedition, Zion’s Camp was also often threatened with violence from others. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 143–45.)
How do you think you would have responded to these challenges?
Explain that after the members of Zion’s Camp arrived in Missouri, they learned that Daniel Dunklin, the governor of Missouri, would not keep his promise to help the Saints return to their lands in Jackson County. Despite this discouraging news, Zion’s Camp continued on toward Jackson County, awaiting additional direction from the Lord.
Inform students that the needed direction came in a revelation from the Lord on June 22, 1834, after Zion’s Camp had been traveling for nearly seven weeks and was only 10–20 miles (about 15–30 kilometers) from Jackson County. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 105:9–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said they were to do regarding the redemption of Zion.
What did the Lord instruct the camp to do regarding the redemption of Zion?
If you had been a member of Zion’s Camp, how might you have felt hearing this revelation just before arriving at your destination?
What reasons did the Lord give for why Zion would not be redeemed at that time?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 105:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to look for why the Lord directed Zion’s Camp to travel all the way to Missouri and then revealed that they were not to restore the Saints to their lands in Zion at that time.
According to these verses, why did the Lord command Zion’s Camp to travel all the way to Missouri and then reveal that Zion would not yet be redeemed? (This was a trial of faith. It might be helpful to explain that a trial of faith can refer to a test of whether we will choose to trust and obey the Lord no matter what the circumstances are.)
In what ways was the faith of the members of Zion’s Camp tried during their experience?
What can we learn from these verses? (One principle students may identify is that God has prepared great blessings for those who are faithful through their trials.)
When have you or someone you know experienced a trial of faith? How have trials of your faith prepared you for greater blessings?
Inform students that many men who had served with Zion’s Camp were blessed with opportunities to serve in the Lord’s kingdom. In February 1835, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Quorum of the Seventy were organized. Nine of the original Apostles and all of the members of the Quorum of the Seventy served in Zion’s Camp. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, 151.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask the class to listen for the role Zion’s Camp had in preparing men for leadership positions:
“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 History of the Church, 2:182; see also Church History in the Fulness of Times, 151).
Share your testimony of the importance of trusting and obeying the Lord when our faith is being tried.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 105:20–37 by explaining that the Lord told the Saints in Missouri how they were to respond to the persecution they were experiencing while awaiting the future redemption of Zion. He counseled them to be humble and avoid stirring up contention. He explained that they needed to be sanctified in preparation for the eventual redemption of Zion. As He had said earlier in the same revelation, they were to “be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which [He] require[d] at their hands” (D&C 105:10).
What are some ways we should respond to persecution?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 105:38–41 silently and select a phrase from the verses that summarizes what the Lord directed the Saints to do in response to their oppressors.
According to verse 40, what blessing would come to the Saints in Missouri if they sought to establish peace with others? (Students’ responses should reflect the following principle: If we seek to establish peace with others, then all things will work together for our good.)
What can we do to help establish peace with others?
How have you been blessed as you have sought to establish peace, including with those who might persecute you?
Invite students to ponder one thing they can do to better seek to establish peace with others in their lives, especially when they might be treated wrongly, and to write a goal in their class notebooks or scripture study journals to follow this principle.