In a meeting of the Kirtland high council on February 24, 1834, Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight sought direction from the council regarding how the Saints in Missouri could obtain temporal relief and regain possession of their lands in Jackson County. That same day, the Prophet 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.
What enemies do the righteous have today?
Think about how the enemies of the Lord are seeking to hinder your spiritual progress and the progress of the Church. As you study Doctrine and Covenants 103, look for doctrines and principles that will help you overcome such enemies.
As explained in the introduction to this lesson, the Lord gave a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in response to questions about how to help the Saints in Missouri. In the beginning of the revelation, the Lord explained why He allowed His enemies to persecute the Saints in Missouri. Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:1–4, looking for reasons why the Lord would permit such terrible things to happen to His people.
Consider why it is significant that the Lord referred to those who were persecuting the Saints as His enemies.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:5–7, and search for answers to the following question: If the Saints would follow the Lord’s counsel “from [that] very hour,” what blessings would they receive? (You may want to mark the answers as you find them. Note that the word prevail means to be stronger than an opponent or to be victorious.)
These verses teach a principle that can apply to your efforts to prevail against the influences of the world: When we begin to follow the Lord’s counsel, we receive strength to begin to prevail against the world.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:8–10, looking for what the Lord warned would happen if the Saints chose not to obey His words.
What principle did the Lord teach in these verses regarding what will happen if we fail to keep His commandments? Complete the following “if–then” statement: If we disobey the Lord’s commandments, then .
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:9 again. How can you be “a light unto the world”? How can you be a “savior”?
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some examples of how the Lord’s enemies try to prevail against members of the Church in our day?
Why do you think someone who is not obedient or only partially obedient to the Lord might not be able to prevail against the enemies of the Lord?
When have you seen someone gain victory over an enemy of the Lord by striving to obey the Lord’s words? (For example, you may think of someone who has overcome an addiction or who now lives the gospel after having lived a worldly lifestyle.)
Write one thing in your scripture study journal that you can start doing “from this very hour” (D&C 103:5) to better hearken to the Lord’s counsel. Write a plan of how you will do so.
Remember that while you might not be perfectly obedient to all of the Lord’s words, if you diligently strive to obey Him and if you sincerely repent and seek forgiveness through His Atonement when you fall short, He will help you prevail against His enemies.
In Doctrine and Covenants 103:11–21, we read the Lord’s promise that after the Saints’ tribulations, Zion would be redeemed by His power. But He also warned them that if the Saints polluted their inheritances, they would be removed from them. He spoke of the Prophet Joseph Smith as a man like Moses who would lead the people (see D&C 103:16, 21; see also D&C 28:2). This comparison is true of every President of the Church (see D&C 107:91).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:22–23. These verses contain the Lord’s instructions for Church leaders at that time, in 1834. He commanded them to gather a group to go to the land of Zion, in Missouri, and help the Saints there. The group of men that Church leaders would gather together, to be led by the Prophet Joseph Smith, came to be known as Zion’s Camp (camp is another word for army). The members of Zion’s Camp had two main purposes. First, they were to take resources to the Saints in Missouri. With these resources, they would provide relief for the Saints and enable them to be restored to their homes. They would also use these resources to 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, Zion’s Camp would be left to help maintain order and peace there.
Heber C. Kimball was one of the brethren who faithfully responded to the call to join Zion’s Camp. He later served as a member of the First Presidency. He told about his feelings as he left with Zion’s Camp: “We started on the 5th of May, and truly this was a solemn morning to me. I took leave of my wife and children and friends, not expecting ever to see them again, as myself and brethren were threatened both in that country and in Missouri by the enemies, that they would destroy us and exterminate us from the land” (in “Extract from the Journal of Heber C. Kimball,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 15, 1845, 771; see also Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 143).
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
If you had lived then, do you think you would have been willing to go to Jackson County to help the Saints? Why or why not?
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. Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:20. How might the promise in this verse affect your decision to volunteer?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:27–28, looking for what the Lord said to those who would join Zion’s Camp. You might consider marking the phrases that teach the following truth: Disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to give their lives for His sake.
For the Saints in Zion’s Camp, the possibility of losing their lives was real. While you might not face the same peril, this truth can still apply to you.
President James E. Faust of the First Presidency provided another way to think about giving 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).
Complete the following activities:
Share the statement by President Faust with a family member or friend, and then ask the following question: Why do you think it might be even more difficult to live for the Lord than to die for Him?
In your scripture study journal, record who you asked and write his or her response. Add your own insights about President Faust’s statement and the question.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:30–34, looking for how many volunteers the Lord desired for Zion’s Camp.
How many volunteers did the Lord desire?
What was the minimum number the Lord required?
At the conclusion of the high council meeting in which Church leaders discussed the situation of the Missouri Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith announced that he was going to Zion to 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).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 103:35–36, and identify what the Saints needed to do in order to succeed in their efforts to redeem Zion. Consider marking the truth the Lord taught in verse 36 about how we can be victorious in accomplishing His work.
Reflect on how the devil seeks to hinder your spiritual progress. Is there a sin, temptation, or obstacle that is working against you in your efforts to follow the Lord? Look back at your response to activity 2 in your scripture study journal. How does your response relate to being diligent and faithful and praying in faith? Remember that, like the Saints in Joseph Smith’s day, you have the ability to gain victory over the enemies of the Lord and accomplish the Lord’s purposes as you pray in faith and as you diligently and faithfully obey His words.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 103 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: