Lesson 27: “They Must Needs Be Chastened and Tried, Even as Abraham”

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 150–56


Purpose

To learn about the early Saints’ efforts to establish the city of Zion in Missouri and to encourage class members to help build Zion today.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures and other materials:

  2. 2.

    Review the material for this lesson in the Class Member Study Guide (35686). Plan ways to refer to the material during the lesson.

  3. 3.

    Ask class members to prepare to summarize the following sections in Our Heritage:

    1. a.

      “Persecution in Jackson County” and “Tarring and Feathering of Bishop Partridge” (pages 39–40, 41–42).

    2. b.

      “Refuge in Clay County” (pages 43–44).

    3. c.

      “Training of Leaders in Zion’s Camp” and “Persecution of Zion’s Camp” (pages 27–29 and 44–45).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

  • How would you feel if you were asked to leave your family and walk 1,000 miles in grueling conditions to help Church members who were in a hostile area? (You may want to select a well-known location 1,000 miles away and bring a map to show how far the journey would be.) What sacrifices would this require of you? How would you feel if you arrived at the destination and were told to return home without doing anything to help?

Explain that when the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, were driven out of their homes, Joseph Smith organized Zion’s Camp, a group of 207 men, to march nearly 1,000 miles from Ohio to help them. The preceding questions can help us understand some of the challenges faced by the participants in Zion’s Camp.

Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. You may want to use two class periods to teach this lesson.

1. The Saints settle in Jackson County, Missouri, and are later driven out.

Briefly review the following historical information. Remind class members that from 1831 to 1838, the Church had two centers of population—one in Kirtland, Ohio, and the other in western Missouri. Important events were happening in both places. Lessons 27 and 28 focus on doctrines and events associated with the Church in Missouri.

In July 1831, Joseph Smith made his first journey to Missouri. There he received a revelation designating Missouri as the place for the city of Zion, with Independence as the center place (D&C 57:1–3). On 2 August, Sidney Rigdon dedicated the land for the gathering of the Saints. The next day the Prophet Joseph Smith dedicated the temple site in Independence.

Members from the Colesville Branch in New York were the first Saints to settle Missouri, and others soon gathered there, eager to help build the city of Zion (D&C 63:24, 36). By 1832 there were more than 800 Saints gathered into five branches in Independence and the surrounding areas of Jackson County.

The Saints in Jackson County enjoyed a time of peace and optimism. However, problems arose in late 1832. Some members would not accept the authority of their local Church leaders. Others criticized the Prophet Joseph, who had returned to Kirtland. Some members were contentious, covetous, selfish, and unbelieving.

In addition, tensions with other settlers in the area were increasing. On 20 July 1833, these tensions escalated into violence. Ask the assigned class member to summarize the sections “Persecution in Jackson County” and “Tarring and Feathering of Bishop Partridge” from Our Heritage, pages 39–40 and 41–42.

Between July and November 1833, persecutions against the Saints intensified. Mobs burned their crops, destroyed their homes, whipped and beat the men, and terrorized the women and children.

Persecution in Missouri

Persecution in Missouri. The Saints were driven from their homes in Jackson County, Missouri.

On 4 November, near the Big Blue River, members of the mob began a battle against a small group of Latter-day Saint men and boys (Our Heritage, pages 42–43). During the next two days more than 1,000 Saints were driven from Jackson County in the bitter cold. Destitute, most of them crossed the Missouri River and found temporary refuge in Clay County. Ask the assigned class member to summarize the section “Refuge in Clay County” from Our Heritage, pages 43–44.

2. The Lord instructs the Saints who were driven from Jackson County.

Explain that as word of the troubles in Missouri reached Joseph Smith in Kirtland, he was deeply distressed. He prayed concerning the redemption of Zion and received the revelation that is now D&C 101.

  • What reasons did the Lord give for allowing afflictions to come upon the Saints in Missouri? (Read the following verses with class members. Summarize the information on the chalkboard. Select some of the questions to encourage discussion.)

    1. a.

      D&C 101:2, 6; see also D&C 103:4. (Because of their transgressions.)

    2. b.

      D&C 101:4. (Because they needed to be “chastened and tried, even as Abraham.”) For what purposes does the Lord chasten His people? (See D&C 95:1; 105:6; Helaman 12:3; Hebrews 12:11.) How is the Lord’s chastening a demonstration of His love for us? How does the Lord’s chastening help us learn obedience and remember Him?

    3. c.

      D&C 101:7–8. (Because some of the Saints had been slow to hearken unto the Lord.) Why do people sometimes forget God and disregard His counsel “in the day of their peace”? What can we do to help us be eager to follow God’s counsel?

  • How did the Lord show compassion for the Saints after chastening them? (Read the following verses with class members. Summarize the information on the chalkboard.)

    1. a.

      D&C 101:9. (He promised that he would not cast them off and would be merciful “in the day of wrath.”)

    2. b.

      D&C 101:10. (He promised that His indignation would fall upon their enemies.)

    3. c.

      D&C 101:11–15. (He promised to save, gather, and comfort His Saints.)

    4. d.

      D&C 101:16–19. (He promised that Zion would be redeemed in the future.)

    Invite class members to share experiences in which they have felt the Lord’s love and mercy in times of special need.

  • Read D&C 101:35–38 with class members. What can we learn from these verses to help us keep our mortal life in proper perspective? How has a knowledge of the Lord’s eternal promises helped you in times of trial?

3. Zion’s Camp is organized and marches to Missouri.

Explain that after the Saints were driven from Jackson County, they petitioned Governor Daniel Dunklin of Missouri for assistance in restoring their homes and for protection. The governor expressed a willingness to help if the Saints would organize a group of men for their own protection.

In February 1834, Joseph Smith received word of this offer in Kirtland, Ohio. He responded by organizing a group of men to march nearly 1,000 miles to carry relief to the Saints in Missouri, help them return to their lands, and protect them afterward. The revelation giving directions for this expedition, which came to be known as Zion’s Camp, is recorded in D&C 103.

Ask the assigned class member to review the story of Zion’s Camp from Our Heritage, pages 27–29 and 44–45. To show the distance between Kirtland and Missouri, you may want to refer to map 3 on page 276 in this manual and page 31 in the Class Member Study Guide.

  • As directed by the Lord in D&C 103, Joseph Smith organized Zion’s Camp to help the Saints in Jackson County regain their homes and lands. What was the outcome of Zion’s Camp with regard to this purpose? (After the camp had traveled nearly 1,000 miles to Fishing River, near Jackson County, the Lord revealed that the Saints would have to wait for the redemption of Zion. Soon afterward, the Prophet disbanded the camp.)

  • When Brigham Young returned to Kirtland after Zion’s Camp, he was asked, “What have you gained by this journey?” He replied, “Just what we went for; … I would not exchange the knowledge I have received this season for the whole of [this] County” (in Journal of Discourses, 2:10). What important purposes did Zion’s Camp accomplish? (Answers could include those listed below.)

    1. a.

      The participants were strengthened by several miraculous manifestations of the Lord’s power (see Our Heritage, pages 44–45, for one example).

    2. b.

      It provided an opportunity to try the faith of the participants, allowing them to prove that they would obey the Lord and sacrifice all things, even their lives if necessary, to do His will.

    3. c.

      It served as a proving ground to determine who was faithful to serve in positions of Church leadership.

    4. d.

      It gave participants an opportunity to associate closely with the Prophet and learn from him, preparing them for future leadership responsibilities.

    Explain that while some people thought Zion’s Camp was a failure, the accomplishment of these purposes was of great importance to the Church. Zion’s Camp is an example of how God’s purposes can be accomplished in ways that we may not understand at the time.

  • How did the experience of Zion’s Camp prepare future leaders of the Church?

    In February 1835, five months after the camp was disbanded, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Quorum of the Seventy were organized. Nine of the Twelve Apostles and all 70 members of the Quorum of the Seventy had served in Zion’s Camp. Speaking of how the camp helped prepare these leaders, Joseph Smith said:

    “Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, 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” (History of the Church, 2:182).

    The experience of George A. Smith demonstrates how Zion’s Camp prepared men for future leadership in the Church. At age 16, he was the youngest man in the camp, inexperienced and lacking confidence. Despite personal discomfort and the complaints of many men about the poor conditions, George willingly followed all of Joseph Smith’s instructions. George slept in the Prophet’s tent and was able to hear much of his counsel and instructions. By closely associating with the Prophet, George learned leadership skills and developed strength that prepared him for a lifetime of leadership. Less than five years after Zion’s Camp, George A. Smith was ordained an Apostle. He later served with Brigham Young as a member of the First Presidency.

  • What can we learn from the experiences of Zion’s Camp that we can apply in our lives? (Some possible answers are listed below, with questions to encourage discussion.)

    1. a.

      An understanding of the purposes of trials. What were some of the trials associated with Zion’s Camp? What can the experiences of Zion’s Camp teach us about the purposes of trials in our lives? (See D&C 103:12.)

    2. b.

      The importance of obedience. What can we learn from Zion’s Camp about obedience? (See D&C 103:7–10, 36.)

    3. c.

      The need to be willing to sacrifice all things for the Lord. What can we learn from Zion’s Camp about sacrifice? (See D&C 103:27–28.) Why does the Lord require us to be willing to sacrifice all things for Him? How can we develop such a willingness? How can we show this willingness now?

    4. d.

      The importance of being unified in the Lord’s work. Point out that when even a few people murmur and rebel, the entire group is weakened.

    5. e.

      The importance of sustaining the prophet and following his counsel even when it is difficult or when we do not fully understand the reasons for it.

4. The Lord reveals that His people must “wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion.”

Explain that the Lord had promised to redeem Zion and restore His people to their lands in Jackson County, Missouri. However, this promise was conditioned on the Saints’ obedience (D&C 103:5–8, 11–14). Just as ancient Israel was not able to enter the promised land for 40 years because of their disobedience, the Lord revealed that modern Israel would have to “wait for a little season” for the redemption of Zion because of the disobedience and dissension of some Saints (D&C 105:9, 13).

  • Read D&C 105:1–13 with class members. What are some of the requirements the Lord gave for the eventual establishment of Zion? (Answers could include those listed below. Discuss how these requirements apply in our lives.)

    1. a.

      The Saints must learn obedience (D&C 105:3, 6; see also verse D&C 105:37).

    2. b.

      They must care for the poor and needy (D&C 105:3).

    3. c.

      They must be “united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom” (D&C 105:4; see also verse D&C 105:5).

    4. d.

      They must be taught more perfectly, gain more experience, and know their duties more perfectly (D&C 105:10).

    5. e.

      They must be endowed with power from on high (D&C 105:11–12; see also verse D&C 105:33).

  • In D&C 105:38–40, the Lord counseled the Saints to seek peace, even with those who had persecuted them. He promised that in return, “all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 105:40). How have you been blessed as you have applied the counsel to seek peace?

Conclusion

The Lord has promised that Zion will be redeemed, and He has told us what we must do to prepare for that day. Remind class members that we should seek with all our hearts to help build Zion today in our families and stakes. As prompted by the Spirit, testify of truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

You may want to use one or more of the following ideas to supplement the suggested lesson outline.

1. Missouri time line

The following time line of events in Missouri may be helpful as you teach this lesson. To help identify important locations, you may want to refer to map 2 on page 275 in this manual and page 30 in the Class Member Study Guide.

January 1831: The first missionaries arrived in Missouri.

July 1831: The Lord designated Missouri as the location for the city of Zion.

August 1831: Joseph Smith dedicated the temple site in Independence, Missouri.

July 1833: A mob attacked the Saints in Independence, Missouri.

November 1833: The Battle of the Big Blue occurred. The Saints were driven from Jackson County to Clay County, Missouri.

May–June 1834: Zion’s Camp marched from Kirtland, Ohio, to Clay County, Missouri.

June 1836: Citizens of Clay County asked the Saints to leave the county.

September 1836: The Saints began moving to Far West and other locations that became Caldwell and Daviess Counties, Missouri.

March 1838: Joseph Smith and his family arrived in Far West, Missouri, after fleeing from the mobs in Kirtland, Ohio.

October 1838: The Battle of Crooked River occurred. Governor Boggs of Missouri issued his extermination order.

October 1838–April 1839: Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were kept as prisoners in Missouri.

April 1839: The Saints fled from Missouri to Illinois.

2. The Lord’s instructions to the exiled Saints

After the Saints had been driven from Jackson County, the Lord gave specific instructions about what they should do. You may want to review the following instructions:

  1. a.

    Seek the redemption of Zion (D&C 101:43–62). With the parable in these verses, the Lord reminded the Saints that disobedience had weakened their position and allowed their enemies to overpower them. However, He assured them that Zion would be redeemed in His own time.

  2. b.

    Continue the work of the gathering (D&C 101:63–75). Even though the center place of Zion had fallen to the enemy, the Lord made it clear that the Saints were to continue to gather in the places He had appointed (verse 67). In our day, these places are the stakes of Zion throughout the world. We are to make our stakes “holy places” (D&C 101:21–22).

  3. c.

    Seek for redress (D&C 101:76–95). The Saints were commanded to make for-mal petitions for compensation and justice. Under the United States Constitution they were guaranteed the right to freedom of religion and property. Those rights had been violated in the state of Missouri. The Saints followed the Lord’s counsel and sought for redress at the local, state, and national levels. They were denied help, so the Saints left the responsibility for judging in the hands of the Lord and moved on.

  4. d.

    Hold claim on their property in Jackson County (D&C 101:96–101).

3. “Zion’s Camp” video presentation

If the videocassette Teachings from the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History (53933) is available, consider showing “Zion’s Camp,” a 19-minute segment, as part of your discussion of the third section of this lesson.