Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 38 (D&C 102–105)
September 11–17


Purposes and Procedures of the High Council  (D&C 102)

● D&C 100:16   As early as 1833 councils of elders or of high priests met to judge the worthiness of members. The purpose of these councils was: “For I will raise up unto myself a pure people, that will serve me in righteousness.”

● On February 17, 1834, the first permanent high council was organized in Kirtland. This council immediately began hearing cases.1

● During that same year, the First Presidency was organized and on at least one occasion reviewed the decision of one of these councils.

● On July 3, 1834, a similar high council was organized among the Saints in Missouri in order that “the will of the Lord might be known on all important occasions in the building up of Zion and establishing truth in the earth.”2

● D&C 102   The minutes of the first high council meeting in Kirtland set for the pattern for organizing stake high councils. This has been followed ever since.


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.

D&C 103 is a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, February 24, 1834. This revelation was received after the arrival in Kirtland, Ohio, of Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight, who had come from Missouri to counsel with the Prophet as to the relief and restoration of the Saints to their lands in Jackson County.

D&C 103:1–4   Why the Lord permitted the Saints in Jackson County to be persecuted.

Elder Orson F. Whitney taught: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”3

D&C 103:5–8   The Lord promised to redeem Zion and restore His people to their lands in Jackson County, Missouri, if they keep the commandments.

D&C 103:11–14   The redemption of Zion will come by power, and the Lord will go before His people. But it will only be “after much tribulation” that this blessing will come.

The Organization of Zion’s Camp

D&C 103:21–26   The Lord instructed Joseph to gather together the “strength of my house” (v. 22) by organizing Zion’s Camp to go forth to redeem Zion.

D&C 103:27–28   Those who lay down their lives will find them again.

D&C 103:29–40   Various brethren were called to organize Zion’s Camp among the various branches of the Church, and go to Zion; they are promised victory if they are faithful.

The Lord’s purpose in sending them and His will concerning the redemption of Zion were not fully understood by the Saints. The redemption of Zion would not take place at that time. The Lord had other reasons for organizing Zion’s Camp.

The March of Zion’s Camp

Eventually, Zion’s Camp numbered just over two hundred men plus a few women who accompanied their husbands.

Zion’s Camp marched nearly 1,000 miles from Ohio to Missouri. The journey took about six weeks, leaving on May 5, 1834, and arriving in Missouri on June 25, 1834. They were divided into two major groups: The main group led by the Prophet left Kirtland, Ohio, on May 5th. The second group, led by Hyrum Smith, joined Joseph’s group at Salt River on 8 June.4

Zion’s Camp suffered much from disease, fatigue, heat, humidity, and lack of food and water. Some days they walked as many as forty miles without adequate provisions. Yet most of these Saints, motivated by charity for their afflicted brothers and sisters and by a deep desire to see the Church settled in the chosen land, endured well the extreme rigors of the journey. There were, however, some who rebelled against the Prophet.

Significant Events of Zion’s Camp

No attempt is made in this lesson to examine in detail the events and miracles of Zion’s Camp. Suffice it to say that, along the way, they saw their Prophet perform numerous miracles and received great counsel from him on how to lead the Saints in righteousness. Soon after Zion’s Camp arrived in Missouri, a severe storm thwarted a planned attack by 330 mobocrats who were determined to wipe out the Mormons in the camp.

Elder David A. Bednar said: “At some point in each of our lives, we will be invited to march in our own Zion’s Camp. The timing of the invitations will vary, and the particular obstacles we may encounter on the journey will be different. But our ongoing and consistent response to this inevitable call ultimately will provide the answer to the question ‘Who’s on the Lord’s side?’”5


Zion’s Camp Is Disbanded Without a Fight

After the camp arrived at the Fishing River, near Jackson County, the Prophet Joseph sent word to Governor Daniel Dunklin that the Saints were ready to accept his proposal to have their lands restored. Even though the governor had retained troops to assist Zion’s Camp, he now feared that the hostile forces gathering in Jackson County would deluge the whole area in blood. He and the Prophet agreed that a military clash would not be wise.

With this announcement, the main object of Zion’s Camp appeared to be defeated. But the Lord made clear that the question of the restoration of the Jackson County lands to the Saints did not entirely depend upon the decision of the governor. Zion was not to be established at the time—not because the Saints’ enemies were too powerful, but because the Saints themselves were not yet fully prepared.

● D&C 105:1–6   The Saints were not sufficiently united and had failed to live the law of consecration fully, which was necessary for a Zion people to inherit the land of Zion.

● D&C 105:9–12, 33, 34   The Church had to “wait for a little season” before redeeming Zion because the elders needed further instruction and experience. They also needed an endowment of power (in the temple), which had not yet been completed.

● D&C 105:31   The Lord’s “army” (or people) still needed to become “very great” [or numerous] and “sanctified” [holy or worthy].

The Blessings of Zion’s Camp

D&C 105:19   Some people thought Zion’s Camp was a failure, but the purposes of Zion’s Camp had been completed. Zion’s Camp is an example of how God’s purposes can be accomplished in ways that we may not understand at the time.

— Participants were strengthened by miraculous manifestations of the Lord’s power.
— It tried 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.
— It served as a proving ground to determine who was faithful to serve in positions of Church leadership.
— It gave participants an opportunity to associate closely with the Prophet and learn from him, preparing them for future leadership responsibilities.

The Prophet 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. Now the Lord has got His Twelve and His Seventy.”6

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.

What We Learn from Zion’s Camp in Our Own Day  (D&C 103)

Even today, we learn much from the march of Zion’s Camp.

— The purposes of trials (v. 12).
— The importance of obedience (vv. 7–10, 36).
— Zion was not to be redeemed in 1834, but “in time ye shall possess the goodly land” (v. 20).
— When Zion is finally redeemed it will be accomplished by the Lord’s power, with appropriate spiritual leadership and with Christ at the head (vv. 15–20).
— The need to be willing to sacrifice all things for the Lord (D&C vv. 27–28).
— The importance of being unified in the Lord’s work.
— 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.


Requirements for the Establishment of Zion  (D&C 105)

We all look forward to the great day when the land of Zion will be redeemed and the City of Zion built there are the “New Jerusalem” of the latter days. But we still have much to do to prepare for that great day.

— The Saints must learn obedience (vv. 3, 6, 37).
— They must care for the poor and needy (v. 3).
— They must be “united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom” (vv. 4–5).
— They must be taught more perfectly, gain more experience, and know their duties more perfectly (vv. 9-10).
— They must gain experience (v. 10). And they must do their duty more perfectly.
— They must be endowed with power from on high, which will require a temple (vv. 11–12, 33).
— They must be faithful, enduring in humility to the end (v. 12).

● 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.”

“IN MINE OWN WAY”  (D&C 104)

On April 23, 1834, at a council meeting of the United Firm in Kirtland, Ohio, the council was reorganized. By revelation, the Lord directed that the properties of this firm were to be divided among the members of the firm as their “stewardships.” Under Joseph Smith’s direction, the phrase “United Firm” was later replaced with “United Order” in this revelation.

● D&C 104:11–16   The Lord provides for His Saints in His own way.

— vv. 11–13 Every many should be given a stewardship for which he is accountable.
— vv. 14–15 All things are the Lord’s, and He desires to provide for all His saints.
— v. 16 This must be done in the Lord’s own way, which is “that the poor shall be exalted [and] the rich . . . made low.”

President Marion G. Romney said, “The Lord . . . could take care of [the poor] without our help if it were his purpose to do so. . . . But we need this experience; for it is only through our learning how to take of each other that we develop within us the Christlike love and disposition necessary to qualify us to return to his presence.”7

● D&C 104:17   “The earth is full, and there is enough and to spare” for all of its inhabitants. The Lord prepared all things and made man a steward over the earth. This refutes the common claim that the earth is over-populated and will soon run out of resources.

● D&C 104:18   The problem is not a lack of resources but that some “impart not their portion” to the poor and needy. Such people will “with the wicked, lift up [their] eyes in hell, being in torment.”

● D&C 104:19–46   The stewardships and blessings of various brethren in the United Order are designated.

● D&C 104:47–53   The united order in Kirtland and the order in Zion are to operate separately.

● D&C 104:54–57   All of those things that are committed to the United Order belong to the Lord, and they have been assigned to the various members by covenant, making them stewards over earthly things.

● D&C 104:58–66   A sacred treasury of the Lord is to be set up, and its funds be used for the printing of the scriptures and other sacred purposes. No individual may take funds from it without common consent of the members or the command of God.

● D&C 104:67–77   Another general treasury of the United Order is also to be set up and operated on the basis of common consent. This treasury shall receive the offerings of the Saints of their excess from the operation of their stewardships. And it shall be used to fund the needs of the Saints in their stewardships, by common consent.

● D&C 104:78–86   Those in the united order are to pay all their debts, and the Lord will deliver them from financial bondage.


1.  History of the Church, 2:33–34.
2.  History of the Church, 2:123–124.
3.  In Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 98.
4.  For details, see History of the Church, 2:87–33.
5.  “On the Lord’s Side: Lessons from Zion’s Camp,” Ensign, July 2017, 35.
6.  History of the Church, 2:182.
7.  “Living Welfare Principles,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 92.

Facebook Comments Box