Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Oh God Where Art Thou...

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If you have a journal or a gospel doctrine notebook, take it out; if you don't have one, now is a good time to start! Any piece of paper or notebook will do!  Or if you choose you can just think in your mind about a difficulty or adversity you have experienced in your life.  Please keep this thought in your mind and genuilly think about it, think about the timeline of your adversity, think about the things that happened, think about how you got there and how you got to where you are at this point in your life after the adversity.  

Now think about and/or write down what you have learned and how you have grown from that adversity. Did you turn to the Savior in your time of need, were you brought through the fire?   

Today we seek to gain strength in enduring adversity by turning to the Savior, that we may indeed be pulled from the fire and live. One of the best ways to gain such strength is by studying the adversity of the early saints in Missouri.  These were a great people, the testimony they had at such a time in the history of the church and our country is profound.   The spirit was poured out upon them and they believed changing their entire lives to follow God.  But as we all know following God and choosing the right does not always come without persecution or adversity and these saints suffered greatly by the choices of others as well as their own.  However, they believed, and studying their trials and tribulations along with their belief can be a tremendous tool in helping us in our day to learn to endure.  Following is a brief timeline of the History of the Saints in Missouri.

  Missouri time lineThe Missouri War

January 1831: The first missionaries arrived in Missouri.

The first Latter-day Saints entered Missouri in January 1831 as part of the Lamanite mission, also at this time the Saints living in Colesville, New York, were instructed to gather to Kirtland Ohio.  When they arrived in  May 1831, they found that the land set aside for them was not available. The Prophet Joseph Smith took this to the Lord in prayer. He had just previously received the revelation directing himself, Sidney Rigdon, and 28 other elders to go on a mission to Missouri; the Lord instructed that the Colesville Saints also journey “unto the land of Missouri”  They were the first group of Saints to settle in the land that was to become known as Zion.  (D&C 54:8).

The Saints who moved to Missouri were very poor and did not even have tents to protect them while building cabins. They were also without farm equipment until teams were sent more than 200 miles to St. Louis to get them.  Yet, they followed the command of the Lord to build Zion and in this they were blessed, Parly P Pratt said of the experience: 

 “We enjoyed many happy seasons in our prayer and other meetings, and the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon us, and even on the little children, insomuch that many of eight, ten or twelve years of age spake, and prayed, and prophesied in our meetings and in our family worship. There was a spirit of peace and union, and love and good will manifested in this little Church in the wilderness, the memory of which will be ever dear to my heart.”

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

Missouri was the place intended by the Lord for the gathering of the Saints.  The Saints were to buy every tract of land lying west of the city to the line separating the state of Missouri and Indian territory.  the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse. D&C 57:1-5  

Missouri has been and will be the site of many key events in Church history. It was the location of the Garden of Eden and Adam-ondi-Ahman, where Adam gathered his posterity for a final blessing (D&C 107:53–57). It was the place the Saints in Joseph Smith’s day started to build Zion.   It is the place where the Lord Jesus Christ will return again to a New Jerusalem (see D&C 57:2–3; A of F 1:10).

This past week I visited Independence, and stood at the temple ground, and looked at the place called Center Place of Zion.  I thought of all those that helped to bring us the Gospel, and I thought of the Lords prophet, even Joseph Smith.  There is a sense of holiness that is indescribable.  There is a sense of humbleness when thinking of all that transpired but there is also a great joy and fullness of heart knowing that the gospel has truly been restored and the Lord will return.  For me this was a strengthening time in reminding me of all that is true, and the Lord really will come, it filled my heart with great hope and peace.  Independence is a beautiful land how blessed we are to have the knowledge and meaning of it in our day.  

The land surrounding the Temple grounds, this is the place revealed to be the
Garden of Eden

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

Joseph and Edward Partridge acquired land for the Colesville Branch in Kaw Township, 12 miles west of Independence. On 2 August 1831, after their arrival, a symbolic ceremony was conducted. Twelve men, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, carried a freshly cut oak log and placed it across a stone that had been set by Oliver Cowdery,  laying the symbolic foundation for the establishment of Zion. From this the Saints constructed a building that was used as both a church and a schoolhouse.

On the following day, a number of the brethren gathered at an elevated point one-half mile west of the Independence courthouse. The Prophet set in place the cornerstone for the temple and dedicated it in the name of the Lord.

Today the Church owns only a portion of that original lot. The rest is owned by other churches.
On the Church’s portion of the lot is the Independence Visitors’ Center.  As you enter the center you are greeted by a large mural of Christ’s Second Coming. A quiet reverence fills the building, with only missionaries bearing their testimonies and giving tours to visitors. The tour brought me to tears, I was filled with the spirit...

Mural of Christ's second coming 

The front of the temple ground, dedicated, sacred ground

The temple lot now is a beautiful grassy area

A panoramic view of temple lot

July 1833: A mob attacked the Saints driven out of Independence 

By the latter part of 1833. There were probably more than 1,000 Saints present when the combined branches met at the Big Blue River in April 1833 to celebrate the third anniversary of the founding of the Church.  Newel Knight said that this gathering was the first commemoration of its kind in Zion and the Saints had a spirit of general rejoicing. However, he also said that “When the Saints rejoice, the devil is mad, and his children and servants partake of his spirit."  Before April had ended, the spirit of persecution was manifest. Starting on July 20, mobs destroyed the Latter-day Saints’ businesses and property eventually driving the saints from Independence.  The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that they had been driven out because they were not following the Lords commandments ( D&C 101:2–6).

This tension between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in frontier Jackson County mounted for several reasons.

First, marked cultural differences set them apart. With New England roots, most Saints valued congregational Sabbath worship, education of their children, and refined personal decorum. In contrast, many Jackson County residents had come to the Missouri frontier from other states precisely to avoid such interference in their lives. Many held no schools for their children, and Sunday cockfights attracted more people than church services did. Often hard drinking intensified violent frontier ways. In the opinion of non-LDS county resident John C. McCoy in the Kansas City Journal (Apr. 24, 1881, p. 9), such extreme differences in customs made the two groups "completely unfitted to live together in peace and friendship."

Second, Missourians considered the Latter-day Saints strange and religiously unorthodox. Many LDS Church members aggressively articulated belief in revelation, prophets, the Book of Mormon, spiritual gifts, the Millennium, and the importance of gathering. Some went further and claimed Jackson County land as a sacred inheritance by divine appointment. Even David Whitmer, presiding elder of one branch, thought these boasts excited bitter jealousy. Articles on prophecy and doctrine published in the Church newspaper at Independence, the evening and the morning star, added to hard feelings. In addition, local Protestant clergy felt threatened by LDS missionary activity.

Third, because the Saints lived on Church lands and traded entirely with the Church store or blackSmith shops, some original settlers viewed them as economically exclusive, even un-American. Others accused LDS immigrants of pauperism when, because of diminished Church resources, they failed to obtain land.

A fourth volatile issue was the original settlers' fear that Latter-day Saints might provoke battles with either slaves or Indians. They accused the Saints of slave tampering. As transplanted Southerners who valued their right to hold slaves, the settlers erroneously feared that the Saints intended to convert blacks or incite them to revolt. They also correctly asserted that the Latter-day Saints desired to convert Indians and, perhaps, ally themselves with the Indians.

Finally, Missourians feared that continued LDS ingathering would lead to loss of political control. "It requires no gift of prophecy," stated a citizens' committee, "to tell that the day is not far distant when the civil government of the county will be in their hands; when the sheriff, the justices, and the county judges will be Mormons" (HC 1:397). These monumental differences between the Latter-day Saints and the Missourians eventually led to violence
  (Missouri Conflict BYU Encyclopedia of Mormonism)

After the article "Free People of Color" which was actually written to curtail trouble, appeared in the Evening and the Morning Star it so outraged local citizens that A secret constitution, was passed around to obtain the signatures of those willing to eliminate the “Mormon scourge.” and on 20 July 1833 a mob,  of about 400 men, met at the courthouse in Independence giving written demands to the leaders of the Church calling upon the Saints to leave Jackson County; to cease printing their newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star; and to not allow any additional Church members to come into Jackson County. When the Latter-day Saints refused to negotiate away or abandon lands they legally owned, some citizens formed a mob and destroyed the press and printing house, ransacked the Mormon store, and violently accosted LDS leaders.  Bishop Edward Partridge was beaten and tarred and feathered.  Meeting three days later, the mob issued an ultimatum: One-half of the Mormons must leave by year's end and the rest by April 1834.  (Missouri Conflict BYU Encyclopedia of Mormonism) 

The Story of the Doctrine and Covenants:

The most important project being printed at the newspaper office was the Book of Commandments, the first compilation of revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith. When the mob attacked the building, they tossed the unbound pages of the book into the street. Seeing this, two young Latter-day Saints, Mary Elizabeth Rollins and her sister, Caroline, at the peril of their own lives, sought to rescue what they could. Mary Elizabeth recalled:

“The mob brought out some large sheets of paper, and said, ‘Here are the Mormon Commandments.’ My sister Caroline and myself were in a corner of a fence watching them; when they spoke of the commandments I was determined to have some of them. Sister said if I went to get any of them she would go too, but said ‘they will kill us.’” While the mob was busy at one end of the house, the two girls ran and filled their arms with the precious sheets. The mob saw them and ordered the girls to stop. Mary Elizabeth reported: “We ran as fast as we could. Two of them started after us. Seeing a gap in a fence, we entered into a large cornfield, laid the papers on the ground, and hid them with our persons. The corn was from five to six feet high, and very thick; they hunted around considerable, and came very near us but did not find us.”

When the ruffians had gone, the girls made their way to an old log stable. Here, as reported by Mary Elizabeth, they found that “Sister Phelps and children were carrying in brush and piling it up at one side of the barn to lay her beds on. She asked me what I had—I told her. She then took them from us. … They got them bound in small books and sent me one, which I prized very highly.” 

The mob next seized Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen. They were taken to the public square in Independence and commanded to renounce the Book of Mormon and leave the county. Bishop Partridge said, “I told them that the Saints had suffered persecution in all ages of the world; that I had done nothing which ought to offend anyone; that if they abused me, they would abuse an innocent person; that I was willing to suffer for the sake of Christ; but, to leave the country, I was not then willing to consent to it.”

With this refusal, the men were stripped of their outer clothing and their bodies were covered with tar and feathers. Bishop Partridge observed, “I bore my abuse with so much resignation and meekness, that it appeared to astound the multitude, who permitted me to retire in silence, many looking very solemn, their sympathies having been touched as I thought; and as to myself, I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else.”  (Our Heritage A Brief History)

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

The mob came again on 23 July, and Church leaders offered themselves as ransom if they would not harm the people. But the mob threatened injury to the whole Church and forced the brethren to agree that all Latter-day Saints would leave the county.  The Saints attempted to avoid direct conflict during this event however this led to a battle near the Big Blue River.

 The mob demolished houses, whipped the men, and terrorized the women and children. For a week, attacks, beatings, and depredations against the Saints continued. On November 4 a mob again attacked the Whitmer settlement, making its streets a battleground. Two Missourians and one defender died.

  Governor Dunklin interceded and instructed Colonel Thomas Pitcher to disarm both sides. However, Colonel Pitcher’s sympathies were with the mob, and he took the weapons from the Saints and delivered them to the mob. The defenseless Saints were attacked and their homes destroyed. The men had to seek refuge in the woods or suffer severe beatings.

John McCoy, whose father rode with the mob, later wrote in the Kansas City Journal (Jan. 18, 1885, p. 5) that the Mormons "were unjustly and outrageously maltreated." But neither Colonel Pitcher nor Lieutenant Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, a resident of the county, interfered. (Missouri Conflict BYU Encyclopedia of Mormonism)

In the end Church leaders called on the people to take their belongings and flee from Jackson County.  The Saints crossed the Missouri River north into Clay County with about 1,200 Church members that had to survive winter by the river in Clay County. Some took shelter in wagon boxes, tents, or dugouts in the hillside, while others occupied abandoned cabins. But in all this they still worshiped God.

One of the first buildings constructed by the Saints in Clay County was a small log church house in which to worship. Here they “did not forget to return thanks unto Almighty God for deliverance from the hands of their vile enemies and to seek His protecting care for the future—that He would soften the hearts of the people to whom they had fled, that they might find among them something to sustain themselves.”  (Our Heritage A Brief History)

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

After this about 200 Saints marched from Ohio to Missouri to escort the exiles back to their homes, this relief party was known as Zion's Camp.

The Lord commanded Joseph Smith to gather a group of men to march from Kirtland to Missouri to help the Saints who had been driven from their lands in Jackson County. When Zion’s Camp reached eastern Clay County, Missouri, in late June 1834, a mob of over 300 Missourians came out to meet them—intent on their destruction. Under the direction of the Prophet Joseph, the brethren set up camp at the junction of the Little and Big Fishing Rivers.  

The mob began to attack with cannon fire, but the Lord was fighting the battle of the Saints. Clouds quickly began to form overhead. The Prophet described the circumstances: “It began to rain and hail. … The storm was tremendous; wind and rain, hail and thunder met them in great wrath, and soon softened their direful courage and frustrated all their designs to ‘kill Joe Smith and his army.’ … They crawled under wagons, into hollow trees, filled one old shanty, etc., till the storm was over, when their ammunition was soaked.” After experiencing the pelting of the storm all night, “this ‘forlorn hope’ took the ‘back track’ for Independence, to join the main body of the mob, fully satisfied … that when Jehovah fights they would rather be absent. … It seemed as if the mandate of vengeance had gone forth from the God of battles, to protect His servants from the destruction of their enemies.”

Governor Dunklin would not keep his promise to help them, the Prophet prayed for instruction from the Lord. The Lord told him that conditions were not then right for the redemption of Zion. The Saints had much to do to prepare their personal lives in order to build Zion. Many of them had not yet learned to be obedient to the things the Lord required:

“Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer” (D&C 105:5–6).

The Lord instructed:  “In consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion—That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly” (D&C 105:9–10)   The brethren in Zion’s Camp were honorably released, and the Prophet returned to Kirtland.   (Our Heritage A Brief History)

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

The Missouri Saints continued in Clay County until 1836, when they were reminded by the citizens of that county that they had promised to remain only until they could return to Jackson County. As this now seemed impossible, they were asked to leave as pledged. Legally the Saints did not have to comply, but rather than create a conflict, they moved once again. .  (Our Heritage A Brief History)

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

The Church prospered for a time in northern Missouri however, there continued to be conflicts among some of the Saints. Several leaders were excommunicated, including Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer.  The Church was suffering internally as well as from the outside.

Through the efforts of their friend in the state legislature, Alexander W. Doniphan, two new counties, named Caldwell and Daviess, were created out of Ray County in December 1836. The Saints were allowed to establish their own community of Far West, about 60 miles north of Clay County, as the county seat of Caldwell. The primary officers of the county were Latter-day Saints, and many people hoped this would end the persecutions of the Saints.   (Our Heritage A Brief History)

Also this past week I visited Far West Mo.  I learned that at the time there were about 5000 people in this area, 4900 of which were LDS.   At the temple site in Far West there is a sign erected giving a brief history.  It states:

"Caldwell County in 1836 was a wilderness, by the spring of 1838 the population was more than 5000 of which more than 4900 were Latter-Day Saints with the greater concentration at which by this time had 150 houses, 4 dry goods stores, 3 family groceries, half a dozen blacksmith shops, A printing establishment, and two hotels.  A Large and comfortable school house had been built in 1836 and served also as a church and courthouse.  Far West was the county seat of Caldwell county. "  

The above sign at the temple grounds Far West Mo

Temple Grounds Far West Mo
Temple entrance Far West Mo
Far West

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

During late 1837, the Church in Kirtland was in turmoil. A wave of apostasy led to threats on the Prophets life. At the core of the dissension was the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society.  (For more on the Kirtland Safety Society please visit: BYU Religious Studies)

Jospeh was instructed by the Lord to leave for Missouri immediately in a Revelation dated January 12, 1838:

"Thus saith the Lord Let the presidency of my Church take their families as soon as it is praticable and a door is open for them and move on to the west as fast as the way is made plain before their faces and let their hearts be comforted for I will be with them"
Verily I say unto you the time [has] . . . come that your laibours are finished in this place, for a season, Therefore arise and get yourselves on to a land which I shall show unto you even a land flowing with milk and honey you are clean from the blood of this people and wo unto those who have become your enimies who <have> professed my name saith the Lord, for their judgement lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not, let all your faithfull friends arise with their families also and get out of this place and gather themselves together unto Zion and be at peace among yourselves O ye inhabitants of Zion or there shall be no safty for you."  
Joseph and Sidney made their departure on the evening of January 12, the very date the revelation  was received. Their hasty departure was necessitated by the fact that the local sheriff planned to arrest Joseph Smith, which likely would have resulted in a lawsuit or imprisonment.[3] Lucy Mack Smith reported that her son left in the “dead hour of the night.”[4] Zerah Pulsipher reported that in making the getaway, the Prophet was “carried away in a box nailed on an ox sled.” After making their way a safe distance from Kirtland, the pair mounted horses and rode all night before arriving at Norton, Ohio (southwest of present-day Akron), where they waited for their families to join them.[5]

The Smith and Rigdon families left Norton, Ohio, for Missouri on January 16, 1838. Although their journey began in the middle of an extremely cold winter, the weather was not their main problem. “We were obliged to secrete ourselves in our wagons . . . to elude the grasp of our pursuers, who continued their pursuit of us more than two hundred miles from Kirtland, armed, with pistols and guns, seeking our lives.”[6] After Joseph and Sidney made their way out of Ohio, their antagonists eventually gave up. At Dayton the company picked up the national road, continuing on to Dublin, Indiana, where they had an extended stay with Lorenzo Dow Young, brother of Brigham Young.[7] Leaving Dublin, Joseph and his family parted ways with the Rigdons and headed due west through Indianapolis and Terre Haute, then further west to Quincy, Illinois. A short while after crossing the Mississippi River, the Prophet’s party was met by a company from Far West who provided additional teams and money to complete the journey. On March 14, Joseph and his family arrived at Far West. In a letter to the Kirtland presidency, written two weeks after his arrival, the Prophet described the elation he felt to be united with his fellow Saints:

Through the grace & mercy of our God, after a long & tedious Journey of two months & one day, I and my family arrived in the City of Far West Having been met at Huntsville 120 Miles from this by brotheren with teams & money to forward us on our Journey When within eight miles of the City of Far West We were met by an escort of bretheren from the City . . . who received us with open armes and warm hearts and welcomed us to the bosom of their Sosciety On our arrival in the City we were greeted on Every hand by the Saints who bid us welcome; Welcome; to the land of their inheritance.[8]

At Far West, Joseph, Emma, and their family took up temporary residence with George Washington Harris, a member of the Missouri high council, and his wife, Lucinda Morgan.[9] A short while later, the Church provided the Smith family with a modest two-room frame home about a quarter of a mile southwest of the public square. Joseph lived here until his arrest in late October 1838. Emma lived in the home until February 1839, when she and the children made their way out of the state.[10]   (BYU Religious Studies Joseph Smith in Missouri)  BYU Religious Studies


Church members exiled from Independence later moved to northern Missouri. In 1838, while visiting them in Daviess County, the Prophet declared by revelation the location of Adam-ondi-Ahman.  

On May 19, 1838, the prophet Joseph revealed that Adam-ondi-Ahman was the place where Adam and Eve went after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. On June 25, 1838, at a conference in Lyman Wight's orchard, a Latter Day Saint settlement at Adam-ondi-Ahman was formally established. Within a few months, its population grew to 1500.

The valley is now used for farmland, and the surrounding hills are deeply wooded.   The land is fenced by a perfect white fence with white gravel and on the site are a few scenic overlooks, including Spring Hill and Tower Hill. “Preacher Rock,” where the Prophet is said to have stood and taught, is a short walk off the main trail at Tower Hill. There is even a marker to show the spot where Lyman Wight’s cabin once stood.  

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

Although it lasted only a few minutes, the Battle of Crooked River was a pivotal moment in Church History.  On 6 August 1838, a mob of 100 people at the election polls in Gallatin, Daviess County, would not let the Saints vote. A brawl followed and several people were injured. When Governor Lilburn W. Boggs heard of this brawl along with other mob activity, he ordered in the state militia to keep the peace. One of the militia officers was Captain Samuel W. Bogart, who led 75 men, and was closely associated with the mob. He had been forcibly disarming Latter-day Saints and ordering them to leave their homes. He decided to promote conflict by kidnapping three Latter-day Saints, Nathan Pinkham, Jr., William Seely, and Addison Green. He held them hostage in his camp near Crooked River in Ray County, Missouri. By the time the Latter-day Saints learned of their kidnapping, the story had been exaggerated, and they were told that the mob intended to execute the three men. A group of about 75 Latter-day Saint militiamen led by Apostle David W. Patten, were armed and sent to rescue them.

They arrived at the Crooked River camp on 25 October 1838 during the night. As they approached the camp a voice yelled out “who goes there?” This was immediately followed by gunshots, and one of the younger men of the Latter-day Saint militia, Pat O’Banion, fell with mortal wounds. David W. Patten ordered the LDS militia to charge and fire a round. With this attack the state militia began to run. They left all of their animals and equipment behind and ran in so many directions that many of them falsely reported that the LDS militia had killed all of the men and that the person giving the report was the sole survivor. The LDS militiamen were able to free the three kidnapped men, but numerous LDS militiamen were wounded, and three died from the wounds received at the Battle of Crooked River, including David W. Patten.

Thomas B. Marsh, then formerly president of the Twelve, having apostatized, made affidavit before Henry Jacobs, justice of the peace.   Marsh drafted and signed a legal affidavit against the prophet on October 24 1838.  He stated his belief that Joseph planned "to take the State, & he professes to his people to intend taking the U.S. & ultimately the whole world".  Marsh's testimony added to the panic in northwestern Missouri and contributed to the Mormon War and extermination order.

Governor Lilburn W. Boggs used the Battle of Crooked River along with affidavits as an example of why the “extermination order” should be put into effect. Unfortunately, Governor Boggs wrote the order only knowing exaggerated accounts of the battle which reported that the LDS militia had killed half of Bogart’s men. The truth was that only one was killed. The order was issued on October 27, 1838. The main theme of the order can be found in a few lines that state, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary, for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description.” Militia officers of the state were appointed to carry out the order.

Missouri Executive Order Number 44, read as follows:

October  31 1838–April 1839: Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were kept as prisoners in Missouri.

Liberty Jail, Temple Prison

The day after the Haun's Mill massacre Joseph Smith and approximately 50 other Church leaders were arrested on unconstitutional charges of treason by the state of Missouri.  Most of these leaders were released however, six of them, including Joseph and Hyrum were detained despite their innocence. In November they were marched first to Independence, then to Richmond, and then to Liberty, where they were incarcerated in Liberty Jail until April 1839.  During the five weeks that passed from the time he they were taken into custody until jailed at liberty they were subjected to conditions and circumstances that were both humiliating and degrading.  It is noted that the attitude of the prophet was not like that of an innocent man being incarcerated and treated in such a manner.  The last man to enter the jail, it is remembered by the jailers that Joseph greeted them with respect saying, "good afternoon gentlemen" and they were astonished.

Conditions in Liberty Jail were harsh. The prisoners were kept in the lower level, which was like a dungeon—dark, cold, and unsanitary. The food was inadequate and filthy. The Prophet and his companions had only a little straw on the stone floor for their beds, with meager blankets for cover. The ceiling was so low that some of the brethren, including Joseph and Hyrum, could not stand upright. They were also under constant threat of death.

During my church Missouri history tour this past week I visited the Liberty Jail.  It seemed such a gruesome fate for those called of the Lord or for anyone.  The men arrived in Liberty on December 1, 1838, just as winter was coming on. The jail was considered escape proof and the main floor was accessible to the outside only by a single small, heavy door.

In the middle of the floor was a trapdoor through which prisoners were then lowered into the lower floor or dungeon. The outside walls were of limestone two feet thick, with inside walls of 12-inch oak logs. These two walls were separated by a 12-inch space filled with loose rock. These walls made a  impenetrable barrier four feet thick.

In the Prophet Joseph’s letters, he spoke of the jail being a hell, surrounded with demons . . . where we are compelled to hear nothing but blasphemous oaths, and witness a scene of blasphemy, and drunkenness and hypocrisy, and debaucheries of every description.

“We have . . . not blankets sufficient to keep us warm,” he said, “and when we have a fire, we are obliged to have almost a constant smoke.” “Our souls have been bowed down” and “my nerve trembles from long confinement.” “Pen, or tongue, or angels,” Joseph wrote, could not adequately describe “the malice of hell” that he suffered there. And all of this occurred during what, by some accounts, was considered then the coldest winter on record in the state of Missouri
.    (Lessons  from Liberty Jail, Jerffery R Holland  Lessons from Liberty Jail)

Yet despite the awfulness of it this place is also referred to as Temple Prison.  Here in this jail, the Prophet was refined and taught and with his humility and tribulation received the revelations of  The Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122 and 123.

While the Prophet was imprisoned, about 8,000 Saints in Missouri were forced out of their homes as a result of the governor’s extermination order. Many of them were robbed, beaten, and killed by the mobs as they fled to Illinois.  Joseph Smith's greater suffering seemed to come from his anguish for the thousands of Latter-day Saints, including his own family, who were being driven from the state.  In a very long, two-part letter to the Church, his anxiety for the well being of those including his loved ones was deeply reflected.  Written between March 20 and March 25, Joseph cried out,

"O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries? Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions?" (D&C 121:1-3).

What are your thoughts and feelings as you read Joseph Smith’s pleadings with the Lord in these verses?

In answer, he was told to be of good cheer: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes" (D&C 121:7-8).     (BYU Liberty Jail Liberty Jail)

How would you feel if these words were spoken to you? 

It was during these months, as a prisoner, that Joseph experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows of his life.  It was here that he was molded into the role of one who spoke for the Lord.  He not only suffered at the hands of Missouri but he suffered great personal pain and loss with the dissention of some of his closest associates who betrayed him and through they're words put the world more against him and the church.  In letters and journals that were penned just weeks after his arrival at Liberty, one can see the extreme hurt that was inflicted upon the prophet by those whom he once loved and called his friends.  Yet through his time of suffering he became refined, and hurt and pain were replaced with forgiveness allowing the spirit to lead. So great was the spirit with Joseph that the revelations “made Liberty jail, for a time, a center of instruction. The eyes of the saints were turned to it as the place whence would come encouragement, counsel—the word of the Lord.  so long as the Prophet was there it was a temple prison.  It was a place of meditation and prayer. … Joseph Smith sought God in this rude prison, and found him” 

Said Joseph in his letter to first his family and then the church, "those who have not been enclosed in the walls of a prison without cause of provocation can have but a little idea how sweet the voice of a friend is, one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling it brings us in an instant every thing that is passed, it seizes the present with a vivacity of lightening it grasps after the future with a fierceness of a tiger it retrogrades from one thing to another until finally all enmity malice and hatred and past differences misunderstandings and mismanagements be slain victims at the feet of hope and when the heart is sufficiently contrite then the voice of inspiration steals along and whispers, my son, peace be unto they soul."

Our greatest lessons are from Liberty

What are the lessons we learn from the events of Liberty Jail?

1.  Everyone, including the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times
2.  We can sometimes fear God has abandoned us
3.  We sometimes ask why such sorrow had to come
4.  When what has to be has been and when what lessons to be learned have been learned, it will be for us as it was for the Prophet Joseph. Just at the time he felt most alone and distant from heaven’s ear was the very time he received the wonderful ministration of the Spirit

Joseph admonished the saints that honesty and sobreity and candor and solemnity and virture and pureness and meekness and simplicity crown their heads in every place and in fine if they become as little children without malice guile or hyprocrocy, if after all they had suffered they would do these things exercising faith and prayer in the sight of God "He shall give unto you knowledge by his holy spirit."  This too is our lesson from Liberty Jail.

This is the actual jail in which they stayed, the top was for the jail keeper, the bottom prisoners

How the men lived in the jail

Letter written by Joseph while in Liberty

April 1839: The Saints fled from Missouri to Illinois.

For wonderful and complete information on the exodus please visit this link 
Forced Exodus BYU Religious Studies

Following the extermination order and the arrest of the prophet the saints embarked on a seven-month struggle to survive the winter of 1838–39 in Missouri and to leave there by spring 1839. Some ten thousand Saints engaged in a mass exodus, many going to Quincy, Illinois.

Said Emma Smith in a letter to Joseph: "was it not for conscious innocence and the direct interposition of divine mercy, I am very sure I never should have been able to have endured the scenes of suffering that I have passed through since what is called the Militia came into far west under the ever to be remembered Governors notable order.."

In the exodus, Mormon militiamen were the first to leave or rather escape. John Lowe Butler tall and strong, had fought off Missourians trying to block Mormons from voting. He rode with the Mormon militia who fought in the Battle of Crooked River. Because the Missouri militia wanted to arrest him, he fled from home on November 2, leaving  his wife and children to fend as best they could. Slipping through “the guard,” he had to cross a creek by taking off his clothes and wading across the “bitter cold” water. Then he had to be very careful for days to avoid capture. At times he hid in members’ homes as he headed east. John was one of dozens of Mormon militiamen who fled from Missouri in November. They formed the first wave of the exodus.

The shortest way out of state was to go north sixty to eighty miles into unsettled regions of present-day Iowa. Church leaders told fugitive Charles C. Rich to “flee north into the wilderness and take all that I Could find of the Brethren that was in the Crooked river Battle.” So he and others left Far West at midnight on November 1. At Adam-ondi-Ahman they obtained provisions from fellow Saints. They organized into a company with Rich as captain. Learning that Missouri militia were looking for them, they “set out for Iowa thrugh the wilderness,” enduring snow and cold with “little to eat.” Among the twenty-eight men in this group were Samuel Smith and Phineas and Lorenzo Young. Samuel said they traveled “the most secluded route” they could find. They ran out of provisions and became so weak they couldn’t continue, so they held a council and prayed to know where to hunt. Taking a direction shown him by the Spirit, Samuel and two others found a wigwam where an Indian woman baked cakes for all the company. After eleven days’ travel, they reached “white Settlements on the Desmoine River” in Iowa. Lorenzo said that his pants were so shredded by bushes that he refused to face Iowans until someone brought him better pants. The men split into two groups to avoid attention. They crossed the icy Mississippi River, some at Quincy, where Charles C. Rich said, “We found friends and was kindly received.”

The Saints had until late March to vacate Missouri, but they started leaving in earnest during January. Five reasons best explain why Saints moved during winter conditions: (1) by January, armed patrols were showing up and threatening the Saints, so in the January 26 public meeting the people agreed to begin moving immediately; (2) the Saints had been told that Joseph Smith would not be released from prison until they all had left Missouri, so the sooner that happened, the better;[39] (3) individuals were running out of food and supplies; (4) in February, Far West experienced some stretches of weather that seemed favorable for traveling; and (5) wagons going to Illinois and then returning to take others needed four to six weeks to make the two trips before the late March deadline.

The exodus had no large, organized wagon trains. Refugees moved as individuals, by families, or in small clusters of wagons whenever they were ready. As one said, those who moved during the winter traveled “in colde weather thinly clad and porly furnished with provisions.”[40] Women without their husbands had harder times of it than those with husbands.   The Saints Forced Exodus BYU Religious Studies

The Savior’s perfect understanding of our sufferings and adversity

How does the information of the early saints help us?  I believe the early saints had a great understanding of the Savior in understanding sufferings and adversity.  When reading the many stories and accounts  it is seen that in their trying times, they experienced miracles small and large, and when experiencing the trials that came by their own mistakes or by the terrible choices of others, they reached out to the Lord in every way and the spirit conituued with them to help them.  The history of the saints shows us that the Savior has a perfect understanding of our troubles .  He has this perfect understanding because he himself, in the flesh descended below all things, therefore he can succor us in the most difficult circumstances.

“As part of His infinite atonement, Jesus … has borne the sins, griefs, sorrows, and, declared Jacob, the pains of every man, woman, and child Having been perfected in His empathy, Jesus thus knows how to succor us. … Nothing is beyond His redeeming reach or His encircling empathy. Therefore, we should not complain about our own life’s not being a rose garden when we remember who wore the crown of thorns!” ( Ensign, May 1987, Neil A Maxwell) 

The Lord stated in revelation to Joseph: 

" If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;

6 If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;

7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" D&C 122:5–8.

What can we do to more fully partake of the comfort and strength that Jesus offers through His Atonement?

Prayer, humility, and faith in Jesus Christ help us receive strength during times of adversity

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9 Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.   1 Peter 5:6–11

 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

Purposes of adversity

Adversity is part of God’s plan for our testing and growth during mortality. We came to earth knowing we would experience pain, trials, and other difficulties.  The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us about the purposes of adversity:

-The Lord allows adversity to come into our lives to try us and to prove us to see whether we will abide in His covenant  D&C 98:12, 14–15; 101:4; 136:31

-Some adversity is a result of our transgressions  D&C 101:1–2

-The Lord allows adversity to give us experience and help us grow  D&C 122:7

-understanding these purposes of adversity helps us to “endure it well  D&C 121:8

Some people incorrectly believe that all afflictions are punishments from God.

While transgression is one source of adversity, it is not the only source. Some adversity comes because even for the righteous “there is an opposition in all things. Some adversity comes as a natural consequence of the frailty and corruptibility of the mortal body. Some comes because of accidents, because of our own choices that aren’t necessarily transgressions, and because of other people’s choices—things that God can protect us from but sometimes does not because “the basic gospel law is free agency and eternal development”  (Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [1973]

Adversity can also come “to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing” (Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 16).

“Living the gospel of Jesus Christ is no guarantee that adversity will not come into our lives; but living the gospel does give us the strength and faith and power to rise above that adversity and look beyond the present trouble to the brighter day” (A Theodore Tuttle,  Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 15).

The Lord’s counsel to those who experience adversity

What counsel does the Lord give in the Doctrine and Covenants to help us when we experience adversity?

Be patient in afflictions; they will “be but a small moment  D&C 24:8; 31:9; 54:10; 121:7

Rejoice and give thanks D&C 98:1

Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;

We should remain obedient and “cleave unto all good       
D&C 98:11

And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.

 Care for the soul, not for the body, and seek the Lord             
Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.
37 Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.
38 And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.

 We should not fear what man may do, for God will be with us forever             
D&C 122:9

Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.

What can we do to face our trials and adversities better?

1.  When the saints were chased out of Jackson county to Clay county, in all their tribulation they did not forget, they gave thanks and they worshiped.  This is what we can do to face our trials better.  We cannot forgot Him.  If we are not slow to remember the Lord God, if we are humble before him, if we remember the great things he has done for us as the early Saints did, we too will be triumphant.

But notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes; neither were they slow to remember the Lord their God; but they did humble themselves exceedingly before him.

50 Yea, they did remember how great things the Lord had done for them, that he had delivered them from death, and from bonds, and from prisons, and from all manner of afflictions, and he had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies.

51 And they did pray unto the Lord their God continually, insomuch that the Lord did bless them, according to his word, so that they did wax strong and prosper in the land.  Alma 62:49–51

2.  Service Service Service 

It has been my experience, that in the worst times of my life, in times I thought I just wouldn't make it...the best thing I could do was to loose my self in service.  By doing so not only were others helped, but my heart was healed, I gained strength, my testimony grew and I not only survived the fire, but evolved.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.   Luke 9:24

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ  Galatians 6:2

The Lord’s promises to those who are faithful in adversity

The Lord does not leave us alone, he does not leave us comfortless, he does not leave us without help.  He promises that:

The Lord will be with us, stand by us, and heal us in our afflictions  

Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble  D&C 3:8

Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.  D&C 24:8

And after their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them.  D&C 112:13

And although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in honor; and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce lion, because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever.  D&C 122:4
But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction  Jacob 3:1

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.  Mosiah 24:13–14

And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me  Alma 36:27

Those who are faithful in tribulation will receive glory, joy, and other blessings

For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
3 Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

4 For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand    

For after much tribulation, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, cometh the blessing. 103:12

All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ. 121:29

My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom  136:31

All things will work together for our good and to the Lord’s glory

Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.  D&C 98:3

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.  122:7

Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.   D&C 90:24

Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church. 100:15

“In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. … It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd”  (James E Faust Ensign, May 1979)

I have seen the remorse and despair in the lives of men who, in the hour of trial, have cursed God and died spiritually. And I have seen people rise to great heights from what seemed to be unbearable burdens. 
“Finally, I have sought the Lord in my own extremities and learned for myself that my soul has made its greatest growth as I have been driven to my knees by adversity and affliction”   (Conference Report, Oct. 1969 Marion G. Romney)

Those who are faithful in affliction will be exalted

And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes  

And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.  127:2


Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ has borne our griefs. If we turn to Him, He will comfort and lift us even in our darkest days.  Joseph Smith in dealing with adversity, for me, is the ultimate example. The saints and their perseverance is also a great example in standing by the covenants we've made, in living the commandments and trusting in the Lord to pull us through those things which do beset us daily.   How can we have peace through our adversity? How can we develop the courage needed to face difficult situations?  

Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.   D&C 19:23

Inependence Living in Zion  Living In Zion
BYU Studies Forced Exodus  Forced Exodus
BYU Studies Liberty Jail  Liberty Jail
BYU Encyclopedia of Mormonism  Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Our Heritage a Brief History  Our Heritage
Lessons from Liberty Jail Jeffery R Holland  Lessons from Liberty Jail
Studies in Scripture, The Doctrine and Covenants Robert L Millet
B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:526.
 Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [1973]
James E Faust Ensign, May 1979
Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 16
Ensign, May 1987, Neil A Maxwell
Conference Report, Oct. 1969 Marion G. Romney
A Theodore Tuttle,  Conference Report, Oct. 1967

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The Fall of Adam and Eve

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