Before the church was organized, Joseph Smith was engaged in work which could be performed in small groups: translating the Book of Mormon, receiving revelation on behalf of specific individuals, and obtaining authority under the hand of heavenly beings.
But as the church grew, he needed to dedicate more time and energy to the needs of other people. In July 1830, the Lord told him to visit the members of the church in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester (Doctrine and Covenants 24:3). In June and September, he presided over conferences of the church. Then, in December, the Lord commanded members of the church to gather in Ohio (Doctrine and Covenants 37).
At the next church conference, on January 2, 1831, the Lord listed some of the blessings they would receive by relocating and gathering to one place:
- He would lead them to a promised land (Doctrine and Covenants 38:17-20).
- He would give them His law (Doctrine and Covenants 38:21-23).
- They could be unified and protected from their enemies (Doctrine and Covenants 38:24-32).
- They would be “endowed with power from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:32).
- They would be able to take care of the poor and the needy among them (Doctrine and Covenants 38:34-36).
In other words, they would be able to establish Zion, a community of saints who were aligned with God’s laws, unified with one another, and protected from the destructive influences in the world around them. (See Doctrine and Covenants 38:4, 39:13, Moses 7:18, 21.)
The Lord spoke of this as both a physical and a spiritual gathering: “He that receiveth these things receiveth me,” He said, “and they shall be gathered unto me in time and in eternity” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:22).
Here are some of the themes in these revelations, together with some relevant blog posts:
- Unity is a defining attribute of God, and it must be an attribute of those who strive to follow Him: The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost Are One – 3 Nephi 11:27, 2 Nephi 31:27.
- We should promote unity, godliness, and charity in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities: What Is Zion?
- As we gather with other believers, the Savior is with us, even if we can’t see Him: He Who Liveth.
- When we are given authority and responsibilities by God, we should strive to be worthy of those responsibilities: What Are the “Vessels of the Lord?”
- We need to create an environment in our lives which allows us to receive guidance from the Lord: Peaceable Things.
- We build our lives on a solid foundation when we prepare effectively: He That Is Built Upon the Rock – 2 Nephi 28:28.
- We should prepare not only physically but also spiritually: Then Shall I See His Face with Pleasure – Enos 1:27.