There is a lot of historical background to this section. It was received in Missouri after Zion's Camp had come the nearly 1,000 miles to redeem the saints, put them back on their lands, and see the establishment of Zion. The people in both Jackson and Clay counties now want the saints to leave. Zion's camp is not going to effect any change in their situation and the members who came will have to return to Kirtland. The reason Zion's Camp was unsuccessful is summed up in verse 3. "But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them." Because of all the bickering and fighting within the camp, nearly all of them, including the prophet became very ill. Some died. It was in that situation that those who could have provided some help, didn't. For example, they pleaded with one of the men who had chickens to allow them to kill a chicken and make some broth to feed to the sick, but the man refused saying he would need it later. Many men complained and rebelled against the prophet because the trip had been hard. And from the beginning, the members in Kirtland did not send enough men or donate money to support and help the members in Missouri. There were a number of members who left the church after Zion's Camp and what it did do successfully was show who would be faithful in spite the difficulties. Nearly all of the original 12 apostles came out of this group.
In this section, there are six things the saints must learn and do if Zion is to be redeemed. 1. (v. 3, 6) They must learn obedience. 2. (v. 4-5) They must be united. 3. (v. 10) They must be taught more perfectly. 4. (v. 10) They need experience and must know more perfectly concerning their duty. 5. (v. 11-12) They must be endowed with power. 6. (v. 31) They must be sanctified. We are still not there yet or Zion would be redeemed. But I believe we have come a long way. When you consider the number of temples now, that indicates the level of righteousness within the church. The welfare program is the most successful in the world. The missionary program continues to grow. There are a number of things you can point to for improvement, but if there is probably one thing that we need more than anything, I would guess it is to be sanctified as a people. I have no doubt we will get there and wonder how close we are. I don't know the exact statistics, but the church averages around 60% for sacrament meeting attendance. Is that an indicator? About 40% pay tithing. Is that an indication of our level of obedience? I don't know the percentage that hold temple recommends, but how many attend? I know there is much I can do better.