During these months, the Saints from Colesville, New York, arrived in the Kirtland area. Leman Copley initially allowed them to settle on his farm in Thompson, but he later reneged and the Colesville Saints asked Joseph what they should do.
The Lord instructed these Saints to move to Missouri. This required tremendous faith on their part.
They had responded to the commandment to sell everything in Colesville and move to Ohio, which was disruptive enough, but now they had to move another thousand miles west to the frontier, to the "borders of the Lamanites."
In so doing, they were cautioned to "be patient in tribulation," thereby alerting them that their sojourn in Missouri would not be peaceful. (D&C 54:7-10)
Some years ago we visited Colesville and I took some photos of the Joseph Knight home where the Colesville members met. (click to enlarge)
If you enlarge the sign that lists the names of the original members of the Colesville branch, you can see Hyrum Smith, the first branch president of the first branch of the Church, along with Newel Knight, the second branch president.
The Colesville Saints left their homes for Ohio, as you can see on this map.
The revelations in these sections are profound on their own, but when understood in the context of the times, they give us perspective to help us more deeply appreciate their significance. In the context of moving their households and families to unknown frontier areas, the Lord instructed these early Saints about how to regulate stewardships and how to care for "the poor and needy, the sick and the afflicted."
The Joseph Smith Papers includes a series of useful maps, which you can see here:
If you go there, you'll find these maps.
Notice how similar the two in the middle are. These are the so-called Mission to the Indians, which was actually the mission to the Lamanites. Notice in the description, the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers put the term "Lamanites" in scare quotations because they are reframing the history. The revelations in the D&C use the term Lamanites, not Indians. Joseph Smith and his contemporaries were completely familiar with the term "Indians" but that's not the term the Lord used in these revelations.
This brings up an interesting point about the sections in this week's Come Follow Me lesson. Notice in section 54:8 that the Lord refers to Missouri as the "borders of the Lamanites."
Two important things to notice here. First, the phrase "borders of the Lamanites" appears only twice in all the scriptures. You can see this in Wordcruncher.
This is another indication from the scriptures that the modern Lamanites, the remnant of Lehi, are "the Indians that now inhabit this country," just as Moroni told Joseph Smith and as Joseph wrote in the Wentworth letter.
Second, the "line running directly between Jew and Gentile" was the line running between the Lamanites (aka Indians) and the European settlers in Missouri. This was the line that constituted the "borders of the Lamanites."
Another connection between Church history and the Book of Mormon is the location of the New Jerusalem. We'll discuss this more when we get to D&C 84, but already in D&C 45, the Lord had promised that a New Jerusalem would be established. This cross references to 3 Nephi 20:22 and Ether 13:2-6. We now know that Independence, Missouri, was the site of the New Jerusalem of which both the Savior and Ether spoke in the Book of Mormon.
When we look at the map of the travels between Kirtland and Independence, we can see how many significant ruins left by the "Moundbuilders" they passed. It's fun to also see all the modern temples in the area.
Finally, the heading to Section 57 explains that when the Saints arrived in Missouri, "Joseph Smith contemplated the state of the Lamanites and wondered: “When will the wilderness blossom as the rose? When will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will Thy temple stand, unto which all nations shall come in the last days?” Subsequently he received this revelation."
There are some helpful maps and explanations of Church history in the area of Missouri at this link: